That's a Wrap on 2022
That's a wrap on the 2021-22 Legislative Session.
The end of session gives me an opportunity to spend more time in the place that I love most, my district, meeting with and hearing from constituents.
It is also a time to pause, reflect on the previous year, and envision what's to come.
Before I continue, I realize that 40% of you might be wondering "who is this guy, and why is he sending me an email?" My name is Marc Berman, and I am your new California State Assemblymember. For the past six years, I had the honor of representing the 24th Assembly District. Based on redistricting after the 2020 Census, the boundaries and the number of my district have changed, and I now represent the 23rd Assembly District and, for the first time, the communities of Campbell, Saratoga, a portion of west San Jose, and the San Mateo County coast from north of Half Moon Bay up through Pacifica. The new district also encompasses 60% of my constituents from the prior district, including Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley, and the San Mateo County coast from Half Moon Bay south through Pescadero.
While it is bittersweet to no longer represent some cities that I came to love during my first six years in the Assembly, I am excited to get to know the residents of the new communities I now represent, as well as the issues you care about most.
This newsletter includes an update on my work in the Assembly over the last year. I am grateful for the trust you have placed in me to be your voice in Sacramento as I work to deliver for our community.
In this newsletter:
- So, What Happened This Year?
- 2022 Legislative and Budget Accomplishments
- New Year, New Committee
- District Events
Wishing you and yours a safe and festive holiday season.
Assemblymember, 23rd District
So, What Happened This Year?
2022 was a year of strategic investment. Building off of last year's Budget, the Legislature made historic investments to solidify California's role as a global leader on the biggest issues facing our state and our planet. We made a record $54 billion investment in climate action that exceeds what most countries are spending. At the same time, we continued to prioritize education funding. Our K–12 education funding increased by nearly 50% between 2017–18 and 2021–22. In addition, we committed to building desperately needed student housing at our UC and CSU campuses, providing urgently needed mental health services, and strengthening and expanding wildfire defenses.
We invested in proven programs to address homelessness, including Project Homekey, a statewide effort to sustain and rapidly expand housing for persons experiencing homelessness. Last year Project Homekey housed 8,264 individuals. Building off of the success of the program, the state allocated significant funding for an additional 108 projects, including an 88-unit project in Palo Alto, that will create over 6,600 new homes statewide.
We also heard you loud and clear when you told us to clean up litter on the streets. We removed more than 16,700 tons of litter from our roadways – enough to build two stacks of trash from the Earth's surface to beyond the International Space Station, 250 miles in orbit.
When our nation took a disturbing leap backward on reproductive rights and abortion access, California passed important bills codifying the right to abortion in the state constitution, protecting abortion providers from prosecution and eliminating deductibles for abortion services.
2022 Legislative and Budget Accomplishments
I was proud to secure nearly $20 million for critically needed infrastructure and affordable housing projects across my District in the 2022-23 Budget. Click here to see the full list of projects. I also passed a package of bills deeply informed by feedback and ideas from my constituents, which will improve government for all Californians.
Local Recall Reform
- I worked with local school board members to reform our state's recall process, responding to their concerns about a process ripe for misuse. While recalls can be an important tool to hold elected officials accountable, AB 2584 will ensure that the process to initiate a recall is rigorous enough to demonstrate that it is a serious effort, rather than weaponizing the recall process for the sole purpose of impeding government from working. In addition, this bill will make sure that voters are provided accurate and truthful information, and that we don't waste limited public resources. Click here to read more.
- AB 2912 started with a constituent bill idea. If you buy an appliance, your warranty should start on the date of delivery, not the time of purchase – which could be many months before you actually receive possession of the item. And now it will. This law will ensure that consumers receive the full benefit and duration of these warranties regardless of the type of consumer product. Click here to read more.
Ballot Boxes on Campus
- Voters between the ages of 18 to 24 are the most underrepresented among California's voting electorate. And yet, young people will live the longest with the decisions made by their elected officials. So it is imperative that we make it easier for them to exercise their right to vote. That's why I authored AB 2815, which requires all California State University campuses and requests University of California campuses to have a vote-by-mail ballot drop box location on campus. Click here to read more.
- 20% of California's community college, CSU, and UC students are also parents. Studies show that college students with children are almost twice as likely to leave college without a degree after six years. AB 2881 will give student parents priority registration and other critical support so they can achieve their educational dreams while raising a family. Click here to read more.
