Tuesday, December 2, 2014

CA Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Proposes Paid Sick Days For In-Home Supportive Services Caregivers


As Gonzalez’s First Bill for the 2015-16 Session, AB 11 Would Extend Landmark Law to 365,000 More Californians

SACRAMENTO – (Monday, Dec. 1, 2014) – California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) introduced Assembly Bill 11 to provide at least three paid sick days to California’s in-home supportive services (IHSS) employees annually as her first official legislative proposal of the 2015-16 legislative session that began today.

“All Californians deserve the basic right to seek medical care when they're sick without risking the loss of pay or even their job,” Gonzalez said. “This Legislature and Governor made it clear that paid sick days are a step forward in protecting California’s working families when we guaranteed three sick days for all private sector workers last year. It’s important the caregivers we trust to keep hundreds of thousands of people and their households healthy are also provided this important public health benefit.”

According to an analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, there are nearly 7 million California workers that cannot even take an hour off of work to care for themselves or a loved one who is sick without the real possibility that they lose pay or even their job. More than 6.5 million of those workers – most of whom work in the private sector – will be covered by California’s new paid sick days law when AB 1522 (also by Assemblywoman Gonzalez) goes into effect July 1, 2015.

The IHSS program in California’s counties employees about 370,000 caregivers who are currently exempted from the state’s paid sick days law. These employees perform housecleaning, meal preparation, laundry, grocery shopping, personal care and hygiene services and protective supervision services to low-income, Medi-Cal-eligible Californians who are either 65 years age or older, disabled or blind in their homes. The IHSS program has been credited for saving the state billions in taxpayer costs annually because it serves as an alternate to more costly out-of-home care, such as nursing homes.

“IHSS employees are among the poorest Californians themselves while also providing critical services to the members of our communities who are the most in need – the elderly, the blind and the disabled,” Gonzalez said. “Paid sick days is going to be an important part in our state’s safety net and I feel strongly that it must be made available to those who take care of our society’s most vulnerable.”

Under AB 11, IHSS caregivers could earn, accrue and use paid sick leave at the same rates and for the same purposes as employees who are covered by the AB 1522 paid sick days law. The bill would require public agencies employing IHSS caregivers – which are currently established on a county-by-county basis – to allow caregivers to earn at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. AB 11 would allow the agency to limit a caregiver’s use of paid sick leave to 24 hours or 3 days every year.

Losing just 3 days of pay because of illness can equate to a whole month’s worth grocery bill for a low-income family. Additionally, in the recently released “Shriver Report” about women and poverty, paid sick days was listed as the most important reform that could be made to improve the lives of working women. In fact, more than 90 percent of single women said it was the most important policy that their employer could adopt to improve their lives.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Announces ‘Double Pay on the Holiday’ Bill


Proposed legislation would protect employees by providing double pay for working on Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays

SAN DIEGO – (Wednesday, November 26, 2014) – California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) announced a new legislative proposal today requiring California employers to provide double pay to workers who have to give up their holidays to work on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Assemblywoman Gonzalez was joined outside the Walmart on Murphy Canyon Road in San Diego by Mickey Kasparian, President of UFCW Local 135, and Diane McCain, a local San Diego Walmart worker and member of OUR Walmart to make the announcement.

In recent years, ‘Black Friday’ shopping deals have increasingly spread into the Thanksgiving holiday, forcing workers to miss out on celebrating the holiday and spending time with their families in order to keep their jobs. In some cases, this work has become mandatory, forcing workers to give up their holiday or risk losing their jobs. Many of these business practices have carried over to Christmas as well. The increasing commercialization of the holiday season has created significant public backlash, including petitions, media criticism and worker protests. Assemblywoman Gonzalez’s proposed legislation would ensure that those workers who sacrifice their holiday receive double pay for their work.

“If it’s so important to force employees to work on a traditional family holiday, it’s only decent to compensate them fairly,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said.

Our Walmart member Diane McCain added, “We take pride in serving our customers the best we can, including coming in on holidays like Thanksgiving. I think it’s only right for us to be paid fairly when we have to sacrifice our holiday to work.”


