After addressing some 300 bills in the last week, one of the more fascinating aspects of media coverage is the names of those who voted for or against the bills are rarely provided. Can you imagine if they did? My UPDATEs would be even longer.
In the first piece below, FOX KTVU Channel 2 provides its perspectives on a bill that I voted against, SB 132 by Sen. Wiener, and gives the names of the eight Republicans who voted against the bill.
I have served on the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee since 2015. It is comprised of five subcommittees. I served on Sub 1 – Education for the first four years. This year I was assigned to Sub 5 – Corrections, Public Safety and the Judiciary. I’m learning a lot, but one of the biggest lessons is realizing the costs to implement legislation imposed on our prison system. Many of the budget requests have been for extra staffing and capital improvements for specific bills passed in the last Legislative Session. SB 132 will be expensive.
I’ve also learned our prison system is already trying to accommodate those with gender identity concerns. Since this effort is already underway, thus making this bill unnecessary, I was uncomfortable with it being “required.”
I did not have problems with the use of appropriate gender pronouns, as I voted for this in SB 900 (Wiener, 2018). But, housing individuals based on the inmate’s “perception of health and safety” does take the matter a step too far. As a clarification on the first piece below, the actual vote was 29 to 8, with one Republican abstaining and one voting for the bill.
The second piece is a press release issued by the Republican Senate Caucus which was picked up by Insurance News Net and NOQ Report. A faith-based self-insuring business model is under attack in Sacramento’s proposed 2019-2020 Budget. I voted against this effort in Thursday afternoon’s Budget & Fiscal Review Committee meeting, but the item passed with only Democratic votes.
25th Anniversary Look Back
In the May 27, 1994 issue of the LA Times, Shelby Grad provided the results of an LA Times O.C. poll in “Voters Unsure in Treasurer, Clerk Races.” In the remaining week before the June Primary election, I was able to double my support by picking up two-thirds of the undecided likely voters. Here are a few selected paragraphs:
Though the normally obscure jobs have received unusual attention this year, many voters still are not sure whom to support in the races for county clerk-recorder and treasurer-tax collector, according to a Times Orange County Poll.
Nearly half of those surveyed said they did not know who would get their vote in the clerk-recorder contest, while 36% were undecided in the treasurer’s race.
Treasurer Robert L. Citron, a 23-year incumbent, held a strong lead in his race, garnering the support of 41% of respondents to challenger John M. W. Moorlach’s 22%. Among the most likely voters, Citron has a bigger lead over Moorlach — 50% to 19%, with 30% undecided. Moorlach, a certified public accountant, has criticized the way Citron invested billions of dollars in county tax revenues.
The poll was conducted by Mark Baldassare and Associates, which surveyed 600 Orange County registered voters May 19-22.
The poll results indicate that Citron has not been significantly hurt by questions about his investment strategy, which Moorlach claims is risky and unwise in a period of rising interest rates.
Citron and other officials have defended the investment strategy, saying it has earned double the returns of comparable investment pools over the last decade.
To review the last 25th Anniversary Look Back, go to MOORLACH UPDATE — University of California Fiscal Realities — May 17, 2019.
Calif. Senate passes bill to require that transgender inmates be housed by gender identity
The California Senate on Thursday voted to approve a bill requiring that prison guards to classify and house transgender inmates based on their gender identity – absent specific security concerns.
The legislation, authored by Scott [sic] Wiender (D-San Francisco) passed 29-6 and now heads to the Assembly for committee hearings.
According Equality California, a supporter of the bill, when transgender people are housed according to their birth-assigned gender, which is currently the typical practice, they are at heightened risk of violence, including sexual violence. This risk of violence often leads to transgender people being placed in isolation “for their own protection,” resulting in loss of access to services.
“Trans women, in particular,” Wiener tweeted, “are now housed as men and then victimized. We should treat trans inmates with dignity and respect.”
Currently, inmates in California are housed based on the sex they are assigned at birth, not their gender identity or where they would be safest from harassment, abuse and violence, said Samuel Garrett-Pate, spokesman for Equality California. “This results in higher rates of sexual assault and other violence.”
