Democratic State Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan concluded the 2020 legislative year with a virtual town hall last week, where she updated her constituents on what took place in Sacramento this year.
Bauer-Kahan’s office noted the event had over 300 RSVPs and was able to inform Tri-Valley residents about all the state was able to accomplish despite the unique challenges faced this year, including $54 million in budget cuts.
“My colleagues and I had to make hard decisions, but ultimately, we were able to pass a balanced budget and legislation that represents our district's values and responds to the challenges Californians like you are facing,” Bauer-Kahan said. “We passed meaningful legislation to help small businesses, ensure funding for public schools, harden our defenses against wildfires, and advance social and racial justice.”
Bauer-Kahan said she hosted the event because it was an opportunity to hear directly from the public about their concerns now and during the next legislative session. The last 20 minutes were devoted to questions posed by listeners, touching on various topics such as the environment, COVID-19 and hospital capacity, reopening schools, Valley Link Railway, wildfires and climate change, among others.
The assemblymember opened the town hall by briefly discussing some of accomplishments of this season, including the preservation of Tesla Park, her work on gun violence prevention, her interest in children’s physical and mental health, the streamlining of government resources, protections for consumers using online lending companies, funding for public schools to close the digital divide, and her commitment to holding PG&E accountable for their role in the state’s wild fires.
Bauer-Kahan also said she worked on laws banning flavored tobacco and vaping products, eviction protections and driving down the cost of prescription drugs. She highlighted her voting record standing up for seniors and the environment.
She noted the final budget included funds from the state’s Direct Coronavirus Aid and Economic Security (CARES) Act, with some monies going to the cities of the Tri-Valley. Also of note in the Tri-Valley was the discussion surrounding AB 2752, which would have allowed wineries to expand their markets and attract new customers, had it passed.
“Currently, they can only have one off-site tasting room, and we want to give them more than that,” Bauer-Kahan said. “We think it’s a good part of our economy and a way to help local businesses.”
Unfortunately, due to the limited legislative session, she said the bill was not given a fair chance. She is committed to introducing it again when the 2021 session begins in December.
AB 2752 was the result of a partnership between Bauer-Kahan, Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, and the Wine Institute, a public advocacy group made up of more than 1,000 California wineries. Chris Chandler, executive director of the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association, said the fight is not over.
“Wine Institute will work with Bauer-Kahan to reintroduce this bill next year,” Chandler said. “Worth noting . . . identical legislation passed the Senate unanimously in both 2018 and 19, and also cleared policy committees in both houses unanimously. In 2020, this bill was victim to the legislature reducing the scope of their session due to the COVID-19 crisis.”
Supporters of the bill say the expansion to two tasting rooms would be especially beneficial for smaller wineries, whose income often depends solely on tasting rooms where they can engage with customers.
During the town hall, Bauer-Kahan spent several minutes discussing the district’s response to COVID-19 and noted she was incredibly proud of the community’s efforts to come together during the pandemic.
“I think this is top of mind of all of us because it has changed the way we live,” she said. “As a mom of three kids, it has changed the way they go to school and the way they live … We have stepped up, we have socially distanced, we have worn our masks, and our numbers reflect that … this enables us to reopen our economy.”
She urged residents to stay vigilant and keep working to slow the spread. She also discussed testing, adding more tests inform data. She said the state has helped, budgeting $1.1 billion to expand hospital capacity, fund public health system responses, acquire health equipment, offer aid to vulnerable seniors and disinfect schools. Finally, Bauer-Kahan noted the state is now entering tiers allowing schools to reopen, and this was a positive step forward.
For those who were unable to participate in the live town hall, there is a program on the District 16 website called “There ought to be a law.” Through this, residents can fill out a form proposing new legislation for the upcoming year. Bauer-Kahan urged listeners to contact her office with their issues, adding if they were not the right people to help, they would find the right people. The assemblymember’s team can help with unemployment insurance, DMV issues, franchise tax board issues and more.
The virtual town hall took place online on Oct. 21. Recordings are available on Bauer-Kahan’s website and her Facebook page. For more information, call 925-328-1515, visit her website at https://a16.asmdc.org/ or her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RBKcalifornia.
For more information on AB 2752, visit http://bit.ly/Indy_AB2752.