News Room: Joe in the News
Earlier this year the Mercury News told the story of a dozen tenants crammed into a single home, being victimized by a landlord who was making thousands of dollars by continuing to rent rooms despite having lost the house to the bank in foreclosure.
As I discovered through my own experience, it’s shocking not only what some landlords will do, but also how little protection state law offers people looking to rent a room, a house or an apartment. Fortunately, state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) is working to arm prospective tenants with better information by authoring legislation, Senate Bill 1191, that would require landlords to inform prospective tenants that the property is subject to foreclosure.read more ...
Today, as some major Bay Area school districts begin a new school year, the youngest of students are entering a new grade, the first new level in California primary education in over a century—it’s called Transitional Kindergarten.
11th District Senator Joe Simitian was a driving force behind the new grade. He says it benefits the children and the entire educational community.
“Over all the years we have had too many kids who have been held back over the years unnecessarily, too many kids who need remedial help, too many kids who were placed in special education unnecessarily and not only has that been a struggle for them and their families, but it has been a cost to the schools and the public at large,” said Simitian.read more ...
In an oped article in the Contra Costa Times, breast cancer survivor Amy Colton writes:
In 2009, at age 47, I was shocked to be diagnosed with a later stage breast cancer. I was what you would describe as a “health nut.”. . . I followed my doctor’s instructions for regular checkups and screenings, including annual mammograms, starting when I was 40. Every year I received a form letter telling me that no cancer was found.
Mammography was unable to detect my cancer in an early stage because I have a condition called “dense breast tissue.”
The shock of my diagnosis and the ordeal of treatment I endured have made me determined to give other women a better chance of being diagnosed before their cancer has spread. That is why I am so heartened by the legislative approval of a resolution authored by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, to declare Aug. 8 to be “Are You Dense? Day.”read more ...
Silicon Valley state Sen. Joe Simitian hopes he’s dead-wrong on high-speed rail.
Ten years ago, he enthusiastically co-authored a bill to put the bullet train on the ballot. On Friday, after years leading intense oversight hearings on the polarizing $69 billion plan, he stunned listeners on the Senate floor and voted against the start of construction—nearly killing the project altogether.read more ...
A bill from Palo Alto State Senator Joe Simitian would crack down on red light cameras and would make it easier for drivers to fight tickets, reports CBS Channel 5.read more ...
In an editorial, the San Jose Mercury News said:
Death and injuries from traffic accidents have plummeted in California, a trend tied to the 2008 law that bans gabbing on handheld cellphones while driving. Memo to all those drivers still yakking away: Wake up. Distracted driving can kill.
The number of deaths caused by driving while chattering on handheld cellphones dropped by half in the two years after the law took effect compared with the two years before, according to a study released by the state Office of Traffic Safety. That dramatic improvement should persuade 41 other states to enact similar laws. The rest already have.
State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, take a bow. He pushed the bill until his reluctant colleagues agreed to pass it. Credit also goes to the California Highway Patrol and local police throughout the state for aggressively enforcing the ban. They seem to have wholeheartedly embraced it, probably because they have to deal with the heartbreak of fatal accidents.read more ...
According to a study announced Monday by the state Office of Traffic Safety, since a state law forbidding the use of handheld phones on the road went into effect in 2008, the number of traffic deaths in California declined by 22 percent. With fewer drivers yakking into handheld phones, the death-by-cellphone rate dropped an even more stunning 47 percent.
“Those are huge numbers,” said Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, author of the bill whose outcome the study tracked, while taking a (hands-free) victory lap after the announcement.
During a two-year period after the law was implemented, there were 53 deaths caused by drivers holding cellphones, compared with 100 in the two years before the law took effect. This came as total accidents and fatalities were down overall for reasons as varied as more cars having air bags.
“The drop in collisions was the biggest, single, year-to-year drop in the history of the state since the CHP began keeping the data,” Simitian said.read more ...
Senator Simitian appeared on MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan show to discuss high-speed rail.read more ...
State Senator Joe Simitian of California, who succeeded in getting a law passed in 2006 that bans drivers there from talking on a hand-held phone, called the board’s recommendation “a wake-up call about the dangers of distracted driving.”
Yet, he also said he doubted it would achieve the desired result because it was unlikely that legislators in California or elsewhere would be able to pass such a ban. Mr. Simitian noted that he spent five years trying to push a ban on hand-held devices, and faced intense opposition from the phone industry.
“It’s a political nonstarter,” he said, adding that he would not attempt to propose a total ban on drivers using their devices. “I don’t believe you’ll see such a ban in my lifetime.” For all his skepticism, though, he acknowledged that political winds could shift. “A decade ago, people didn’t think we’d have a hands-free law in California. Only time will tell.”read more ...
Texting, talking and tweeting behind the wheel - even using hands-free devices - should be banned, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended Tuesday, but any such prohibition in California seems far down the road.
