February 2014 E-Newsletter

February 12, 2014

Open House

You're invited to my annual Open House on Feb. 21, Friday, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., at my Senate District 15 office, 2105 S. Campbell Ave., Suite 154. Light refreshments will be available. To RSVP, click here!

Meet me and my district office staff. Find out how we can help you. I'll also be introducing Senate District 15's Woman of the Year for 2014: Judy Pipkin, a San Jose activist with a lifetime of service, including working as a nurse and as a mentor foster care youth.

Making the Law Help Victims and Punish Pedophiles

Just a few weeks ago, I introduced legislation to stop child molesters from leveraging the statute of limitations to escape prosecution or civil damages.

Changing both the criminal and civil statutes of limitations will give victims more time to report crimes and allow the justice system to get child molesters off the streets. We cannot allow child sex abusers to turn the law on its head so they can remain free to molest more defenseless kids.

Medical research now shows the trauma inflicted on victims of childhood sex abuse can result in memory loss and severely affect their ability to report the crime to authorities. But our existing law fails to recognize pedophiles are using that psychological harm to hide from justice.
My proposals give an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse additional time to recognize and understand their psychological trauma so they can seek the prosecution of their assailant or seek restitution.

Getting SB 924 and 926 passed will be a battle. If you care about children, please click here to learn how you can help me get both bills through the Legislature.

Senate Bill 926 would reform the criminal statute of limitations by raising the age at which an adult survivor of childhood sex abuse can seek prosecution from 28 to 40 years. The bill would affect sex crimes against children including lewd and lascivious acts, continuous sexual abuse of a child, and other offenses. The bill has co-authors from both parties.

A second bill, SB 924, proposes to reform the two standards that now govern the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits by:

  • Increasing the age deadline to file to 40 years old from 26. This existing deadline is currently used when the victim makes his or her causal connection to their trauma before they reach their 26th birthday.
  • Increasing the time from the date of discovery of their trauma to child sex abuse to five years from the current standard of three years. Additionally, it stipulates the five-year period starts when a physician, psychologist, or clinical psychologist first informs the victim of the link between their adult psychological injures and the abuse.

Unlike SB 131, which I introduced last year, the new bills will apply both to public and private entities and will be applied prospectively on Jan. 1, if passed and signed into law.

In a related issue, I am preparing proposals to stop the types of sexual assaults and cyberbullying that played such a cruel role in the tragic death of Audrie Pott, a Saratoga High School. The bills are being drafted with the cooperation of the Audrie's family, who inspired the legislation.

Paying for College

Students and families are invited to attend free Cash for College workshops across California to receive help filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and Cal Grant GPA Verification Form required for Cal Grants.

The California Student Aid Commission and their program,"Cash for College" help low-income and first-generation aspiring college students complete the application process so that they can access financial aid for education and career/technical training beyond high school.

Graduating high school seniors or recent graduates must meet eligibility requirements and forms by March 2 to maximize their opportunity to receive an award.

Cal Grants may be as high as $12,192 a year and be used toward paying college expenses at any qualifying college, university or career or technical school in the state. Depending on which type of Cal Grant a student receives, the money can be used to pay for tuition, room and board, and even books and pencils. The best part is it doesn't have to be paid back.

February Celebrations

This month marks the Lunar New Year and Black History Month. Together they are potent reminders of Santa Clara County's rich cultural diversity.

The Lunar New Year actually began Jan. 31, ushering in the Year of the Horse, and launching two weeks of celebrations.

February is Black History Month, a celebration and recognition of the achievements, culture, and contributions of African-Americans. History is important. It explains how, why, and what has brought us, our families, and our country to this moment.

This year's theme commemorates the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Save Water!

We are officially in a drought. Let's do all we can to reduce our use of water. Here are some tips on how to save water inside and outside your home.