This Thanksgiving, millions of Americans will be at work at a dozen major retailers: Walmart, Macys, Sears/Kmart, Kohl’s, Gap/Old Navy/Banana Republic, Target, Staples, JC Penney, Toys R Us, Sports Authority, Best Buy, and Radio Shack.[1] That includes nearly a million people at Walmart stores alone,[2] and many more at food outlets like Starbucks.[3]

Current California law allows employers to mandate working scheduled overtime,[4] and nationally there have been reports of retailers like Kmart have threatened that employees will automatically be fired if they don’t work on Thanksgiving.[5]

In fact, more than three-fifths of the country’s large employers have Thanksgiving shifts, while just one-in-five small businesses will do the same.[6]

Many employers at least provide some overtime or additional leave for employees who have to work on Thanksgiving, it’s not always so simple. For example, Walmart offers additional pay to Thanksgiving workers based on their average pay in the weeks leading up to the holiday. But many employees reported having their hours reduced during those weeks, to reduce that pay.[7]

Recent polling found that half of Americans think stores being open on Thanksgiving is a terrible idea,[8] and despite talk about consumer demand, data shows that opening earlier didn’t actually boost overall sales. Instead, sales on Thanksgiving Day just came out of Black Friday sales, meaning taking away employees’ holiday didn’t actually help the bottom line.[9]

Holiday work scheduling has inspired multiple petitions from workers[10] and their families[11] across the country. Nearly two-thirds of wealthy nations guarantee paid holidays, though the United States isn’t one of them. On top of that, the United States is the only one not to guarantee any vacation days.[12]

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez represents the 80th Assembly District, which includes Chula Vista, National City and the San Diego neighborhoods of City Heights, Barrio Logan, Paradise Hills, San Ysidro and Otay Mesa. For more information, visit http://asmdc.org/members/a80/.

[1] http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/11/13/3591950/radioshack-thanksgiving/
[2] http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/10/16/3580508/walmart-thanksgiving-2014/
[3] http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/10/16/3580508/walmart-thanksgiving-2014/
[4] http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_overtime.htm
[5] http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/11/19/3594203/kmart-thanksgiving-requests-denied/
[6] http://www.bna.com/onethird-employers-require-pr17179912121/
[7] http://money.cnn.com/2013/11/22/pf/walmart-thanksgiving-worker/
[8] http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2014/11/50_percent_of_americans_think.html
[9] http://blogs.marketwatch.com/behindthestorefront/2013/11/12/retailer-plans-to-jumpstart-black-friday-with- thanksgiving-openings-unlikely-to-save-short-christmas-shopping-season/
[10] http://www.jsonline.com/business/mall-employees-petition-says-no-thanks-to-working-on-thanksgiving- b99389270z1-282402351.html
[11] http://abcnews.go.com/Business/daughter-petitions-kmart-mom-work-thanksgiving/story?id=26913630
[12] http://www.cepr.net/index.php/publications/reports/no-vacation-nation-2013

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rep. Peters Pledges to Continue Seeking  "Practical, Centrist Solutions" in 2nd Term 


San Diego -- Following tonight's vote update from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, Rep. Scott Peters released the following statement:

"I am honored the constituents of California’s 52nd Congressional District chose to send me back for another two years.  I thank my wife Lynn and my family for their steadfast support; my exceptional campaign team for their integrity, expertise, hard work, discipline and good humor; and the hundreds of volunteers who worked nonstop to remind voters in every corner of the district about the importance of this election. I also thank Carl DeMaio for his commitment to public service and government reform; while we disagreed on many issues, I congratulate him on running a tenacious, aggressive and tough campaign.

"My commitment to San Diego is to continue on the path I forged in 2012, working with members of both parties to break the gridlock and get things done for my district and the nation.  Election night was a hard one for the Democratic Party, but perhaps there are lessons from our path to victory here in our Republican-leaning district where we won this election by an even a larger margin than in 2012, a better year for Democrats.

"My campaign moved beyond the false choices that dominate the current dialogue in Washington, and answered the voters’ demand for practical, centrist solutions. The voters want real leadership on issues like protecting a woman’s right to choose, addressing climate change, providing fair wages and safe working conditions, and giving students the opportunity to afford a college education.  But they also want a strong commitment to national defense and a willingness to work with the business community in a partnership for job creation and economic expansion.  In San Diego that means renewed investments in basic infrastructure – our roads and bridges – and in emerging sciences and technologies like green energy, high tech and bio tech, and other innovative businesses that create good jobs. 

"As Democrats we can embrace our traditional values while giving business leaders a viable alternative to government shutdowns, ballooning deficits, credit downgrades, and partisan gridlock.  My campaign is proof that most Democrats, many Republicans and a majority of the fast-growing independent electorate will unite behind a candidate who embraces these goals.