While state law enforcement and traffic safety officials agreed with the recommendation, the state’s main champion of cell phone regulations for drivers said legislation imposing a ban “would be a nonstarter politically.”
“The notion of an outright ban is hard to imagine,” said state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and author of three laws restricting the use of cell phones by drivers. “I don’t predict it to happen in my lifetime. But then, a decade ago, I couldn’t even get a hands-free bill out of the Legislature.”
Simitian said he would continue to press for increased penalties for violating the bans on handheld phones and texting, and for stepped-up enforcement.
read more ...
Gov. Jerry Brown probably made more good than bad decisions on various bills this fall. But it was infuriating to see him veto Sen. Joe Simitian’s bill requiring full disclosure to women whose mammograms may be ineffective.
It was so simple, so certain to save lives that we could not imagine a veto. But the medical establishment pulled out all the stops to kill it.
Amy Colton persuaded Simitian to carry the bill after she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer despite years of supposedly clear mammograms. She learned, too late, that her dense breast tissue obscured the cancer. This condition is noted in reports to doctors but not in reports sent to patients, who develop a false sense of security.
In his veto statement, Brown said women should have the information, but he objected to the notification suggesting women talk to their physicians about further screening. Good grief. If women learn mammograms aren’t effective for them, they’d be crazy not to ask about alternatives.
When the Legislature reconvenes, Simitian should resubmit the bill minus the offending suggestion to consult doctors. The original bill got broad bipartisan support. In the meantime, Colton and Simitian may have saved lives just by airing the issue: All women should ask their doctors about dense breast tissue. And—sorry, governor—about alternative screening.
read more ...
Next year, California’s population will surpass 40 million. That’s twice as many people as were here in 1970 when the state passed its landmark resource protection law, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
CEQA, which governs the environmental review process for most construction and infrastructure projects, has been at the heart of some notable achievements, such as saving Mono Lake and looking at the cumulative impacts of proposed development. While the law has protected the environment by improving planning processes and stopping many ill-conceived projects, critics can fairly point to cases where competitors have used it to obstruct projects, even where the environmental benefits and job creation opportunities were obvious.
Forty years later, it’s time to make changes to CEQA to better align the law that governs most growth decisions in the state with 21st century challenges, like climate change and how to support a rapidly growing population.
One such reform is on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk now. He should sign it.
Senate Bill 226 by Senators Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, allows infill projects—that is, projects within already-developed areas—that meet state-of-the-art environmental standards to take advantage of a streamlined review process. The bill rewards applicants whose projects have the best environmental features with faster and lower cost approval, and it provides other projects with a meaningful incentive to improve. It also eliminates duplicative levels of review, eliminating waste and allowing sponsors of infill projects to take advantage of previous environmental analyses and rely on good local planning.read more ...
California lawmakers passed 600 bills in recent weeks, and Jerry Brown vows to veto most of them, explaining simply, “not every human problem deserves a law.”
NBC Bay Area couldn’t agree more.
But, we’re sorry the governor vetoed a bill that would have toughened the hands-free, no-texting laws for drivers.
As we see on the roads, compliance with our current law is low — the bill’s author, State Senator Joe Simitian, hoped to raise deterrence by raising the base fine from $20 to $50, the same fine as rolling through a stop sign.
Governor Brown said “no.”
So we ask him - if you won’t raise fines, Governor, how will you get drivers to put away their cell phones?
Hundreds of lives are at stake.read more ...
For seven straight years since turning 40, Amy Colton religiously scheduled a mammogram. Every year, the test showed nothing.
Two years ago, however, the registered nurse was shocked to discover she was in the latter stages of breast cancer. Then she learned that her radiologist and primary-care physician knew she had a condition that blocks the detection of cancer cells in mammograms—but they never told her.
Now she’s even more shocked that California’s powerful medical lobby is trying to block legislation that would require physicians to tell women if they have the condition, known as “extremely dense breast tissue.”
“I’m the patient; it’s my body. But I was never informed,” said Colton, who lives in Soquel. “It just took my breath away.”
Colton took her complaint to Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, who introduced SB 173, which would require doctors to tell women if they have the condition.
read more ...
Although many Californians ignore laws against using hand-held cellphones and sending text messages while driving, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday rejected a proposal that would have taken a bigger bite from the wallets of violators.
Repeat offenders could have ended up paying more than $500 when court fees and penalties are added in, under legislation sponsored by Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto).
Simitian proposed that the base fine for the first offense increase from $20 to $50 because of concern that not enough motorists are complying with the 3-year-old hands-free requirement for cellphone uses.
read more ...
Persistence paid off for Senator Joe Simitian. Governor Jerry Brown just signed Simitian’s Senate Bill 24, which will arm consumers with information to help prevent identity theft. In 2008, 2009 and 2010, Senator Simitian placed three previous versions of his security breach notification bill on the desk of former Governor Schwarzenegger, only to encounter vetoes.
