ALAMEDA COUNTY - CA — In a meeting hosted by the TriValley Democratic Club, District 16 Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan discussed her top legislation efforts for 2021.
During the March 16 meeting, Bauer-Kahan noted her priority bills would include those pertaining to wildfire prevention, mental health, gender equality, air quality, pesticides and small business paid family leave.
“I don’t need to tell this room that wildfires didn’t take a break for the pandemic,” she said.
She’s currently working with the Alameda County district attorney for Utility Accountability & Wildfire Prevention Act (AB 21). They are co-sponsoring the legislation, which will give district attorneys oversight on utility companies’ vegetation management.
“We think it’s a really important change to how we keep our utilities responsible for the work they’re doing in our communities,” Bauer-Kahan said.
Another bill, AB 988 — Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Phone Line — would create a hotline much like 911 for those suffering a mental health crises. Bauer-Kahan said that 25% of all officer-involved shootings were related to someone suffering a mental health crisis. She saw the phone line as a tool for providing a non-officer response to that 25%.
“In addition, I learned last week that the largest mental health provider in the nation is the Los Angeles County jail system,” she said. “That is not what our mental health community deserves — for the jails to be their provider of resources.”
Three pieces of legislation cover aspects of gender equality: Constitutional Officer Gender Neutrality (AB 378), Nonbinary Options on Death Certificates (AB 439) and Elimination of the “Pink Tax” (AB 1287). Recognizing the large number of women and nonbinary individuals moving into once male-dominated elected positions, Bauer-Kahan addressed the importance of AB 378 and the use of gender-neutrality within state codes. She pointed out that California allows people to mark nonbinary on their driver’s licenses, but the only options on the death certificate are male or female.
“One should have the dignity of identifying as they identify both in life and in death,” Bauer-Kahan said.
AB 1287 aims to eliminate the “pink tax” — the higher tax associated with female-targeted products in another effort to create more gender equality.
Bauer-Kahan also touched on the state budget. Budget season — when the budget is passed in Sacramento — is usually in June, but she said legislators have been conducting budget actions almost every week to keep the state afloat and head toward a positive recovery.
“The budget is obviously really important. As you know, last year, we cut $54 billion from our budget — it wasn’t easy,” she said. “There’s no good situation when you have to cut $54 billion, but in the final version, we really were able to protect our seniors, to protect our students and our most vulnerable. To me, that should always be our priority, and I think we got there.”
Bauer-Kahan’s other priority bills for 2021 include: Burn Notification (AB 529); Air Quality Data (AB 426); Banning Neonicotinoid Pesticides (AB 567); and Small Business Paid Family Leave Mediation (AB 1033).
For more information, visit www.rebeccabauerkahan.com.