News

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Alarmed by a survey indicating sexual harassment of hotel housekeepers is widespread, a California state lawmaker on Tuesday proposed requiring employers to provide “panic button” devices to their employees so they can summon help if abused by a guest.

The bill to be introduced Wednesday by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) would also require individual hotels to impose a three-year ban on guests who engage in harassment on the property.

“We want to protect our most vulnerable women  workers, hotel maids who are going into rooms alone, from sexual harassment,” said Muratsuchi, who co-authored the bill with Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward).

The legislation signals that concerns over sexual harassment that dominated the state Legislature last year will continue to be an issue for lawmakers as they begin the new legislative year Wednesday.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Farmworker advocates say they hope four separate pesticide drift incidents this year that appeared to sicken more than 150 workers will prompt state lawmakers to strengthen rules governing use of the agricultural chemicals.

“These drift incidents happen all the time,” said Valerie Gorospe, a community organizer with the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, an environmental justice group based in Oakland and Delano, who has helped farmworkers in the aftermath of several chemical drift events.

“Our current laws and our regulations that we have for the state of California are completely inadequate,” Gorospe said.

Activists like Gorospe want the chairman of the state Assembly committee that oversees toxic chemicals to push forward legislation that would increase fines for violating California’s pesticide laws and expand the power of the state’s pesticide regulator.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Each journey to become a California state assembly member is unique. This was the case for Castro Valley, Hayward, Union City and North Fremont State Assembly representative William “Bill” Quirk on Oct. 16.

From his college years working on mayoral campaigns to eventually running in his own, Quirk, a nuclear physicist by trade, had his hand in politics for decades. It begged the question: How does a nuclear physicist jump from science to politics?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Wielding his pen, Gov. Jerry Brown has reinforced the Affordable Care Act, stood up to pharmaceutical companies and boosted testing for childhood lead poisoning.

Brown had until Sunday, Oct. 15,  to approve or reject measures passed by the legislature this year, Brown weighed in on some key health care bills, including measures to protect Californians who buy insurance for themselves.

One law will ensure that consumers have three months to shop for health plans in future years, rebuffing a move by the Trump administration that cuts that time in half. Another law will help people keep their health care providers if insurers cancel their policy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sacramento, CA – On October 6, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 231 (Hertzberg) and Assembly Bill 574 (Quirk) into law, paving the way for California communities to tap two climate-smart local water sources: rainwater and drinkable recycled water. California Coastkeeper Alliance and ten local Waterkeeper organizations championed the bills because they advance water security while reducing polluted runoff that contaminates rivers, streams, and coastal waters.

“Recycled water and rainwater harvest are win-win solutions. We have just put these climate-smart water supplies in reach for more California communities,” says California Coastkeeper Alliance Policy Director Sean Bothwell. “Senator Hertzberg and Assemblymember Quirk’s legislation will help us turn a liability into an asset by reducing flooding and pollution while bolstering local water supplies. This is how California leads.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A third of young California children at risk for lead poisoning are not being tested despite state and federal laws that require it, according to a new study—a problem at least partly addressed by legislation now on the governor’s desk.

Researchers using data from the state Department of Public Health found that 160,000 children 1 and 2 years old who needed testing never received it. That’s a 34 percent failure rate, the study says.

“Our most vulnerable kids, the ones that are the most lead-poisoned, are not getting tested,” said Susan Little, who led the study for the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that crossed the state’s testing reports with census figures. “The state is failing its mandate.”

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Lead is a major threat to children’s health, and an EWG analysis of California’s most recent lead testing data shows the state has fallen far short of its responsibility to test children at the highest risk of exposure.

The new EWG report, based on U.S. Census data and Department of Public Health data from 2013, estimates that at least one-third of high-risk 1-and 2-year-olds were not tested for the highly potent neurotoxin that can cause permanent brain damage in children. The records from 2013 are the latest such statewide data released by California’s lead testing program.

State regulations mandate that all children enrolled in Medi-Cal or other public assistance programs should be tested at 12 months of age and again at 24 months to see if intervention is needed to protect against further exposure.