SACRAMENTO - California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Cathleen Galgiani (D-Livingston) on Thursday thanked President Obama and Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for their dedication and commitment to high-speed rail by allocating billions of dollars to 31 states, including California, for their projects.
"The Legislature has worked closely with the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Caltrans and other stakeholders to show just how well prepared California is to launch a high-speed train here--and today's announcement by President Obama shows that effort has paid off,” Bass said. "We hope this is only the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership between California and the federal government to make sure transportation in California and throughout the country comes into the 21st Century.”
Galgiani agreed. "California is unified behind its high-speed train project. We have gathered support from a broad coalition of groups in all geographic regions throughout the state. We are all unified in our goal of obtaining a clean, safe, interstate transportation system, as well as offering an economic boost to the state by providing Californians jobs. For every $1 billion spent on infrastructure projects for a high-speed train, jobs are created for 18,000 Californians.”
"The federal government created the Eisenhower Interstate System in 1956, the greatest public works project in history, and now they are ready to take the next step and improve interstate travel and invest in a high-speed rail system. I am pleased we have received this boost of funding and I am proud that California is one of the few states in the country who are taking the lead in developing a true high-speed rail train system,” added Galgiani.
The Obama Administration announced earlier today that California is going to receive $2,349,400,000 of the $8 billion in stimulus funding for high-speed train development under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Combined with matching state, local and private funding, the federal infusion could generate billions to help launch the initial Anaheim-to-San Francisco link in a system that eventually will stretch to 800 miles, serving most of the state's major cities.
Bills Will Address Problem of Concussions Among High School Athletes
(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward) has introduced two bills to address the problem of recurring concussions and life-threatening injuries among high school athletes. AB 1646 will add training on potentially catastrophic injuries, such as head and neck injuries, asthma attacks, and heatstroke, to the CPR and first aid certification required of all California high school coaches. AB 1647 will require athletes suspected of having a concussion to get a doctor’s written permission before returning to play. Below are Assemblymember Hayashi’s prepared remarks from today’s capitol news conference announcing the introduction of AB 1646 and 1647.
“Too many high school athletes return to play too early after a head injury, placing them at risk for another concussion. Multiple concussions can result in brain bleeding and swelling, and related health problems such as sleep disorders, memory loss, and depression.
I am pleased that state leaders and advocates have joined together to discuss the impact such injuries are having on student health and safety. It is a serious problem, as the Center for Injury Research and Policy reported that 41 percent of high school athletes who suffered a concussion returned to play prematurely. Because their heads and necks are still developing, high school players are at risk for greater injury and need a longer recovery time. The American Academy of Family Physicians showed that the incidence of catastrophic head injuries is more than three times greater among high school football players than college players.
But football is not the only sport, and this is not just about boys and men. In 2008, an NCAA study reported that concussion rates were higher in women than in men in soccer - 27 percent higher. They were also higher in basketball (66 percent), and in ice hockey (80 percent). In fact, a 2009 American Journal of Sports Medicine article showed that female athletes are suffering more severe symptoms from multiple concussions than male athletes.
I have introduced two bills to address this problem and increase student safety. AB 1646 will add training on concussions and other potentially catastrophic injuries, such as asthma attacks and heatstroke, to the CPR and first aid certification required of all California high school coaches. AB 1647 will require medical clearance from a health professional before a student can return to play following a sports injury.
AB 1646 is similar to the laws passed by Oregon and Texas. Oregon’s 2009 law mandates annual concussion training for coaches. School sports officials also keep players off the field for the rest of the day when injured, and mandate a medical evaluation before they return. In 2007, Texas passed “Will’s Bill,” requiring every high school coach to be trained in basic safety and emergency procedures, with special emphasis on concussions and second-impact syndrome. AB 1647 is similar to Washington State’s law, which is considered the nation’s toughest return-to-play law. It passed last year, requiring medical clearance of youth athletes suspected of sustaining a concussion before they go back to training and competition.
Our kids believe that they need to be tough and play through the pain when injuries occur, so they’re unlikely to tell anyone when they think they have a concussion. It’s also hard for parents to say no to their kids when they want to go back and play. We need to help the adults around student athletes become more aware of the problem, and empower them with laws that put the health of the player first. 2010 should be the year that California resolved to take concrete steps to protect its student athletes. Through these bills, we can better protect our kids, allowing them to be the athletes they want to be, without sacrificing their safety.”
AB 1652 takes a comprehensive approach to promote increased safety for skiers and snowboarders
(Sacramento) - Today Assemblymember Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) announced the introduction of Assembly Bill 1652. This bill takes a comprehensive approach to promote increased safety for skiers and snowboarders by requiring better signage, accident and injury reporting, and helmet use for kids and resort employees.
