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Skinner & Bonta urge passage of gun control bills

Two Assembly members and a flock of East Bay elected officials and community leaders gathered on an Oakland church’s steps Monday morning to urge the Legislature and governor to pass and enact gun-control measures.

Bonta-Skinner news conference - photo by Josh Richman“The Second Amendment’s purpose was not to have every citizen own assault weapons, it was not to protect gun violence in our communities,” said Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, at the news conference outside Beebe Memorial Cathedral.

Skinner and Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, urged the state Senate to pass two of Skinner’s bills: AB 48, which would ban conversion kits that let people create their own high-capacity ammunition magazines, and AB 1131, which would increases from six months to five years the period of time that someone is prohibited from possessing a firearm after communicating a threat of physical violence to a licensed psychotherapist.

They also urged Gov. Jerry Brown to sign a bill by Bonta that the Legislature already has passed: AB 180, which would give Oakland special permission to pass and enforce gun registration and licensing ordinances that are stricter than state law.

Both lawmakers urged the public to flood the governor’s office with phone calls and letters of support for these bills.

Pastor Michael McBride of The Way Christian Center in West Berkeley said he was among faith leaders who met with Vice President Joe Biden in January, weeks after the Newtown, Conn., shooting tragedy, to discuss how to deal with gun violence.

“In many of our communities, we have Newtown tragedies every day,” McBride said Monday, adding he knows the man – a father of young children – who was shot and killed early Sunday evening at Eighth and Page streets in Oakland. “We know one bill won’t solve all the problems, but it gets us closer… This is a moral issue we must respond to today.”

Skinner echoed that – “ We know that gun laws alone will not do this, will not solve it” – and called for local communities to unite behind zero-tolerance policies for gun violence.

The Legislature has a other gun-control bills to consider as well in this final week of its session, including:

  • SB 53 (De Leon) — to require a background check for all ammunition purchases and licenses for all sellers
  • SB 374 (Steinberg) — to ban semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines and retroactively requires an ownership record for all guns
  • SB 396 (Hancock) — to outlaw ownership of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition
  • SB 567 (Jackson) — to update California’s definition of an illegal shotgun to include a shotgun with a revolving cylinder and a rifled bore
  • SB 683 (Block) – to expand safety certificate requirements to long guns, rather than just handguns
  • SB 755 (Wolk) — to expand list of convicts who can’t legally own guns to include of multiple drug or alcohol convictions, carrying ammunition onto school grounds, active participation in street gangs, and others
  • AB 711 (Rendon) — to ban use of lead ammunition by California hunters
  • Posted on Monday, September 9th, 2013
    Under: Assembly, California State Senate, gun control, Nancy Skinner, Rob Bonta | 8 Comments »

    A few upcoming Bay Area political fundrasiers

    Though nobody’s pulling down the kind of $32,400-per-head dough that President Obama would’ve raised for Democrats in Los Angeles on Monday had he not cancelled to deal with Syria, some local, state and federal candidates in the Bay Area have fundraisers coming up.

    Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, will celebrate her birthday with a fundraiser for her 2016 bid for the 9th State Senate District at 4 p.m. this Sunday, Sept. 8 in Oakland; the special guest will be former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, now a Cal law and public policy faculty member. Tickets cost $100 for “birthday love,” $500 for “birthday well wishes,” $1,000 for “birthday hugs” and $2,500 for “birthday kisses.”

    Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson is holding a “BBQ, Brews, Blues and Badges” event to raise money for his 2014 re-election campaign next Friday evening Sept. 13 at the Pine Meadow Golf Course in Martinez. It’s $50 per person or $75 per couple, or $250 for bronze sponsorship, $500 for silver and $1,000 for gold.

    Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, will hold a leadership breakfast at 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 27 at an Oakland restaurant with special guest Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Springs, the freshman who defeated Republican Mary Bono Mack last year. Two tables of eight seats each go for $2,600 or $1,500; one table goes for $500; but individual tickets are pretty cheap at $50 per person or $35 for seniors, students and disabled persons. Lee also has scheduled a reception for 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29 at a couple of supporters’ home in Berkeley; tickets for that range from $100 to $1,000.

    Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, will hold a brunch with special guest Assembly Speaker John Perez at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, before Cal’s homecoming game against Washington State, at a supporter’s home in Berkeley. Individual tickets cost $100 or $250, but co-host status costs from $500 to $8,200.

