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May 22nd
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Assemblymember Mark Stone

Mark Stone newYou have introduced legislation that would ban cigarette butts in California. What kinds of problems do cigarette butts cause, and how would this legislation improve the situation?

The bill I introduced, AB 1504, would ban single-use plastic cigarette filters, which are found in cigarette butts. Cigarette filters are a pervasive, toxic source of litter in our communities and in the environment that do not biodegrade. They leach dangerous chemicals into waterways, kill animals that eat them, and cause local governments to spend millions of taxpayer dollars for their cleanup. California has many laws in place to curtail this type of cigarette litter, but people continue to illegally discard tons of cigarette butts each year. Because current laws aren’t sufficient to address this major problem, I proposed this comprehensive legislation to reduce cigarette butt waste.

Shockingly, about 845,000 tons of cigarette butts wind up as litter around the globe each year. Cigarette butts remain as the single most-collected item of trash collected by volunteer groups and organizations that conduct cleanup events at parks, rivers and beaches. In the past 25 years, volunteers have picked up 52.9 million plastic cigarette butts during the International Coastal Cleanup event sponsored by Ocean Conservancy.

Californians clearly recognize cigarette filter waste as a problem, because cigarette litter laws are rigidly enforced and include stiff penalties. In fact, in this state, citation rates for cigarette litter from vehicles are annually about five times the amount of citations issued for general litter from vehicles. Nevertheless, the California Department of Transportation has estimated the costs to clean up cigarettes on roadways at $41 million annually because this type of litter persists as the most frequently found litter item on California roads. The city and county of San Francisco experiences a similar expensive reality: they estimate their costs for cleanup at $6 million annually. This occurs in spite of the harsh penalties for littering: under current law, a conviction for littering from a vehicle, be it a cigarette or otherwise, is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and a mandatory order to clean up litter for at least eight hours. Given that anti-litter campaigns and strict laws and penalties have not resulted in the abatement of cigarette butt litter, this bill takes the cigarette butts completely out of the equation.

What does Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget indicate for California, and our region, in particular? Are there any elements of it that you oppose?

Gov. Brown’s proposed budget acknowledges the need to address California’s long-term debt, but it balances this need with new, critical investments in education that will ensure long-term economic growth for the state. I applaud the governor’s recognition of this need. Just as with last year’s budget, we in the legislature will work with Gov. Brown to ensure that the budget maintains stability and expands opportunity for Californians. The legislature will work with the governor to refine these key needs to implement another balanced, on-time, fiscally responsible budget by June. I look forward to being a part of the budget conversation this spring.

What we still need to work on are the investments needed to help Californians, especially our children, who are living in poverty. I have already introduced legislation that would help vulnerable families, and I will pay special attention to how the budget invests in reducing the poverty level in California. 

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Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

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