Press Center

June 07, 2012

 New Study Reinforces Need for SB1234

 Highlights Retirement Plan Shutout of Lower-Income Earners

              SACRAMENTO, CA – Wall Street has basically ignored millions of Californians when it comes to engaging them in retirement planning, according to a study released today by the UC Berkeley Labor Center, emphasizing the need for Senate Bill 1234 (SB 1234) – the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Trust – introduced by Senator Kevin de Leòn (D-Los Angeles) and co-authored by California Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).

              The study found that 6.3 million Californians, mostly lower and middle-income workers, have no access to a retirement plan at work. Seventy-five percent of workers make less than about $46,000 a year.

              “SB 1234 addresses this population by providing them a portable and reliable retirement plan that will serve as a modest supplement to Social Security,” said Senator De Leòn. “If we don’t offer this, most of these people will retire into poverty putting a further strain on our already scarce public resources.”

June 01, 2012

 LOS ANGELES – In response to action taken by the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) after an audit found significant pension overpayments to former high-level Vernon officials, Senator Kevin de Leòn (D-Los Angeles) today submitted a letter to the state’s Attorney General requesting an investigation into the findings of that audit to ascertain whether criminal or other sanctions are warranted against those former and current public officials.

 Two grossly overpaid former officials with the City of Vernon learned that their pensions were being drastically cut thanks to the results of that audit, which was released today after having been requested by Senator De León, who has been leading the charge for change in the city that has become synonymous with corruption.

 The audit found that Vernon improperly boosted the retirement benefits of nearly two dozen top employees. In particular, the audit zeroed in on the poster boy of pension abuse, Bruce Malkenhorst Sr., who receives the biggest pension in the state at $545,000 per year, and Eric Fresch. Malkenhorst will see his pension reduced to a still astounding $115,000 per year and Fresch will have his eliminated entirely.

 "For decades, these grifters scammed the system, and today the system finally struck back," said Senator De León. "It isn't enough that they forfeit their ill-gotten gains," he said. "They must be punished to deter other scam artists from ripping off taxpayers in the future."

May 30, 2012

Bill Helps Address Forgotten Masses Left Behind in Retirement Planning

 Five nationally-recognized retirement savings experts are available for interviews.

 SACRAMENTO, CA – Addressing the looming “retirement tsunami” represented by the massive shortfall spending in most people’s retirement, today the California State Senate passed Senate Bill 1234 (SB1234) the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Act creating a reliable, affordable, and completely portable retirement savings plan for the seven million private sector workers without access to a workplace retirement plan.
            “California threatens to become home to a sea of discarded seniors unless we wake up and address the looming retirement tsunami,” said Senator De León referencing the $600 billion personal retirement savings deficit in the state. This bill empowers people to take personal responsibility for their own retirement without a cost to taxpayers helping us avoid potentially catastrophic conditions in California.”

May 25, 2012

 LOS ANGELES – Helping consumers become much smarter and more efficient about energy savings, Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) is pleased to announce today a $1 million smart grid research grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP).

The grant comes from the CEC’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program. The Commission's funding is a contribution to LADWP’s $60.3 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act award from the U.S. Department of Energy. The total cost of the smart grid project is $120.6 million.

“A smarter grid means less power consumption and less use of dirty fuels. This matters in my district, which suffers from a disproportionate concentration of pollution resulting in unnecessary suffering by the children and families I serve,” said Senator De León. “We must do more with what we have and this helps execute implementation of technology to achieve that.”

May 23, 2012

Sen. De Leòn’s SB 1234 Offers Portability, Reliability, Guaranteed Lifetime Income

SACRAMENTO, CA – According to a poll being released today by the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS), California’s small business owners overwhelmingly support a proposal for a new retirement plan that would offer the seven million workers without access to a plan at work, one that is portable, reliable and guaranteed. The poll shows that 71% of small business owners favor a plan like the one proposed in Senator Kevin de Leòn’s (D-Los Angeles) Senate Bill 1234 – The California Retirement Savings Plan, co-authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).

May 04, 2012

 L.A. District Attorney Overstepped his Bounds

Los Angeles – Today Attorney General Kamala Harris released an 18-page opinion that a police department can establish guidelines allowing an impounded vehicle to be released in less than 30 days. In February, the Los Angeles Police Commission approved a measure allowing the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to release the impounded vehicles of an unlicensed driver, when another licensed driver or the registered owner is available, rather than holding the vehicle for the full 30 days. The Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley then interjected his office into the Commission’s decision-making process by issuing an opinion arguing that such a policy would be illegal under state law.


“The District Attorney’s meddling into the internal policy making at LAPD was inappropriate and his conclusions were wrong,” emphasized Senator De León. “As a result I had to ask the State’s top cop and lawyer to weigh in and settle the dispute between the City and the District Attorney. I hope that the opinion will put this to rest so the City can move forward.”


April 10, 2012

 The Bracero Program Taught in School Curriculum


Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Senate Education Committee
John L. Burton Hearing Room 4203

California State Capitol, Sacramento

SACRAMENTO, CA – A group of veteran Braceros from Los Angeles will join Senator De León Leon at the Senate Education Committee Hearing on Wednesday to call on school districts to include instruction on The Bracero Program in School Curriculum.

April 06, 2012

Cites New Wealth/Health Study by Univ. of Wisconsin as Proof of Need

             Los Angeles - A recently released University of Wisconsin and Robert Wood Johnson study that ranked U.S. counties’ health found there was a strong parallel between wealth and health. Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), author of 2007’s Assembly Bill (AB) 31, which is the source of park grants that were awarded this week to some of Los Angeles County’s poorest communities, cited the study as further proof that we must do more to provide disadvantaged neighborhoods with greater access to recreational opportunities.
            “This study just identified what we already know,”
emphasized Senator De León. “Without parks or other recreational amenities, the people of LA’s poorest communities are further challenged to live healthier, more prosperous lives. I am so happy to see AB 31 benefiting disadvantaged communities. 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."

            AB 31 (Community and Neighborhood Park Revitalization Act of 2007) created guidelines and criteria for Proposition 84 park funds, which targeted underserved communities suffering from significant park poverty.  These communities, largely disadvantaged, suffer from higher rates of crime, unemployment, poverty, school drop-outs, and health ailments, including obesity and asthma.

           "Senator De
León has been a leader on urban environmental issues since he came to the legislature in 2006. As author of AB 31, he immediately saw the dire need for green spaces and places to play in under-served communities in California. AB 31 not only will provide recreational opportunities within walking distance for millions of Californians, but additional economic, health and environmental benefits as well,” said Sam Hodder, California Director for The Trust for Public Land. 

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.

A complete list of recent park grants can be found here. You can also find a copy of the University of Wisconsin study here.