    Posted on Friday, September 6th, 2013
    Under: Assembly, Barbara Lee, Bill Quirk, California State Senate, campaign finance, Nancy Skinner, U.S. House | No Comments »

    Skinner, Ammiano undecided on prison plans

    Don’t mistake the Assembly Budget Committee’s unanimous passage of Gov. Jerry Brown’s prison plan Thursday for a clear sail through that chamber.

    Committee chairwoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, said Friday that the committee acted largely in order to beat the deadline for fiscal committees to move bills to the floor – not because every member agrees completely with the plan put forth by Brown, Assembly Speaker John Perez, Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff and Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway.

    She demurred when asked whether she prefers this plan to the alternative put forth by state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. “All of this stuff is still being discussed and negotiated,” she said.

    She’s not the only Bay Area liberal lawmaker who’s undecided on which plan to side with.

    Aug. 16 was the last day for policy committees to meet and report bills, so the Brown/Perez/Huff/Conway plan doesn’t have to go through the Public Safety Committee, chaired by Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco.

    I asked whether Ammiano would care to discuss the competing prison plans as chairman of the committee that would’ve had to hear them had they come earlier. “I think he’d rather stay away from the hypotheticals, and has yet to make a decision on how to vote when the Brown/Perez bill gets to the floor,” spokesman Carlos Alcala replied late Thursday afternoon.

    Posted on Friday, August 30th, 2013
    Under: Assembly, Jerry Brown, Nancy Skinner, State Prisons, Tom Ammiano | 1 Comment »

    Local lawmakers stand with fast-food workers

    Several East Bay lawmakers have expressed solidarity with fast-food workers in the Bay Area and across the nation who walked picket lines Thursday to demand a $15-per-hour wage and the right to unionize without management interference.

    From Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, ranking Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee:

    “Today, I stand with workers across the country who are striving to build a better life for themselves and their families by fighting for a living wage. Those who work hard and play by the rules shouldn’t have to struggle to keep a roof over their head or put food on the table.

    “Low pay not only harms the families forced to subsist on it, but it also holds back our recovery from the Great Recession. Better pay will put more money into local businesses and spur economic growth. That’s why a living wage is not about asking for a handout. Rather, it’s about valuing work. And it’s about growing the economy from the bottom up by increasing working families’ purchasing power. Americans on today’s picket lines aren’t just standing up for themselves – they are standing up for a stronger America.”

    From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

    “I applaud the courageous action taken by thousands of workers around the country today by participating in the walkout for job protection and fair wages.

    “To re-build our economy and expand the middle class we need to put more money into the pockets of workers in fast-growing, low-wage jobs by creating a living wage. Our goal cannot simply be to increase the minimum wage, but rather, establish a living wage, with the dignity of benefits to achieve a good standard of living to afford the basics while working one full time job.

    “A living wage will increase the quality of life for low wage earning families and will lift our entire economy.

    “I am proud to support the workers striking today for a living wage, and I will continue to fight to make sure families receive the fair wages they deserve.”

    From Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley:

    “Fast food CEOs have super-sized salaries, while their workers earn unlivable wages, wages that can’t support their own families. A single mom in Oakland with two school-age children needs to earn more than $50,000 to make ends meet, while the average fast food worker only earns between $10,000 and $18,000 a year. Families deserve a living wage. It’s just wrong for McDonald’s and others to ignore this inequity.”

    The CEOs and their companies don’t own all of the fast-food outlets; many are owned by franchisees. From International Franchise Association President and CEO Steve Caldeira:

    “Mandating increased wages would lead to higher prices for consumers, lower foot traffic and sales for franchise owners, and ultimately, lost jobs and opportunities for employees to become managers or franchise owners. The franchise industry is a proven job-creator and career-builder, yet efforts to double the minimum wage to $15 would clearly jeopardize opportunities for existing and prospective employees.

    “Many franchises have developed successful programs designed to help employees rise from entry level to management and ultimately, ownership. Arbitrarily mandating a higher minimum wage will only reduce the amount of entry-level jobs that workers need to gain the skills to move up the employment ladder.”

    “This campaign is also designed to pressure employees into organizing, generating much-needed headlines and revenue for labor unions who have faced a sharp decline in private-sector membership for years.”