"The business community is feeling evermore abandoned by many Republican congressional leaders.  The question now becomes whether Democratic leaders are willing to seize the opportunity, and the responsibility, for fostering business growth and
economic prosperity. I am committed to it and I thank the voters of the 52nd District for the honor they have given me."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Statement of California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton on 2014 Election Results

It appears Democrats across the nation will always have California. On a night that saw Republicans make gains across the nation, much like in 2010, California held firm. At the statewide level, California remains a deep blue beacon because of the bold leadership of Jerry Brown and our strong Democratic majority in Sacramento.

In a repeat of 2010, California Democrats swept all statewide offices this year and even helped pass the most significant criminal justice reform measures in decades with Proposition 47.

Democrats under Governor Brown have accomplished much in just four short years and our victories at the statewide level serve as an affirmation of that reality.

While the results were less decidedly in our favor at the district level, the reality is California Democrats have had an embarrassment of riches for the past several election cycles and that has left us with many seats to defend, often in Republican leaning territory in low turn out cycles.

We look forward to recommitting to our efforts pressing into Republican strongholds, in particular the Central Valley. Many of the seats that were lost last night will be regained in just two years and there are many more which will be ripe for the picking from Republican hands in 2016.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

10News Civility Project Gives DeMaio Ad 'F,' Calls It "Outrageous'


San Diego -- The false and egregious new Carl DeMaio TV ad has been given a grade of 'F' by the 10News Civility Project, which analyzes political ads for truth and accuracy.

"On truth, relevance and civility, the group gives this ad an F," 10News anchor Virginia Cha told the station's viewers. To watch the 10News segment, click here:

"I just consider it outrageous," Jeff Marston, a Civility Project panelist, told 10News viewers last night.

"I see this ad as the total opposite of civility," added John Beatty, another member of the panel.

10 News aired the segment last night in response to the attack ad, which began airing on San Diego stations last week. The Scott Peters campaign is working with its lawyers to have the baseless spot removed from the airwaves.

Halloween Scare: DeMaio's Proposed Cuts to Veterans' Benefits


San Diego -- If you want a real Halloween scare this season, consider Carl DeMaio’s horrifying plan to cut benefits for California’s military veterans.

DeMaio’s plan – which included kicking veterans off Medi-Cal and shutting down a historic veterans hospital -- is further evidence that his Tea Party approach is too extreme for San Diego.

DeMaio proposed these cuts in his so-called “Citizen’s Budget,” which he crafted in 2003 while working for the Reason Foundation, an extremist think-tank backed by the notorious, far-right Koch Brothers.

His proposed state budget for 2003-2005 calls for kicking all California veterans off Medi-Cal, regardless of their medical needs; closing down a historic veterans hospital that provides crucial medical services to vulnerable veterans; and imposing massive cuts on nursing homes that serve veterans.

“These are people who have served our nation and DeMaio wants to thank them by slashing their medical care,” said Alex Roth, communications director for the Scott Peters for Congress Campaign.  “Absolutely outrageous.”

DeMaio’s ties to the Reason Foundation run deep. Since 2013 he’s been paid at least $240,000 in consulting fees from Reason, the exact same group for which he authored this frightening budget.

By contrast, Rep. Scott Peters has co-sponsored the Veterans Pension Protection Act, the Veterans Employment Transition Act, the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act and the Veterans Education Equity Act.

These are some of the reasons why Jack Harkin, a Republican and former chair of the United Veterans Council of San Diego County, stood next to other veterans at a recent press conference, praised Peters’ “honesty and fairness” and stated, “We must have Scott Peters kept in our Congress.”

Governor Signs Weber Bill Strengthening State’s Hate Crime Statutes

“For a right or a protection to have any meaning, you have to have access to the courts where they can be enforced”

SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation Tuesday authored by Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego) that will protect the rights of victims of hate crimes and civil rights abuses to have their cases heard in court.

It has become a widespread practice in consumer and employment contracting to force individuals to waive their rights to seek legal redress through the courts even when their civil rights have been violated. AB 2617 would prohibit requiring a waiver of any rights under California hate crimes or civil rights laws as a condition of entering into a contract for employment, housing, education or consumer goods and services.

“There is no right without a remedy,” Weber said. “In order for a right or a protection to have any meaning, you have to have access to the courts where they can be enforced. We have passed these laws not only to provide a mechanism of legal redress for victims, but also to send a signal to the rest of society that these acts are not sanctioned, whether committed by an individual or abetted by an institution. Forced arbitration compels victims to submit to proceedings where arbitrators are not even required to follow the state’s civil rights statutes when making decisions that the parties are bound by law to follow.”

