Senator Cortese Newsletter: An Exciting Start to 2024!

Dear Neighbors,

As 2024 gets underway, I hope the New Year has been peaceful and rejuvenating. With the onset of winter rain, this has been a reflective time for many as we enjoy the company of loved ones. I also extend my warmest wishes to all preparing to observe the Lunar New Year and Tết Year of the Dragon. These festivities, rich in cultural significance, mark the lunar calendar's new cycle. The Year of the Dragon symbolizes strength, success, and nobility.  

Taking the Year of the Dragon as inspiration, my January has been a whirlwind of work! In the “Capitol Updates” section below, you can read about some groundbreaking bills I introduced this month. From enhancing the transparency of government communications to adapting our laws to the realities of domestic violence and ensuring the wellbeing of schoolchildren, each bill represents a step toward protecting our communities and our democracy. 

I encourage you to read on and discover how our work is creating a safer, more transparent Silicon Valley and California. Your feedback, as always, is invaluable on this shared journey of progress and empowerment. Please email me at with questions, concerns, or requests. 

Be well,

Senator Dave Cortese


In the upcoming fiscal year, our Legislature faces the significant challenge of addressing a projected budget deficit of $37.86 billion. Addressing the deficit is paramount. Let me be clear: the State Senate will uphold and protect the vital resources and programs essential to many Californians. This includes our ongoing commitment to keeping neighborhoods safe, school budgets healthy, and assistance and housing for people experiencing homelessness. This year, I’ll also be steadfastly working on policies to build more affordable housing and enhance protection against wildfires and other hazards related to climate change.

Fortunately, this current deficit follows a decade of smart budget management by our State Legislature. We are in a strong position to safeguard our investments and prioritize the needs of all Californians, especially our children, students, seniors, and those who rely on state support services.

Here are some bills I’ve announced so far this January!

SB 908 (Government Transparency) This bill confronts a significant challenge: sometimes, electronic messages from government officials are lost or hidden from public view, blocking the public’s understanding of what their elected leaders are doing with taxpayer dollars. This can violate laws promoting government transparency. SB 908 champions transparency while maintaining the integrity our democracy demands.

SB 915 (The Autonomous Vehicle Service Deployment and Data Transparency Act) Autonomous vehicles in California operate in various cities without any input or influence from local governments, which have always regulated local traffic. Driverless vehicles have reportedly run through red lights, obstructed emergency responders, and veered into construction zones, at times causing severe human injury. SB 915 helps ensure public safety by granting local governments the authority to allow and govern these driverless vehicle services in their communities.

Senate Bill 554 (The Survivor's Protection Act) This bill facilitates support for those who have suffered from domestic violence or harassment, even if the survivor involved in the encounter moves to another location outside the state. Currently, obtaining a restraining order can be challenging for individuals who have moved away from their abuser. Under SB 554, survivors can request a restraining order in California court, regardless of where they live. This change is crucial as it enables judges to better protect individuals and their families from further harm.

SB 483 (Prohibiting Prone Restraints) This bill addresses the dangers of prone restraints, one of the most hazardous forms of physical restraint used in schools. Prone restraints, which involve holding students in a facedown position, can restrict the student’s airway and have led to severe injuries and even fatalities. SB 483 seeks to prevent these tragedies by banning prone restraints in every public school in California, advocating instead for existing de-escalation and behavioral replacement techniques that keep all students safe.

Community Updates


Warming Centers are Open! With the chilly weather hitting the Bay Area, Santa Clara County is opening up several warming centers during the day across the county to keep you warm and safe. County libraries are stepping up as warming centers. Pop into one if you need a cozy, heated spot to beat the cold. In San Jose, city libraries and community centers are open as warming centers during regular hours. You can find the hours and locations for the city libraries here and for community centers here. For a complete list of warming center locations across Santa Clara County, click here.


Financial Aid is Available! Great news for students seeking financial aid for the 2024-25 academic year! The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the California Dream Act Application (CADAA) are now available. FAFSA will have periodic openings, as announced by the US Department of Education, while CADAA is open for applications. The state priority deadline in California is April 2, 2024, but be sure to check with your college for earlier deadlines. The "Better FAFSA" offers an improved user experience, allowing parents, students, and spouses to complete role-based sections. The Student Aid Index (SAI) replaces the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Similarly, "Better CADAA" simplifies the process, eliminating the need for a PIN and including the AB 540 affidavit. The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) provides free Cash for College webinars and workshops to assist with application questions. For more resources and updates, visit the CSAC website and social media channels. Don't hesitate to reach out to for additional support and information. Apply now and secure your financial aid for the upcoming academic year!