- You've probably seen it before: Check this box to make this a recurring contribution. But what if that box was surreptitiously pre-checked as the default setting, and you were repeatedly charged for contributions without your knowledge? This is what happened to hundreds of thousands of political donors in 2020. That's why I passed AB 775 this year to ban political candidates or committees from pre-checking the recurring donation box on their websites, and to require them to obtain affirmative consent before enrolling campaign donors in recurring contributions. Click here to read more.
- Affordable housing providers can be required to provide compliance reports to as many as three different state agencies, often providing the same information in different formats. AB 2006 requires these agencies to enter into a memorandum of understanding to coordinate their compliance monitoring, thereby eliminating duplicative work so that affordable housing developers can spend more time and money building affordable housing, not filling out compliance forms. Click here to read more.
New Year, New Committee
I am excited to wrap up my first year as chair of the Assembly Business and Professions Committee, which oversees healthcare professionals, the legal cannabis industry, for-profit colleges, animal welfare, and so many more fascinating policy areas. It was both an honor and a challenge to take on this new leadership role for the committee with perhaps the broadest policy purview in the Assembly. It is one of the primary committees in the Legislature that advances consumer protection and ensures that state licensing bodies are working in the interest of the public.
I had the privilege of serving as Chair of the Assembly Elections Committee for the previous five years, and I am proud of having led efforts to protect voting rights, shield voters from deceptive election practices, make election information more accessible, and improve election cybersecurity and campaign finance disclosure. Most notably, I authored legislation to make California a permanent vote-by-mail state, implement the statewide Where's My Ballot tracking service, and pass the nation's first ban on political deepfakes within 60 days of an election.
To learn more about the Assembly Business and Professions Committee, click here.
Family Health and Wellness Fair
Nearly 1,000 community members came out for my Family Health and Wellness Fair in Mountain View in September. Thanks to our generous partners and sponsors, we were able to provide flu shots and Omicron boosters, health screenings, back-to-school essentials for kids, healthy groceries, and so much more.
Check out this short video for the highlights, including me getting my Omicron booster and flu shot!
Menlo Park Coffee
Thanks to all who joined me at our community coffee in Menlo Park with former Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Kevin Mullin in October.
With the wonderful help of Café Zoe, we brought the coffee and constituents brought their questions, comments and ideas. Community coffees are a great opportunity for me to connect with constituents from across the 24th Assembly District. I never know what to expect and am always pleasantly surprised by the number of constituents who come to these events and the topics they want to discuss. Topics raised by constituents included reforming our court system, housing stability, addressing substance abuse and domestic violence, and more. In this way, the coffees are a great reflection of the uniqueness of all of the communities in my district.
I hope to see you at a community coffee in 2023!
Youth Town Hall
My annual Youth Town has consistently been one of the most informative, fun, and challenging events every year. Getting to hear legislative bill ideas, hard-hitting questions, and most importantly, the experiences of our community's youth has been invaluable. Hearing from young people engaged in their government and advocating for change is so uplifting – the future is bright!
Participants took our Youth Priorities Survey prior to the event asking them about what issues they care about most, what they want to see their government doing better, and issues they experience first-hand. During the event, youth brought up issues and concerns regarding the state's homelessness/housing affordability crisis, workforce development pipeline issues for educators, transportation infrastructure, and creative solutions for addressing climate change. I'd like to give a special thanks to all the teachers, school administrators, and local youth organizations who encouraged youth in their community to attend the Youth Town Hall.
Senior Care and Life Planning
What's the difference between hospice and palliative care? Do I need an advance care directive? How do I choose a nursing home for myself or a loved one? What scams should I be on the lookout for from funeral homes? These are just a few of the questions answered by expert speakers during my Senior Care and Life Planning Seminar in early November. We learned how to get started making a care and end-of-life plan, which is critically important but can also be daunting for many. You have the right to make decisions about your care as you age, and a plan is the best way to ensure your wishes are followed.
If you have questions about these important issues, I encourage you to watch the webinar below.
Legislative Soccer Match
The Legislature's version of the World Cup is the annual NorCal vs SoCal Legislative Soccer Match. The bragging rights are just as high, although the viewership might not be. The competition is fierce, but playing soccer at Palo Alto High School in the 90s prepared me for the pressure. Playing goalie against the tough Peninsula competition equipped me well for defending NorCal's honor against an ambitious SoCal team. My SoCal colleagues made a valiant effort, but we brought the trophy home to NorCal where it belongs. I was honored to be named MVP of the game, and the trophy will be proudly displayed in my Capitol office until the next match. The game is a moment of joy and bipartisanship in the midst of an intense and consequential time in the Legislative calendar.