California has 32 largely unregulated ski resorts. There are no requirements concerning posting of signs related to ski slope conditions, boundary warnings, or known hazards. Data regarding injuries or fatalities occurring at ski resorts is only aggregated nationally by the ski industry associations; therefore consumers are unable to get information about the overall death and injury statistics or the relative safety performance of individual ski resorts.
Numerous recent studies have found that traumatic brain injuries are the leading cause of injury-related death among skiers and snowboarders, and children in particular are at higher risk. A 2008 study conducted by University of Washington professor Peter Cummings concluded that the use of helmets could reduce the risk of serious injury in up to 60 percent of all accidents. Additionally, skiers and snowboarders who crashed or fell had a 15 percent reduction in the risk of any head injury if they were wearing a helmet.
"While tragic accidents at California's ski resorts are, fortunately, not common, we know we can do more to protect the safety of ski resort enthusiasts and workers," said Jones. "Requiring helmet use for workers and kids, having a clear safety plan, posting adequate signs warning of possible dangers and changing conditions are the tools we need to put in place to ensure the safety of those enjoying California's mountains. I am pleased to be working with the California Ski and Snowboard Safety Organization to craft comprehensive legislation to put these important protections in place."
Assemblymember Jones was joined by Dr. Dan Gregorie, founder of the California Ski and Snowboard Safety Organization (CSSSO), at the event in the State Capitol to announce the introduction of AB 1652.
"Accidents happen, but when injuries and deaths occur that could potentially be avoided, that's when the Legislature needs to investigate what can be done," said Dr. Gregorie. "Skiers and snowboarders now travel as fast as cars. If highway safety is a priority, then why not ski and snowboard safety? One life lost to a preventable accident is one life too many. It's time something is done to hold ski resorts more accountable and make uniform signage, adequate barriers and proper traffic and speed management part of everyday safety practices."
(Sacramento) - Assemblymembers Ted Lieu and Alyson Huber today joined Crime Victims United and law enforcement officials to call on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to implement common-sense public safety protections as tens of thousands of prisoners begin to be set free early, many without parole supervision and with no rehabilitation. Lieu and Huber announced the introduction of Assembly Bill 1678 to mandate public safety protections.
"As a tidal wave of prisoners are released back into our community, many of them without rehabilitation services or parole supervision, it is imperative that common-sense public safety protections be in place to protect the public and help local law enforcement shoulder the burden of the early release of convicted criminals," said Assemblymember Ted Lieu. "Law enforcement not only needs to know who CDCR is releasing early and without parole supervision, but they should also have a voice to ensure CDCR isn't releasing prisoners who will immediately commit another crime."
Under the Governor's proposals, which became law today, three fundamental changes will occur. First, many criminals behind bars in either state prisons or local jails will have their confinement cut in half. For every six months a criminal serves in confinement, that criminal will receive six months of early release credit. Second, for state prisoners, CDCR begins determining which prisoners to release without parole supervision, also known as Non-Revocable Parole. Third, rehabilitation programs in state prisons will be gutted and 600 to 800 vocational and educational prison instructors will be given pink slips.
"Public safety must be our number one priority," said Assemblymember Alyson Huber. "That's why we are calling on CDCR to immediately involve local law enforcement."
"In an effort to save money, we believe the crime reductions many communities have seen could be at risk," said Floyd Hayhurst, Vice President of the Association for Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriffs. "We believe the state should implement ways to reduce the impact of early release."
Assembly Bill 1678, authored by Assemblymembers Lieu and Huber, was introduced today to mandate common sense public safety protections. Specifically, AB 1678 would enable local law enforcement agencies to object to the release of a convicted felon into Non-Revocable Parole status; require CDCR to notify local law enforcement agencies with critical information about identity, location and criminal history within a reasonable time period prior to their release; and increase transparency by making public a list of crimes committed by prisoners being released without parole supervision.
"We believe these protections are reasonable and will help us control crime and protect the public," said Brian Johnson, Director for the Los Angeles Police Protective League.
SACRAMENTO – Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) and Speaker-elect John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) announced today that March 1, 2010 will be the date of Pérez’s official swearing in as the 68th Speaker of the California State Assembly.
“It’s recently been announced that March 1, 2010 will mark one of the roughest transitions in history--the changing of the Tonight Show from Conan O'Brien to Jay Leno,” Bass said. “I am delighted that March 1, 2010 will also mark one of the smoothest transitions in history, when I turn the Assembly gavel over to incoming Speaker John Pérez. As we have been meeting and working together closely these past few weeks, I know absolutely that John is more than ready, willing and able to step in as Speaker and do an excellent job helping the people of California meet the tough challenges we face together.”
