Much of the discussion at the Capitol this time of year revolves around the budget. The 2013-14 State Budget Act establishes a $1.1 billion reserve, aggressively pays down state debt and makes critical, targeted restorations of some of the worst cuts made during the recession.
I am proud to have authored one of the key components of the balanced budget solution - Senate Bill 73, implementing Proposition 39 which was overwhelmingly passed by voters last November. From this deal, Los Angeles Unified School District will receive up to $30 million annually for the next five years for energy savings projects. We know that we can increase test scores, put more money into classrooms from lower energy bills, and help cut down on rampant absenteeism with better indoor air quality from this type of investment.
In addition to the budget, I've been busy on several other key issues. I am authoring legislation ranging from making hospitals more baby-friendly to keeping ammunition out of the hands of criminals.
I'm excited to work with our new Mayor, Eric Garcetti. Over the past 12 years he has worked incredibly hard revitalizing the communities of Echo Park, Silver Lake, Glassell Park and Hollywood. I know he will bring that same compassion and attention to all of Los Angles.
If my office can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact us (213) 483-9300.
Senator Kevin de León
Townhall this Thursday
I am pleased to be partnering with the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council for a community Town Hall Meeting where I can listen and address your concerns on a variety of issues including: public safety, the environment, education and immigration.
WHEN:Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 6 p.m.
WHERE: Puente Learning Center - 501 S Boyle Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90033
There we'll also enjoy a demonstration performance by the LA Opera artists and members of The Zarzuela Project, a collaboration of The Mariachi Conservatory and LA Opera. This Town Hall is being conducted in conjunction with the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council (BHNC). Learn more at www.bhnc.net.
$20.8 million for the Los Angeles State Historic Park
In negotiating the budget, I fought to secure $20.8 million for efforts to revitalize the Los Angeles State Historic Park (LASHP), which is part of the ongoing effort to expand park space in historically underserved communities. These funds are integral to leverage more than $80 million in federal funds from the Army Corps of Engineers for Los Angeles River revitalization projects.
Without parks or other recreational amenities, the people of LA's poorest communities are further challenged to live healthier, more prosperous lives. All children regardless of where they live or where their parents come from deserve green parks and open space.
LASHP, known locally as the “Cornfield,” was the result of a historic partnership between the Latino and Asian American communities that formed the Chinatown Yard Alliance to prevent the development of this 32-acre site into industrial warehouses. Their acquisition of this land is renowned as one of the most significant environmental justice victories in Los Angeles and is the catalyst for the revitalization of the Los Angeles River greenway.
These $20.8 million capital outlay construction dollars were made possible by Proposition 40, the California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act of 2002.
L.A. River - Open for Kayakers
Kayaking in the Sepulveda Basin, photo courtesy of Friends of the LA River.
Thanks to many passionate activists and government officials, the Los Angles River is now accessible for recreation.
Last August the Governor signed my Senate Bill 1201 which establishes that in the eyes of the State of California, the Los Angeles River is a river, not just a flood control channel, and must be treated that way by Los Angeles County.
The public is welcome to walk, fish, and kayak on a 2.5 mile portion of the L.A. River in Elysian Valley. Through Labor Day (September 2, 2013) and from sunrise to sunset daily, during safe conditions, any member of the public can access the Recreation Zone free of charge. Boat access to the Recreation Zone is located at MRCA-managed Rattlesnake Park at Fletcher Drive. The exit point will be downstream adjacent to MRCA-managed Steelhead Park on Oros Street. The Recreation Zone also permits activities such as walking, bird watching, and fishing (with California Department of Fish and Wildlife permit).
$2.8 million to Create York Park
Community members walking into the vacant lot shortly after it was opened. Credit: Ajay Singh, Highland Park/Mount Washington Patch
I'm happy to report that my Assembly Bill 31 (Community and Neighborhood Park Revitalization Act of 2007) has brought $2.8 million of Proposition 84 park funding to Highland Park. AB 31 created the guidelines and criteria for Proposition 84, which targets underserved communities suffering from significant park poverty.
