Sacramento Report: SANDAG’s North County Foes Could Get a Hand from the Legislature - Voice of San Diego

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Sacramento Report: SANDAG’s North County Foes Could Get a Hand from the Legislature

Two years ago, a state law written by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez put North County Republicans on the defensive at SANDAG by shifting power at the agency to larger cities. But Republicans and North County leaders could soon get their own hand from Sacramento.

Assemblywoman Marie Waldron / Photo by Steve Yeater for CALmatters

Two years ago, a state law written by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez put North County Republicans on the defensive at SANDAG by shifting power at the regional planning agency to larger, urban cities more likely to be represented by Democrats.

They now find themselves fighting against Hasan Ikhrata, the agency’s director, as he tries to deprioritize promised freeway expansions in the county’s car-dependent rural areas, amid a crippling funding crisis facing TransNet, the county’s sales tax that funds transportation projects.

But Republicans and North County leaders could soon get their own hand from Sacramento.

Assemblywoman Marie Waldron’s office is actively “looking at ways to ensure SANDAG keeps the promises it made,” said Jim Stanley, a Waldron spokesman.

“The discussions on this issue are in the very early stages, but we’re exploring legislation requiring a number of public hearings or a vote of the people if SANDAG attempts to substantially change the allocation of TransNet funds,” Stanley wrote in a subsequent email.

TransNet now expects to be at least $10 billion short of the funding needed to build every project included in the 2004 ballot measure that extended the tax, and Ikhrata thinks it’s time for the board to prioritize which of the remaining projects are first in line for the finite money remaining.

But officials in the North County, led by County Supervisors Kristin Gaspar and Jim Desmond, are demanding that SANDAG find a way to make good on everything voters were expecting, potentially by putting some or all of the projects at the front of the line for any new revenue measure, or at least ensuring they’re included in the agency’s next long-term plan for transportation projects.

Boerner Horvath’s Colleagues Like Her So Much They Gave Her $200K

Campaign fundraising numbers dropped this week and one total stood out to us: Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath, a Democrat serving her first term, pulled in an astounding $437,652. The only local legislator who pulled in more was Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, who’s one of the most powerful officials in California.

As it turns out, Boerner Horvath has Atkins and many of her other legislative colleagues to thank.

She occupies a vulnerable North County seat previously represented by a Republican. Her fellow Democratic lawmakers are pitching in to ensure she can keep it. Nearly half of Boerner Horvath’s fundraising haul came from the campaign committees of other Assembly candidates, including Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and Assemblyman Todd Gloria. Atkins kicked in $2,000 from her re-election committee as well.

One eyebrow-raising donation to Boerner Horvath came from Sunday Gover, who nearly ousted Assemblyman Brian Maienschein in 2018 and who announced she would be challenging him again in 2020 but who did not appear to have filed any financial disclosures by the July 31 deadline. Gover donated $4,700 – the max for an individual – to Boerner Horvath.

Boerner Horvath also pulled in a lot from PACs representing energy and solar companies, and various firefighter PACs.

Sara Libby

Asian & Pacific Islander Caucus Makes a Stop in San Diego

Community members who attended a listening session put on by the Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus in San Diego Thursday told lawmakers their biggest concerns include mental health, migrant rights and the 2020 census.

San Diego was the final stop in a statewide tour geared toward “getting out of the Capitol” and listening to Asian and Pacific Islander Californians, said David Chiu. Chiu said lawmakers expected to hear about the housing crisis, education and immigration issues, but called mental health the “surprising sleeper issue.” Assemblyman Todd Gloria, who’s also part of the caucus, said he was surprised by the mental health emphasis too.

“It’s really surprising that there’s such a stigma attached to it — I think that’s just generally — but it feels particularly acute in the API community and communities of color generally,” Gloria said. “I think we really struggle with people admitting to this.”

Chiu said the community input gave the caucus something to work on for the next legislative session.

Education — with an emphasis on language access — was another frequent concern raised by community members, especially with the 2020 Census approaching quickly. Community organizer JoAnn Fields said that when it comes to the census, there needs to be a plan to prioritize languages besides English and Spanish.

“This education of the census and redistricting should not occur every 10 years, this should be ongoing,” Fields said. “Everyone says it makes an impact when you don’t get counted, you might miss a school or a hospital. Well then [officials need to] tell them every time we get a new hospital or a new school because of those census numbers. We start all over every 10 years, and now we’re saying again that the census is important. How important is it if you only say it one time?”

Redistricting can keep people of color from being elected to office, Chiu said.

“We’ve all read in the newspapers the impact when folks do not have communities of diversity in mind has on representation because when redistricted lines chop up communities of color, chop up communities of interest, we don’t have our communities who get elected,” he said.

Diversifying elected offices was brought up frequently.

But the caucus has its own diversity issues to tackle, members acknowledged: It currently doesn’t have any women members.

“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,” Gloria said. “For so long, so many of our community members haven’t been at the table. Well now we are, and we’re utilizing this opportunity to highlight historic figures, collect data, help improve our community and advance policies.”

Katy Stegall

Warning: Complicated Bills Ahead

Gov. Gavin Newsom has been making his way through the bills that have already been passed in the Legislature, and this week he signed several – and vetoed one – from San Diego lawmakers. Fair warning, though, many of these bills tackle arcane subjects like trust and estate law.

Signed Into Law

  • AB 473 by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein increases the dollar limit for small estates that can be disposed of without formal probate administration and decreases the interest owed to a decedent’s estate for certain transfers.
  • AB 1538 by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber provides that an insurance claimant whose car has been damaged can receive a monetary payment based on the value of the damage to the vehicle in lieu of having the vehicle repaired.
  • SB 339 by Sen. Brian Jones specifies that if a licensed land surveyor, engineer or geologist is retained as an expert witness and enters into a nondisclosure agreement, that agreement cannot be construed to prevent the licensee from reporting a potential violation to the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists.
  • SB 506 by Sen. Ben Hueso directs the attorney general to represent the Department of Finance in any litigation to obtain ratepayer recovery for the effects of the 2000-02 energy crisis.
  • SB 578 by Jones allows timeshare sellers to offer temporary accommodations to prospective buyers that are beyond the 20-mile radius prescribed in existing law, and provides that parties subject to the Vacation Ownership and Time-Share Act may submit their disputes to a third-party organization other than the American Arbitration Association.

Vetoed

  • SB 701 by Jones would have reduced the penalty for a person with an outstanding arrest warrant and has knowledge of the warrant to own or possess a firearm, from a felony to a misdemeanor. Newsom’s veto of the bill came just days after a deadly shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. “I believe existing penalties provide the necessary tools to protect public safety and allow for needed discretion to impose appropriate penalties when justified,” Newsom wrote in his veto message.

Sara Libby

Golden State News

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