Learn How to Vote and Engage in the March 5, 2024 Presidential Primary Election! (Multiple languages) The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters is hosting informative workshops in 14 languages to educate voters about the upcoming Presidential Primary Election on March 5, 2024. Learn how to vote, where to vote, and about the flexibility offered by California's Voter's Choice Act. Explore ways to actively engage in the election process, from working as an election worker to volunteering. Bilingual workshop presenters are available to answer questions in your preferred language or in English. All meetings will be conducted online via Zoom, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., with bilingual support available. Register for your preferred workshop here.

Workshop Dates:

1/29/2024: Nepali

1/30/2024: Tagalog

1/31/2024: Hindi

2/1/2024: Spanish

2/5/2024: Gujarati

2/6/2024: Punjabi

2/7/2024: Telugu

2/8/2024: Tamil

2/13/2024: Korean

2/14/2024: Khmer

2/15/2024: Japanese

For more information, contact the Registrar of Voters’ Office at (408) 299-VOTE (8683) or toll-free at (866) 430-VOTE (8683). You can also email or visit here.

Free Narcan! Residents in Santa Clara County can now access free doses of Narcan, a drug that can save lives from opioid overdoses. Call 408-272-6055 or shoot an email to The Santa Clara County Opioid Overdose Prevention Project will send you a naloxone kit with a training video link and a QR code, so you'll know exactly how to use it. More information and training videos in both English and Spanish on the county's website about fighting opioid overdoses. Stay safe!


CalKIDS Program: Free Money for College! CalKIDS is an innovative program that helps California families plan for future education costs. Regardless of family income, every newborn in California gets a savings account funded with up to $175, and eligible low-income students in grades 1-12 can receive up to $1,500. Research shows that even a small college savings can significantly increase the chances of a child attending and graduating college. CalKIDS makes this a reality for all California children. Visit

Volunteer for Santa Clara County Parks! Interested in giving back to Santa Clara County Parks? Join a Volunteer Open House where you can explore long-term volunteer opportunities. Advance registration is preferred but not mandatory. Volunteers must complete a background check, outside employment form, and sexual harassment training, with additional onboarding requirements varying by position. Register at 408-918-4930 or Minimum age is 18.

Join First Tee - Silicon Valley's Winter Classes! First Tee, a youth development nonprofit, offers a unique blend of life skills and golf skills curriculum tailored for 2nd to 12th graders from diverse backgrounds. With financial aid available, the program is accessible and affordable, ensuring no child is turned away. Courses are offered at Rancho Del Pueblo Golf Course (San Jose), Baylands Golf Links (Palo Alto), and Gavilan College Golf Course (Gilroy). Plus, there’s an opportunity to make a difference as a paid instructor or volunteer coach, mentoring youth in character-building and leadership skills. For more details on registration and coaching, visit and follow them on Facebook at FirstTeeSV or Instagram @firstteesv. Registration opens February 14, 2024, at 11am.

In The News

San Jose Spotlight: San Jose lawsuit sparks legislation to bolster government transparency

ABC7 News: Here's how SB 915 aims to make autonomous vehicle regulation safer at the local level

San Francisco Standard: State Bill Would Give Cities Like San Francisco the Power To Regulate Robotaxis

Black Voice News: New California Laws Improve Health Care Access and Address Opioid Crisis

Davis Enterprise: California bill outlawing student restraints advances after Davis mom's testimony

As mentioned earlier, please get in touch with me with any questions, comments, or concerns. I can be reached at State resources and services available are below and posted on my website:


State Resources



I shared an inspiring day with Assemblymembers Marc Berman and  Gail Pellerin at the Early Childhood Education Policy Forum hosted by the Santa Clara County Office of Education. Our commitment to expanding access and improving the quality of early education is stronger than ever.


My office joined Holocaust Remembrance Day at San Jose City Hall, where we reflected on the alarming rise in antisemitism and our own responsibility in confronting hate and protecting all communities. Thank you San Jose Councilmember David Cohen for sponsoring the event.


At the Green New Year Celebration, the Silicon Valley Youth Climate Action, a youth-led nonprofit, shared updates on their progress in building climate resiliency in their communities and their goals for 2024.


Our district representative Estefany Meza joined a La Raza Roundtable holiday party with Assemblymember Ash Kalra and Supervisor Cindy Chavez. They honored Victor Garza, founder of La Raza Roundtable, Santa Clara County’s largest coalition of Latino and Mexican-American organizations.

State Resources

Santa Clara County


State Assistance



Business Assistance

Consumer Protection

Jobs and Unemployment

Road Conditions