This session several important bills were blocked in the Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees. While good bills died, others like allowing felons to serve on juries got support.
The Renter’s Tax Credit to help low and middle income renters has not been increased in decades to keep up with the cost of living. Senate Bill 248, written by Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, would have helped millions. A major priority of the legislature is tackling high housing costs, yet renters were let down.
Assembly Bill 211, written by Assembly member Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, incentivized college savings by allowing tax deductions for Californians contributing to 529 savings plans. Student loans amount to 61% of all federal college financial aid, which is now estimated at over $1.5 trillion. In California, that debt averages $22,000 per student. Surprisingly, we are one of only seven states that don’t allow tax deductions for 529 college savings plans. Why?
Approximately three in 10 eligible California households miss out on food benefits available through CalFresh. Senate Bill 285, written by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, would have simplified applications for CalFresh by allowing phone or online access. And another bill aimed at needy Californians, Senate Bill 258, written by Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, required development of programs to provide grants for homeless shelters to help care for pets owned by homeless persons.
In 2017, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received almost 4,000 calls related to human trafficking cases in California, with children making up about one quarter of the victims. Assembly Bill 663, written by Assembly member Jordan Cunningham, R-Templeton, would have strengthened criminal penalties for soliciting minors. It failed to pass.
Many are disappointed that the majority party in Appropriations stalled each of these bills, denying them a final floor vote this year. We can try again early next year, but the Appropriations committees remain high hurdles.
Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, represents the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.