On the southwest corner of Avenue 50 and York Boulevard, adjacent to Café de Leche in Highland Park near the border of Eagle Rock a quarter-acre vacant land will now be turned into York Park.
A University of Wisconsin and Robert Wood Johnson study released earlier this year ranked U.S. counties' health and found there was a strong parallel between wealth and health. This study identifies what we already know--without parks or other recreational amenities, the people of LA's working communities are further challenged to live healthier, more prosperous lives.
All children regardless of where they live or where their parents come from deserve green parks and open space. A family's financial wherewithal should not dictate a child's access to nature.
A complete list of recent park grants can be found on my website here. You can also find a copy of the University of Wisconsin study here.
Between both rounds of Proposition 84 funding, 103 new parks will be created and 23 existing parks will be expanded or substantially improved for a total of 126 projects statewide.
Remember Earth Day Everyday: Recycle Your Foam Curbside
Each year Earth Day inspires awareness and appreciation for the Earth's natural environment and resources. It is also a day that reminds us that we should continue to look for ways to improve our impact on the environment year round. Fortunately, for Pico Union, Lincoln Heights, Echo Park, Elysian Park, Elysian Valley, Glassell Park, Boyle Heights, Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Mt. Washington, Chinatown, Koreatown and East Hollywood residents, recycling just got a lot easier.
These neighborhoods can now recycle electronic packaging and foodservice foam in curbside recycling bins, which is just another step in reducing waste and litter, while achieving our recycling goals.
Foam, which is often mistakenly referred to as Styrofoam, comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, including food containers, foam coffee cups, packaging material, and egg cartons. Many communities across California collect this material, along with aluminum cans, glass bottles, newspapers, and other green items in their recycling bins, which are picked up by the city's waste service.
Recycling your foam gives it a second chance at life and allows for manufactures to turn the material into beautiful picture frames, crown molding, baseboards, nursery packaging, and pens. Not only will you be helping the environment, you will be helping our economy by supporting companies that use recycled material to make new products here in California.
To best recycle foam, here are some tips:
- First look for the triangle on the bottom of the material. If there is a 6 inside of the triangle, then you can recycle it.
- Before you recycle, make sure the foam container is free of food by rinsing it well.
- Place foam in your curbside recycling container.
Every environmentally conscious task we complete helps create a sustainable future for our local communities.
Prop. 39 Implementation Money for Schools
As co-chair of the Proposition 39 campaign, I'm happy to report that after months of public hearings across the state, we negotiated an implementation agreement with the Governor that is a gargantuan victory for students across California. Senate Bill 73 will help create thousands of construction jobs in California and help school districts statewide reduce their energy bills through energy efficiency retrofits.
I encourage you to talk to your schools and district offices to make sure they are preparing their project proposals. Here are examples of some of the larger school districts in Los Angeles and the estimated amount of dollars they qualify for based on their average daily attendance.
ANNUAL ENERGY EFFICIENCY FUNDING ALLOTMENT
Alhambra Unified = $ 1,061,770
Los Angeles Unified = $ 30,871,803
San Marino Unified = $146,401
South Pasadena Unified = $221,629
Proposition 39 was passed in November with more than 60% support. It closed a corporate tax loophole that only benefited out-of-state corporations. It will generate more than $2.5 billion for California with half of the money going to the general fund and half toward measures designed to create jobs and save energy. I co-chaired the Yes on Prop 39 campaign with philanthropist Tom Steyer and former U.S. Secretary of State George Schulz.
Legislation to Keep Families Together
No child should needlessly be taken away from their parents no matter their immigration status. California was the first state in the nation to eliminate the barriers to family reunification for immigrant families in the child welfare system with my Senate Bill 1064, which the Governor signed into law last September. SB 1064 created uniformity across county policies to ensure greater certainty and consistency in the determination of immigration family cases. Groups like First Focus Campaign for Children and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles were instrumental in garnering support for SB 1064 and they are now working nationally on comprehensive immigration reform.
Modeled after SB 1064, immigrant children are being given a chance to stay together with their families due to an amendment that is part of national comprehensive immigration reform. The reform package the U.S. Senate passed in June included an amendment sponsored by Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to strengthen protections for children. I applaud Congress for following California's lead in implementing this righteous legislation.