If you are one of the many Californians who had your confidential information compromised in a security breach, you most likely found out by receiving a letter in the mail. After reading it, you were probably quite upset, but confused about what you should do about it. SB 24 will help consumers make sense of these notices, and help arm us to stop identity theft.
read more ...
A new Caltrain study has found that high speed rail trains may be able to use the existing Caltrain tracks to move up and down the Peninsula.
The study found that the joint-use system would be possible if Caltrain were to get some major upgrades. It calls for the electrification of all trains, upgraded signals and the installation of passing tracks.
Palo Alto State Senator Joe Simitian said this idea of a blended system is moving the project towards the right track.
“Let’s scale the project back to something that is more affordable and frankly, more practical in terms of building community acceptance up and down the corridor,” he said.
read more ...
To all those drivers who continue to yak on a handheld cellphone or text while behind the wheel—and there are many of you—pay attention. Fines are very likely to go up.
The California Legislature on Monday passed a bill that would raise the current fine plus penalties to $309 from $189. The bill now goes before Gov. Jerry Brown. A spokesman said Brown had no immediate comment on the bill, but supporters believe he will sign it into law.
Senate Bill 28, authored by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, also would make a second offense a moving violation that would go on a driver’s record. That would potentially add up to $100 a year or more to violators’ insurance premiums unless they went to traffic school.
read more ...
A new state law that takes effect Jan. 1 will add an extra layer of privacy for library users in the digital age.
California’s library privacy laws were created before the advent of the Internet and, as a result, an individual’s interaction with the library outside of circulation was not protected under state law until Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 445 earlier this month.
The bill was authored by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, but inspired by Librarylaw.com founder Mary Minow, who also manages the Stanford Copyright and Fair Use website.
Minow proposed the legislation as part of Simitian’s “There Oughta Be A Law” contest.
read more ...
Mammograms should be recommended to women based on several individual risk factors, such as age, family history and breast density, doctors said in a study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
But how many women know their breast density?
Under legislation proposed in California, every woman who has a mammogram would also receive information on her breast density. Studies have confirmed that having more high-density tissue, which has less fat, raises breast cancer risk while having more low-density tissue lowers it.
The proposed legislation, Senate Bill 173, is opposed by several medical groups, however. In a recent statement, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of District IX, the California Radiological Society, the California Medical Assn. and other groups say they oppose the bill.
read more ...
There’s one thing worse than a medical report that says you have cancer. That’s a report that says everything’s peachy keen—even though the procedure couldn’t really tell.
Soquel resident Amy Colton got caught in this trap. Despite annual all-clear mammograms, she suddenly found she had advanced breast cancer. Only then did she learn that she is among millions of women whose tissue is too dense for a mammogram to detect a small tumor.
And she’s a registered nurse.
Colton won state Sen. Joe Simitian’s “There Oughta Be a Law” contest, and he introduced SB 173 to require that patients be told if they have dense tissue. Then, they and their doctors—who already get this information routinely—can decide whether to have further screening.
read more ...
Sen. Joe Simitian gets an “A” for effort. In fact, he might even be the post-term limits Legislature’s perspicacity poster child.
While not the decade it took Jim Costa to win approval of legislation moving California’s presidential primary forward, it took Simitian six years to pass a measure requiring hands-free use of cell phones while driving.
He’s been as tireless – but not as successful - on a measure he and some 150 school districts contend will help them better control their financial destinies.
In 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and now 2011 Simitian has introduced a constitutional amendment that would allow parcel taxes sought by school districts to be approved by a 55-percent rather than a two-thirds vote.
“If the state either can’t or won’t fund public education adequately, the least we can do is give local communities the opportunity to make local choices about their kids,” Simitian, a Palo Alto Democrat, told Capitol Weekly.
read more ...
Cancer. No matter how sensitively the diagnosis is delivered, it is baffling, angering and frightening. Especially when you think you’ve done everything right to help ward off such a devastating diagnosis.
As a nurse, I’m diligent about my health. I get annual mammograms, perform self-exams, eat a healthy diet, exercise daily and have no family history of cancer. I thought I was armed with the information I needed to take care of my own well-being. I was wrong.
The missing piece of the puzzle turns out to be a piece of information that shouldn’t have been missing at all. My doctor had the information. I didn’t. It took my being a super sleuth, a cancer-diagnosed, fighting-for-my-life patient to discover that I had something that prevented radiologists from even seeing my cancer on a mammogram—dense breast tissue DBT…
...My outrage spurred me to enter state Sen. Joe Simitian’s annual “There Oughta Be A Law” contest. My winning entry resulted in the introduction of Senate Bill 173, which simply asks that the information that doctors and radiologists already have about a woman’s breast density be relayed to them in the annual letter they receive. It’s a small piece of information, but a vital piece that could spur many women to get the additional screenings they need before it’s too late.
read more ...
The story of a Sonoma State University freshman who allegedly ran over a toddler while texting on a cell phone is tragic. The toddler, 2-year-old Calli Murray, had just begun what her bereaved parents described as a bright and happy life.
