Assembly member Chris Holden, whose 41st District represents South Pasadena, addressed the “many accomplishments” in the state Legislature and highlighted some of the key bills in Sacramento during a town hall meeting last week at the South Pasadena Democratic Club.

His message followed Gov. Brown’s recent approval of a new state budget for fiscal year 2017-18.

The Assembly member thanked the City of South Pasadena for its support of “your bill,” he said, referring to AB bill 287. “That bill was introduced at a time when I had the opportunity to sit down with a number of leaders from South Pasadena. They laid out some Beyond the 710 strategies that made a lot of sense.”

“I wanted to give you some idea of where we are currently,” said Holden, speaking on June 6 inside the South Pasadena Library Community Room. “We are at the point where the budget is complete, on time and really important to a lot of people.”

Holden, who introduced AB Bill 287, which has gone a long way in killing the 710 tunnel, said he is on board and in favor of the “Beyond the 710” issue or, what many call a better alternative to constructing an underground route from Valley Blvd. to the 210/34 interchange in Pasadena. Beyond the 710 is about connecting communities, and putting transportation dollars toward other modes of transportation, including improved bus systems and light rail. The coalition behind the Beyond the 710 movement is comprised of Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena, plus the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and No on 710 Action Committee.

The bill falls in line with Holden’s wish to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, “and the right decision was to put forth to kill off the 710 tunnel,” he said. “As a result, Metro has made some important decisions to keep that momentum going.”

The Metro Board voted unanimously to pursue sustainable multi-modal projects to improve transportation over a 4.5-mile long tunnel proposal. Holden pointed out that Caltrans still needs to weigh in on the issue. “We know it’s a state project,” he said. “It’s important that we get a clear signal soon from Caltrans (in terms of what the transportation agency wants to do with the project). I’ve had good conversations with leadership in Caltrans and there seems to be strong indications that at an appropriate time they will take the same path as LA Metro did.”

In introducing Holden, South Pasadena City Councilwoman Dr. Marina Kubesrian told a gathering of about 100 people that she applauds the Democratic Club for growing “and becoming such a robust part of our community,” she said. “You continue to impress me with your work.”

She expressed her gratitude for Holden’s efforts to help the City of South Pasadena’s challenges with the number of massage parlors opened in 2014. “He really led the legislation on local control,” she said, explaining that the number of massage establishments “exploded from four in the city to about 20. There was a huge loophole in state legislation that Chris recognized and now we have a lot more control over that issue.”

Following Holden’s talk, Bianca Richards, the president of Women Involved in South Pasadena Political Action (WISPPA), joined two students from South Pasadena High, Ciena Valenzuela-Peterson and Will Hoadley-Brill, in relaying questions for the Assembly member to answer.

AB 279 – Developmental Disabilities Service Provider Reimbursement Rates (In Senate Rules Committee)

  • AB 279 will extend authority to the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and regional centers to adjust the rates of developmental disabilities service providers to comply with local minimum wage ordinances. “Current law prevents DDS or regional centers from adjusting service provider rates of reimbursement without specific statutory authority to do so,” said Holden. “Without an increase to reimbursement rates to meet local mandates, many services providers may have to shut their doors.”
  • AB 279 extends recognition to local ordinances raising minimum wage at a different pace than the state.

Other examples of legislative solutions that were discussed, developed and delivered from the district include:

  • AB 2442 (2016) – was an idea from Jeanette Mann of All Saints Church in Pasadena. This bill extends density bonuses to housing development that set aside ten percent of their units for former foster youth, disabled veterans, or formerly homeless individuals.
  • AB 288 (2015) – was my concurrent enrollment bill.

LEGISLATIVE ASSIGNMENTS & LEADERSHIP:

  • Speaker Anthony Rendon appointed Holden as chair of the California State Assembly Committee on Utilities and Energy. The primary jurisdictions include public utilities, the California Public Utilities Commission, energy companies, telecommunications and international trade among others.
  • Serving nearly 24 years on the Pasadena City Council, with responsibility over the city’s Water and Power Company, provided Holden “with a strong foundation and understanding of the utility industry and the need to be smart and thoughtful as we plan our energy future,” he said. “I was also elected by my colleagues to chair the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC). I look forward to continuing our efforts to advance equality, justice, and opportunity for all Californians.”

