Biography

Jim Beall brings a lifetime of experience and understanding in transportation, housing, and government efficiency to the State Senate.

In three decades of public service – first as a San Jose City Councilman, then as a Santa Clara County Supervisor, and legislator in the Assembly -- Beall has left his mark across Silicon Valley and beyond.

In 2017, Beall, the chairman of the Transportation and Housing Committee, was a pivotal figure in unraveling two of California’s toughest problems -- repairing a crumbling transportation infrastructure and building more affordable housing to enable more Californians to live in the communities where they work. His solutions will also create and sustain jobs to keep the state’s economy rolling.

Senate Bill 3, introduced by Beall in late 2016 and passed the next year, gives California the opportunity to build $15 billion in much-needed affordable housing for working families, seniors, vets, and the homeless. SB 3 proposes to expand a limited housing supply and counterbalance a skyrocketing real estate market that threatens our future and economy. The bill’s proposed ballot measure is scheduled to be on the November general election ballot in 2018.

Beall’s Senate Bill 1, approved by a two-thirds majority in the Legislature and signed by Gov. Brown, updates the state’s outmoded road repair funding system to provide a dedicated, accountable stream of funding to repair aging roads and bridges. Over a 10-year period, the bill pumps over $52 billion into repairs. It also dedicates $7.5 billion to expand and improve mass transit systems and projects, such as extending BART to San Jose.

The bill also includes pre-apprenticeship programs, enabling more workers to become eligible for new jobs that emerge as repairs begin throughout the state.

SB 1 exemplifies Beall’s prolific work to improve transportation.

In 2017, he passed a proposal to cut long Bay Area commutes by letting voters decide whether to raise bridge tolls to fund a comprehensive regional traffic plan of 30 projects that are coordinated to eliminate bottlenecks over the regions busiest commute corridors.

Record in transportation includes spurring the construction of Highways 85 and 87; fighting for a BART-Silicon Valley extension. He has helped secure millions in state funding to streamline the Interstate 280/880/ Stevens Creek Boulevard interchange.

As a member of the State Assembly in 2010, Beall passed legislation enabling San Jose to gain local control over state routes – Monterey Road, The Alameda, and Alum Rock Avenue— and to receive over $12 million in state funding to beautify and bring these arterials up to city standards. In a similar vein, he worked to allow San Jose gain control of a public staircase in order to eliminate nuisances and crimes from occurring at night.

Returning the streets to local control is but one example of Beall’s focus on issues that matter to Senate District 15 residents -- justice, children, the environment, and public safety.

He has helped parents in Los Gatos rebuild a new Lexington School on its original site; led the charge to open a new DMV office in East San Jose; and corrected an inequity in the law to enable the cities of Cupertino, Saratoga, Monte Sereno and Los Altos Hills to recoup their fair share of property tax revenue for local projects and services.

His bill, SB 492, passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the governor in 2017, potentially clears the way for public access to nearly 6,500 acres, including 1,000 acres of redwoods, in the scenic Santa Cruz Mountains.

Beall is known statewide for his legislation to help foster care children, low-income families, and people with disabilities.

He has made a lasting difference in the lives of over 100,000 local youngsters by leading the drive to create the Children’s Health Initiative to ensure that every child in Santa Clara County can be covered by health insurance.

His prior legislation includes AB 303, passed and ratified in 2009, to ensure California's hospitals and emergency rooms can stay open during a castastrophe. The bill helped hospitals access federal funding to finance and complete state-mandated seismic safety improvements.

In 2010, he authored Assembly Bill 12, landmark legislation that extends the benefits of eligible foster care youth beyond age 18 to 21. This extension allows thousands of foster care youth to obtain housing and other services, allowing them to attend college or job-training programs. The bill also provides support to relatives who assume foster care duties, recognition of how family and permanency play such important roles in a child’s life during a period of upheaval.

His work on the delivery of mental health services to Californians includes the passage of laws to increase enforcement of mental health parity laws and curb the overmedication of foster care children. In 2015, the Governor signed into law Beall’s bill to drastically improve mental health training for peace officers to reduce violent confrontations with people with mental illnesses.

Beall has also fought for justice for victims of sexual abuse. In 2014, Audrie’s Law and SB 926, to extend the criminal statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse, were both approved by the Governor.

Beall and his wife, Patricia, have been married for more than 34 years. He has two stepsons and a grandson.

He is a graduate of  San Jose State University where he studied urban planning and political science. Beall, who was born in San Jose, is a lifelong resident of the city.