Meanwhile, the life of Kaitlyn Dunaway - the 18-year-old who has been charged with vehicular manslaughter - will never be the same.
The case underscores the fact that texting is one of the worst forms of distracted driving. The California Office of Traffic Safety places it alongside drunken driving as one of the leading causes of crashes that result in fatalities or serious injuries. It’s time for it to be punished accordingly.
“The question is, are people going to understand the seriousness of this behavior?” said state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto. Simitian has authored a bill, SB28, that’s passed the Senate and is awaiting votes in the Assembly. It would raise the base ticket fine for texting while driving from $20 to $50. Repeat offenders would have to pay $100 as a base fine and suffer a point on their licenses.read more ...
A bill that would increase the cost of using a handheld cellphone or texting while driving to about $309 passed the state Senate on Monday and is headed to the Assembly.
“Good, good,” motorist Anna Fields of Sunnyvale said. “Anything to make these drivers on their phones understand the risks they are taking and the danger they pose to me and everyone else is badly needed.”
SB 28 by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, passed by a 24-12 vote. It would make a second offense a moving violation and raise the base fine from $20 to $50 per violation. With various fees, a first offense would cost $309, up from the current $208. A repeat offender could be fined $100, or $528 with fees.
read more ...
Saying that government funding for California’s High-Speed Rail program will be “severely limited ... for the foreseeable future,” local federal and state representatives are calling upon the California High-Speed Rail Authority to essentially link the high-speed rail route from Los Angeles with an improved and electrified Caltrain system running from San Jose to San Francisco.
U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) and state Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) made their announcement Monday morning (April 18) at the Menlo Park Caltrain station. The three legislators described the “blended” system of high-speed rail and Caltrain as the best way to save money, protect Peninsula communities from unnecessary construction and ensure the continued viability of Caltrain, which is facing a financial crisis.
Palo Alto Online has posted a YouTube Video of the announcement.read more ...
Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 2X into law at the SunPower/Flextronics solar manufacturing plant in Milpitas on Tuesday, April 12. Governor Brown and Senator Simitian were joined by U.S. Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu for the signing ceremony and dedication of SunPower’s new facility.
More pictures are available at the link below.
read more ...
Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed into law a requirement that California get 33% of its electricity from renewable sources, such as wind and solar energy, by the year 2020.
Brown’s signature raises the former renewable-energy mandate of 20%. Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), author of the legislation, said the 33% benchmark would reduce air pollution and U.S. dependence on unstable foreign sources of oil, while creating more than 100,000 jobs. That number is based on research by the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, a trade group representing renewable energy companies, according to Simitian’s staff.
“The new law will stimulate the economy and improve the environment, while protecting ratepayers from excessive costs,” Simitian said.read more ...
Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law that requires the state’s public and private utilities to obtain at least 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. He talked about the challenges of environmental policy and even invoked his old nickname:
“You can’t be afraid to be called a moonbeam, weird, deviant, interesting, unexpected and let’s get it done. Senator will you come up here so we can sign this bill? Clapping fades.”
The bill was written by Democratic State Senator Joe Simitian, who’s been pushing the change for several years.
“When we have hit 33% by 2020 ,we will look back on this day and say ‘look what California has done.’”
read more ...
The sun, the wind and other sources of renewable power would supply one-third of California’s electricity by the end of 2020 under a bill that finally cleared the Legislature on Tuesday after years of false starts.
The bill would give California one of the nation’s most aggressive policies for increasing the use of renewable power at a time when comprehensive federal energy legislation has been stalled in Washington. State Sen. Joe Simitian, who wrote the bill, cast it as a way of boosting California’s clean-energy industry, which has continued to grow in recent years despite the recession.
“If we send a clear signal to the market, the market will respond, and investment dollars and jobs and tax revenues will come to California,” said Simitian, D-Palo Alto. “If we don’t send a clear signal to the market, those dollars and jobs and tax revenues will go to some other state or country.”read more ...
The lawmaker who wrote California’s hands-free cellphone laws says too many motorists are ignoring it. He’s backing legislation that will make the fines and penalties a lot tougher.
Even though the hands-free law has been around for more than three years, Californians are still breaking the law calling, texting and checking emails on their handheld device while behind the wheel.
“Probably 60 or 70 percent of Californians are complying. That means another 30 to 40 percent of folks out there could do a better job,” said California Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto).read more ...
California lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that would require a third of the state’s power to come from renewable energy sources by 2020, setting a new bar for the rest of the country.
The U.S.‘s largest energy consumer is increasing its renewable portfolio standards and continues to pursue a cap-and-trade program that would put a price on carbon after similar initiatives to do so in Congress have flatlined.
California is typically seen as a trendsetter when it comes to setting environmental regulations aimed at slashing harmful emissions. The new law would make it the most aggressive adopter of renewable energy in terms of the amount of new generation that will be needed, which will draw investment dollars and create jobs through wind, solar, geothermal and other alternative projects.
