News from Senator Blakespear - July 7, 2023
You know summer is in full swing when July arrives. I hope all of you enjoyed the July 4th holiday with those you care about, PLUS took a moment to think about the importance of our shared responsibility in co-creating our democracy.
Like many, I feel a deep reverence and intense love for America. Our nation’s unparalleled commitment to human freedom, equality, liberty and opportunity is an ongoing aspiration and work in progress. On this year’s July 4th, I reflected on the fact that our deep divisions as Americans are not new – they have always been with us and are, in fact, a foundational feature of democracy.
Several years ago I became completely immersed in the phenomenon of Hamilton, reading the Ron Chernow biography, memorizing all the lyrics to the musical, watching and reading every documentary and Lin-Manuel Miranda-created piece of art that I could find.
But the one thing I hadn’t done, until now, is read any of The Federalist Papers, which defended the creation of America’s Constitution in a series of 85 essays penned in the late 1780s mainly by Alexander Hamilton. One of the most famous is essay No. 10 by James Madison. In it he refers to the divisions among citizens as “factions” and he says:
“Liberty is to faction, what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires.”
Because we have the liberty to think and express ourselves, we will form factions. While this may be inevitable, the key is to have a broad range of factions that tussle in the marketplace of ideas and create our body politic. This ideal works, as we are coming to see, if we practice our citizenship and our political culture in a way that doesn’t imperil the entire foundation of our democracy.
In another book I recently read, The Bill of Obligations, Richard Haas wrote about the need to create a culture of responsibilities that go along with the rights that we Americans cherish. He titled each chapter after the habits of good citizens that are needed to maintain our democracy. These include: Stay Open to Compromise, Remain Civil, Reject Violence, Value Norms, Promote the Common Good, Respect Government Service, Support the Teaching of Civics, Be Informed, Get Involved and Put Country First.
These are good reminders of the part we each play in ensuring that America makes it another 247 years. That’s something to think about as you enjoy your summer!
Click on the image above to hear my remarks on the Senate floor about the budget bill.
I am proud of what the 2023-24 state budget does for homelessness and housing. But, I think much more needs to be done for us to effectively tackle this problem. The Legislature should set statewide goals and require all cities to participate.
Should it be optional for cities to address the humanitarian disaster unfolding on our streets in nearly every community? I don’t think so.
This year’s budget provides $1 billion in funding for the Homeless Housing Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) grant program and enacts new requirements for laying out locally defined goals and assigning responsibilities of agencies addressing homelessness.
Those are positive steps. The state’s 13 largest cities will certainly apply for HHAP funding and will be required to create a goal and work with their counties to develop regional plans as a result. However, there is no requirement that the 400 other cities in the state participate, and this is a big problem.
We need a state level statutory framework. We have strong state-level statutory frameworks in place for other areas that we can look to as examples, such as in our disaster response system, our child welfare system, and our schools, from kindergarten to higher education.
In the area of homelessness, we have lots of information – studies, audits, plans – but no statutory framework. Only with that type of approach will we meaningfully reduce homelessness.
To watch my remarks on the Senate floor, click on the image above.
At a recent Senate session, I had the honor and privilege to request the Senate adjourn in the memory of gun safety advocate Ira Sharp. Ira was an organizer, a deep thinker, a doer, and a really positive guy to be around.
He also had a big impact on advocacy and organizing efforts for gun safety measures.
Ira died young at 80 on June 10, 2023, following a brief illness.
Together with his wife of 45 years, Ira began fighting against gun violence after the tragic shooting in Parkland, Fla., and the birth of his grandson.
Ira and Rose Ann hosted events that would bring together community leaders in the gun safety space and elected representatives at all levels.
Ira was effective because he didn’t care about attribution, recognition, or appreciation.
And, even in death, Ira did not ask for this honor.
What he asked for were donations to Brady’s Campaign to End Gun Violence.
Ira understood a simple truth that we too often forget, which is that people are at the heart of every issue, every policy and every disagreement.
And people, however imperfect, have the capacity for good.
That’s something we all need to remember. We will miss Ira dearly.
A sign on Imperial Beach warning of sewage contamination. Photo Courtesy of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
We need immediate action to stop the ongoing environmental disaster of cross-border pollution that has closed the beaches of the South San Diego coastline, sickened people and polluted our water.
