March 2014 Newsletter

March 21, 2014

Audrie's Law

Audrie's Law Press ConferenceThis month, I introduced Senate Bill 838, also known as Audrie's Law, to deter the types of bullying, cyberbullying, and sexual assault that led to the suicide of 15-year-old Audrie Pott, a Saratoga High student. The bill would eliminate a double standard in the law that punishes sexual assaults against people who are unconscious more lightly than if the victim had resisted the attack.

To learn more about the bill and how you can support, please click here.

This proposal was inspired by Audrie's family. The bill language was drafted by District Attorney Jeff Rosen's office. Sheila Pott, Audrie's mother, and District Attorney Rosen joined me for a news conference at the Saratoga Library, where we announced the introduction of the bill.

I believe this bill will bring justice for victims and update the law to make it relevant to our 21st century “connected” society. We must do all we can to prevent what happened to Audrie Pott from ever happening again.

Audrie took her life in 2012 after she was sexually assaulted while unconscious and photos of her were shared electronically.

According to news reports, the perpetrators were tried as juveniles with the accusations against them sustained. They reportedly were released after receiving 30- to 45-day sentences, a local newspaper said. They now are free to continue their lives, education, and careers in anonymity because of outdated laws.

Meet Me

Join me for a one-on-one discussion over a cup of coffee on April 24, Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., at the Le Boulanger, 1351 Lincoln Ave., in San Jose's Willow Glen district. Folks can speak with me on any state-related issue or problem. I'll be meeting with people on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Youth Conference

San Jose's seventh annual Youth Conference is scheduled for Friday, April 18, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the City Hall Rotunda. The conference - Today's Vision, Tomorrow's Reality - will inform students about how they “can create their future in the areas of environment, health, safety, and education,'' according to organizers. I'll be one of the keynote speakers at the conference along with people from Tesla Motors. To learn more about the conference and how to register, visit the San Jose Youth Commission's website. Space is limited.

Parks and Pancakes

At the community pancake breakfastLast week, I held a community pancake breakfast and the topic was the future or our parks and open space. More than 100 people, a wonderful mixture or seniors and youths - arrived at the Almaden Community Center for a discussion with Andrea Mackenzie, general manager of the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority, who gave a presentation on the authority's 30-year strategic plan to protect our open space.

I spoke about SB 1268, my proposal to boost the Cap and Trade program's ability to reduce greenhouse gases by exploiting nature's ability to cleanse the air. Ultimately, this bill fosters the better management of natural resources through the preservation, protection, and restoration of our wetlands and forests to filter carbon dioxide from the air.

Drought Impacts

Despite recent storms, Governor's Drought Task Force reported the snow pack is at 31 percent of normal as of March 9. Governor Brown has declared a statewide drought emergency and is asking all of us to cut water use by 20 percent. Learn how you can reduce water consumption at home by taking these simple steps.

The Legislature passed two pieces of emergency legislation - SB 103 and SB 104 - to redirect existing bonds and general funds to provide $687.4 million for drought relief efforts at the state, regional, and local levels.

This money is available for projects that affect the Santa Clara Valley Water District's ability to supply water to our county. I've identified nine projects that will qualify, including several recycled water pipelines and the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit to ensure the reservoir can safely hold its maximum storage level. I've reached out to the water district to begin the process of applying for the grants.