League Members present were Barbara Lewis, Susan Becker, Dorothy Fry, Cecilie Schulze (representing Santa Cruz County), Claire Benson and Susan McCuen (representing San Jose/Santa Clara).
Question 1: Money Bail Reform Currently, release pending trial is based on an arrestee's capacity to post money bail. Do you support legislative changes to a risk-assessment based system, so that release is contingent on preventing violence in the community, rather than arrestee's finances?
Senator Monning supports money bail reform and is a co-author of SB 10 (Hertzberg). Following negotiations with Governor Brown, this bill will need to leave the Assembly by May and go for concurrence in the Senate. Under the money bail system, a person of means puts up bail, while another person stays in jail, and bail schedules are higher in one county than another. Fundamental human rights are being violated. Reform will relieve pressure on jails. 63 % of inmates in jails are awaiting trial. Problems mentioned include the cost of ankle bracelets and loss of jobs for inmates.
Question 2: CEQA Reform To facilitate production of affordable housing, the legislature passed a number of bills last session designed to streamline local review processes, including bypassing some CEQA challenges. What is your view regarding the use of CEQA to delay affordable housing projects? While recent legislative changes have streamlined the CEQA process for in-fill projects, do you think other legislative changes to CEQA are needed?
Senator Monning is a strong environmentalist, a long-time supporter of the objectives of CEQA. He favors streamlining the process for some high-density housing, but does not favor waivers that involve killing of animals. Land use planning historically involves local authority, so there is a question of how much authority should be given to the state. To create uniformity, create incentives to build affordable housing, a time limit should be set on review of permit applications. One way to expedite CEQA review would be to prioritize these cases over appellate criminal cases in the courts. The legislative change to CEQA favored by Senator Monning is expedited CEQA review.
Question 3: Sea Level Rise Sea level rise, a major effect of climate change, will have profound impacts on infrastructure in some of our most populous areas-the Bay Area, LA Basin, San Diego. We need a regional, coordinated effort of several state agencies. And since the threat is swift in terms of typical infrastructure projects, we need to coordinate now. What is the path forward to assure continuity of infrastructure as we approach 2050 and beyond? What can be done legislatively?
Senator Monning supports SB 100 and the goals of 50 % renewable energy by 2030 and 100 % renewable energy by 2045. He supported AB 2516 and the database that provides information for coastal communities about current projected sea level rise, as well as SB 1363 related to eel grass, a sequester of carbon. He supported cap and trade, especially for the disadvantaged communities. Since sea level rise is directly related to climate change, California is leading the nation in efforts to curb emissions, and cap and trade relates to preventing sea level rise. Senator Monning mentioned the efforts of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the environmental community in supporting legislation and his membership in the Bay Area caucus. Infrastructure improvement is urgently needed, and Senator Monning supports the proposed 12 cents per gallon increase in the gas tax as well as SB 1.
Question 5: What other major issues do you think the legislature must deal with in 2018? What are your personal priorities?
As a member of the Budget Committee, passing an on-time budget that prioritizes education, child care, access to education, children's health care, gun control, and access to clean, safe drinking water would be important for the legislature to deal with as well as personal priorities of Senator Monning. There needs to be a safety check for those purchasing guns with mental illness. The second amendment to the Constitution was not intended by the framers to mean no restriction on guns. We received a Fact Sheet on SB 623, sponsored by Senator William Monning, which will establish the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund to provide an ongoing source of funding to ensure all Californians have access to safe drinking water. The proposed bill, supported by the Governor, needs 2/3 vote in each house to pass. Access to clean, safe drinking water is a human right.
Representing San Jose/Santa Clara: Judy Chamberlin, Marie Arnold, Claire Benson Representing Santa Cruz County: Barbara Lewis, Marcia Minnihan, Colleen Garde Senator Monning's District Director, Nicole Charles Interview at the Santa Cruz Offices
Report submitted by LWV San Jose/Santa Clara
1. Voting and Elections California experienced historically low voter turnout in the 2014 primary and general elections Many bills were introduced in 2015 to address voter turnout and engagement; a number were passed by the Legislature and signed into law, while some remain on the agenda for 2016. What legislative proposals would you support to improve the number of California citizens who register and turn out to vote? Are there other steps that government should take to engage more California residents in elections?
