Santa Cruz has seen a lot of violent crime so far this year. What is being done at the state level to help the area’s problem with violent crime?
Two of our Santa Cruz police officers were killed in the line of duty last month while trying to keep our community safe. We paid our respects to them and their families last week at their memorial service, and vowed to keep such terrible acts from happening again. Sadly, their sacrifice was not a lone, tragic incident—rather, they were part of an alarming increase in violent crime facing the region.
At the Capitol, reducing violent crime is a top priority, and legislators are proposing more than a dozen new laws aimed at keeping guns out of criminals’ hands. One example of legislation I support is Senators Mark Leno and Darrell Steinberg’s SB 140. This bipartisan bill would provide more funds to the Department of Justice to help enforce the law that bans prohibited persons, including felons and individuals with history of violence or severe mental illness, from owning firearms. According to the Department of Justice, there are approximately 19,000 prohibited persons in California with approximately 40,000 guns in their homes, and of those 40,000 guns, approximately 1,600 are assault rifles. This bill would appropriate the funds needed to disarm these individuals.
Additionally, several legislators have written bills that would provide more funds for mental health services, with the goal of helping those mentally ill individuals who are at risk of harming themselves or others to access the health services they need. I am monitoring the progress of these efforts and will carefully review any such legislation.
In addition to these bills, I have proposed several laws that would help at-risk youth get the educational and social services they need instead of turning to a life of crime. I introduced a bill that would help protect our most vulnerable kids—those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless—by ensuring that emergency shelters serving homeless youth are safe and properly staffed. I’ve also written bipartisan legislation that would help foster youth to achieve their educational goals, whether that is a high school diploma or admission to a four-year college, by streamlining transfer credit requirements. And as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Human Services, I will review and support legislation that promotes educational attainment, employment, and self-sufficiency for families—long-term solutions that ultimately help parents and kids stay out of trouble with the law.
How will your recently announced bill, AB 669, affect fracking in California?
I am concerned about the lack of oversight of fracking in California. I am paying special attention to fracking of the Monterey Shale, since that area is geophysically different than other regions in California currently being fracked—and we don't know enough about the potential consequences. Given that a moratorium on fracking is not a viable option, I believe that we need to ensure that proper safeguards are in place to protect my constituents' safety and preserve the environment.
That's why I wrote AB 669, which would protect local water supplies by ensuring that wastewater produced during oil and gas production is disposed of properly. Additionally, AB 669 requires disclosure of the origin and amount of freshwater used, as well as the destination and amount of wastewater produced during oil and gas production.
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