Thursday, February 20, 2014


(Sacramento)  Today the Governor and legislative leaders announced a package of measures designed to respond immediately to the impact of the worst drought faced by California in its recorded history. Majority Leader Atkins issued the following statement in response to these proposals:

“This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for our state.  The emergency drought relief legislation will assist parched communities affected by severe water shortages by helping them to secure drinking water as well as providing assistance to those forced into unemployment by the drought. In addition, the legislation provides incentives for improved water conservation and delivery technologies.  This approach reaffirms the work done by the San Diego County Water Authority and local residents and businesses by emphasizing water conservation, funding improvements to our infrastructure that improve local water supply, water quality and storage capacity. Both urban and rural areas of our state will benefit from this legislation.

While the Legislature and the Governor prioritize immediate measures to alleviate the crisis, every Californian must also do their part by heeding the Governor’s call for a 20% reduction in their water use.  We must also continue with long-term plans to increase our storage and delivery capacity as well as pursuing alternative approaches to generating fresh water such as desalination.”

Key elements of the emergency drought relief package include:
  • Increased infrastructure investments by expediting funding for water supply and recycling, groundwater clean-up grants to disadvantaged communities suffering from drinking water contamination, and multi-benefit flood projects;
  • Enhanced enforcement authority for the State Water Resources Control Board to address water rights violations such as diverting or stealing water;
  • Help for those economically impacted by the drought, including food assistance, rent subsidies, and work force training;
  • Funding for new water efficiency and conservation activities, including California Conservation Corps water reduction and fire safety projects that will also provide employment opportunities for veterans and unemployed youth.

Chula Vista Firefighters Support 
Steve Padilla for City Council

CHULA VISTA - The Chula Vista Firefighters Association today announced its official endorsement of Steve Padilla for Chula Vista City Council in the June 2014 election.


"Steve Padilla has a proven record of working hand in hand with public safety officials and first responders to improve the safety and security of Chula Vista,” said John Hess, President of the Chula Vista Firefighters Association.  “We are proud to stand with Steve because we know he will work to fully fund public safety, give first responders the resources they need and work to improve response times in every community.   Chula Vista’s firefighters agree that Steve Padilla is the right choice to continue the work of many for safer, more secure neighborhoods.”

The endorsement from Chula Vista Firefighters comes on the heels of Padilla’s endorsement from Chula Vista Police Officers last week, making Padilla the unanimous choice of law enforcement and public safety in the campaign for City Council.  A former police officer, Padilla was well known during his pervious terms in office for taking a hands-on approach to public safety, participating in regular ride-alongs with rank and file officers and meeting regularly with the City’s Police and Fire Chiefs.

“I have tremendous respect for our firefighters who put their lives on the line for residents and work to make our City safe and secure,” said Steve Padilla.  “I believe we need to not only hold the line, but increase funding and resources for public safety so our first responders have the resources they need to protect and serve our communities.  It is an honor to have the support of Chula Vista’s bravest – our dedicated, courageous Firefighters.”

In recent weeks, the Padilla campaign has announced a growing list of major endorsements, including the Democratic Party and the Chula Vista Employees Association.  In addition, official campaign finance reports showed Padilla had raised five times more contributions for his campaign than his closest opponent.

Steve Padilla is a small business owner, environmental advocate and lifelong Chula Vistan.  He is a former police officer who previously served on the Chula Vista City Council, as Chula Vista Mayor and Port Commissioner.  He lives in the Otay Ranch section of Chula Vista.


(Sacramento) Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins joined advocates for pregnant women who are incarcerated in releasing a report on compliance with Atkins’ legislation prohibiting the most dangerous forms of shackling.  The report states that while 21 of California’s 58 counties have fully complied with the law, the remaining counties have either not fully complied, not complied at all, or did not respond to inquiries.

“I am proud to be the author of legislation that protects both public safety and the health and welfare of pregnant prisoners and their newborns. I applaud the counties that have fully complied with this new law,” says Atkins.  “Having said that, in almost two-thirds of our state’s counties, pregnant prisoners are still being put at risk. It is my hope that in the very near future that will no longer be the case.”

AB 2530 became law in January 2013.  It prohibits the use of behind-the-back handcuffs, belly chains, and leg irons on pregnant prisoners.  These practices endanger the health of the woman and the outcome of her pregnancy.  A little more than one year later, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC), one of the sponsors of Atkins’ 2012 legislation, contacted each county to determine the extent of compliance with the new law.

Thirty-two counties continue to have written policies that do not comply with the law, either because they permit the prohibited restraints, do not acknowledge that a woman’s doctor has authority to order the restraints removed, or do not inform prisoners of their rights.  Two counties have not complied at all with the new law and three counties failed to respond to inquiries. LSPC will continue to work with state and county officials to bring all facilities into compliance.

Shackling makes pregnant women unsteady on their feet.  They also make it extremely difficult to treat a woman in a medical emergency. Women in correctional facilities are more likely to experience miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, pre-term birth, and low birth weight than other pregnant women.

The Majority Leader and LSPC were also joined at the news conference by a physician representing the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, District IX, which also sponsored AB 2530, and a representative of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners

California Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins was joined by Jesse Stout, Policy Director, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, at a news conference to discuss compliance with Atkins’ legislation to prohibit shackling of pregnant prisoners.



Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s VOTE Act Proposes Postage-Paid Mail Ballots for Mail-Only Special Elections

AB 1873 Would Increase Participation, Save Taxpayer Money in Traditionally Low-Turnout Contests

SACRAMENTO – (Wednesday, February 19, 2014) – California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) introduced the VOTE Act today in an effort to boost voter participation and curb the taxpayer costs of special elections.

Assembly Bill 1873, known as the “Voting Ought To be Easy Act,” would allow California’s counties and cities to conduct special elections for legislative and municipal offices entirely by mail ballot, but would require them to provide full postage for all returned ballots if they choose to exercise the mail-only option.

Gonzalez said elections that don’t coincide with major statewide elections – like June primaries and November general elections – result in low voter participation and high costs for county election offices, which spend upwards of millions of dollars to set up polling locations and staff Election Day when local contests aren’t consolidated with a statewide election.

“Voters are more likely to participate in special elections if we give them several weeks to cast their ballots as opposed to a matter of hours on Election Day,” Gonzalez said. “By paying for the postage to return their completed ballot and providing voters an extended amount of time, the VOTE Act innovates our democracy in a way that will result in better access and participation – and that’s a good thing for California.”

Since the Presidential Election in November 2012, several special elections have taken place throughout California. Some legislative special elections failed to produce 10 percent participation rate. Even in the municipal elections that experienced higher turnout, voters who cast ballots at traditional polling place locations on Election Day made up just a fraction of all ballots cast in those contests as voters who mailed in a ballot represented the vast majority of those who participated at all.

“The special elections held in the last year 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 office 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.

For more information on the VOTE Act or to interview Assemblywoman Gonzalez, please contact Evan McLaughlin at (619) 850-2790 or (916) 319-2080.

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 on Assemblywoman Gonzalez, visit