“I am excited to officially assume the duties of office of Speaker,” Pérez said. “Even though this is one of the most challenging times in modern California history, I am confident that this can be a year of reform where we finally stabilize our budget situation, and push forward with the hard work of creating the decent, well-paying jobs that will bring California out of this recession. I want to thank my colleagues in the Legislature for their confidence, and I particularly want to thank Speaker Bass and Leader Blakeslee for their thoughtful and dedicated leadership. This can be a great year for California, and I am eager to get to work.”
(Sacramento) – The Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation has passed AB 1178, a bill authored by Assemblymember Marty Block (78th Assembly District, San Diego) to support California's college students by reducing by $120 million annually the sales tax on textbooks and school supplies found at college bookstores. AB 1178 would take the burden off the shoulders of students by bringing in state revenues currently lost to a corporate tax loophole that allows for the use of foreign tax havens.
“Our college kids are struggling to get by while corporate bad actors take a Cayman Islands Spring Break from paying their fair share in taxes,” Block said. “For some corporations to find a loophole whereby they don't have to pay their fair share is not only unjust, it adds to the burden the rest of us must shoulder and it should be illegal. This bill would close an often-used loophole to level the playing field in terms of tax burdens and help our college students strengthen our state's economy.”
According to California Franchise Tax Board estimates, AB 1178 will generate over $330 million in state revenues over the next three years by collecting taxes currently avoided by the use of foreign tax havens.
A long time advocate of closing corporate tax loopholes that leave an undue tax burden on California residents, Block wrote AB 1178 to ensure corporations would not be penalized for simply conducting economic activity in another country. AB 1178 must now be passed by the Assembly Committee on Appropriations before it is voted on by the full Assembly. For additional information on AB 1178, please contact Assemblymember Marty Block's Sacramento office at (916) 319-2078.
(Sacramento) - Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D- Los Angeles) today said California should collaborate with the federal government to identify potential federal funding for the state, but questioned much of the rest of the Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposed spending plan.
“Democrats are supportive of the governor’s call for a better return on the dollars we send Washington, but budget threats the Governor usually aims at the Legislature should not be turned to the President of the United States,” said Bass.
Bass said leaders should approach the federal government from a point of collaboration and that all options should be on the table to address the budget deficit.
“The governor said that if California doesn’t receive $8 billion dollars from the federal government, he will push for draconian budget cuts to our safety net. He also called on our congressional delegation to vote against the health care reform we so desperately need in our country. It’s important we begin the challenging year ahead with cooperation, not a combative, contradictory tone,” Bass said.
The Speaker was critical of the administration’s proposed cuts that would effectively dismantle the safety net needed by millions of Californians, particularly during the ongoing recession. She also criticized the administration for slipping conservative policy proposals – that have no bearing on the budget – into the budget proposal in an effort to burnish the governor’s legacy.
“Unfortunately the governor is slipping policy issues in his budget that really amount to his concern over his legacy. Once again he’s looking to erode environmental, legal, education and pension protections. These have little to do with closing our budget deficit and more to do with a conservative legacy he wishes to leave behind. The governor says he wants to be in denial about this being his last year in office. This budget amounts to is a big pile of denial. The Legislature will take a much more serious approach to closing the state’s budget deficit.”
Speaker Bass: Gov’s Proposed Budget is “Big Pile of Denial”
(Sacramento) – California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) says she’s pleased the Governor is planning to press the federal government to pay its fair share to help California overcome the current budget crisis but says much of the rest of the Governor’s proposed spending plan has little connection to reality. Speaker Bass says the Governor’s proposed cuts would effectively dismantle the safety net needed by millions of Californians. And, Speaker Bass says the Governor has slipped conservative policy proposals – that have no bearing on the budget – into his budget proposal in an effort to burnish is legacy. Here’s more from Assembly Speaker Bass in this Assembly Access video.
(Sacramento) – This morning the California State Assembly chose John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) to be the next Speaker. The timing of the transition from current Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) to Speaker-elect Pérez has not yet been finalized. Links to audio of Speaker Bass and Speaker-elect Pérez are at the bottom of this e-mail.
Here are his prepared remarks he delivered at the start of the news conference that followed his election:
Good Morning. I want to thank you all for coming out today, and I especially want to thank Speaker Bass for her leadership, her friendship and her confidence. She has been a steadfast leader for California, and we have been fortunate to have her guiding our state through such unprecedented challenges.
This is an historic moment for California, where we face a number of complex and difficult issues. I am both proud and humbled to have received the votes of my colleagues to serve as the 68th Speaker of the California Assembly.
In the coming weeks and months, the Legislature will be called upon again to address a number of pressing issues, not the least of which is our budget situation. The Governor outlined the magnitude of the problem yesterday in his State of the State Speech, and once again called for reform on a variety of fronts.