The legislation “sends a signal to renewable energy providers that California wants them here,” State State Sen. Joe Simitian, who authored the bill, said in a statement. “They will respond, as they have in the past, with billions of dollars in investments that will provide jobs and tax revenues.”read more ...
As California’s lawmakers sit in a partisan-fueled stalemate over the state budget, and mudslinging becomes an ever-increasing art form in campaigning, the topic of civility in government might be one on which some politicians would have little to say.
But state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) said it was exactly this subject that grabbed his attention and brought him out to Los Gatos to speak. “I was fascinated that they wanted to have this conversation,” Simitian said after his office received a call from the Southwest Santa Clara Valley chapter of the League of Women Voters asking him to talk about civility in government.
Simitian said he applies a three-part test to determine what constitutes incivility in conversation.“If there’s a charge or countercharge, we must ask is it true? Is it fair? And is it relevant?” he said.read more ...
In an editorial, NBC Bay Area applauds Sen. Joe Simitian’s Senate Bill 2X, that would require the state to obtain 33% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020.
Suzanne Shaw, NBC Bay Area Editorial Director, says, “We can lead the nation away from foreign oil and build a greener future for this state. We need our legislators and our governor to pass Senate Bill 2X.”
read more ...
For seven years, Amy Colton did everything right. The registered nurse carefully followed a yearly mammogram routine and conducted monthly self-examinations, all in the hope of screening for breast cancer.
But after seven years of precaution, Colton was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. Only later did she learn that women like herself with dense breast tissue are four to six times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I was never informed that I had dense breast tissue,” Colton said. “Everyone should have this information about their own physiology.”
Using her own experience as motivation, Colton entered state Sen. Joe Simitian’s “There Oughta be a Law” contest in hopes of translating her idea of dense breast tissue disclosure into possible legislation. Her bill was one of four winners announced last week — two new bills and two previous winners that will be reintroduced after failing to make it into law in past years.read more ...
Few 4-year-olds are ready for kindergarten.
That was the message delivered Monday by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, during a countywide education forum at New Brighton Middle School. More than 300 educators, including preschool and kindergarten teachers, superintendents and school board trustees, packed the auditorium for Simitian’s second annual “Together for Kindergarten.”
Simitian shared with the crowd the impetus for a new law he wrote last year that changed the kindergarten entry age. Kids starting kindergarten must turn 5 by Sept. 1 of the fall they wish to start school. Currently, students can start school if they’ll turn 5 by Dec. 2.read more ...
An editorial in the Los Angeles Times calls on the Legislature to pass Sen. Joe Simitian’s bill, SB 2X, requiring that 33% of the electricity in the state come from renewable resources. Some excerpts:
“The state still doesn’t have a renewable energy standard even though a sensible bill to establish one has been taken up annually since 2007. ... We’re once again hoping the political establishment can overcome its legacy of failure and give California an early lead in the struggle to wean the nation off of fossil fuels, clean the state’s air, boost its fledgling green industries and set an example on responsible mitigation strategies for climate change.”
“It’s very important for the standard to take the form of legislation rather than a gubernatorial order, because the latter can be changed at whim by any new administration. Without the force of law, utilities and investors lack the certainty they need to proceed with new renewable projects.”read more ...
In an interview with John Fensterwald of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, Sen. Joe Simitian discusses the state budget, K-12 education and what might happen if Gov. Jerry Brown’s revenue proposals lose in a June election.
Fensterwald writes: “Business leaders on the fence on whether to push Republicans to join Democrats in putting tax extensions on the June ballot should consider what might happen if the measures fail. Democratic Sen. Joe Simitian is telling them they’ll probably face voter-led tax initiatives in November they’ll find far less palatable – an oil severance tax or even a challenge to Proposition 13 that raises property taxes on commercial property; it’s known as a split roll tax”
read more ...
Sen. Joe Simitian typically has about 90 school administrators, school board members, parents and other educators show up for his semi-annual “Education Updates.” Saturday, Simitian got double that number, as the Palo Alto Democrat warned educators that schools face a $5 billion budget cut if Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget compromise fails.
A budget debacle of that magnitude, Simitian told a roomful of about 180 frustrated and worried educators and parents who attended the meeting in Palo Alto from Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, would amount to roughly $800 for each one of California’s approximately 6 million school children in the coming school year.
To close a budget gap estimated at more than $25 billion over the next 18 months, Brown wants to make over $12 billion in spending cuts, and persuade GOP legislators to let the voters decide a $12 billion extension of income and sales taxes and motor vehicle fee increases. If all that happened, public school funding would remain largely intact.
Simitian, a member of the state Senate’s education committee, urged educators and parents to lobby Republican lawmakers who might be willing to support placing the tax and fee extensions on the June ballot, as well as Democrats who might not be willing to support the spending cuts that the governor says California must make before the tax vote.
“If we don’t have a successful effort in June, bleak won’t begin to describe what we’re looking at” in school funding, Simitian said.read more ...
