NEWSLETTER – September 22, 2023
Last week, after midnight on Thursday, the legislative session ended for the year.
For the last two weeks, we were on the floor of the Senate voting on bills for hours, which was both exhilarating and exhausting.
Going through the process for the first time this year I was struck by the great variety of bills, some exceedingly minor in scope tackling a discreet and narrow problem. Others broad and profound, for example, whether to limit the use of solitary confinement in our prisons based on international standards related to the definition of torture. In the end, that bill made it out of the Senate but did not get heard in the Assembly, which means it died for the year.
Listening to passionate floor speeches from people with competing world views is truly the stuff of movies. Sitting in that chair as a decision-maker, I can share that what people say and how they say it does influence me. Many things are well researched by my indefatigable staff who worked tirelessly to prepare me for taking these votes. But some things come down to listening to my colleagues and casting that critical vote. It’s truly such an honor to do the people’s work.
For the remainder of the year, all 120 of us legislators are in our district offices, working on our bill packages for next year and attending to community needs at home. We don’t report back for duty in Sacramento until January. I’ll admit that it’s very nice to sleep at home with my family every night. We all miss each other when I’m away.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office if we can be of service in any way.
The Senate’s freshman class gathered for a photo on the floor after midnight after wrapping up our first legislative session! Left to right are Sens. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, Caroline Menjivar (top), Aisha Wahab (bottom), Angelique Ashby, Steve Padilla (top), myself (bottom) and Marie Alvarado-Gil.
I am proud that I was able to pass the following legislation and send it to the Gov. Gavin Newsom for his consideration. He has until Oct. 14 to act on the bills, and I am hopeful he will sign all of them. Historically, about 90 percent of bills passed by the Legislature are signed by the Governor, and in California it is not common for the Legislature to override the Governor if a bill isn’t signed. My bills include:
SB 417 would require gun sellers to post warnings about the danger of having a firearm in a home. Gun stores would have to post this message: “WARNING: If you or a loved one is experiencing distress or depression or is contemplating suicide, please call 988 (The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline). Access to a firearm in the home significantly increases the risk of suicide, death, and injury during domestic violence disputes, and the unintentional death and traumatic injury to children, household members, and guests.”
SB 428 would provide public employers with the ability to seek a temporary civil restraining order on behalf of an employee who is being harassed at work by a member of the public. Under current law, it’s up to the individual workers themselves to seek such restraining orders, often at their own time and expense, even though the harassment occurs while they are on the job.
SB 452 would prohibit the sale or transfer of a semiautomatic pistol made after Jan. 1, 2028, unless it has been verified as a microstamping-enabled pistol. By using microstamping, the handguns would etch unique identifiers on expended cartridges, providing law enforcement with valuable information to help identify shooters.
SB 482 would encourage the development of housing units that serve unhoused individuals with little or no income and the greatest needs. It would do this 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. COSRs are important because if granted, they set aside upfront money to cover 15-20 years’ worth of deficits in annual operating revenues for housing developments, making it easier for the developments to get financed and built.
SB 677 would require the LOSSAN Agency, as a part of its annual business plan, to include an overview of climate change’s effects on the coastal rail corridor and a comprehensive description of adaptation strategies in the form of projects and funding. This bill is complementary to the Senate Transportation Subcommittee on LOSSAN Rail Corridor Resiliency that I serve as chair on and will set the foundation for how we address the various bluff collapses, hill slides, and erosion issues that the rail corridor is currently faces. By mandating this work, the LOSSAN Agency and its partners will be better positioned to seek federal funds to address its biggest issues.
SB 391 would establish a rebuttable presumption that skin cancer developed by California’s wildlife officers and park rangers is associated with excessive exposure to the sun during their employment, thereby removing any barriers to receiving workers’ compensation coverage for skin cancer treatment. The same rebuttable presumption currently exists for lifeguards employed by cities or counties and the state Department of Parks and Recreation and by all other classes of peace officers.
I held a press conference at the Peace Officers Memorial across the street from the state Capitol to drive home a point to the Governor – wildlife officers and park rangers should get the same coverage for skin cancer treatment as all other peace officers.
I joined with Assemblymember Tim Grayson and wildlife officers, park rangers, family members and conservation advocates to urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign my legislation to cover medical treatment for skin cancer developed by state wildlife officers and park rangers on the job.
Like other peace officers, every day wildlife officers and park rangers put their lives on the line. The risk comes not only from the possibility of dangerous conflict but also from the hazard of spending most of their days outdoors being exposed to harmful UV rays from the sun. They deserve the same protection as every other law enforcement officer and lifeguard.
