Saturday, October 5, 2013

Gov. Brown Signs Into Law Assembly Bills 1024 and 1159 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez

San Diego-area Assemblywoman’s Bills Are Part of State’s Efforts to Empower California’s Immigrants As Federal Reform Stalls

SAN DIEGO – (Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013) – California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) applauded Gov. Jerry Brown’s announcement today that he signed into law legislation authored by Gonzalez to provide the state’s undocumented immigrants with consumer protections and career opportunities that will improve their quality of life and allow them to more productively contribute to California’s economy.

Brown signed into law Assembly Bills 1024 and 1159, both authored by Assemblywoman Gonzalez, as well as six other bills protecting immigrants on today’s National Immigration Day of Action, where rallies across the United States will draw attention to Congress’ inability to pass federal comprehensive immigration reform. Assemblywoman Gonzalez participated in one such rally at San Diego’s Balboa Park this morning.

AB 1024 will authorize the State Bar to award law licenses for immigrants who pass the State Bar exam. AB 1152 cracks down on immigration scams that have frequently surfaced since the President and Congress announced immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship was imminent.

“San Diego County and the rest of California has waited on Congress to fix our broken federal immigration laws for too long, but we can’t wait any longer. Our state must do what it can to improve the lives of people who are falling through the cracks because of Congress’ inaction,” Gonzalez said. “I want to thank Governor Brown for approving a package of reforms my State Capitol colleagues and I crafted to protect, empower and improve the quality of life for our friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members who are suffering under the status quo.”

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez authored AB 1024 in an effort to permit the California State Supreme Court to admit as an attorney any applicant that has passed the State Bar examination and fulfilled all other requirements.

AB 1024 is a direct response to a case currently pending at the California State Supreme Court. Recently, the Court heard testimony in the case In Re Sergio C. Garcia on Admission (S202512), which concerned Mr. Garcia’s petition to obtain a law license in California.  Having passed the State Bar examination and fulfilled all other requirements, Mr. Garcia was routinely sworn into the legal profession in 2011.  Two weeks later, his license was rescinded on the basis that the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act passed by Congress in 1996 prohibits undocumented immigrants from receiving professional licenses with the use of public funds, unless state law explicitly overrides it.

“AB 1024 completes the promise we’ve made to DREAMers who have worked hard, studied hard, passed the Bar exam and now just want the right to make a living for themselves as an attorney,” Gonzalez said. “I am also thrilled that the Governor’s endorsement of this law could lead to a positive outcome for Sergio Garcia, who through no fault of his own has been kept from reaching his own American Dream of becoming a lawyer.”

Gov. Brown also signed AB 1159, which would require that lawyers and consultants performing services under the pending federal immigration reform act abide by common sense business practices. Assemblywoman Gonzalez authored the bill in order to protect more than 2.5 million potentially eligible Californians from the unauthorized practice of law by non-lawyers, fraud, and unnecessary mistakes that could jeopardize a client’s pursuit of citizenship or – worse – result in deportation. The bill, which was sponsored by the State Bar of California, received unanimous support in both the Assembly and the Senate.

“As millions of California families face the historic opportunity of improving their lives by pursuing a pathway to citizenship, the state must be ready to ensure immigration services are performed by competent professionals and include anti-fraud protections,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said. “AB 1159 prepares California for this upswing in demand by creating more accountability and transparency in an otherwise daunting process for immigrants, who are already targets of fraud now.”

Under AB 1159, the state will crack down on the unscrupulous practice by some professionals to demand payment for immigration reform services by promising that clients could “cut to the front of the line” when federal immigration reform is eventually enacted by paying now. AB 1159 would prohibit those advanced payments. The bill also increases the bonding requirements for non-attorneys performing immigration reform services and requires that contracts for immigration reform services include a disclaimer about how to report immigration fraud to the State Bar or Attorney General in the language of the client receiving the services.

AB 1159 also expands current law to apply to “anyone who is not an attorney” from advertising as a “notario,” not just notaries public. This ban prevents confusion that has oftentimes been capitalized upon by non-attorneys hoping to present themselves as attorneys, as a “notario” in many Latin American nations is a type of lawyer.