The bill emanates from a case of a 15 year-old private school student who received graphic death threats from fellow students due to his perceived sexual orientation.  On the advice of law enforcement, his parents withdrew him from the school and relocated him to a school in a different part of California. The school, however, publicly disclosed the student’s new community and school.  Understandably upset, his parents took legal action to hold the school accountable for abetting the bullying and not disciplining the perpetrators, but a forced arbitration clause buried in the enrollment contract prevented the student from going to court to seek justice under the state’s civil rights statutes.

The student’s father, Lee Caplin, said he, his son and his family are pleased that their experience has resulted in a law that strengthens protections for all Californians.

“This is a great victory,” said Caplin, “This bill gives teeth back to the state’s civil rights and hate crimes laws.”

Caplin, whose father taught law to both John and Robert Kennedy and later served in the Kennedy Administration, said the timing is significant.

“My son noted that the bill signing comes in the same year as the 50th anniversary of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was initiated during the Kennedy era,” he said.

“We have fought long and hard for these protections,” Weber said, “But we are seeing attempts to erode the progress we’ve made, including attempts to subvert voting rights and to shield companies for wrongdoing in hate crimes cases. I am pleased that the Governor saw the wisdom in restoring an individual’s right to have their day in court.”

AB 2617 is supported by Equality California, the ACLU, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, the California Chapter of the NAACP and the Consumer Attorneys of California.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sierra Club San Diego Endorses Peters

San Diego -- Sierra Club San Diego has endorsed Rep. Scott Peters for re-election, saying Peters “has spent his entire career protecting the environment.”

Sierra Club San Diego cited Peters’ work on a variety of environmental issues ranging from combating the impacts of climate change to increasing funding for wildfire preparedness. Peters currently chairs the Climate Task Force of the House Democratic caucus.

“We are confident that Scott will work to protect San Diego’s special environmental, for our families and for our future,” said Debbie Hecht, chair of the club’s steering committee.

During his first term in the House, Peters introduced legislation to reduce the emission of super-pollutants such as methane and black carbon; advocated for full funding of the nation’s climate research programs; introduced a drought-assistance bill that would maximize water resources; co-sponsored legislation to close the oil and gas industries’ air-pollution loophole in the Clean Water Act and co-sponsored a bill creating tax incentives for private landowners to grant public access National Scenic Trails.

Among other things, Rep. Peters has also sponsored legislation that would help coastal states plan for the impacts of climate change.

“I’m honored that the Sierra Club has recognized my persistent efforts on behalf of the environment both in San Diego and nationally,” Peters said. “I pledge to continue the important work of protecting San Diego’s precious natural resources and addressing the threat of climate change.”

The national Sierra Club, the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization, also has endorsed Peters.

Assemblymember Weber’s Response to the Governor’s Action on Her Kindergarten Legislation

SAN DIEGO - Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego) issued the following response to California Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of AB 1719 (Full-Day Kindergarten) and vetoing of AB 1444 (Mandatory Kindergarten):

“I am grateful that the Governor decided to sign AB 1719 and am pleased that he agrees we need to evaluate existing Full-Day kindergarten programs with a view to implementing it statewide.

“I am, however, disappointed that he chose to veto AB 1444, a bill I jointly authored with Assembly Education Chair, Joan Buchanan, which would have required kindergarten attendance before entering the first grade. The recent report from the Attorney General’s office shows that chronic absenteeism is especially acute in kindergarten and first grade with the end result that these children only have a 17- percent chance of being able to read well by the 3rd grade. Without this critical skill, they have a significantly higher likelihood of dropping out of school altogether and ending up in the correctional system or dependent on social services.

“Making kindergarten mandatory will go a long way toward getting parents to take this critical early education seriously and giving their children an opportunity to succeed. I look forward to working with the Governor in the upcoming legislative session on this issue.”

Assemblymember Shirley Weber, representing California’s 79th Assembly District, is a member of the Assembly Education and Higher Committees and Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Higher Education in San Diego County.

Kimber - Hunter Debate

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gov. Brown Signs Assemblywoman Gonzalez’s VOTE Act To Improve Voter Participation in Special Elections

AB 1873 creates San Diego County pilot project to provide all special election voters with postage-paid mail ballots, early voting opportunities

SACRAMENTO – (September 26, 2014) – Gov. Brown signed into law today Assembly Bill 1873 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) authorizing a pilot project that will help the State of California address the low voter turnout and high costs of special elections by instituting a 5-year trial in San Diego County legislative vacancy special elections.