A New York Times story discusses efforts to restrict the use of cell phones, iPods and other electronic devices, not only while driving, but while jogging or walking.
“The ubiquity of interactive devices has propelled the science of distraction — and now efforts to legislate against it — out of the car and into the exercise routine,” the Times reports.
“In California, State Senator Joe Simitian, who led a successful fight to ban motorists from sending text messages and using hand-held phones, has reintroduced a bill that failed last year to fine bicyclists $20 for similar multitasking.”
In other states, legislators have introduced bills to restrict pedestrians and joggers from using cell phones or iPods. Simitian is not proposing similar legislation.
In the Times story, Simitian says “At some point you do have to simply rely on the good judgment of folks as they go through their daily lives.”
“Is there a problem out there with distracted pedestrians? I’d be the first to acknowledge it,” he said. But, he added, “It’s appropriate to distinguish between 4,000 pounds of steel and glass coming at you and a pedestrian who may well put themselves at risk but probably poses less of a risk to the general public.”read more ...
In an opinion article in the San Mateo County Times, Sen. Joe Simitian urges the Legislature to enable San Mateo, and other counties, to provide health insurance to more children. He has introduced Senate Bill 36, which changes state law so that counties can capture more federal funds. There is no cost to the state.read more ...
On Jan. 4, Senator Joe Simitian was the guest on KLIV Radio’s CEO Show, hosted by Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. They discussed the state budget, transportation, education and other critical issues facing California. Follow the link for a podcast of the show.
read more ...
In an opinion article, Senator Joe Simitian explains the importance of increasing the amount of electricity generated from renewable resources.
In 2006, the California Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ambitiously committed California to obtain 20 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by the end of 2010.
The utilities blanched and the skeptics snickered. But despite much naysaying, we’ll get pretty darned close. The California Public Utilities Commission said we’d reach 18 percent by the end of this month, and move past 20 percent some time in the new year.
That’s good, but we can do better. California’s commitment to green energy has invigorated the renewable-energy market. An explosion of investment in green technology has produced advances in solar and wind power and a smarter electric grid. Combined, they have brought within reach what once seemed an audacious goal: 33 percent renewables by 2020.
With our 2010 goals clearly in sight, I’ve again introduced legislation that calls for a commitment, in state law, to a 33 percent renewable portfolio standard by 2020. That measure, Senate Bill 23, is now before the Senate.
read more ...
This opinion article by Senator Joe Simitian appeared in the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal
By Joe Simitian
One way to build the economy back up is to take that expression literally—build things. Constructing offices, research parks, houses, schools, roads, bridges, and transit lines puts people back to work and money back into circulation. And the sooner, the better.
Starting January 1, a new state law will remove potential obstacles to those projects. Legislation I authored in 2010 makes it harder to delay construction projects with endless appeals, abuse of the process or frivolous complaints, while at the same time ensuring that developments are studied and essential environmental protections are preserved.
In boosting the economy, timeliness matters. The federal stimulus program sought projects that were “shovel ready,” with plans drawn and environmental reviews completed. Some private developers, eager to turn the sluggish economy into an opportunity to hurry their projects through, or around, environmental assessments, promoted an approach more akin to “just shovel already.”
Not for the first time, pressure to set aside the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) grew as the economy shrank. The California State Senate’s Environmental Quality Committee, which I chair, received a number of proposals to simply brush aside environmental reviews to push projects along. I couldn’t support that.
But after saying “no” to such proposals, I thought I ought to figure out what I could responsibly say “yes” to. After all, the development community had a point about the potential for opponents of a worthy project to force costly delays even after project approval.
The bill that resulted, Senate Bill 1456, earned bipartisan support, and was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Provisions in the law encourage mediation. The bill makes it more likely that people will sit down and work out their differences before suing. If a challenge is taken to court, it will be resolved more quickly.
Johnny-come-lately-opponents will be out of luck. An organization formed to overturn approval of a project must have at least one member who raised the objections before the approval was granted. Government bodies will have more latitude to decide that certain issues do not need to be restudied as projects are modified: For example, parking need not be re-evaluated because a plant’s potential water consumption has changed.
And when a project’s opponents just can’t accept a legitimate defeat, and turn up yet again in court, a judge may impose a $10,000 penalty for a frivolous lawsuit.
Too often, the environment and the economy are presented as opposites in a zero-sum game in which advances for one come at the expense of the other. It’s a false dichotomy.
A healthy environment and a vibrant economy are not competing ideals, but complementary ones. California’s attractiveness as a business destination lies in part in the natural beauty – mountains, ocean, delta, deserts – that lie just beyond the cities that are the heart of its economy. And within its developed areas, business leaders and rank-and-file employees alike want to live in pleasant neighborhoods, breathe clean air, and commute to work as conveniently as possible.
Environmental regulations can protect that quality of life without holding builders and businesses hostage to anyone who dreams up a fanciful reason to file a CEQA appeal. Senate Bill 1456 is a commonsense way to expedite worthy projects and create jobs without compromising environmental quality.
