June 2016 Newsletter

June 15, 2016

NEIGHBORHOOD CLEAN-UP

Join me for a clean-up of the neighborhood around McKinley Elementary School. By contributing a bit of your time, you'll help beautify this community by removing garbage and hazardous clutter that can endanger children's safety.

Neighborhood Clean-Up
Friday, June 24; 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
McKinley Elementary School
651 Macredes Ave., San Jose

Trash bags, gloves, trash pick-up sticks, and safety vests will be provided. Dress appropriately for the weather. Sturdy clothing and footwear are advised.

The clean-up is also co-sponsored by Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, San Jose City Councilman Raul Peralez, and the McKinley-Bonita Neighborhood Association.


 

FOSTER YOUTH

Nearly 7,900 former foster care youth who attended college last year were able to get the classes they needed under a bill I authored five years ago that grant them priority registration.

The bill's goal was to increase their graduation rates which have been lower than those of non-foster care students. By shortening degree completion times, the state could also reduce financial aid expenditures. But this priority registration status is scheduled to sunset on Jan. 1.

In January, I introduced SB 906 to make the early registration status permanent. The bill was approved by the Senate and it is now being considered by Assembly Committee on Higher Education.

My bill also includes students with disabilities and low-income students who are about to see their priority registration status end, too. They had been granted early registration under previous bills authored by other legislators.

SB 906 builds on legislation I authored eight years ago to extend benefits beyond age 18 to 21 for foster care students, Assembly Bill 12.

When I introduced AB 12, the bill was based on a firm belief that even in the throes of a deep recession, California should and could provide a solid platform of support for youth who were leaving the foster care system and aiming to enter college or a program to gain employment.

AB 12 took two years to secure the Legislature's approval. The bill was enacted in 2012, marking the first time that California would furnish transitional housing and other support services to former foster youth to prepare them for adulthood and self-sufficiency.

A five-year study has confirmed AB 12's positive impact. Interviews of former foster youth who had taken advantage of AB's benefits found 70 percent were enrolled in school or working and were optimistic about reaching their hopes and goals.


 

ENVIRONMENT

Global warming is a reality that endangers California's future. Wildfire seasons have lengthened and grown in intensity. Sea levels have risen over a half foot since 1900, encroaching on coastal population and economic centers that drive the state. Climate change has been cited as a contributing factor for the drought conditions we have endured for the past five years as well as expanding the range of tropical diseases.

The majority of us who serve in the California State Senate realize that we are close to the tipping point that will bring about an irreversible climatic change that will affect us in unimaginable ways.

The Legislature cannot control what policies states and nations may or may not adopt, but we have taken firm steps to reduce California's share of greenhouse gas emissions. We have taken this stand because it is the right thing to do for the sake of future generations lest they ask all of us why we did nothing to stop the rampant despoilment of the Earth.

Either in committees or on Senate floor during this legislative year, I have voted to approve environmentally sound bills to stem pollution that threatens the oceans, species, and humankind. Among the bills have I recently supported include:

  • Stopping utilities from recovering the costs of buying out-of-state energy if that energy was generated in violation of California Public Utility Commission's requirements greenhouse gas emission performance standards; Senate Bill 1453 (de León). The bill increases California's reach beyond its borders to promote clean energy generation.
  • Reforming the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources' regulation of methane gas storage wells; SB 887 (Pavely). The bill is aimed at stopping a repeat of a massive natural gas leak at an Aliso Canyon underground storage facility. Scientists estimate the leak emitted 107,000 tons of methane into the atmosphere, equal to a year's emissions from 572,000 vehicles.

Last year, I supported Senate bills to increase California's renewable energy generation capacity to cut greenhouse gases emissions in half by 2030.

We must take action now to slow global warming. It will be hard. But it cannot wait.


 

SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Justice at Work Law Group, a San Jose-based legal firm specializing in employment law, has been honored as Senate District 15's "Small Business of the Year."

Attorneys Tomas Margain and Huy Tran, the firm's partners, have represented employees as well as businesses. They have worked with many community organizations, especially those dedicated to helping immigrants, to advocate for stronger wage protections for laborers. The firm also proactively works with employers to avert disputes.