A full house turned out Friday, Jan. 10, for a town hall meeting and legislative update by 67th District Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1508 in Wildomar.
Melendez told the audience about some of the laws taking effect in the state that she believed would be pertinent to her constituents.
She also spent a little time promoting her bid to fill the 28th state Senate District seat left vacant by Jeff Stone.
“First things first, I will be on your ballot this year, but not for assembly,” Melendez told the crowd. “I will be on the ballot for State Senate, not Congress. I will still represent Wildomar, I just won’t be on the ballot for the assembly.”
She then asked the crowd whether they wanted to hear the “good news, the bad news or the really awful news.”
Instead, Melendez started at the top of the list with Assembly Bill 824, “Making Medication More Affordable,” which deters “pay-for-delay” deals between drug manufacturers and generic drug companies in which the manufacturers pay the generic companies to delay the release of less expensive medications.
“See, it’s not all bad news,” Melendez said.
She kept the good news coming with Senate Bill 273 which extends the statute of limitations for domestic violence felonies from three to five years.
“We want to make it easier for men and women who have been victims of this type of violence get their day in court, not make it harder,” Melendez said.
She also covered Senate Bill 1249 which bans the sale of cosmetic products with ingredients of that were tested on animals on or after Jan. 1.
“Many of the cosmetic companies were (already not testing on animals), but there were some that weren’t,” Melendez said. “So, this puts a ban on them. It’s a good thing, I think.”
The first big discussion of the hourlong town hall came in Melendez’s discussion on Senate Bill 78 and the Healthcare Mandate that reestablishes the individual mandate to require Californians to purchase health insurance or be charged a fine.
“What’s happening is a lot of people are looking at it saying, ‘Well, health insurance is this price, but the fine is less than buying insurance, so, I will just pay the fine,’” Melendez said. “What a predicament to be in.”
One audience member said that “Health insurance is a privilege, not a right.”
“I’m with ya,” Melendez said. “There are certain age groups who say, ‘I don’t want to spend my money on health insurance, I’m young,’ whatever the reason, but they don’t want to buy it. But they are going to have to buy it.”
Another audience member asked, “Does it cover illegals?”
Melendez said, “No, because the state can’t mandate a non-citizen to purchase health insurance, but they do get health insurance.”
“They get it for free,” an audience member said.
“Correct,” Melendez said.
Melendez then covered Senate Bill 310 which allows a person with a felony conviction, who is not incarcerated in prison or jail but is on parole to serve on a jury.
“You can imagine the problems with that,” she said. “If you’re still on parole, it means you haven’t quite proven yourself that you’re willing to follow all the laws that everyone else in society is following. Wouldn’t it be better to just wait until you’ve done that? Then you get your clean slate.”
The meeting went off-topic, and Melendez fielded questions from audience members about a recall attempt focused on Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“Just be careful about what you’re signing, what they say it is because sometimes it’s not,” Melendez said.
Another big issue of contention was Assembly Bill 1482, the rent control regulations signed into law by Newsom.
“Rent control was on the ballot as, I think, Proposition 10, in the last election,” Melendez said. “The voters in California said, ‘No, we don’t want rent control.’ The legislature then said, ‘Oh, really?’ And so they brought AB 1482, which is rent control, and they passed it and the governor signed it.”
Melendez said it means that the state will decide how much money each rental property owner can “bring in from that property.” She said the law won’t help the housing crisis.
“I know it feels good,” Melendez said. “But they’re not understanding the basic economics of how this works.”
She also talked about Proposition 13, which she said will be under a different title.
“They’re not going after residential property taxes, they are going after commercial property taxes … that’s a start,” Melendez said. “Everybody knows that they really want to gut Proposition 13 in its entirety.”
The audience and Melendez also lamented the passage of the so-called gas tax.
“The government has enough of our money, trust me they do,” Melendez said. “What they don’t have enough of is will power to not spend beyond their means. That’s just a fact. If we cut out the things that are nice to have, we could fix all the roads, improve the schools, we could do everything we need to do. But the government won’t not do that and that’s our problem.”
Melendez also touched on Assembly Bill 5 and the restricting of independent contracting in California; Assembly Bill 857, which allows local agencies to create a public banking system.
Also on the list of topics Melendez was planning on covering but didn’t have time for was Senate Bill 61, the 30-day waiting period for all firearms; Senate Bill 104, state-funded health insurance for illegal immigrants and Senate Bill 485, which removes the courts’ ability to suspend someone’s license if the defendant used a car to commit prostitution or deal drugs, according to Melendez.
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at email@example.com.