May is the month when we honor all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while wearing the uniforms of our nation’s military. As someone who is proud to come from a military family and to represent an amazing military district, Memorial Day is one of the most special and significant days of the year for me.
May is also AAPI Heritage Month, when we celebrate the contributions of our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities here in San Diego and throughout California. We also stand with our AAPI community against the alarming and hateful acts that continue to impact our neighbors and commit ourselves to working toward a future for AAPI communities that is free from hate, and inclusive and equitable for all.
California Dream for All
Last year, I proposed the California Dream for All Program to allow California to partner with first time homebuyers to expand homeownership and be another tool to chip away at California’s housing shortage. The program is off to an incredible and inspiring start – during the first two weeks of it its launch, more than 2,400 first-time homebuyers were helped with their down payments. That rapid response and resulting use of the $300 million in funding currently identified, is a testament to just how critical this program is for California families – especially those who historically have faced systemic barriers to home ownership – and the need to continue to fund the program.
The 2022-23 state budget appropriated $500 million for the program, the remaining $200 million has not yet been released. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature and the Governor to release the additional $200 million appropriated in the 2022-23 for the program. I also plan to work to secure more state funding and explore additional private sector options to bolster the program and help even more families achieve the dream of home ownership.
SB 447 – The BRIDGE Project – Opening Hearts and Minds
Earlier this spring, I introduced SB 447, which is an innovative new approach meant to encourage acceptance and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community in other states. This bill proposes to lift California’s travel ban and creates in its place a new program to promote inclusion and respect, especially in states that have passed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Called the BRIDGE Project – Building and Reinforcing Inclusive, Diverse, Gender-Supportive Equality, the program is focused on discouraging discrimination and helping people in other states feel supported and less isolated through non-partisan, uplifting messaging. As someone who grew up gay in the South, I saw first-hand the difference personal connections made in changing or opening hearts and minds. At a time when LGBTQ+ rights and protections are being rescinded, and the very words we use are being weaponized, putting understanding and kindness at the forefront is more important than ever, which is what this bill seeks to do. SB 447 was approved by the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee on April 17 by a vote of 10-3.
SB 450 – Making the HOME Act More Accessible
After hearing from constituents and Californians across the state, I introduced SB 450 to modify SB 9, the California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency (HOME) Act, and make it even more accessible for homeowners who wish to use it. The HOME Act, which was signed into law in 2021, widened access to housing for California working families by streamlining a homeowner’s ability to build a duplex or split their current residential lot, allowing for a maximum of four units on a single-family parcel.
These new changes to the law would add an ‘application shot clock,’ requiring local governments to either approve or deny an application for a new unit or a lot split within 60 days, and would require the local government to provide homeowners with a reason and a remedy if their application is denied. These changes also would align SB 9 with the existing ADU law, and make it easier for homeowners to navigate the application process. The proposed changes also would ensure that local governments are consistent in their zoning, subdivision, and design standards, so that no overly-burdensome requirements can be foisted upon homeowners, and would give the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Housing Law Unit accountability and enforcement authority over the law. The bill was approved by the Senate Housing Committee on April 19 by a vote of 9-1.
SB 519 – Promoting Safety and Transparent Oversight of County Jails
SB 519 would promote safety in county detention facilities and ensure more transparent oversight of the Sheriff’s Departments that oversees them. Last year, in response to urging by members of San Diego’s legislative delegation, the State Auditor examined the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and deaths of persons in custody, and released findings that reported the department had systemic issues with its policies and practices that undermined its ability to ensure the health and safety of those in custody.
From 2006 through 2020, 185 people died in San Diego County’s jails – the highest death rate per capita in California. While the Auditor recommended that the department take steps to prevent similar future deaths, address deficiencies, and increase public transparency, ongoing concerns remain. In response, I have introduced SB 519, legislation that would give local county Boards of Supervisors the authority to establish a Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation if their Sheriff’s Department is unresponsive in addressing problems with county detention facilities. It would also ensure that full reports of investigations relating to in-custody deaths are publicly accessible in order to help prevent and reduce future deaths. The bill also expands the mission of the Board of State and Community Corrections to adjust its mission to further promote legal and safe conditions for youth, inmates, and staff in local detention facilities. SB 519 was approved on April 25 by the Senate Public Safety Committee by a vote of 4-0, and on April 26 by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee by a vote of 6-0.
SB 385 and SB 487 – Expanding and Protecting Abortion Access
SB 385 would expand training for physicians assistants to allow them to perform first trimester abortions under their scope of practice. It was approved on April 10 by the Senate Committee on Business, Professions, and Economic Development in a 10-3 vote, and by the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 9-2 vote on April 18.
SB 487 would strengthen protections for California healthcare providers who offer abortion care services and gender-affirming care. It was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 8-2 vote on March 28, and by the Senate Health Committee in a 9-2 vote on April 19.