The legislation is co-sponsored by the California State Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) and the California Fish and Game Supervisors and Managers Association (CFGWSMA) and has support from 18 organizations, including the Peace Officers Research Association of California and The Nature Conservancy.
There is no known opposition, and the bill passed the Legislature unanimously. That’s right – not a single no vote was cast against this bill in committee or on the floor of either house of the Legislature!
By signing the bill, Gov. Newsom can eliminate the disparity in coverage experienced by the protectors of our state’s precious natural resources and make a significant and positive impact on the lives of California’s 800 state wildlife officers, park rangers and their families.
I presented a check to the San Dieguito River Park JPA on Sept. 8. In the photo, left to right, are SDRPJPA Board Member Chris Khoury, SDRPJPA Executive Director Shawna Anderson, myself, SDRPJPA Board Member and Del Mar Councilmember Dwight Worden, San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy Board President Lee Haydu, former Del Mar Mayor Ellie Haviland, and SDRPJPA Board Chair and San Diego Councilmember Joe LaCava.
I am thankful that I was able to get $1.4 million added to the 2023-24 state budget for the San Dieguito River Park to complete an important section of the Coast to Crest Trail.
With it, the San Dieguito River Park will be able to build the 1-mile Osuna Segment that involves erecting a 150-foot-long steel truss bridge across the San Dieguito River (behind us in the photo).
The San Dieguito River Park is an incredible natural resource, a treasure enjoyed by thousands of Southern Californians each year.
The Osuna Segment, which will connect the coastal portion of SDRP’s Coast to Crest Trail to the central portion, will be located between the San Dieguito Lagoon and Fairbanks Ranch. It will link 4 miles of western lagoon trail segments already in place to 27 miles of contiguous trail to the east. Read more here.
We hope to see construction starting around this time next year and the new segment open to the public around eight months later – I can’t wait!
For more information about the San Dieguito River Park and trail system, visit the SDRP website. To be a part of the San Dieguito River Park legacy, donate here: https://www.sdrp.org/donate/. Donations are tax-deductible.
I joined Sen. Steve Padilla, Assemblymembers Chris Ward and David Alvarez and other officials at a press conference in Imperial Beach to draw attention to the water pollution problem and what needs to be done.
The dire situation of toxic untreated wastewater being dumped into the ocean in Mexico and contaminating the water and polluting San Diego County beaches is a true emergency.
I joined members of the San Diego legislative delegation to send a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom in June asking for the declaration of a state of emergency, among other measures.
I applaud Sen. Steve Padilla for working to get $3 million dollars in the state’s budget for Scripps Institution of Oceanography to create and administer the Tijuana River Estuary and Coastal Ocean Untreated Sewage Pathogen Predictions model. The project will involve an interdisciplinary team of biological and physical oceanographers working together to develop the estuary and coastal ocean pathogen forecast model.
Scientists at Scripps have already developed a physical model showing how ocean and estuary currents and contaminated wastewater are transported along the coast. This three-year program aims to expand to include pathogen modeling, data assimilation and forecast capabilities in real-time.
Thanks to the consistent advocacy of many people over many years, the federal government has committed to rehabilitate and expand a federal wastewater treatment plant to address the ongoing Tijuana River sewage crisis along the San Diego County coastline, as the Governor announced on Sept. 1.
We need to remain vigilant to ensure our ocean water isn’t polluted and we can keep our beaches clean, uncontaminated and open. I continue to join my colleagues to be in touch with the Governor’s office, our two U.S. Senators and our congressional delegation to advocate that Washington, D.C., also make this a priority.
I’m standing inside an interactive sculpture of a tropical pitcher plant (left photo). Insects fall into the plant and are digested for nutrients. It’s part of the “Savage Gardens” exhibit about carnivorous plants, which I recommend for children and adults alike.
I had a delightful time attending the San Diego Botanical Garden Gala. I love the next-level horticulture, ecology and plan diversity work the botanical garden does. I enjoyed roaming the garden and mingling with the other guests, and of course the food and entertainment.
The 37-acre garden in Encinitas is a gem, with 4 miles of winding trails, ocean views and 5,300 plant species and varieties. I always relish visiting.
Tea Time in South Orange County
Grant Writing Webinar in October
If you or your organization would like to learn about grant writing, and how to do it effectively, here’s your chance. I am hosting a free, one-hour webinar on how to write grant applications to state and local governments. This will be offered via Zoom. Please use the link below, if you would like to sign up.
There Ought To Be A Bill
Do you think there should be a law about something? I really appreciated the breadth of ideas that were emailed into my office after the previous newsletter. Please keep the ideas coming! I want to hear from you! Click on the button below and follow the directions to provide your suggestion.
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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