Senator Monning supports online registration, which we have now, also same-day registration. Last year he opposed automatic registration when people get driver's licenses or identity cards at the DMV; his concern was that undocumented individuals might inadvertently register and that would be a felony and possibly subject them to deportation.
He would like to see voting on a day which is not a work day, perhaps a Sunday, even a paid holiday, like some other countries. He supports mandatory voting but doesn't see it happening in the U.S.
Voting by mail extends the time people can vote up to 30 days; it changes the face of campaigning since the period is so long. It allows for candidates to know who has already voted and target their message to those who have not voted. He supports the experience of going to the polls but also appreciates the complexity of the ballot. Online voting may be possible but up to now there are many concerns that would need to be worked out: the possibility of fraud and hacking, and the need for a paper trail.
Senator Monning supports the Disclose Act with stricter requirements on new PACs. Money in politics has expanded the voice of the billionaires.
2. Housing Increasing the supply of housing for people of modest means is a vexing problem in California. Underlying the problem is the clash of market economics (when housing is scarce, rents skyrocket) with the strong bonds people form with their homes and neighborhoods. Even if a family doesn't own their home, they form practical and emotional attachments to what they call home because it impacts every aspect of life-from employment opportunities and friendships to access to good public education and health care.
What will you do to ensure that your constituents are not displaced from their homes, and what steps would you take to increase the supply of housing- especially housing that is affordable to people of modest means? Do you agree this would require a stable and dedicated source of funding?
Senator Monning appreciates the wording in the background, that housing is more than a home, it underlies bonds with people and neighborhoods. He sees the affordable housing problem, rentals as well as sales value, as very complex, without a good answer. The shrinking middle class contributes to the problem.
He would like to see prosecution of financial firms that contributed to the financial debacle and foreclosures: fines should go into zero and low-interest work-out loans to help keep people in their homes.
3. Climate Change
Climate change was a major issue in the first year of the 2015-2016 legislative session. The legislature passed SB350, which requires the expansion of the state's renewable energy portfolio to 50% by 2030 and an increase in energy efficiency of buildings by 50% by 2030. Similar reductions in petroleum use in vehicles were removed from the bill. SB32, which would have established a target of 80% reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the 1990 level by 2050, was amended to require only a 40% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 and to weaken the authority of the California Air Resources Board; it was held over as a two-year bill.
What are your priorities for state legislation and policies on climate change? Are there other related issues that you feel need to be addressed?
Senator Monning considers climate change the biggest threat to humanity in the long run and a huge impact in the shorter run, e.g., public health issues, coastal and flooding issues. Some effects are being experienced along the coast, among his constituency.
He was a co-author of SB350, but the personal energy reduction component was blocked by big oil. He's very proud that countries all over the world look to California because we are ahead of most in reducing CO2 gases and using renewable energy. The largest venture capital initiative in the U.S. is renewable energy in California.
He is a supporter of high speed rail and noted the immediate benefits of high speed rail for Cal Train and other transportation authorities. He also spoke of electrifying Cal Train as an example of high speed rail benefits.
4. Local Issue San Jose/Santa Clara was going to ask about transportation, but much was covered under #3.
5. General Question What major issues do you think the legislature must deal with in 2016? What are your personal priorities?
The top priority is the budget. The legislature has passed a budget on time and balanced for the past 5 years. Senator Monning serves on the Health and Human Resources Budget Subcommittee, which deals with Medi-Cal, day care support, CalWorks, and other related items.
He is proud of repurposing some of the money from the Managed Care Operators Tax to leverage federal money and increase funding for the developmentally disabled and support Regional Centers.
He believes in supporting the most fragile in our communities and providing a safety net through social services. One example is changing the process so it is easy to transfer eligibility for services from county to county without a lapse, as proposed in his current legislative proposal SB 1339.
Challenges are the budget, especially keeping up with the changes in the forecasts, and transportation.