I have joined with other state legislators from San Diego County to send a letter to Gov. Newsom asking for action.
1. A State of Emergency Declaration due to the severe impacts of cross-border pollution.
2. Suspending any statutes or regulations that may hamper an immediate response to the disaster.
3. Directing the California Office of Emergency Services to work with relevant agencies in the United States and Mexico to respond to this disaster.
4. Urging President Joseph Biden to issue a federal emergency declaration.
Since December 2018, over 100 billion gallons of untreated toxic wastewater has crossed our border, with 35 billion coming just this year alone. Since Dec. 8, 2021, the South San Diego coastline has been closed for recreational beach access due to the ongoing catastrophe.
This is unacceptable. I thank my San Diego County colleagues Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, Senator Stephen Padilla, Assemblymember David Alvarez, Assemblymember Christopher Ward and Assemblymember Tasha Boerner in joining with me for this urgent call to action.
With Steve Wyer, the host of the Stay Classy San Diego podcast
I was delighted to be invited as a guest on the Stay Classy podcast to discuss my experiences and thoughts on the first six months in the state legislature. I appreciate Steve’s interest and the thoughtful discussions we have on his show. We taped this latest episode in June. You can listen here.
Maia Meunier (left) presenting a certificate of recognition to Sue Parks, president and CEO of Orange County United Way, for opening a SparkPoint OC financial empowerment center in San Juan Capistrano in May.
Every day, my district offices get calls from constituents like you who need help with a state government issue. Thankfully, I have a dedicated staff that is working to serve you and help resolve any problem you may have.
Recently, Maia Meunier, a District Representative working out of my Laguna Hills office, got a call from a frustrated taxpayer who said their family was owed approximately $24,000 in a tax refund from the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) in connection to their deceased mother’s estate. The family had been unable to resolve the matter for a year.
Maia responded by contacting FTB and then following up with a letter, as requested, to clarify the issue. Within a few days, the matter was resolved and the constituent was informed the family would be getting the refund.
I’m thrilled to have Maia on my team. Working out of my Orange County office, she handles constituent cases and works on policy matters concerning women, families and children, LGBTQ+ and veterans.
As always, my staff and I are here to serve you! If you have a state government issue, please contact me at Senator.Blakespear@senate.ca.gov.
Workforce Center Opened in South OC
Team Blakespear joined Orange County officials for the ribbon cutting and opening of the new OC Workforce Solutions South County office in Laguna Niguel.
Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley (center of photo in red jacket) helped bring a workforce center to South County to help job seekers, workers looking to upskill and those exploring careers. Team Blakespear was represented by Orange County Senior District Representative Kim Carr (in the blue jacket holding the ribbon, third from the left).
To find out more about the services available, go here.
The new center, which opened on July 5, is located at 28202 Cabot Road, Suite 140, Laguna Niguel.
Zero Waste Fair A Success
Fair attendees listen to a presentation on how to shop with zero waste.
Congratulations to I Love A Clean SD and the City of Encinitas for a successful 8th annual Zero Waste Fair on June 24! Hundreds attended the fair held at the EUSD Farm Lab in Encinitas.
The event brings together residents, businesses and non-profits to learn about zero waste and sustainable practices. Thanks to all who came and made a commitment to live zero waste lifestyles!
The “Sunshine Caucus”
Pictured are, left to right, Sen. Angelique Ashby, Sen. Caroline Menjivar, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, Sen. Marie Gil-Alvardo and Sen. Anthony Portantino.
During busy weeks, we can be on the Senate floor for hours each day debating and voting on bills. Passing the bills associated with the state budget – there are many different elements called trailer bills that detail every aspect of the spending plan – involved several long sessions the last week of June.
On one of the days many of us came to work in bright yellow. Recognizing this, we joked we were forming the “Sunshine Caucus.” We take our jobs seriously, but everyone could use a little more sunshine, too!
Do you think there should be a law about something? If so, click on the button below and follow the directions to provide your suggestion. I want to hear your ideas!
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Email me at Senator.Blakespear@Senate.ca.gov
Call my Encinitas district office at (760) 642-0809
Call my Laguna Hills district office at (949) 598-5850
Call my Capitol office in Sacramento at (916) 651-4038