May 2014 Newsletter
The most rewarding aspect of my work in Sacramento is finding ways to help my district -- improving its transportation and health systems or by saving taxpayers' dollars.
Shepherding bills through the State Capitol can be like traversing a minefield because 119 other legislators have competing proposals that are vying for the same pot of resources. So, the bills that get through the winnowing process are the result of excellent planning and hard work.
But what happens to them after they are ratified? What impact do they really have? Here then are a few examples of how my bills have recently affected Senate District 15.
In 2010, my bill, AB 1670, was signed into law, to enable San Jose to take over the ownership and control of Monterey Road, the Alameda, and Alum Rock Avenue from Caltrans. The bill gave the city the authority to make improvements and beautify the streets without seeking the permission of the state, a process that could take months.
Just as important, the bill allowed San Jose to obtain more than $12.4 million from Caltrans to repave the roads and bring them up to city standards. At an April meeting, the City Council voted to use the state money to resurface those streets to improve their ride quality and structural integrity.
The need for mental health services is great but the availability of those services, especially on an emergency basis, is problematic. To address the problem, I co-authored budget legislation, SB 82 also known as the Mental Health Wellness Act, to expand community-based mental health crisis care systems.
SB 82 awarded the Bay Area region a total of $8.8 million, including $4.6 million for Santa Clara County. Our county will use that money to create two new crisis residential treatment programs – one in San Jose and the other in South County – that will add 30 more beds, nearly doubling the existing number of beds. A portion of the money will also be used for an eight-bed crisis stabilization program to serve adults 365 days a year in a welcoming home-like environment.
About seven months ago, SB 347 was passed by the Legislature. The bill was designed to save Santa Clara County $1 million that was to be paid to the state following the sale of the county's Children's Shelter in Campbell.
The shelter's construction was financed in 1990 with Proposition 86 funding, which included a proviso that if the county sold the shelter it would have to refund $1 million. But after the county instituted a new range of Out-of-Home Placement strategies that placed children in family settings, the average number of children and their duration of stay at the Children's Shelter campus dwindled to the point the shelter was no longer needed.
The county eventually sold the shelter property but passaged of SB 347 waived the refund. This month, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors agreed to take the $1 million in savings and disburse it to operators of homeless and/or runway youth shelters, a use that adheres to the original the spirit of the Proposition 86 funding.
I am sponsoring two events that focus on staying safe at home and on the road.
Spring Safety Event
Learn important safety tips from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's office and Fire Department.
Prevent mail theft * Scams* Fires* Teach kids how to be safe and learn how to keep your home safe when away on vacation* Learn how to form a neighborhood watch group.
Saturday, May 31st
For more information or to RSVP CLICK HERE
Free Child Car Seat Safety Clinic
Make sure your child's car seat is properly installed with a free safety inspection by trained professionals. Learn about car seat safety laws and other important tips to protect your children in vehicles.
Saturday, June 21st
For more information or to RSVP CLICK HERE
Appointments are necessary. To make an appointment please call (408) 467-5400. For more information please contact Senator Beall's district office at (408) 558-1295
MAY MEMORIAL DAY
From Lexington to Gettysburg to Iwo Jima and the Helmand Province, more than 1.3 million Americans have died in battle to preserve our freedom. My Father served in World War II as a paratrooper for the 82nd Airborne and the 326th Glider Infantry Regiment so I grew up with a strong admiration and appreciation the many sacrifices made by our military.
For the past several years, I've spent Memorial Days at Oak Hill Memorial Park paying my respects to the fallen with veterans. I'll be there again this year on May 26 for ceremonies with the United Veterans Council of Santa Clara County.
Many of our soldiers who are returning home after their stints in Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I believe it is our duty to support them by increasing access to mental health treatment; one way to accomplish that is through stronger enforcement of federal and state parity laws.
PARCEL TAX SAVINGS FOR SENIORS
The Santa Clara Valley Water District is offering an exemption for qualifying low-income seniors from the 15-year Safe, Clean, Water Creeks special parcel tax. This tax was approved by Santa Clara County voters in November of 2012.
The exemption enrollment period closes on June 30 to be exempt from the upcoming property tax year. Property owners who miss the deadline must wait for the next year.
The exemption allows the district to remove the parcel tax charge from a qualifying senior household's property tax bill. Currently, the charge is around $55 for a single family home and $23 for a townhouse or condo. Seniors 65 years and older can apply for the exemption if they live in their own home as their primary residence. However, mobile homes in park or homes that are in an irrevocable trust are not eligible for the exemption.
Once a resident has submitted the application, there is no need to re-apply every year.
In the spring, usually by the end of March or early April, the district will send the resident a letter to verify eligibility. Once the resident has returned the verification form for ongoing eligibility, the water district will remove the resident's property from the property tax roll for the Safe, Clean, Water charge for the next property tax year.
ASIAN-PACIFIC AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
May is Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, honoring the accomplishments countless Asian and Pacific Islanders have made to our state and country. About six million Asians and more than 300,000 Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders call California home.
On a related note, I have introduced Senate Resolution 46 to correct an injustice, based on racial prejudice, against Hong Yen Chang, a 19th century Chinese immigrant -- educated at Yale and the Columbia Law School -- who was denied the opportunity to become an attorney in California solely because of his ethnicity.
The Asian-Pacific American Law Students Association at UC Davis are leading a campaign to have the State Bar of California grant a posthumous law license to Chang. If passed, SR 46 would bolster the students' efforts to obtain justice for Chang.
Sens. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, and Carol Liu, D-La Canada Flintridge have joined me as co-authors of the resolution.