Responding to Gun Violence and Drug Abuse
Gun violence and the opioid crisis continue to tear through our nation, affecting people of all backgrounds. This year, California took action by strengthening concealed carry laws, beefing up investments in gun-buyback programs, and requiring microstamping technology on new firearms. Our state, in response to life-threatening opioid and fentanyl abuse, will now require stadia, concert venues, and amusement parks to have doses of drug antidotes (such as Narcan) available at all times. Further, schools must now include a protocol for effectively responding to an overdose in their safety plans. I have been supportive of efforts to better educate young people on the dangers of fentanyl and other drugs and drug interdiction efforts. Examples of this include SB 10, SB 19, and AB 461. Much more needs to be done.
Youth Mental Health
Before I came to Sacramento to represent you in the State Senate, I served as President of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education. Now as a father with a young son in our public school system, I have not lost my passion for ensuring that we provide safe and nurturing places for our young people to learn and grow. More than ever, young people need our support, especially as we continue to emerge from all of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. I recently hosted a webinar on youth mental health with experts from the Venice Family Clinic. To watch, please follow the link here.
In 2022, Californians overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1 to enshrine reproductive rights in our state’s Constitution. Since then, the Legislature has moved to ensure access to abortion services and other reproductive rights through expanded training for medical providers, preventing discrimination by insurance providers, protecting individuals seeking assistance from other states, and more.
In support of LGBTQ+ communities, the Legislature set ACA 5 on the November 2024 general election ballot, a constitutional amendment to remove the remnants of Proposition 8 of 2008, which banned same-sex marriage in California prior to the U.S. Supreme Court's historic decision to legalize marriage rights for all Americans. Further, the state will convene a taskforce to identify ways to better support LGBTQ+ students in California schools. I am proud to represent a large and diverse LGBTQ+ community in my district and the community’s needs will always be a priority for me.
Services for All
My colleagues and I also worked to ensure our government provides effective assistance for those who need it most. For example, we revised the child welfare system to crack down on abuses committed by unlicensed adoption agencies. For refugees seeking safety, the California Department of Public Social Services will post resources to its website for better understanding and engagement with public transit, financial systems, and housing support. Additionally, CalFresh will pilot a Minimum Nutrition Benefit program and extend nutritional services for older Californians.
I continue to work closely with public safety officials, community organizations, local governments, and business groups to find ways to make sure that our streets are safer. I recently was part of a fascinating and meaningful dialogue with law enforcement leaders on local, national, and international perspectives on policing, police recruitment, and support for public safety. The 2022-23 State Budget dedicated $564.4 million over three years for retail theft and smash-and-grab prevention initiatives, a large portion of which will be allocated directly to Los Angeles County. Additionally, the state's Real Public Safety Plan dispensed $267 million in October to directly combat organized retail crime in Los Angeles County and throughout the state.
Safety on the Pacific Coast Highway
In the wake of the recent tragic accident on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) that took the lives of four Pepperdine students, my office has been working with state agencies and local partners to improve driver, cyclist, and pedestrian safety on the roadway in Malibu. Beginning on January 3rd, three full-time California Highway Patrol officers will be assigned to Malibu solely to enforce existing traffic laws on PCH. In partnership with Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, I am working on legislation to authorize the use of speed enforcement cameras within Malibu city limits. In the long term, I am working with the Governor’s administration to encourage large-scale engineering improvements to PCH that will slow down the speed of traffic while improving accessibility and safety for cyclists and pedestrians. It is unacceptable that a stretch of state highway poses such a life-threatening danger, and I am deeply committed to doing whatever is necessary to prevent further tragedies.