October 2010 E-Newsletter

April 18, 2011

Assembly District 24 Upcoming Events

Pancake Breakfast – Come to the Southside Community Center, 5585 Cottle Road, San Jose, and join me for free pancakes, coffee and fruit on Saturday, November 13, 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. We’ll be talking about legislative issues and receiving an update from Jane Mark, Santa Clara County Parks director, about the development of Martial Cottle Park, a 288-acre parcel bordered by Branham Lane, and Snell and Chynoweth avenues.

Small Business Advisory Council Roundtable – A forum for small business leaders to discuss the challenges they face and possible solutions is scheduled for Friday, November 5, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., at the auditorium of the Alquist State Building in downtown San Jose, 100 Paseo De San Antonio.

This meeting is being held in conjunction with the California Small Business Association.

To find out more or RSVP, please call Frances Herbert at (408) 282-8920, or email her at: frances.grammer@asm.ca.gov.

Legislative Scorecard

Extending foster care benefits from 18 to age 21. Returning control of key city streets to San Jose. Strengthening safeguards to keep weapons out of the hands of unstable people.

Those were some of the bills I introduced that were signed into law by the Governor.

Despite these successes, I am disappointed the Governor chose to veto Assembly Bill 1600, a bill I authored to require health insurers to provide coverage for treatment of mental and substance abuse disorders equal to the coverage provided for physical illnesses or injuries.

This bill had the potential to help an estimated 5 million Californians who, according to a study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, say they need help for a mental or emotional problem. It also had the money-saving potential to reduce thousands of inmates in our state prisons and county jails whose addictions or mental disorders played a role in their incarcerations.

I believe the Governor’s administration did not adequately take into account AB 1600’s cost savings to the state, taxpayers and consumers. Even his Department of Finance concluded the bill would have no impact on the general fund. The additional cost to a health insurance enrollee’s premium was roughly 25 cents or less per month.

Vetoing AB 1600 represents a missed opportunity for the Governor to burnish his legacy.

Instead, many Californians are left to suffer needlessly from chronic mental illnesses or substance abuse leaving their families to cope with the devastating fallout.

Because of the wide ranging impact of this issue, I plan to re-introduce a mental health and substance abuse parity bill in the next session.

Here are the bills I introduced that became law:

  • AB 12 – Makes the state eligible to obtain federal dollars to extend foster care benefits to age 21 and fund the state’s Kin-Gap program, which facilitates the adoption of children by their relatives instead of placing them in institutionalized care. This bill will save the state millions of dollars and countless lives of our youth. View the AB 12 signing ceremony.
    History is made: The Governor signs AB 12.
  • AB 302 – Requires mental health facilities to notify the state Department of Justice by electronic means when patients are admitted, thereby preventing the purchase of firearms by those in an unstable mental state.
  • AB 1670 – Allows the city of San Jose to gain control over key arterial streets that are now state routes; specifically Monterey Road, the Alameda and Alum Rock Avenue. Additionally, AB 1670 ends the bureaucratic red tape that required the city to obtain approval from the California Department of Transportation for traffic improvements or beautification projects.
  • AB 1695 – Authorizes Santa Clara County correctional officers to perform guard duties at hospitals and health care facilities in the county. This legislation provides more flexibility to the county thereby ensuring a more efficient and cost effective deployment of correctional officers.
  • AB 2173 – Increases Medi-Cal funding for emergency air ambulance transportation by imposing a flat $3 fee on each motor vehicle violation excluding parking tickets thereby assuring the continued availability of this life-saving service.
  • AB 2474 – Extends the sunset date for personnel staffing requirements in accordance with the continuance of the 10% rate reduction to foster family homes. AB 2474 ensures that Foster Family Agencies remain an alternative to group homes.

There is also an important higher education bill I helped to shape, Senate Bill 1440, a bill that streamlines the transfer process from community colleges to California State University campuses but also confers an associate’s degree to transfer students.

SB 1440, introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), is an outgrowth of my Assembly Bill 440, which died last year in the Senate Education Committee.

Sen. Padilla resurrected it and I collaborated with him and his staff to craft new language for SB 1440. I served as the principal co-author on the bill, which was signed by the Governor on September 29.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’m joining the fight to focus attention on the importance of breast cancer treatment.

I urge you to get involved by educating the people in your life about the importance of early screenings and treatment. This year, approximately 5,000 California women will die of breast cancer. Nearly 200,000 women throughout the state are living with the disease, and 22,000 more Californians will be diagnosed this year.

Early detection is the best defense against breast cancer. Self exams and mammograms have been shown to greatly reduce cancer mortality rates, as early detection results in a 96% survival rate.

Women in their 20’s and 30’s should have clinical breast exams as part of their regular health exams, preferably once every three years. The American Cancer Society recommends a mammogram every year for women 40 and older. Women at risk should consult with a health professional about whether they should have a mammogram before 40.

For more information on breast cancer screenings, myths and facts about breast cancer as well as other helpful resources, please visit my website by clicking here.