“As elected officials, we have a responsibility to address the plummeting voter turnout and high taxpayer costs we’ve seen in recent special elections,” Gonzalez said. “AB 1873 creates a program that makes voting more accessible and elections cheaper while protecting the integrity of the voting process.”

Upon opting in to this pilot program, the County of San Diego will be required to meet several conditions that will improve a voter’s opportunity to cast a ballot in special elections for Congress, State Senate and Assembly vacancies.

Under AB 1873, every registered voter will be mailed a ballot with return postage paid. Voters would also have the opportunity to vote either at an early voting location the weekend before Election Day or on Election Day at a limited number of polling places for special elections held in San Diego County for Congressional or California Legislative vacancies. These special elections have historically resulted in low voter participation – with often less than 20 percent of registered voters casting ballots – and millions of dollars in costs to county taxpayers that, unlike statewide elections, are not reimbursed by the state.

“The special elections held since 2012 show that a majority of voters choose to cast ballots in the four weeks leading up to Election Day by mail rather than at a polling place on Election Day itself. And for the large numbers who don’t cast ballots at all – whether it’s because they have a busy work schedule, family commitments or just plain forgot – it’s time California and their county elections offices try cutting them some slack by giving them a larger window of time to exercise Democracy,” Gonzalez said.

Even by paying for the postage of every voter’s returned mail ballot, setting up Election Day drop-off locations for last minute voters, and allowing for in-person voting before Election Day, the VOTE Act is projected to save taxpayers money when special elections are needed. For example, the cost of every poll voter who cast a ballot in the 40th Senate District special election last March cost $221.43, according to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters. For every mail ballot counted in that race, the taxpayer cost was only $8.73.

The bill was supported by the County of San Diego, as well as the California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials, California State Association of Counties, California State Association of Letter Carriers, the Rural County Representatives of California and more. Assemblywoman Gonzalez worked diligently with San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu, the Office of the Secretary of State, and several disability rights, language access and voting rights activists to improve this innovative voting bill.

AB 1873 was approved by the Assembly on a 47-29 vote and by the State Senate 24-8 on August 28. Since then, the bill has garnered significant attention in debates for the upcoming election for Secretary of State, the office that oversees all elections in California.

Governor Brown Signs Bill to Enhance Bicycle Safety 

San Diego Bike Coalition says new state law allows local governments to incorporate physically separated lanes 

SAN DIEGO, September 26, 2014 – This week Governor Brown signed AB 1193, The Protected Bikeways Act, giving local governments the liberty to implement modernized bicycling infrastructure. Sponsored by the California Bicycle Coalition and authored by California Assemblymember Phil Ting, The Protected Bikeways Act encourages the implementation of bicycle lanes with physical separation from automobile traffic through the use of medians, curbs, posts and more.

The San Diego Bicycle Coalition celebrates Governor Brown’s decision to make physically separated bikeways viable options for local bicycle infrastructure and the anticipated effect such safety enhancements will have on local riders.

“The key to getting more people on bicycles is giving them a safe place to ride,” says Bike Coalition Executive Director Andy Hanshaw. “Governor Brown’s signature is a gift that allows regions to utilize highly regarded bicycle safety standards from around the globe.”

Used safely and effectively for years in the top bike-friendly cities of the world, such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen, protected bike lanes make urban bike riding a pleasant, practical and safe way to make everyday trips, such as taking children to school or running errands. In the United States, cities that added protected bike lanes such as Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. saw as much as a 250 percent increase in local ridership.

According to the Bike Coalition, a safe and designated area for bicyclists improves conditions for bike safety, car traffic, and even pedestrians on sidewalks. The Coalition says that 90 percent of riders surveyed in recent reports feel safer with protected bike lanes.

“On the heels of the new Three Feet for Safety law, this bill adds to a new era for the safety of bicycle lovers in our city,” says Hanshaw. “With a physical separation between bikes and automobiles, I won’t be surprised when we see a great increase of people commuting, exercising, or recreationally enjoying the beauty of San Diego at a two-wheeled pace.”

For more information on the Protected Bikeways Act, please click here. To learn more about how the San Diego Bike Coalition protects and advocates for the rights of all people on bicycles countywide, please visit www.sdbikecoalition.org.

San Diego Bike Coalition is a nonprofit organization that advocates for and protects the rights of all people who ride bicycles. They promote bicycling as a mainstream, safe and enjoyable form of transportation and recreation. For more information, visit www.sdbikecoalition.org.