In addition to Assemblywoman Gonzalez’s bills, Gov. Brown also signed into law other immigrant-related bills, including his approval on Wednesday of AB 60 by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonvillle) to provide driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants who qualify.

Other immigration-related bills signed into law by Gov. Brown on Saturday:

•            AB 4 , known as the “TRUST Act,” by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) – Prohibits a law enforcement official from detaining an individual on the basis of a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hold after that individual becomes eligible for release from custody, unless specified conditions are met.

•            AB 35 by Assemblymember Roger Hernández (D-West Covina) – Provides that immigration consultants, attorneys, notaries public, and organizations accredited by the United States Board of Immigration Appeals are the only individuals authorized to charge a fee for providing services associated with filing an application under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's deferred action program.

•            AB 524 by Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco) – Provides that a threat to report the immigration status or suspected immigration status of an individual or the individual's family may induce fear sufficient to constitute extortion.

•            SB 141 by Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) – Requires that the California Community Colleges and the California State University, and requests that the University of California, exempt a United States citizen who resides in a foreign country, and is in their first year as a matriculated student, from nonresident tuition if the student demonstrates financial need, has a parent or guardian who was deported or voluntarily departed from the U. S., lived in California immediately before moving abroad, and attended a secondary school in California for at least three years.

•            SB 150 by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) – Authorizes a community college district to exempt pupils attending community colleges as a special part-time student from paying nonresident tuition.

•            SB 666 by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) – Provides for a suspension or revocation of an employer's business license for retaliation against employees and others on the basis of citizenship and immigration status, and establishes a civil penalty up to $10,000 per violation.

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 

Thursday, October 3, 2013


San Diego, CA - Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego) will host a Legislative Brainstorming Session Saturday, October 12, 2013 to consider new bill ideas for the next legislative year that begins January 6, 2014.  California State legislators are allowed up to 40 bills in each two-year legislative session, and Assemblymember Weber invites her constituents to share their ideas for her 2014 legislative bill package at this event that will occur from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Zamorano Elementary School, 2655 Casey St; San Diego, CA 92139. 

The session will feature a presentation by Assemblymember Weber, explaining “How a Bill Idea becomes a Law” including what it takes to process a bill idea and how the legislative process works.  Additionally, Assemblymember Weber will share her perspective as a decision-maker and her legislative involvement and accomplishments this past year.
During the event, attendees will break into sessions based on the following topics of interest:
    •    Room 1: Education and Higher Education
    •    Room 2: Health and Human Services/Woman’s Issues
    •    Room 3: Economic Development/Transportation and Environment
    •    Room 4: Veterans/Housing/and Other Issues

The purpose of these sessions is to allow constituents the opportunity to share their concepts directly with the Assemblymember and her staff.

For additional event information or to RSVP, please contact LaShae Collins ( or Tanisha Martin-Chiles ( or call 619-531-7913.

Block to state utilities commission: San Onofre closure costs should be paid by operators and shareholders

Block urges repayment to ratepayers of revenue already collected to pay for failed generators

SAN DIEGO—State Senator Marty Block today released the following statement at the San Diego meeting of the California Public Utilities Commission investigative hearing into the outage of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS):

“Dear Commissioner Florio and members of the California Public Utilities Commission:

“Thank you for conducting this important hearing today in my community of San Diego.

“Radioactive leaks in the steam generators at San Onofre resulted in reported costs of more than $768 million. It is unclear how accurate this estimate is and what unknown future costs will occur as the removal, cleanup and replacement of this energy source are undertaken.

“While the “easy fix” may be to pass these costs on to ratepayers, I strongly urge your opposition to any attempt to convert ratepayers into the ATM for any unreasonable expenses that led to the closure of San Onofre.

“I also urge you to require that Southern California Edison – SCE – provide documentation of costs and act in a transparent manner before increasing utility rates to cover any portion of the costs related to the failed steam generators.

“This is especially critical as Southern California Edison’s decision to prematurely retire the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) was a choice, made by its internal management, absent any input by any state regulatory authorities.

“These outlays related to the utility’s decision to retire the plant, should rightly be charged to the plant’s operators and their shareholders – not to California ratepayers.

