October 2020 NewsletterProblems viewing this E-mail? Please click here.
Senator Ben Allen

What's Inside

Vote Safe

State Budget

Legislative Session

Responding to COVID-19

Common Sense Policing Reforms

COVID-19 Testing for All

Unemployment Assitance

Disaster Help

Want to Help?

October 2020 Newsletter

Dear Friends, 

As the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changes the world, I have been heartened by our communities' resilience and our commitment to the idea that science ought to govern our response to this unprecedented crisis. Climate change-related hydrological and weather patterns have brought further trauma with some of the worst wildfires in our state's history, exacerbated by record-breaking heat waves and another dry year.

This year has amplified longstanding inequities not only in public health, environmental quality, education accessibility, and employment protections; it underscored the need for further work to address racial and socio-economic inequalities in our society. As someone who represents a diverse district of one million people, I have been anguished by the pain, sadness, and anger of so many Californians of color while remaining committed to uplifting diverse voices and experiences as part of an irreversible movement advancing justice for all.

This newsletter highlights some of the steps the state government has taken to help Californians navigate the economic and social impacts of this immensely challenging year - and helpful resources for those experiencing hardship. We also provide an update on our policy priorities.

As COVID-19 set in, like most institutions, your state legislature transitioned to remote work assisting constituents while focusing on mission-critical actions such as adopting the annual state budget and providing some legal and financial relief for those who have lost their homes, jobs or businesses. Although we are working farther apart, my dedicated staff and I still respond to every call and email we receive; please do not hesitate to reach out if you need assistance with accessing state programs or services.

One final plug for democracy: if you are eligible to vote, please make your voice heard in the November 3 General Election - and remind every eligible friend and family member to vote, too! The voting process is easy and there are several different ways to vote safely and securely. More information on that below! Until next time, stay healthy and safe.


Senator Ben Allen
Senator, 26th District
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Vote Safe

Eligible and not yet registered? Wondering whether you're already registered? Go to registertovote.ca.gov.

In recent years, as we have sought to make the voting experience more convenient, "Election Day" has really been transformed into "Election Month". Each registered voter can of course vote only one ballot, but you are not restricted to a specific polling location on a specific day. Instead, you are allowed to vote either by mail, via drop box, or if you want to vote in person, at any vote center in the county that's convenient to you several days before and on Election Day.

In 2016, after extensive research into other states' electoral models, I authored the Voter's Choice Act - a law that permits the vote center model. These centers enable voters to cast ballots at any location in the county for several days before an election, and offer a variety of services like same-day voter registration and accessible voting machines for people with disabilities. Now under more recent legislation authored by my colleagues Marc Berman and Tom Umberg, the Voter's Choice Act is also giving county elections officials welcomed flexibility to address the challenges of election administration while protecting your health and safety.

Ballots were mailed to every registered voter during the week of October 5. You can either vote in person at one of the vote centers or fill out the ballot you received in the mail. You can choose to mail in that ballot, drop it off at one of the vote centers, or drop it off at one of the many designated drop boxes located throughout the county.

If you choose to vote by mail, I encourage you to do so as early as is convenient sooner so as to ensure that your vote can be among the first batch to be tallied and announced the evening of November 3.

Find a list of ballot drop-off locations, track your ballot, and look up polling locations at www.lavote.net.

Voting Info

Voting is one of our most basic and fundamental rights. You are eligible to vote in the November 3 California General Election if you are:

A U.S. citizen

A resident of California

At least 18 years of age on Election Day

Not currently in a state or federal prison, or on parole, for conviction of a felony

Not currently found by a court to be mentally incompetent to vote

2020-21 State Budget

The legislature addressed the economic downturn caused by the fast-moving pandemic by building off a decade of fiscal responsibility (thanks to Governor Brown, the voters, and the legislature) that amassed a $20 billion rainy-day fund. In spite of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, the Fiscal Year 2020-21 State Budget protected education funding; maintained key new investments including homelessness funding; expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit; avoided new taxes on the middle class; prevented cuts in vital services for seniors and other vulnerable Californians; and still set aside approximately $11 billion in General Fund reserves so that if this crisis continues our budget will be in better shape next year as well.

2020 Legislative Session

Due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, the legislature scaled back proceedings and focused efforts on leadership priority issues such as COVID-19 responses, homelessness and housing, and wildfire resiliency legislation. Here is a recap of several of the bills I authored and coauthored this year...

Signed into Law:
Senate Bill 1044

Protecting Firefighters' Health and Safety

We owe deep gratitude to all first responders, including the firefighters who battle the increasingly difficult wildfires plaguing our state. I authored SB 1044 to protect both firefighters and the drinking water supply from toxic chemicals known as per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These "forever chemicals" are linked to numerous health problems including cancer, hormone disruption, harm to developing infants and children, impaired immunity and interference with vaccine effectiveness. This new law will phase out the sale and use of certain firefighting foam that contains PFAS and require manufacturers of PFAS-containing firefighting gear to provide written notice to purchasers that the gear contains PFAS. Effective and affordable alternatives exist and are in use in other jurisdictions. For eye-opening accounts of the dangers of PFAS, check out the documentary "The Devil We Know" (available on Netflix) or companion dramatic film "Dark Waters."

