My first year in the Senate: Big wins for housing, transit, and more

This was a landmark year for the California Legislature, and I was honored to be a part of it during my first year as a California State Senator. We took big steps on transportation, housing, climate, LGBT civil rights, immigrant protections, paid parental leave, and criminal justice reform. In addition, Governor Brown signed 10 of my bills into law (complete list below).

In June, we passed a major funding bill for public transportation and road repair — the largest in California history. We then followed that huge step in July with the extension of California’s groundbreaking cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions. Both of these bills will help California fight climate change and create a more sustainable future by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and creating a more robust public transportation in California.

We then marked the end of the legislative session with an inspiring signing ceremony here in San Francisco, as Governor Brown signed fifteen housing bills, including Senate Bill 35, which I authored and which streamlines the approval of new housing in cities that aren’t meeting their housing goals. This package of housing bills is a significant step in confronting a housing crisis that is undermining our economy, our environment, and our diversity. As we celebrate these housing bills, we also have a lot of work to do going forward, and I’m already working on bills for next year to keep pushing forward on housing policy.

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At the San Francisco LGBT Center with Senator Toni Atkins and advocates celebrating legislative victories for the LGBT community

This session we also won significant victories for the LGBT community, by passing bills I authored to protect LGBT seniors living in long-term care facilities, modernize our HIV criminalization laws, and (with Senator Toni Atkins of San Diego) create a third gender option on government documents for non-binary people.

We also made great progress protecting immigrants from deportation, ensuring access to healthcare and paid parental leave, expanding food access for low-income residents, reforming our broken sex offender registry system, and fixing our state’s recycling laws that impact our small businesses.

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I have several additional bills that are still pending and that we hope to pass early next year, including bills to expand solar power storage, protect immigrants who are testifying in court, make our streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, and address the opioid injection crisis on our streets by creating safe consumption sites. I look forward to tackling these bills and other new ones that we introduce when we reconvene in January. For an entire list of my bills signed by Governor Brown, see below.

As always, it is an honor to represent you as your Senator.

My Bills signed by Governor Brown during the 2017 session:

Senate Bill 35: Creates a streamlined approval process for housing at all income levels in communities that are not meeting their housing creation goals as required by the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA).

Senate Bill 148: Makes it safer and simpler for cannabis business owners to pay state fees and taxes, which will encourage compliance with state laws and provide support for business owners. The lack of banking access for cannabis businesses results in a growing industry that is cash-based, lacks transparency, and is susceptible to public safety challenges, including violent crime. Passed as part of Budget Trailer Bill.

Senate Bill 179 (with Senator Toni Atkins): Creates a third, non-binary gender identification option on government documents for people who identify neither as female nor male. Also streamlines the process for people to change their gender on government documents, for example by removing the requirement a doctor to attest to the change.

Senate Bill 219: Creates a bill of rights for LGBT seniors living in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes and assisted living. The bill protects LGBT seniors against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or HIV status.

Senate Bill 239: Reforms outdated HIV criminalization laws enacted during a time of fear and ignorance — the same time period when people were seeking to quarantine HIV-positive people. Currently, sexual contact by people living with HIV can be a felony even if no infection occurs and even if there’s no risk of infection. By contrast, other serious infectious diseases are treated as misdemeanors. SB 239 treats all serious infectious diseases equally, as misdemeanors, and puts an end to this discrimination.

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With fellow State Senators Nancy Skinner, Jim Beall, Kevin de Leon, Toni Atkins, and Bill Dodd

Senate Bills 278 & 282: Expand access to CalFresh (formerly known as food stamps) for our lowest income residents. The bills do so by ensuring that inadvertent over-issuances of CalFresh benefits, through no fault of the recipient, don’t drive the recipient into bankruptcy and by allowing people who don’t have access to a kitchen — for example, homeless people and some seniors and people with disabilities — to use their benefits to by pre-prepared food.

Senate Bill 384: Reforms California’s broken sex offender registry system by creating a tiered registry that will allow law enforcement to focus its resources on the most serious offenders who are likely to recommit. This bill, which was drafted and supported by law enforcement, will bring California’s registry in line with the rest of the United States. California is one of only four states that had a lifetime registry for all offenders.

Senate Bill 458: Fixes state recycling laws that are negatively impacting small grocery stores across California by directing CalRecycle to create five mobile recycling pilot programs throughout the state, which will allow cities like San Francisco to pursue a mobile recycling redemption program. Under SB 458, these mobile recycling programs will qualify as full recycling centers under California law, thus relieving surrounding small grocery stores of the onerous obligation of having to accept recycling for redemption.

Senate Bill 622: Reforms and modernizes bidding and contracting rules for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District.

Senate Bill 658: Prevents unreasonable and arbitrary restrictions during jury selection by requiring judges to consider specific factors when setting time limits and types of questions that lawyers ask prospective jurors.

Written by

CA State Senator. Urbanist. Environmentalist. Advocate for transit, housing, clean energy, criminal justice reform, health, ending poverty. Democrat. 🏳️‍🌈

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