    Posted on Thursday, August 29th, 2013
    Under: Assembly, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Labor politics, Nancy Skinner, U.S. House | 26 Comments »

    Skinner: Congress must fix school-meal program

    Congress must fix a flaw in the nation’s school-meal program that leaves many low-income children who live in higher-cost regions ineligible for federal nutrition programs, a state lawmaker and an Olympic swimmer said this morning.

    school lunchFederal school nutrition programs now determine eligibility with a single nationwide income level, so many families in high-cost regions are denied access to programs that provide breakfast, lunch and after-school snacks. For example, a family of four in Oakland needs $58,251 to be self-sufficient, but the national standard sets income for a family of four at $42,643.

    A similar method applies to the rates at which meals are reimbursed. Whether in California or Alabama, school districts are reimbursed $3.01 for each free lunch served; only Alaska and Hawaii are reimbursed at a higher rate.

    At a news conference outside Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue Elementary School, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner said she’s introducing Assembly Joint Resolution 31, urging Congress to incorporate a regional cost-of-living index to qualify low-income families in the free or reduced-price meals program, and to calculate reimbursements to school districts.

    “The failure to recognize local costs of living is an issue of equity affecting California’s children, especially those in high-cost regions like the Bay Area,” Skinner, D-Berkeley, said in a news release. “One-size-fits-all does not protect the health and well-being of the California families that face severe economic hardships as they try to put food on the table.”

    Skinner was joined at the news conference by U.S. Olympic swimmer Dana Vollmer, who said she understands how crucial school meals are. “It’s critical that we expand access to programs that give children a healthy start to get ahead—physically and academically.”

    California is home to four of the top 10 urban areas in the country with the highest cost of living, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research. Within the state, San Francisco ranked as the most expensive place to live followed by San Jose, Orange County and Oakland.

    “We have a responsibility to ensure a hungry child living in Oakland is treated with respect and dignity,” Skinner said. “This inequity must be corrected.”

    Posted on Monday, August 26th, 2013
    Under: Assembly, Nancy Skinner | 10 Comments »

    Politicians take different tones on BART strike

    It’s always interesting to compare the tones that various politicians take when weighing in on labor issues.

    In this case, of course, it’s the still-threatened Bay Area Rapid Transit strike. California U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein today wrote to BART management and union leaders to urge a resolution to the standoff:

    “We write to strongly encourage all parties involved in the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) contract negotiations to use the seven-day ‘cooling off period’ declared by Governor Brown to end the labor dispute.

    “The Bay Area relies on a safe, affordable, and reliable public transportation system, and any BART service disruption has significant impacts on our region’s economy and the hundreds of thousands of commuters who use the system. According to the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, the four-day BART service disruption in July cost the Bay Area at least $73 million in lost productivity.

    “We urge you to resume negotiations in good faith, end the dispute, and work together to avoid any further disruptions to BART service.”

    That seems pretty even-handed. But yesterday, Assemblymembers Rob Bonta, D-Oakland; Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley; and Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, issued a statement after the inquiry board appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to review the dispute held a public hearing in Oakland:

    “We’re pleased today’s meeting redirected focus on the ultimate goal of finalizing a fair contract that continues to ensure a safe, dependable public transit system. The panel asked important questions, obtaining documents and testimony that revealed the true financial picture of BART, the actual wages workers earn, and the significant safety issues confronted by employees every day.

    “Testimony revealed inconsistencies in information BART management made public. For example, the figure given for average BART worker pay has been $79,500. But that figure includes management pay. BART’s own documents given to the panel show train operators earn less than $63,000 and station agents earn $64,000 on average. In addition, we learned that workers have offered to significantly increase contributions to pensions and employee medical.

    “These are the type of facts that need to be the focus at the bargaining table. We believe that BART riders deserve good faith negotiations to resume so that rail service can continue uninterrupted.”

    No question where they stand, huh?

    Posted on Thursday, August 8th, 2013
    Under: Assembly, Barbara Boxer, Bill Quirk, Dianne Feinstein, Labor politics, Nancy Skinner, Rob Bonta, Transportation, U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

    Money matchups: AD15, AD16, AD25 & AD28

    There just wasn’t room in today’s campaign fundraising article for these juicy tidbits about some Bay Area Assembly seats.