BILL HIGHLIGHTS:

AB 17 – Public Transportation for Students (In Senate Transportation and Housing Committee)

  • AB 17 will create low cost transportation passes for California’s low-income students. “The cost of getting to and from school adds pressure to the already skyrocketing cost of receiving a quality education,” he said.
  • AB 17 will provide safe, reliable and low cost means for California students to get to class, reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, and develop lifelong ridership habits among California’s high school and college students.

AB 56 – Affordable Housing (In Senate Appropriations Committee)

  • AB 56 will clarify which types of housing-related projects are available to fund through the Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (I-Bank).
  • I-Bank is authorized to fund and assist in a variety of projects that help spur economic development. However, I-Bank is prohibited from funding housing directly. This presents a grey area where the types of projects that may relate to housing, but are not housing in particular, might come into question on how the funds are being used.
  • AB 56 pools together definitions to relieve ambiguity and clarify the types of housing-adjacent projects that could be funded by I-Bank in order to help incentivize housing in the long run.

AB 61 – Worker’s Compensation (In Senate Insurance Committee)

  • AB 61 will require that one of the 11 seats on the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) board of directors have previous small business experience.
  • This member would ideally offer practical advice on the role that workers compensation has on small businesses across the state.

AB 1567 – Foster Youth in Higher Education (In Senate Human Services Committee)

  • Nationally, California has the largest population of foster care youth. “Evidence shows that those who access resources early have higher chances of achieving academic success,” said Holden.
  • AB 1567 seeks to facilitate data sharing to increase the number of foster youth who enroll in and utilize campus support programs. “It also streamlines the process by which a foster youth enrolls into educational assistance programs in a California Community College and a California State University,” Holden said.

AB 1008- “Ban the Box” (In Senate Judiciary Committee)

  • AB 1008 will prohibit employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history on an initial application. Holden is a joint author of the bill with Asm. McCarty and other members of the Black Caucus.

Holden said unemployment has a significant effect on recidivism rates. Ensuring applicants have a fair chance at an interview rather than being quickly discounted due to their past will help more people find jobs and stay away from a life of crime.

AB 1665- Internet for All (In Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee)

  • AB 1665 makes changes to the California Advanced Services Fund program to ensure high speed internet infrastructure is improved and more people have more and better access to high speed internet.
  • ABOUT THE BUDGET:

Holden said the theme of this year’s budget is “protect and persist.” “We are protecting our citizens and our financial health with a budget that maintains safety net programs and builds up our reserves,” he said. “We are persisting by investing more money in programs that combat poverty, strengthen the middle class and demonstrate our commitment to progressive values.

  • The new state budget includes an additional $3.2 billion this year for K through 12 schools.” There is also increased money for child care and preschool, financial aid, and funding to increase enrollment at UCs and CSUs,” Holden said.

TRANSPORTATION SOLUTIONS:

  • In November 2016, Los Angeles County voters passed Measure M which will generate $120 billion in the next 40 years and can be expected to provide a boost to the construction industry and will get the Gold Line Extension to Claremont.
  • In April 2017, the Legislature passed a Transportation Funding Package to fix California’s crumbling roads and provide new funding to make road safety improvements, fill potholes, and repair local streets, freeways, bridges and overpasses.
  • For decades, transportation in California has been getting worse and the funds to fix it have been drying up. Senate Bill 1 was a compromise solution that will save consumers in the long run and avoids borrowing funds that may result in cuts to school, health, and public safety.
  • SB 1 also includes protections to prevent funds from being diverted for other purposes and accountability measures to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Holden said the funding transportation package will have a powerful and positive impact on the cities in the 41st Assembly District. “They will see over a 100% increase in much needed transportation funds,” he said.

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