Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bill Providing Voting Rights Information to Eligible Offenders Passes Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee

SACRAMENTO, CA- Assembly Member Shirley N. Weber’s (D-San Diego) AB 149 passed the Assembly Committee on Elections and Redistricting, Tuesday, April 23, 2013, with a 5-2 vote.

C0-sponsored by the California Civil Rights Coalition and the Greenlining Institute, AB 149 would ensure that persons involved in the criminal justice system are given accurate information about their voting rights and are afforded the opportunity to participate in the civic life of their communities.

Specifically, the bill would require the Department of Corrections to provide every parolee with a voter registration form and information about their voting rights upon the completion of their parole supervision. It would also require county probation departments to provide every eligible person under their supervision with a voter registration form and information on their voting rights. County sheriffs would also be required to provide this same information to eligible inmates of a county jail.

“Aside from the fact that voting has been proven to reduce recidivism among current and former offenders, it is a fundamental tenant of democracy,” said Assembly Member Weber. “I’m glad to see my colleagues on the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee stand with me in rectifying a situation where misinformation and misconceptions have had the consequence of disenfranchising an entire segment of eligible voters,” she said.

The California Constitution and state law provides that once a person has completed parole, his or her voting rights are automatically reinstated. However, in most instances, those involved in our criminal justice system are not apprised of their voting rights nor is accurate voter information readily accessible to them.

The lack of accurate voter registration information has a particularly disparate impact on communities of color in California, given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system.

By offering voter registration to the thousands of eligible voters who pass through our criminal justice system, the state will be taking an important step toward increasing its dismal voter registration rate.

AB 149 is supported by organizations such as the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, and Rock the Vote. The next step in the legislative process is for the bill to be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.


(San Diego)  The Assembly Health Committee today passed AB 154, legislation by Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins to expand the list of healthcare professionals authorized to perform early abortions. This bill allows nurses, physician’s assistants, and nurse-midwives to perform aspiration abortions after receiving proper training.  Currently, over half of California’s counties have no abortion provider.  AB 154 will help alleviate that shortage.

“As the former director of women’s health clinics, I know how critical timely reproductive healthcare is for women,” says Atkins.  “My bill will help ensure that no woman will have to travel a long distance or wait a long time for the care she needs because of a shortage of providers.”

A recent comprehensive study conducted by the University of California San Francisco and published in the American Journal of Public Health showed that trained nurse practitioners, midwives and physicians assistants can safely provide early abortions and that women appreciate receiving care in their own communities.  AB 154 includes stringent training and competency requirements for these practitioners.

The bill is sponsored by the California Women’s Health Alliance, a coalition of groups dedicating to protecting and improving the reproductive health of California women and will next be heard in the Assembly Health Committee. The bill is also supported by the California Medical Association.

AB 154 will next be reviewed by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.


(San Diego) The Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee today approved a bill by Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins to increase protections for patients whose medications are switched by pharmacists receiving financial incentives for doing so.  AB 670 restricts payments for these switches, called therapeutic substitutions, to only those made after the pharmacist performs a comprehensive medication review.

“Pharmacists are valued professional members of the healthcare team who often recommend a substitute medication because it is in the best interest of the patient, but additional caution is needed when the pharmacist has a financial incentive to make the switch,” says Atkins.  “AB 670 will ensure that the switch is in the best interest of the patient.”

Current law allows pharmacists to replace a brand-name drug with a generic formulation of the exact same medication.  Pharmacists may also, with physician approval, make a therapeutic substitution, which means that the drug treats the same condition, but is chemically different from the one originally prescribed.  If not done in conjunction with the proper review, the substitute drug can have adverse effects for the patients.

Doctors are not permitted to accept payment to specifically switch their patients’ medications from one drug to another based solely on a financial incentive.  AB 670 places similar restrictions on pharmacists and will ensure that science and patient well-being are the determining factors when choosing a drug and that consumers are protected.

AB 670 is sponsored by the California Medical Association.  It will next be heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Scott Peters’ Address to California Democratic State Party Convention

Good afternoon, California Democrats!

Because of your remarkable hard work and enthusiasm last year – particularly the non-stop efforts of San Diego Democrats – last fall, I was able to unseat a 12-year Republican incumbent.