This new law reflects what Californians want – a state that provides a place where we can find work and share in general prosperity, a place where we can live in comfort and good health, a place where we can savor the splendid natural environment around us.
Joe Simitian represents the 11th State Senate District, which includes portions of San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.
read more ...
Once just a cruel joke, assuming another person’s identity on the Internet and fabricating an e-mail or Facebook account, is no longer a laughing matter.
A state law effective Jan. 1, authored by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, makes online impersonation, when it seeks to harm someone, illegal.
“As a Silicon Valley legislator, I’m nothing but enthusiastic about technology. But the question is, is the technology used wisely and appropriately?” Simitian said this week. “This (‘e-personation’) is one area where some constraint appeared necessary.”
read more ...
State Sen. Joe Simitian is again introducing rules that require 33 percent of utilities’ energy mix to come from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, by 2020.
Simitian’s proposal was once vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009. A similar measure died on the Senate floor earlier this year. Both times, the governor objected to provisions that would limit the amount of renewable energy utilities could purchase from out of state.
Schwarzenegger did, however, issue an executive order requiring the higher energy standards, without the restrictions on out-of-state generation.
But executive orders don’t have the permanence of state statute—his successor could have nixed it—and the governor’s order left a lot of uncertainty about whether utilities would actually have to go ahead with the new requirements.
read more ...
Even before California’s power companies have met a year-end target of getting 20 percent of their energy from renewables, like wind or solar, state Sen. Joe Simitian is upping the ante.
A bill introduced this week by the senator would require utilities to generate 33 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020, a standard Simitian says will go a long way to fighting global warming, spawning green investment and assuring California a local source of energy. The proposal, Senate Bill 23, failed in past years but Simitian, D-Palo Alto, hopes this time will be different.
“I’m optimistic,” he said Tuesday. “This is sound energy policy.”read more ...
After years of frustration at having their ideas vetoed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Democratic state lawmakers said Friday that they are reviving scores of old bills in hopes of having better luck with incoming Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat.
The proposals they plan to revisit would give illegal immigrants access to financial aid at colleges, prohibit the practice of “spiking” in public pensions, require utilities to provide more solar and wind power, ban cellphones from state prisons and require college booster groups to disclose their finances.
“We’re going back to look at every bill vetoed in the last eight years,” said state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto). “I do think with a change it makes sense to look at bills this governor wasn’t inclined to sign and the new governor might.”
Next week Simitian plans to reintroduce, among others, a measure that would prohibit last-minute bonuses and raises from resulting in sharp increases in state workers’ pensions, and a requirement that 33% of energy produced by utilities by the year 2020 come from renewable sources.read more ...
With Sen. Joe Simitian’s “There Oughta Be a Law” contest in its 10th year, and having spawned similar contests elsewhere, The Christian Science Monitor writes that “disgruntled voters in a handful of states now have an outlet” to propose solutions.
“The movement began in California in 2001 and has now grown to about half a dozen incarnations from California to New York. Used by high school government class teachers for years, the idea of ‘do it yourself’ legislation was formally introduced by California State Sen. Joe Simitian nine years ago, when he began his contest named after a popular . . . comic strip.”read more ...
Two Palo Alto teachers, reading specialist Natalie Bivas and kindergarten teacher Diana Argenti, were honored Nov. 9 for suggesting a bill to State Senator Joe Simitian that would require children to be five years old when they begin kindergarten. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill September 30.
In this KQED Radio interview—at the link below—Natalie Bivas and Diana Argenti talk about their experiences in the classroom that led them to propose the bill, and Sen. Simitian describes how they persuaded him to carry it.read more ...
Columnist Patty Fisher wrote about the two teachers who inspired Sen. Joe Simitian’s bill to raise the age at which children start kindergarten.
We hear a lot about gridlock in Sacramento. We hear that only powerful special interests and highly paid lobbyists have the clout to push legislation through the Capitol maze.
And then every once in a while, we hear about people like Natalie Bivas and Diana Argenti, two Palo Alto elementary school teachers who saw a problem that had baffled the Legislature for two decades, came up with a solution, defied powerful special interests and got a bill passed to fix the problem in just a few months.
Teachers have been complaining for years about California’s Dec. 2 cutoff, one of the latest in the country. But instead of just complaining, Bivas and Argenti wrote letters to elementary school teachers all over the Palo Alto district seeking support to change the cutoff. Armed with signatures from every single teacher, they paid a call to state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto.
What happened next amazed everyone. The bill passed on the last night of the session, with just a few minutes to spare.read more ...
With a stroke of his line-veto pen, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Monday killed a budget provision that would have forced the California High-Speed Rail Authority to improve its business plan and strengthen its outreach efforts by Feb. 1 or have about a quarter of its annual budget withheld.
Schwarzenegger’s veto deals a blow to efforts by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and other state legislators to hold the rail authority accountable after a sequence of audits revealed a myriad of flaws in the agency’s revenue and ridership plans.