Signed into Law:
Senate Bill 158

Ensuring Fair Representation on Redistricting Commissions

The legislature established Citizens Redistricting Commissions – including one in Los Angeles County with 14 commissioners who reflect the political party preferences of the voting population. However, 26% of registered voters in our county are No Party Preference (NPP) voters who would be precluded from serving on the redistricting commission. I authored SB 158 to allow NPP voters to also serve on the Citizens Redistricting Commissions. I'm a proud member of my political party but my colleagues and I need to recognize that more and more of our fellow Californians choose not to affiliate with either party—and their voices ought to matter too.

Signed into Law:
Senate Bill 1380

Protecting the Santa Monica Mountains

Created in 1980, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy is a state agency that has helped preserve over 75,000 acres of land in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. The Conservancy frequently encounters encroachments related to its proximity to the Los Angeles Metropolitan area. My SB 1380 will enable the Conservancy to purchase small parcels of land using its own authority and more efficiently fulfill its mission to protect public lands and provide recreational opportunities for Californians. From my perspective, the Santa Monica Mountains are an absolute gem and an important contributor to quality of life in the Los Angeles area and we should make it easier for the Conservancy to do its vitally important job of preserving and protecting more open space for future generations. SB 1380 was the latest of a string of closely cooperative legislative and policy efforts between the Conservancy and my office.

Senate Bill 54

Addressing the Plastic Pollution Crisis

One of my top priorities this year was tackling our mounting plastic pollution crisis. Recycling markets around the world are in crisis and plastics are showing up in microscopic forms in humans, animals, water, soil, and air. Before 2017, countries like China would accept recyclable material, sort through it and high-grade out material that had some level value. Now that the market for material has evaporated, cities and counties have had no choice but to send all that material to landfills at a high cost to ratepayers.

SB 54 and Lorena Gonzalez's companion AB 1080 would have required producers to only use packaging material that can achieve a recycling rate of 75%, and created incentives for them to help stop plastic pollution at the source. Unfortunately, while the Senate passed the policy, our bill fell just four votes short of passage on the final night of the legislative session in the State Assembly. The policy work we did laid the groundwork for future efforts to address the plastics crisis, including a potential ballot measure that has already acquired the requisite signatures to appear on the 2022 ballot.

Assembly Bill 326

Promoting Electric Vehicle Usage

I was honored to be the principal coauthor of AB 326 by Assemblymember Muratsuchi, which would have created a new legal framework for Electric Vehicle Memberships. Through these memberships, young adults would have been able to access EVs on a month-to-month basis just as easily as they access movies on streaming platform. Ensuring walkable cities and high-quality public transportation remains a particularly high priority among Millennials, though access to EV memberships could benefit everyone.

Senate Bill 45

Wildfire, Drought and Flood Protection Bond Act

Another top priority for me was a climate resiliency bond measure that would have asked California voters to approve an investment of $5.5 billion to fund green jobs that prepare us for extreme weather and other climate-related events. Wildfires, floods, mudslides and droughts will continue to ravage our state. Although SB 45 did not make it through the legislative process this year due to COVID-19, I will continue to pursue efforts to prepare the Golden State for the impacts of climate change.

Signed into Law:
Assembly Bill 1788

One Other Notable Environmental Success

In addition to our PFAS bill, I was proud to be the Senate lead on Assemblymember Richard Bloom's bill to phase out rodenticides that have been killing mountain lions and other fauna in the Santa Monica Mountains and elsewhere.

Responding to COVID-19

Several bills I was involved in have and will provide relief for small businesses and renters impacted by the crisis...


Signed into Law:
Assembly Bill 1577

by Assemblymember Burke

Allows small businesses to exclude PPP loans from gross income for state taxes.


Signed into Law:
Senate Bill 1447

by Senator Bradford

Authorizes $100 million Main Street hiring tax credit program for small businesses. This law provides a direct incentive through tax credits to small businesses who hire employees, including those who previously worked with them for years.


Signed into Law:
Senate Bill 115

by Senator Bradford

Accelerates $230.5 million in state bond funding to help jumpstart construction projects.

Other existing small business relief that came from the state:

Tax Relief for Small Businesses. Provided a 90-day extension to small businesses in state and local taxes and an extension of all licensing deadlines and requirements for several industries.

Waived Minimum Franchise Tax for New Businesses. An estimated $100 million was allocated in the 2020-21 Budget to waive the $800 minimum franchise tax for the first year of business creation and remove a barrier to entrepreneurship and job creation.

Sales Tax Relief. Provided a 12-month interest-free payment plan for up to $50,000 of sales and use tax liability through the CA Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA).

$125 Million in Small Business Loans. The California Infrastructure Economic Development Bank (IBank) provided $100 million in loan guarantees for small businesses that may not be eligible for federal relief. You can visit https://business.ca.gov/coronavirus-2019/ to apply for these programs and small business supports.

