NEWSLETTER – January 12, 2024

Happy 2024!

I can’t tell you how excited I am to start my second year as your state Senator!

There’s so much to tackle that I’m nearly giddy with the potential. I notice such a big difference in how I feel this year – poised and ready – versus last year – wide-eyed and observant. Additionally on the personal side, I’ve replaced the variety of a different hotel room every week with the stability of having my own place that’s a 10-minute walk to the Capitol and offers the comforts that come with a kitchen and a closet. It’s a great way to start the year.  

We’ve just completed our first full legislative week, with committee hearings where we heard legislators' bills that were introduced last year. These bills became “two-year bills” last year because of their scope or complexity. Many of the bills in this category either end up dying, or completely changing, between the two legislative sessions. The committee work is great because I have a chance to understand proposed legislation in more depth and provide some influence.

My bill, SB 689, which made it through 2 committees this week, will make it faster and easier for a coastal city to build bike lanes. I know from my city government experience that this process was needlessly complex. This good governance bill streamlines the Coastal Commission process.

The other big thing that happened this week was the release of the Governor’s budget, which the Legislature then responds to with suggested changes of our own. Because a budget is a statement of values for any organization, including the state, it’s critical that all of us understand it and work to improve it.

Here I’ve just walked onto the Senate floor before our 2 p.m. first session of the year on Jan. 3. Below is the Senate in session, as seen from the back of the chamber.


State Budget for 2024-25

You can watch the Governor’s presentation of his proposed budget for 2024-25 here, or learn more by visiting this web page.

On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced his spending plan for the 2024-25 budget year, which begins on July 1.

Most significantly, his Department of Finance differed substantially in its assessment of the state’s budget deficit from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, saying that it is roughly $38 billion. The LAO has estimated it to be $68 billion. Certainly that big difference in opinion will be probed in upcoming budget hearings.

I applaud the Governor’s approach to the budget shortfall, which at first blush appears reasonable and responsible. He is recommending using $18.8 billion in reserve money and borrowing, reducing spending or shifting funds to save $11.9 billion and delaying and deferring $7.2 billion in payments to cover the deficit. There are no new taxes being proposed.

I am also glad to hear he is maintaining his multi-year commitment to funding for homelessness programs. There is a lot to unpack in the Governor’s proposal, and as we learn more about the details in coming weeks and months, the Legislature will weigh in and make changes as we see fit.

This is just the start of a six-month process of writing the state budget that ends with the Legislature passing a final spending plan by June 15. I will keep you posted!


New Laws 

​Almost all of the new laws passed by the Legislature in the previous year and signed by the Governor take effect on Jan. 1. (A few take effect sooner, if they had urgency clauses, and a few others have delayed implementation dates.)

There are hundreds of new laws, and I can’t cover them all here. But I do want to highlight the new laws aimed at increasing affordable housing and addressing the state’s homelessness crisis.

This has been a top priority of mine. In October, I held an Ending Homelessness Summit to focus energy, time and attention on this important topic. You can watch the summit here.

One new law taking effect is my SB 482, which encourages the development of housing units that serve unhoused individuals with little or no income and the greatest needs. It does so by requiring the state Department of Housing and Community Development to offer capitalized operating subsidy reserves (COSRs) to special needs units funded through the Multifamily Housing Program.

This CalMatters article provides a good overview of other important new housing laws.

And here is a roundup of other significant new state laws taking effect.

If you have any questions about a new law, feel free to contact my district office, and we can provide answers. (See contact information at bottom.)


Team Building at the Ecology Center

As part of our activities, we learned about the latest economic trends in Senate District 38 from Marcia Smith from SANDAG.

In December, I pulled together my staff for a one-day retreat to plan for the upcoming year and working on team building. This was productive, informative and incredibly rewarding. I am excited about the talented people on my team and what we’re working on this year.

My No. 1 priority is serving my constituents – all the residents of Senate District 38 – and we focused on the best ways to do that.  That means keeping you informed on everything we are doing, and also working to tackle the biggest problems we are confronting.

A big thanks to the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano for hosting us. We enjoyed their  facilities and learning about all the amazing work the center does. The Ecolology Center’s Regenerative Organic Certified farm is impressive and worth seeing.

You can learn more about the Ecology Center here. I appreciate their dedication to organic farming and living sustainably. Thanks especially to founder Evan Marks and Jonathan Zaidman, who spent time answering our questions and educating us.

Jonathan Zaidman (left photo) gave us a tour of the 28-acre center’s facilities and sprawling organic farm.


As part of our team-building efforts, we also wrapped Christmas gifts donated to our toy drive for children in Oceanside. Here is my staff with other volunteers after we finished at Libby Elementary School. Thanks to Lived Experience, the Joe & Mary Mottino YMCA, the Oceanside Chamber and Mainstreet Oceanside for their partnerships in this great effort!


“Our California” Book Club Starts Tomorrow

Our first book club meeting is tomorrow and you can still sign up! (Details here.)

We’ve launched a Senate District 38 Book Club called Our California. Together, we’ll read books that impact and reflect on the California experience – past, present and future – and how it informs the work of the state Legislature. 

I am excited to get started, with our inaugural meeting to discuss Solito: A Memoir, by Javier Zamora, set for 11 a.m., Jan. 13. That is our first book. A New York Times bestseller, Solito compellingly tells Zamora’s story of being an unaccompanied 9-year-old migrating from El Salvador to California in 1999. 

In addition to analyzing Solito, at the end of our book club meeting we’ll vote on which book to read next. I hope you can join us. 


2023 in 3 minutes! 

ICYMI: This high quality video of the things we accomplished in 2023 is well worth your 3 minutes!


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Finally, on Monday we celebrate the birthday of the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., whose dynamic leadership and unwavering commitment to nonviolence and social justice inspired people across the country and across the globe.

MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. I hope you will join that effort and honor the legacy of Dr. King.

I am here to represent you, and I always welcome your input.

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Thank you for your support. I am honored to serve you.

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Email me at

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