Ventura County lawmakers hit the ground running
Public employee overcompensation, improving education, fracking, veterans are top concerns
By Shane Cohn 02/07/2013
With the 2013 Assembly, state Senate and House sessions in full-stride, elected officials representing Ventura County have begun asserting their political agendas.
In Sacramento, Assemblymen Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo, are approaching the February deadline to file new assembly bills.
Gorell, also the vice chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, introduced Assembly Bill 208, which will prohibit state employees from receiving a full-time state salary while also concurrently accepting hourly employment positions within the same department. The state controller’s office recently confirmed that hundreds of non-hourly state workers in several state departments found a loophole to receive additional hourly wages.
“This practice, which I believe is pervasive throughout state government, is a back-door way to provide salaried employees overtime pay where overtime for those on salary is prohibited,” said Gorell, in a press release. “Not only does this practice circumvent the state’s compensation policies, but by assigning an employee two job classifications, it takes away employment opportunities for the state’s unemployed job-seekers.”
Among other bills, Gorell has also introduced AB 146, which would establish a new enterprise zone for the city of Oxnard, in partnership with the city of Port Hueneme and the Oxnard Harbor District.
As chair of the Committee on Higher Education, Williams is making education a rallying point in his second term on the Assembly.
“I am working with my colleagues to improve access, increase college completion rates, and make higher education affordable to everybody,” said Williams. “Improving our outcomes at our colleges and universities will have a significant impact on our local economy.”
Willams has already introduced AB 29, which would assist colleges and universities with energy efficiency retrofits and clean energy projects, using money set aside from the passage of California Clean Energy Jobs Act, Prop. 39.
Senator Fran Pavley, D-Agoura
In the state Senate, Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, is continuing where she left off in her previous term: fighting for the environment. Her current legislation includes SB 4, which includes advanced public notice of planned fracking activities and fracking fluid chemical disclosure. She is also working on bills that promote clean energy jobs and energy savings plans.
With Gorell signing on to be the principal co-author, she most recently introduced SB 145, new legislation that would increase penalties for the possession of child pornography, with the intent of targeting the worst offenders.
Congresswoman Julia Brownley, D-Oak Park, wants to make veterans’ issues a top priority in her first term, according to her press secretary, Lenny Young. Young said Brownley has been touring veterans’ facilities throughout the county as she was appointed a ranking member on the veteran’s Subcommittee on Health.
Congresswoman Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara
On Feb. 4, Congress overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan bill authored by Congresswoman Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, called the National Pediatric Research Network Act, designed to more efficiently and effectively investigate pediatric disease.
“The National Pediatric Research Network Act would go a long way to increasing and improving research on children’s illnesses — especially rare and complex diseases — and developing new treatments to fight them,” said Capps, in a press release.
In an e-mail, Capps said that while she is committed to working on “a long-term farm bill that protects Central Coast agriculture, comprehensive immigration reform and several pieces of legislation to improve the public health and hold insurance companies accountable,” she still is concerned that the sharp partisan divide in Congress could hold up important legislation.
“While I am excited about the opportunities we have in the 113th Congress, I share the frustration my constituents feel about the excessive partisanship and unnecessary brinksmanship in Congress over the last two years,” she stated. “Our country faces significant challenges that we can only address by putting aside our differences and working together. And I’m encouraged by the bipartisan consensus that has emerged on the need to reform our immigration system. I am hopeful that we will continue to work on this issue and others where we can find bipartisan agreement.”