In that respect, I believe the Governor is correct. Our state clearly needs a number of reforms, beginning with how we manage our finances through the budget process, and certainly in the broader context of how our government is structured.
I certainly have my own ideas, but I believe that for reform to be successful, every member must participate in the process, and every idea must be on the table. We will have a thorough discussion in the Assembly, but I believe a natural starting point comes in how we negotiate the budget. I stated on the floor a few moments ago that the budget process in the Assembly will be open, honest, transparent and inclusive. When the time comes for the Big 5 meetings, I will be presenting the Assembly’s budget to the other leaders, not writing the budget in the Big 5 and presenting it to my members.
I am confident that the Assembly will produce a body of reforms this year which will help to stabilize our finances and make government more functional.
I want to thank my colleagues for their confidence and trust. I’m looking forward to a productive year.[/important]
(Sacramento) – Today the Assembly Democratic Caucus voted unanimously to support Assemblymember John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) to serve as the next Speaker. A floor vote is expected when the Assembly reconvenes in January. After the caucus vote Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) issued the following statement:
“The Assembly Democratic caucus has made me proud many times in the past 18 months and today is one of those times. First by the high caliber of the Speaker candidates we had, especially the final two, John Pérez and Kevin de León, and second by the strength our caucus has shown in coming together and uniting behind one of those candidates, the next Speaker of the Assembly, John Pérez. Under his leadership and the continued leadership of Assemblymember De León and his supporters I look forward to another year of being made proud by my colleagues as we work to improve the quality of life for the people of California."
Assemblymember John A. Pérez thanked his Assembly colleagues for the honor:
“I want to thank the Members of the Assembly Democratic Caucus for the faith they have placed in me. It is a humbling privilege. I will work every day to justify that faith and to earn the enormous honor of having been drafted to serve as Speaker. The other candidates for Speaker, especially Assemblymember Kevin de León, have all shown great leadership for the Assembly and for this state and they have my great respect. As Speaker, I will look forward to working with a united Democratic caucus as we continue tackling our number one priority—helping the state recover from the recession and helping the California families who have been hit so hard by it.”
Assemblymember Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) added:
“Today, I was proud to stand and nominate my friend and colleague John Pérez to serve as Speaker of the California Assembly. I did so deeply thankful for the strong support and encouragement I have received from members of our caucus, and also mindful of the example of one of the great inspirations of my life and many others--Rosa Parks. Mrs. Parks showed us you didn’t have to have a particular office or title to effect great change. I am proud to be a member of the California State Assembly and I will continue working hard, with my colleagues and with Speaker Pérez, to bring about real change for the people of my district and all the people of California.”
(Sacramento) – Yesterday the Assembly Democratic Caucus voted unanimously to support Assemblymember John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) to serve as the next Speaker of the State Assembly. Today Assemblymember Pérez spoke with the media about his selection by the Caucus to follow Karen Bass as Speaker of the California State Assembly. A floor vote is expected when the Assembly reconvenes in January.
At this morning’s news conference Assemblymember Pérez began with the following statement:
Good morning and thank you all for being here today.
I am honored and humbled to have received the unanimous endorsement of the Democratic Caucus to be the next Speaker of the California State Assembly.
Exactly one year ago last week, I was sworn in as the Assemblymember representing the people of the 46th District. My service began in a historic year where the Legislature was called upon to make some very difficult choices forced upon us by the global financial crisis.
I had intended to continue my service in a capacity other than Speaker, but ultimately decided to run after a significant number of my colleagues asked me to accept their draft for Speaker. California continues to face enormous challenges, and I believe that any Californian who is called to service must answer that call with enthusiasm and dedication worthy of our state.
I am grateful and humbled by the confidence of my colleagues who have asked me to shoulder the awesome responsibilities of helping guide California through these stormy times. My first, last and only consideration is to serve the People of California as we address the critical financial and structural issues facing our State.
Obviously the budget is going to be the major priority for this year, as we’re staring yet another 20 billion dollar deficit in the face. But we can’t solve the budget crisis without addressing the serious structural issues putting a stranglehold on California government. Reform needs to be central to any long term recovery, and I look forward to working with my Democratic and Republican colleagues in implementing those reforms.[/important]
“This bill brings California’s election recount process into the 21st century. Elections are a fundamental democratic principle and we must make every effort to ensure their integrity. I believe AB 44, will do just that.”
As Chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, I know the importance of college affordability and safety. We must ensure students are provided with safe learning environments. In addition, students need transparency in higher education costs in order to make informed financial decisions for college."
"We know that students in foster care are more likely to achieve their full potential when they are provided services designed to meet their particular needs. It's imperative that foster youth get the support and resources they need to succeed academically."