A Joint Legislative Town Hall on March 12 offered citizens the opportunity to hear firsthand what Senator Steve Glazer and Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan are working on, and to ask questions. The meeting also allowed the representatives to learn what is important to their constituents. The Town Hall, attended by some 90 people, took place in the Dublin Civic Center.
Dublin Mayor David Haubert stated, “I’m excited to introduce State Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer Kahan, or ‘RBK.’ She was elected last November, but before that, she was an accomplished attorney, environmental advocate, community volunteer, law professor, and mom.
“I’m also excited to introduce Senator Steve Glazer who started his political career many, many years ago, but here’s the thing: he served locally on a city council, and that means so much to guys like me. He has the perspective of the local community; he’s in Sacramento fighting on our behalf from the perspective of somebody who knows what it’s like to be on the ground where the rubber hits the road.”
Issues addressed by Bauer-Kahan and Glazer included the environment, education, gun control and affordable housing.
“I was an environmental lawyer for many years, and I also have three children who will be inheriting this world,” said Bauer-Kahan. “I feel strongly that battling climate change should be a priority for all of us. It’s something I’m committed to doing every day in the legislature – making sure that we are leading the way, protecting our environment, and handing over to the next generation a world at least as good as the one we inherited. I used to want to give them a better world, but now I’m settling for at least as good.”
Bauer-Kahan said that the Small Farm Micro-Irrigation Grant Program (AB 1086) will help protect water by issuing grants to small farms to convert to micro-irrigation systems. She stated, “It’s more environmental for farmers to do drip irrigation, as it conserves water and doesn’t flood the fields so pesticides don’t go into the groundwater.
“Also, we are going to see a 300 percent increase in the number of semi (trucks) running through this district. The way we move goods is changing because of the way we’re shopping,” she said. “Electric semis are a thing; they are out there. Safeway moves all their goods by electric trucks, but we as a state are now providing the infrastructure for them to succeed in that. We are doing a bill to put in charging stations, so instead of semis idling, they can be charging.”
Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan is a Democrat representing the 16th District, one of 80 California State Assembly Districts. She represents more than 500,000 residents in east Alameda County, including the Tri-Valley, and parts of Contra Costa County.
Senator Glazer, also a Democrat, represents the 7th District, one of 40 California State Senate Districts. He represents around one million residents in most of Contra Costa County and parts of the East Bay, including the Tri-Valley.
“We have smoking bans in a lot of public facilities, protecting those of us who are concerned with secondhand smoke,” Glazer said. “I introduced (SB 8), which bans smoking in state parks and on beaches. Cigarette butts have a huge impact on the environment, and a huge number of fires have been caused by cigarettes.”
Glazer is also co-authoring legislation (SB 38) that prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco products (including e-cigarettes) in retail stores and vending machines.
Addressing education, Bauer-Kahan said that California’s funding is among the lowest in the country. She supports the Education Finance Bill (AB 39), which would raise per-student funding from $9,000 to around $17,000. “It would take us from the bottom ten in the country to the top ten in the country for education funding,” she said.
Additionally, Bauer-Kahan and Glazer have proposed legislation that supports California college students. Bauer-Kahan has introduced AB 1344, which seeks to protect college students by requiring out-of-state, online, for-profit colleges to abide by the same regulations that apply to in-state colleges. Glazer’s Higher Ed Facilities Bond Act of 2020 (SB 14) would place a $4 billion bond on the March 2020 ballot that could be used to improve campus facilities. Glazer also supports incentivizing colleges (SB 148) to participate in programs aimed at increasing four-year graduation rates among students.
Two gun-safety bills in Bauer-Kahan’s legislative package are: Mental Health Diversion Gun Control (AB 1121), which prohibits individuals who are going through court-ordered mental health diversion programs from possessing firearms while in the program, and requires them to petition a judge to later regain the firearms; and Trust Transfer Gun Control Requirements (AB 1292), which mandates that the transferring of a firearm through an estate or trust conforms to current gun-control requirements.
Glazer states, “We’ve done a lot in the areas of (gun) public safety – whether that’s background checks, waiting periods, or bans on assault weapons. We have made positive steps not to take away a gun for hunting or home protection, but to take away weapons of war from our streets, and limit the carnage that could occur when someone does crazy, crazy things. “ He added that we’re trying to control the number of firearms you can buy in a month. The purchase of long guns, which are now unlimited, would be reduced to a single gun.
Both Bauer-Kahan and Glazer acknowledged the importance of affordable housing.
“I don’t think a day goes by that my colleagues and I are not talking about housing,” Bauer-Kahan said. “We know there’s a crisis; we see it every day; we feel it; we hear about it from you; and we are committed to making a difference. We understand the need, and we want to make it possible for the young people of this community to come back to where they grew up.”
“We didn’t get into this housing issue overnight, and it takes a while to build ourselves into a better place,” Glazer said. “One place we haven’t focused a lot of attention on is renters. We have a renters’ tax credit that was established in 1979 and hasn’t changed since then. It’s been the same for 40 years. If you’re single, you can get an annual credit of $60; couples get a credit of $120 annually. I have legislation to raise that credit, depending on your qualifications, to $434. Last week, it was recognized as the bill that has the most bipartisan co-authors this year.”
Two representatives from Camp Parks also attended the Town Hall and spoke about the need for affordable rental deposits for active-duty military members.
“I am responsible for all of the soldiers, civilians and military members who pass through my gates,” said Garrison Commander Jennifer Nolan. “I have only 114 military houses in my installation, but I have over 1,000 people who work and live in Camp Parks, so they need housing outside of Camp Parks.”
Security deposits can equal three months of rent (often totaling around $10,000), causing renters to have to take out bank loans.
“Since California has the largest active-duty military population in the United States, everybody’s having the same problem, especially in the high cost-of-living areas,” Nolan said. “Senator Glazer was nice enough to listen to our story. We asked him if he would champion a bill (limiting security deposits to the cost of one month’s rent), and he agreed.”
The next Joint Legislative Town Hall will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 28, at the Civic Park Assembly Hall in Walnut Creek.