“In addition, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric have already collected an estimated $1.6 billion from California ratepayers to defray the San Onofre-related expenditures before any investigation regarding the appropriateness of this revenue collection has been concluded. 

“It would be highly unjust to make California ratepayers financially liable for both the ongoing costs of keeping the plant on life support while also being charged for replacement power while the plant was idle.

“I urge the PUC to rule that:

    1.    Ratepayers not be charged for any of the estimated $768.5 million spent as part of the steam generator replacement project at SONGS;

    2.    SONGS operators should cease to charge ratepayers for ‘operational costs,’ capital costs and other expenditures associated with the non-operational power plant; and

    3.    Ratepayers be reimbursed for revenues collected while SONGS stood idle from January 2012 to the present.

“The Commission has a duty under Public Utilities Code Section 451 to ensure that all utility charges are just and reasonable. The three steps I list are necessary to ensure that consumers are protected from unjust and unreasonable rates associated with the SONGS termination.

“As the Public Utilities own Division of Ratepayer Advocates noted, charging ratepayers for the expenses of a non-operational plant is so clearly unreasonable that failure to eliminate SONGS costs from rates immediately would result in a violation of Section 451.

“I respectfully urge your full consideration of the three steps I have outlined.”

Assemblymember Weber’s Bill to Require Carbon Monoxide Detectors in New Schools Signed Into Law


SACRAMENTO, CA- Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber’s (D-San Diego) AB 56, which will require carbon monoxide detectors be installed in all public and private school buildings, was signed into law by Governor Brown earlier today.

AB 56 requires the State Fire Marshal to propose appropriate standards for the installation of carbon monoxide devices in school buildings, by January 1, 2015. With this guidance, the California Building Standards Commission will then include the standards in the 2016 California Building Standards Code, and any public or private school buildings built after these codes have been adopted in 2016 will be required to install carbon monoxide detectors.

On December 3, 2012, 43 students and 10 adults from Finch Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia were evacuated and taken to the local hospital after firefighters discovered a carbon monoxide leak from the school’s furnace, causing it to work overtime and leak high levels of CO into the public areas and classrooms.

“Carbon monoxide detectors are essential to ensuring our children’s safety by detecting this poisonous gas early and all of our schools should have them. If we require fire and smoke detectors in schools, then it is a no brainer to require carbon monoxide detectors in schools to protect California students from this toxic gas and ensure they have a healthy learning environment,” said Assemblymember Weber.  

AB 56 received bipartisan support in both the Senate and Assembly and was co-authored by many other members of the state Legislature.                                  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

David Alvarez: Building Blocks

From Working Families for a Better San Diego

Monday, September 30, 2013



(San Diego) A bill by Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins to allow the California Horse Racing Board to reallocate racing dates currently held by Hollywood Park Race Track, which is closing at the end of its 2013 winter season, has been signed into law by the Governor.  The bill permits these dates to be distributed to the remaining Southern California tracks, most notably Santa Anita and Del Mar Racetracks. AB 1074 also renews for one year the statewide marketing organization administered by the horseracing industry.

“Horseracing fans from all over Southern California have travelled to Del Mar since before Bing Crosby sang about where the surf meets the turf,” says Atkins.  “My bill would position Del Mar to compete for the coveted Breeder’s Cup.  This would be exciting for horseracing fans and a tremendous boon to our local economy.”

The Breeder’s Cup is a two-day event that features one of racing’s largest purses and is estimated to bring as much as $60 million into the local economy of the racetrack that hosts it.

Hollywood Park was opened for racing in 1938.  The historic track has hosted some of racing’s most legendary horses, including Sea Biscuit, Affirmed and, more recently, Cigar.  However, after years as one of the premier racetracks in the United States, Hollywood Park will close this year to make way for a new retail/residential development.

Del Mar Racetrack is located at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, in the northern San Diego County city of Del Mar.  It was founded in 1937 by a partnership among a number of famous Hollywood celebrities, including Bing Crosby, Pat O’Brien, Gary Cooper, Joe E. Brown, and Oliver Hardy.

The marketing association renewed by this bill has been renewed every legislative session since it was established in 1998 by SB 27.  That bill delineated both how the funds for the association were to be collected and how they could be disbursed.

AB 1074 is supported by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, and Thoroughbred Owners of California.