September 2010 E-Newsletter

April 18, 2011

AB 1600 AND AB 12

We have an extraordinary opportunity to help Californians and save taxpayer dollars.

In the session that ended earlier this month, the Legislature approved two of my bills:

  • AB 1600, a bill that ends the disparity in health insurance benefits between mental illness and substance abuse coverage and the coverage afforded for physical illnesses and injuries.
  • AB 12, landmark legislation to extend foster care benefits from 18 to 21 years of age.

The bill also aligns California’s foster care laws with federal policy, making the state eligible to obtain federal funding for this transitional support and for the state’s Kin-Gap program. The Kin-Gap program facilitates the adoption of children by their relatives instead of placing them in institutionalized care.

These two bills that I introduced have the capacity to improve the lives of millions of Californians.

AB 1600 will save our state and counties millions by getting people who need therapy for mental illnesses or substance abuse disorders covered by their insurance.

According to the State Department of Finance, the state general fund cost of AB 1600 is zero and the increase per enrollee amounts to about 25 cents or lower.

Right now, California’s prisons and jails treat more mentally ill people than all of our hospitals and residential treatment facilities combined.

For each dollar spent on mental health treatment and substance abuse coverage, the state of California saves $2 in hospital and jail expenses.

AB 12 is designed to assist the 4,500 youths who “age out’’ of the foster care system every year. By extending foster care benefits beyond the age of 18 to 21, California can obtain federal dollars to help direct our foster care kids to productive lives and careers.

Studies show young adults leaving foster care are far more susceptible to a lower rate of educational achievement and higher rates of homelessness, unemployment, unplanned pregnancies, violent crimes and involvement with the justice system compared with non-foster care children.

Both AB 12 and AB 1600 are now in the hands of the Governor. Both bills need your help and support to gain the Governor’s signature.

Please write to the Governor and tell him to sign AB 1600 and AB 12.

To obtain a template support letter for AB 1600, click here.

Click on AB 12 to obtain a template support letter.

To write your own letter to the Governor, contact his office by clicking here.


To ensure pedestrian safety, the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) announced it is seeking bids for the construction of a 315-foot overpass that will allow pedestrians to safely cross above passing trains at Monterey and Blossom Hill roads in South San Jose.

Construction on the $10.5 million bridge is scheduled to begin in early 2011. The project is being financed with state transportation bonds, local transit funds and monies from the Federal Highway Administration and the city of San Jose. Construction will take an estimated nine months and the project is scheduled to be completed by late next year.

The pedestrian skywalk addresses safety issues in the aftermath of the November 2005 death of a 2-year-old boy who was hit by a train as his babysitter tried to cross the tracks with him.

Plans call for the new bridge to be 12-feet wide and meet American Disabilities Act standards. The project also includes improvements to the surrounding sidewalks, new crossing signals and fencing to prevent at-grade crossings.

I know this project will reduce the likelihood of more accidents occurring, keeping our community safer. Many children cross these tracks to get to school in the morning, and it is imperative that we make this area as safe and accident-free as possible.

For more information on this project, please visit


Gold Star Mothers Day was officially proclaimed as the last Sunday of September by U.S. Senate Joint Resolution 115 on June 23rd, 1936.

This special day was created by Congress in honor of the women whose sons and daughters lost their lives in the defense of American liberty and freedom.

As conflicts remain in both Iraq and Afghanistan, we will continue to honor those who serve our country, and the mothers of those brave individuals.


Through legislation I authored, California officially recognizes the second week of October as Disability History Week.

I encourage our schools and other pubic and private institutions to observe this week by conducting activities to increase awareness about the struggles and challenges people with disabilities have faced and continue to face.

People with disabilities will not be fully accepted as equal, contributing members of society until there is better community-wide recognition of the battles these individuals fought to gain equality.


Mark Saturday, September 25th on your calendar for the third annual Take Flight for Kids Festival; a celebration of science, technology, engineering and math. The event is sponsored by the Valley Medical Center Foundation.

The festival is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Reid-Hillview Airport, 2500 Cunningham Ave., San Jose.

Activities include tours of flight schools and planes, robot competitions, bounce houses, exotic animals, NASA exhibits, ethnic food and barbeque, live entertainment and more.

To obtain free tickets and get more information visit the Take Flight for Kids website.

Organizers request that you bring a donation—such as canned foods, diapers, wipes, new socks or underwear—for the Bill Wilson Center.


Grants ranging from $500 to $1,000 are available through the Silicon Valley Education Foundation to help teachers bring innovation into their classrooms. The current cycle for grants ends October 15th. To check for eligibility and to apply, click here.


If you purchase a new energy-saving appliance, you may still be eligible to receive a rebate through California’s Cash for Appliances program.

As of the middle of this month, the popular program has received more than 135,000 applications for rebates. About $11.3 million remains in the fund that started with a $31.7 million rebate pool.

Since April 22nd, the state has been processing rebates of $200 for qualifying refrigerators, $100 for clothes washers and up to $50 for room air conditioners.

On July 29th, the program was expanded to include rebates of $50 for freezers, $100 for dishwashers, $300 to $750 for water heaters and $500 to $1,000 for heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems.

To find out more and to obtain a rebate application form, visit or call (888) 390-4034.