    As many as six Democrats might vie to succeed Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who’ll be term-limited out of her 15th Assembly District seat:

  • Elizabeth Echols of Oakland, former regional administrator for the Small Business Administration, raised almost $85,000 in the year’s first half and had almost $80,000 cash on hand as of June 30, but also had almost $18,000 in outstanding debts.
  • Sam Kang of Emeryville, the general counsel for an economic justice advocacy group, raised $74,000 in the year’s first half and had $69,000 cash on hand with about $4,000 in outstanding debts.
  • Andy Katz of Berkeley, president of the East Bay Municipal Utilities District’s board, raised about $56,000 and had about $49,000 cash on hand with $7,000 in outstanding debts.
  • Tony Thurmond, a former Richmond councilman and former West Contra Costa County School Board member, raised more than $52,000 in the year’s first half and had almost $36,000 cash on hand with about $12,000 in outstanding debts.
  • Peggy Moore of Oakland, who was the California political director of President Obama’s re-election campaign, raised $30,000 in the year’s first half and had $25,000 cash on hand and no outstanding debts.
  • Cecilia Valdez, a San Pablo councilwoman, also has declared her intent to run for the seat, but had not filed an electronic report of her fundraising as of Thursday morning.
  • Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, also will be term-limited out in the 16th Assembly District. Among those potentially competing to succeed her:

  • Orinda Councilman Steve Glazer, a Democrat who was political adviser to Brown’s 2010 campaign, raised about $245,000 in the year’s first half and with about $240,000 cash on hand but $2,000 in outstanding debts as of June 30.
  • Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, a Democrat, raised about $112,000 in the year’s first half and had about $101,000 cash on hand but $10,000 in outstanding debts.
  • Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich, raised $50,000 in the year’s first half and had $39,000 cash on hand but $7,000 in outstanding debts.
  • Attorney Catharine Baker, a Republican from Dublin, also has declared her intent to run for the seat, but had not filed an electronic report of her fundraising as of Thursday morning.
  • Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, is raising funds to run for the 10th State Senate District seat, leaving his 25th Assembly District seat up for grabs:

  • San Jose City Councilman Kansen Chu, a Democrat, raised about $170,000 in the first half of 2013 and had about $153,000 cash on hand as of June 30, with $1,000 in outstanding debts.
  • Ohlone College Board of Trustees member Teresa Cox, a Democrat, raised about $16,000 in the year’s first half and had about $15,000 cash on hand as of June 30, with almost $4,000 in outstanding debts.
  • Milpitas Councilman Armando Gomez, a Democrat, also has declared his intent to run for the seat, but had not filed an electronic report of his fundraising as of Thursday morning.
  • In the South Bay, Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Campbell, also is term-limited out of his 28th Assembly District seat in 2014. Those who might vie to replace him include:

  • Campbell Mayor Evan Low, a Democrat who works as an aide to Fong, raised more than $113,000 in the year’s first half and had about $240,000 cash on hand as of June 30, with about $3,000 in outstanding debts.
  • Both Cupertino City Councilman Barry Chang, a Democrat, and silicon chip processing engineer Michael Hunsweck, a Republican from Stanford, have declared intent to run for the seat, but neither had filed electronic reports on their fundraising as of Thursday morning.
  • Posted on Thursday, August 1st, 2013
    Under: 2014 primary, Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, campaign finance, Joan Buchanan, Nancy Skinner, Paul Fong | 1 Comment »

    Politicians react to same-sex marriage rulings

    EVERYBODY has something to say about today’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage. Here’s the latest from your Bay Area elected officials.

    From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

    “As author of the bill to repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, I am thrilled by today’s Supreme Court decision.

    “Today’s ruling clearly establishes that the 14 senators who opposed DOMA in 1996 were correct. It also states that one class of legally married individuals cannot be denied rights under federal law accorded to all other married couples. Doing so denies ‘equal protection’ under the Constitution. This is an important and significant decision.

    “Because of inequities in the administration of more than 1,100 federal laws affected by DOMA, it is still necessary to introduce legislation to repeal DOMA and strike this law once and for all. I will introduce that legislation today with 39 cosponsors in the Senate.