Garrett-Pate added that transgender inmates are also placed in “administrative segregation” — or solitary confinement — ostensibly for their own safety. “But isolation has been shown to cause significant mental health problems and contribute to higher recidivism rates,” Garrett-Pate said.
If passed, SB 132 would require that the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation record the individual’s self-reported gender identity, preferred first name and preferred pronouns during the initial intake process. It would also require that prison guards house people according to their gender identity, unless a specifically articulated security concern counsels otherwise, or the individual believes it would be safer to be housed according to their birth gender. Finally, it would require all staff and contractors “to consistently use the gender pronoun, honorific, and preferred name the individual has specified in all verbal and written communications with and regarding that individual.”
The bill has its share of critics.
A website called the “Women’s Liberation Front,” says the legislation will “harm one of the most vulnerable groups in society: incarcerated women.” The group’s authors write that the bill would “allow any male at any time to self-declare that he has a woman “gender identity,” and on that basis allow him to demand to be housed in a women’s correctional facility,” among some other complaints.
In addition, Senators Patricia Bates, Andreas Borgeas, Shannon Grove, Brian Jones, John Moorlach, Mike Morrell, Jim Nielsen and Jeff Stone voted no.
This story was reported from Oakland, Calif.
California Senate Republicans: Senate Democrats Penalize the Faith-Based Community’s Health Care Coverage
The California Senate Republicans issued the following news release:
In a recent Senate Budget Committee hearing, members of the California Senate Republican Caucus voted against Democrats’ efforts to penalize members of Health Care Sharing Ministries (HCSMs). HCSMs are an alternative form of health care coverage for members of faith-based communities, and HCSM members are exempted from individual mandate penalties under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Senator Jim Nielsen, Vice Chair of the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee, voted against the proposal.
“Californians should not be denied affordable healthcare because of their religious beliefs. Healthcare sharing ministries were a vital component of the Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Obama. With this action, the majority party is squeezing families who use healthcare sharing ministries, and will cause them a tremendous financial burden.” -Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama)
“We must be inclusive and stop these attacks on faith-based communities. The latest action taken by Senate Democrats is hurtful, wrong, and affects thousands of families in California. I’m proud that members of the Senate Republican Caucus are advocating for families who find strength in their faith and standing up for religious freedom and consumer choice.” – Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield)
On a partisan vote, Sacramento Senate Democrats voted to eliminate the exemption from the individual mandate which was explicitly protected by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Importantly, it is worth noting that even Governor Newsom’s individual mandate proposal does not extend the penalty to members of health care sharing ministries.
Republican Senators Brian Jones, John Moorlach, Mike Morrell, and Jeff Stone are also members of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee and in support of protecting the exemption from the individual mandate penalty for members of faith-based communities.
“A few Democratic legislators are continuing their attack on religious freedom and personal family decisions, including the right to have the level of health coverage, you want, or don’t want, for your family. To paraphrase a former President, ‘If you like your health coverage as is, you ought to be able to keep it.’ We finally got Congress to nullify the wrongheaded coverage ‘penalty,’ and yet those same Senate Democrats can’t seem to stop attacking our personal freedoms and sticking their hands in our pockets to pay for it.” – Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee)
“Health Care Sharing Ministries provide an alternative co-op business strategy for covering medical costs. They are the consummate community-based self-insurance model. Consequently, this long standing and ACA authorized approach deserves an honest critique, but not the harshness an improperly constructed budget trailer bill can impose.” – Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa)
“Participants in health care sharing-ministries have played by the rules in obtaining health coverage for themselves in accordance with their beliefs, needs, and what they have decided is best for their families. Now legislative Democrats are again ready to tax, overregulate, and penalize them for following the law. Their socialistic agenda to interfere in our personal lives should concern every Californian.” – Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga)
“Tens of thousands of hard working people across our state have chosen to utilize Health Care Sharing Ministries for their healthcare insurance needs. This program has been in existence for decades, and more than a million people across America have chosen to participate in this alternative to high-cost insurance plans. Californians using this successful option for healthcare should not be penalized for their choice to save money while also protecting their families.” – Senator Jeff Stone (R-Riverside County)
The recent action in the Senate Budget Committee is not the final decision, as the California State Assembly would have to vote to remove the exemption.
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