He had just about the harshest views toward immigration of any member of Congress, even though he represented a district in San Diego, near one of the largest, busiest international borders in the world.

But thanks to what you did last year, when Congress fixes our broken immigration system this year, Brian Bilbray won’t be there to get in the way!

I’m a life long Democrat; I learned at an early age about standing up for fairness and what’s right.

My dad was a minister who fought for housing desegregation in the suburbs of Detroit in the ‘60s when realtors there wouldn’t let African American or Jewish families buy homes in certain neighborhoods.  He fought that fight despite threats against his personal safety.  My parents set an example of service for me and my sisters, and they were always Democrats.

My parents said the Democratic Party believed in fairness, tolerance, and acceptance; we pitch a Big Tent and make room for others.

We stand for civil rights.  For a woman’s right to choose.  For equality in marriage.  For the ability to cast your vote without harassment or interference.  For equal pay for equal work.  And even in this Congress we have had some success, passing a Violence Against Women Act that protects ALL women, not just some. And we are supporting, and I am co-sponsoring, several bills to give LGBT military spouses equal rights, as well as Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s Paycheck Fairness Act.

As Democrats, our values are that we stand up for the Middle Class, and for the rights of working men and women.  Though sometimes, within our big Democratic tent, we may disagree about how to get there.

For example, not every Democrat agrees with everything about our President’s budget proposal.  But I give him credit for proposing a budget that funds Democratic priorities like investments in children, infrastructure and science that we need to keep America strong, while also reducing spending and debt in a serious way.

We share the same values, even if we see a different pathway.

When I was running for Congress, some skeptics told me that when I got to Washington our Leadership wouldn’t appreciate my independent views and that Party leaders wouldn’t let me vote my conscience over my Caucus.  But that’s not the case.  It turns out that our party, and our leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, take our diversity seriously, and they value that diversity.

They’ve let me forge my own path, ask my own questions and offer my own ideas, trusting that I know what’s best for my District, consistent with our values.  I thank them for that because our diversity as Democrats makes us stronger.

But if Democrats have a Big Tent, unfortunately, today’s Republican Party is pitching a Pup Tent.

I’ve reached out to moderate Republicans to see if we can forge partnerships to solve problems, and I please don’t get me wrong – I will continue to do just that.  But it appears so far that the Tea Party still reigns supreme on the Right, and in today’s Republican Party, hyper partisanship is rewarded, and independence is squashed.

Last year, we were part of a nationwide message from voters that it’s time to end the political fighting and start the problem solving.  And it’s Democrats that are doing that work today.  So we need to keep sending that message.

Thank you for what you did last year. I ask you not lose the enthusiasm and energy. Let’s keep the momentum going.

Let’s keep the seats we won last year, and let’s go find some more.  Let’s show America that we are serious about fairness and opportunity.  Let’s show America we want to make government work instead of cutting off its legs.  Let’s show America we can adopt science-based climate policy that can save the planet.  And let’s show America that we can build a future where all of our children can be prosperous, safe and healthy.  Let’s finish the job of turning Congress from Red to Blue!


Local Filipino-American Business Leaders Look to Pro-Jobs Democrat Gonzalez for Leadership

CHULA VISTA – (Tuesday, April 23, 2013) – The Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of San Diego County has endorsed pro-jobs Democrat Lorena Gonzalez in the May 21 special election for the 80th Assembly District.

The Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of San Diego County's mission is to promote interest of Filipino American businesses in the region. Many chamber members reside or own businesses in the 80th Assembly District and a large segment of the Filipino-American community reside in the district.

"The board voted to endorse Lorena Gonzalez as it felt she is the most qualified candidate," said Audie J. de Castro, Chairman of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of San Diego County. "She would best serve members of our organization and community and the 80th District as a whole."

A full list of Lorena's endorsers can be found at

Gonzalez is a candidate to replace State Senator Ben Hueso in the 80th Assembly District, which includes Chula Vista, National City and the City of San Diego neighborhoods of San Ysidro, City Heights, Barrio Logan, Sherman Heights, Otay Mesa, Paradise Hills and Golden Hill. The special election for the 80th Assembly District is scheduled for Tuesday, May 21.

Learn more about Lorena’s campaign at  or by e-mail