    “As a Californian, I am thrilled by the Supreme Court’s decision on Proposition 8. The court’s ruling on technical grounds leaves in place former Chief Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision that Prop 8 is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.

    “I believe this decision means marriage equality will finally be restored in California.”

    From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

    “Today my spirits are soaring because the Supreme Court reaffirmed the promise of America by rejecting two blatantly unconstitutional measures that discriminated against millions of our families.
    “I was proud to have voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, and it is so heartening to see that the federal government will now treat all marriages equally.

    “Because of the Court’s ruling on Proposition 8, millions of Californians will be able to marry the person they love – with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with it.”

    From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

    “Today, the Supreme Court bent the arc of history once again toward justice. The court placed itself on the right side of history by discarding Section 3 of the defenseless Defense of Marriage Act and by allowing marriage equality for all families in California. The highest court in the land reaffirmed the promise inscribed into its walls: ‘equal justice under law.’

    “Soon, the federal government will no longer discriminate against any family legally married in the United States. California will join 12 other states and the District of Columbia in recognizing the fundamental rights of all families. Our country will move one step closer to securing equal protection for all of our citizens.

    “Nearly 44 years to the day after the Stonewall Riots turned the nation’s attention to discrimination against LGBT Americans, the fight for equal rights took a giant step forward. Yet even with today’s victory at the Supreme Court, the struggle for marriage equality is not over. Whether in the courts or in state legislatures, we will not rest until men and women in every state are granted equal rights. We will keep working to ensure that justice is done for every American, no matter who they love.”

    Tons more, after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
    Under: Assembly, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Bob Wieckowski, California State Senate, Dianne Feinstein, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, John Garamendi, Leland Yee, Mark DeSaulnier, Mark Leno, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Nancy Skinner, Nora Campos, Paul Fong, Rich Gordon, Rob Bonta, Tom Ammiano, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Zoe Lofgren | 40 Comments »

    Musical chairs for three local Assembly members

    Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, will take over as chairwoman of the Assembly Budget Committee, Speaker John Perez has just announced.

    Perez, D-Los Angeles, named Skinner to replacy Bob Blumenfield, D-San Fernando Valley, who was elected to the Los Angeles City Council.

    That sets the dominoes a-fallin’, of course. Perez also announced that Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, will replace Skinner as chairman of the Assembly Rules Committee, and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, will replace Gordon as chairwoman of the Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee.

    The appointments take effect July 3.

    UPDATE @ 6:30 P.M.: Aaaaaaaand, everybody’s happy!

    “I thank Speaker Pérez for appointing me chair of the Budget Committee,” Skinner said. “I look forward to taking on this new and challenging role. Filling the shoes of Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield, whose leadership and vision has helped California pass a balanced on-time budget for a third year in a row, is an honor. As budget chair, I look forward to putting education first, delivering essential services and strengthening California’s economic prosperity.”

    “It is an honor to be appointed to Chair the Assembly Rules Committee, and I thank the Speaker for entrusting me with this responsibility,” Gordon said. “I plan to continue the good work of my predecessor, Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that the Assembly continues to be a strong and vibrant institution.”

    Posted on Wednesday, June 19th, 2013
    Under: Assembly, John Perez, Nancy Skinner, Rich Gordon, Susan Bonilla | 4 Comments »

    3 from Bay Area on budget conference committee

    The Bay Area is well-represented on the joint legislative committee tasked with hammering out a state budget deal.

    The Joint Conference Committee on the Budget has four assemblymembers and four state senators who’ll reconcile differences over the budget between the two houses of the Legislature.

    State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has named state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, as a co-chair of the committee, and the other senate appointees are Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley; Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles; and Bill Emmerson, R-Redlands.

    On the Assembly side, Speaker John Perez named Bob Blumenfield, D-San Fernando Valley, who will serve as co-chair; Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley; Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo, and Holly Mitchell, D-Culver City.

    “For the first time in years, we are headed into budget negotiations without the dire need to cut billions from the budget, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to celebrate,” Pérez said in a news release. “It is time to assure our citizens that we are putting the state on a path to avoid future devastating cuts to state-provided services and education. I have confidence that the Conference Committee will craft the best budget possible for the people of California.”

    Posted on Thursday, May 30th, 2013
    Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, John Perez, Loni Hancock, Mark Leno, Nancy Skinner, state budget | No Comments »