Additionally, in late August, the state announced the California Rebuilding Fund, a new public-private partnership being developed to leverage state capital to support California's small businesses – especially those located in economically disadvantaged and historically underserved areas of the state.

Small Business Finance Center. IBank has conditionally approved 415 loans for $14.5 million, retaining the jobs of 2,252 Californians.

Assistance provided by the state to vulnerable workers:

The State of California has provided $98 billion in unemployment benefits to support California workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including $5 billion so far in federal Lost Wages Assistance Benefits.

And for Californian's struggling to pay rent, AB 3088 by Assemblymember Chiu is a temporary solution meant to provide some level of certainty to renters (protecting against evictions into early next year), modest protections with lenders for small landlords and time for the state to determine what additional relief may be needed in the future.


Common Sense Policing Reforms

This year brought questions of policing to the forefront. I co-authored the following bills that were signed into law aimed at bringing California closer to equity in policing…


Signed into Law:
Assembly Bill 1506

by Assemblymember McCarty

Requires the AG's office to prosecute officer-involved fatalities when requested by local jurisdictions.


Signed into Law:
Assembly Bill 1196

by Assemblymember Gipson

Creates a uniform statewide policy on carotid restraints to ensure this procedure can no longer be improperly applied on Californians.


Signed into Law:
Assembly Bill 1185

by Assemblymember McCarty

Gives county officials more oversight of sheriff's departments and grants them more authority to collect records from a department in the course of an investigation, and authorizes counties to establish a sheriff oversight board and an office of the inspector general that can issue subpoenas.



I coauthored some other bills that didn't cross the finish line...


Assembly Bill 1314

by Assemblymember McCarty

would have required local municipalities to make public on their website the amount they pay in settlements and judgments for police brutality cases as well as the bonds they issue to pay for these cases. The bill ultimately died when it didn't receive enough votes in the Senate Public Safety Committee.


Senate Bill 731

by Senator Bradford

would have created a statewide process to automatically revoke the certification of a peace officer who has committed serious misconduct regardless of conviction. Senator Bradford has some more work to do to negotiate aspects of the bill with the Governor's office, but I am hopeful that we will be able to pass something substantive along these lines in the coming session.

COVID-19 Testing for All

The City of Los Angeles, in partnership with the County of Los Angeles and Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), is providing free COVID-19 testing to all Los Angeles County residents, whether or not they are experiencing relevant symptoms. Priority is given to people with symptoms or critical frontline workers who interact with the public.

To schedule an appointment, visit Coronavirus.LACity.org/Testing.

Unemployment Assistance


If you are one of the millions of Californians who lost your job or had your income reduced due to the pandemic, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. For more information, visit the California Employment Development Department's portal.

Child Care

With most schools closed to onsite learning, many parents are trying to balance their own jobs with their kids' educational needs. MyChildCare.ca.gov is the state's online tool for connecting with nearby licensed child care providers.

Free Food

If you or anyone you know is in need of food or help with food delivery to their home, you can find nearby resources here.

Supporting Seniors

Our elderly neighbors are among the most at risk of severe illness due to COVID-19, and isolating at home brings on additional challenges. The Institute on Aging has a 24-hour Friendship Line to serve older adults and caregivers. If you're feeling lonely and would like someone to talk to, call them at (888) 670-1360.

Boosting Businesses

State and federal governmental entities are offering a variety of loans, exemptions and other assistance to businesses to help them get through these difficult times. Find more information here.

Disaster Help

Whether you are a business owner who is struggling to keep your doors open, a worker who is uncertain about your next paycheck, or an unbanked resident looking for a safe and affordable way to receive your Economic Impact payment, the LA County Disaster Help Center can assist.

Phone (833) 238-4450
Go online to LACountyHelpCenter.org
Email DisasterHelpCenter@lacounty.gov
Follow @LACHelpCenter on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram


Want to Help?

Every Californian can safely help their community during these difficult times.



You can make a difference by delivering meals to vulnerable populations, donating to a food bank, supporting local nonprofits, performing wellness checks by phone, creating hygiene kits, and more. Find more information here.

If you are a community organization in need of volunteers, LA Works will match your group with volunteer labor and other resources.

Give Blood

This summer, the Jewish Caucus hosted more than a dozen blood drives in our region. To see where you can donate blood now, click here.


Philanthropy California offers a list of vetted organizations accepting contributions to support their COVID-19 relief efforts. Individuals can look for funds or assistance on this site as well.

Feed Those in Need

Restaurants can join the network of food service entities providing home meals for seniors.

A number of organizations use mobile apps to recover unused food from restaurants and other businesses and redistribute it to communities in need. If you are interested in donating food or receiving donated food to redistribute, look for the Food Finders or ChowMatch apps.


California State Senator Ben Allen - District 26
Website: http://senate.ca.gov/allen
Contact: Senator Ben Allen
Capitol Office
State Capitol, Room 4076
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4026
Fax: (916) 651-4926
District Office
2512 Artesia Blvd., #320
Redondo Beach, CA 90278-3279
Phone: (310) 318-6994
Fax: (310) 318-6733