At the national level, the Specific Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections for Separated Children Act (“HELP” Separated Children Act) provisions would:
- Allow parents affected by immigration enforcement to make calls to arrange for the care of their children;
- Ensure that children can call or visit their parents while they are detained;
- Allow parents to participate in state child welfare agency and family court proceedings affecting their children;
- Ensure that parents being removed from or voluntarily departing the United States can coordinate their repatriation with their children;
- Require immigration officials to consider the best interests of children in detention, release, and transfer decisions affecting their parents; and
- Provide training for immigration and detention facility personnel on best practices for protecting children.
Currently there are at least 5,100 children nationwide in the child welfare system with parents under immigration custody or who have been deported. The increased collaboration between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and local law enforcement, through programs like Secure Communities and regulation 287(g) that deputize law enforcement as immigration agents, has led to a rising number of detained and deported parents. As a result, many families are separated and the chances of reunification are slim given that undocumented parents are unable to meet requirements set by dependency courts to regain custody of their children.
The immigration reform package is now awaiting a vote by the House of Representatives.
Keeping Ammunition Out of the Wrong Hands
Since 2007, I've been working to keep ammunition out of the wrong hands, a sentiment that Californians are strongly in favor of according to the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll released earlier this spring. Conducted by Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Republican polling firm American Viewpoint, a clear majority, 79%, and an overwhelming majority of gun owners, 66%, want to require ammunition buyers to provide a thumbprint and ID for background checks.
As part of the package of gun control bills introduced by the Senate, my Senate Bill 53 requires anyone wishing to purchase ammunition to pass a background check. The California Police Chiefs Association has announced their support and declared the passage of SB 53 a priority. The bill is also supported by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, California Chapters; California Partnership to End Domestic Violence; City of Beverly Hills; City of Oakland; County of Los Angeles; Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence; Los Angeles Community College District; Sheriff Leroy D. Baca, County of Los Angeles; Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles; and Women Against Gun Violence.
The time is now to pass Senate Bill 53 to keep ammunition out of the hands of criminals to help protect our communities from gun violence.
Mental Health Hearing at White Memorial Medical Center
Recently, along with Senators Kevin de León and Cathleen Galgiani, I hosted an informational hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Mental Health at the White Memorial Medical Center. Over 100 members from different Community Health Based Organizations came to discuss a plan of action to reduce California's prison population and recidivism rate.
Speakers examined how increasing parolees' and at-risk populations' access to mental health and substance use treatment will result in lower incarceration rates and save taxpayers millions of dollars.
Among those who testified were:
- Danny Trejo, Actor, Director of Western Pacific Rehab
- Sheriff Lee Baca, Los Angeles County
- Dr. Richard Rawson, Associate Director of UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs
- Dr. Luis Garcia, Vice President of Latino Program Development Pacific Clinics
- Sharon Aungst of Partnership for Community Excellence
- Ross Peterson of Telecare Corporation
Save the Date - Healthcare Briefing
In September I invite you to join me and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Health Care Committee to join us for a community conversation on Covered California and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on small business owners.
WHEN: Wednesday September 4th from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: Children's Hospital Los Angeles - Auditorium, Saban Buidling
4661 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90027
DETAILS: FREE EVENT. Open to the Public. Limited Seating.
Must RSVP to attend: http://www.hollywoodchamber.net/events
- What is required of small business owners under the Affordable Care Act
- How to navigate the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Exchanges
- Review of the timeline for implementation of the Affordable Care Act
- Public comments and questions
- Michael Lujan RHU Director, Sales and Marketing for Covered California, California Health Benefit Exchange
- Sam Smith President, California Association of Health Underwriters and Co-chair of the Hollywood Chamber Healthcare Committee
Please contact my district office (213-612-9566) for help with...
- Professional licenses
- Community recognition
- Dept. of Motor Vehicles
- Consumer complaints
- State Franchise Tax Board
- Government forms and applications
- Unemployment claims
- Short-term disability claims
- Calif. Veterans' Affairs
- Child support and child care
- Small business assistance