Good News from Sacramento–Up Close and Personal in the East Bay

by arlene on March 11, 2013

hancock head shot

Senator Loni Hancock

I had the pleasure of having a long conversation with Loni Hancock this past weekend, California State Senator for all of the area where I work and beyond: from Rodeo south to San Leandro. The occasion was a celebration of International Women’s Day. Hearing her speak, and having been fortunate to meet several times with our Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, I am proud that my district is represented at the State level by two strong women.

“For the first time in many years,” Hancock  said, “I’m pleased to tell you that the news from Sacramento is quite positive.” Much of the good news is based on the Senate’s ability to implement spending on approved measures by a simple majority, rather than the previous 2/3 requirement.

She recently  has co-authored legislation on two key topics:

The first regarding gun safety is on the minds of citizens nationwide, and she believes that now there is “an historic opportunity” when we might see legislation passed. Clearly there will be serious opposition, and she volunteered that the NRA is very active in California, largely funded by gun manufacturers.  Her hope is to limit not just purchase but possession of semi-automatic guns with large magazines. Gun manufacturers are trying hard to avoid any restrictions by developing loopholes in descriptions. You can read more about the proposed legislation here.

On a local note, Senator Hancock has introduced legislation for greater accountability for public safety by major polluters of our air. Last year on my birthday, a fire at the Richmond Chevron refinery sent 15,000 people to hospital with respiratory problems. The subsequent investigations revealed “willful and serious violations,” she said.  Engineers at the firm had been recommending safety improvements for years, but Chevron chose to ignore those recommendations because a “Business Impact Committee” indicated it would cost too much. Is making 15,000 local residents sick too much?! SB 691 will increase fines to $100K per day of air quality violations. Here are more details.

with Nancy

Me with Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner in December

Our local Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner has introduced legislation, AB 1165, that will allow Cal/OSHA to ensure that unsafe conditions get corrected in a timely manner, even if the company or other entity cited for a violation decides to undergo an appeals process.

“Under current rules an appeals process can leave unsafe conditions in place for months and even years,” Assemblymember Skinner said. “AB 1165 improves worker and public safety by requiring hazardous conditions to get fixed even when a violation is appealed.”

Cal/OSHA issued 25 workplace violations to Chevron this past January in connection to the Chevron’s Richmond Refinery last year. Under current law if Chevron chose to appeal, the company would not be required to abate any of the violations until the appeals process was resolved. “If AB 1186 were in effect today we would all have peace of mind knowing that hazardous conditions don’t linger,” Assemblymember Skinner said.

I don’t often blog about politics, but especially on International Women’s Day I was pleased that these two women choose to fight these battles on our behalf. Brava, brava!

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