“The High-Speed Rail Authority desperately needs to rebuild its credibility and public support,” Simitian said. “A failure to require accountability measures only makes that task more difficult.”read more ...
California will require kids to be 5 years old when they start kindergarten and create a new grade level for pre-K children after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation aimed at improving student achievement.
The bill approved late Thursday will push up the date by which children must turn 5 to enter kindergarten from Dec. 2 to Sept. 1. The change will be phased in one month at a time over three years starting in fall 2012.
“This is a victory for kids on two fronts,” said state Sen. Simitian, D-Palo Alto, who authored Senate Bill 1381. “We start kids when they’re ready to succeed in school, and for younger children we provide a ‘get ready’ year of instruction as well.” The estimated $700 million saved by delaying kindergarten for roughly 120,000 children annually will be used to pay for “transitional kindergarten,” a new grade level for children with fall birthdays who will be too young to start regular kindergarten.read more ...
KQED Radio reports on Sen. Joe Simitian’s FasTrak privacy bill, Senate Bill 1268
“Bridge commuters will no longer have a conflict between privacy and convenience beginning in January. The governor has signed a bill written by state Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) to restrict law enforcement access to FasTrak data. Except in emergencies, the law requires police to go to court for a search warrant to get their hands on pesonally identifiable information.”read more ...
Columnist Teryl Zarnow tells how she held her son back a year from entering kindergarten because he was less than 5 when the school year began. She knew she had made the right decision. Over the years, she observed kindergarten as a school volunteer with each of her children. “With three children,” she writes, “I went to kindergarten three times”
“Even then—when kindergarten still had a play kitchen in one corner—it was asking a lot of a 4-year-old. Students spent a week studying the letter ‘A.’ They traced it and glued rice to outline its shape. On Friday, they ate apples.
“Most states require a child to turn 5 by Sept. 1, but California is one of only four states enrolling children younger. This year, after 13 tries, the state Legislature passed a measure to change the cutoff date from Dec. 2 to Sept. 1.
“It’s about time.”
read more ...
Kindergarten teacher Robin Gieman calls them “rollers”—children who lie on the carpet and roll around when they should be listening to a lesson.
They’re not misbehaving. They’re just not quite ready for prime-time kindergarten, usually because they are too young. “Those with fall birthdays can just be very wiggly,” the veteran teacher said. “We prefer children who are able to sit and pay attention.”
Two years from now, Gieman may have fewer “rollers” in her class at Nimitz Elementary School in Sunnyvale. If Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs a bill headed to his desk, the cutoff date for children to be 5 before starting kindergarten will gradually move from the current Dec. 2 to Sept. 1.
“We’re used to thinking of kindergarten as a year kids had to get ready for real school. Now kindergarten is real school,” said the bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, a former school board member. Educators have long lobbied for changing the kindergarten cutoff date, but for two decades bills to do that have failed, Simitian noted.
read more ...
An editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle calls on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign Sen. Simitian’s AB 1381, to require children to be 5 when they begin kindergarten.
Fourteen studies reviewed by the Public Policy Institute of California in 2008 led it to conclude that the state need to shift its age of entry for kindergarten. Too many 4 1/2-year-olds were struggling in class - and the effects of starting too early reverberated throughout their schooling.
State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, had seen the studies. Even more compelling was a petition he received from 289 teachers.
A legislator who is known for turning constituent ideas into state laws decided to give the idea yet another try. His SB1381 would require that entering kindergartners must turn 5 by Sept. 1 - instead of the current Dec. 1.
SB1381 went through the state Senate and Assembly by wide margins, and with bipartisan support. It is backed by a broad array of policy experts and education advocates. It is a rare opportunity to improve our schools while saving money at the same time.
The fate of SB1381 now rests with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He should sign it into law.read more ...
A bill that would require pupils entering kindergarten to reach 5 by Sept. 1 and that would create another level of instruction for younger children was passed by the Legislature and awaits the governor’s signature.
The bill, SB-1381, which was approved by the Legislature last week, would also provide a year of transitional kindergarten for children with fall birthdays, essentially creating another grade level for an estimated 120,000 4-year-olds.
California is one of only a few states with a kindergarten cutoff date later than Sept. 1, and many educators believe that puts younger children at a disadvantage when entering today’s academically demanding kindergarten classes.
“Today’s kindergarten is not what most of us think of when we remember our own experience decades ago,” said state Sen. Joe Simitian (D- Palo Alto), who wrote the legislation. “It’s a pretty rigorous place these days, and the youngest are struggling to keep up. One thing that caught my attention was a kindergarten report card that had a space for algebra skills, and I thought, ‘OK, this is a lot more challenging.’ Too many kids are just not readyread more ...
Thanks to the persistence of some Palo Alto teachers, future kindergartners may be at least three months older than the youngest ones who started school this fall.
A bill introduced by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and approved Tuesday by the Legislature would increase the minimum age of the state’s kindergartners if signed into law by the governor.
“There’s just a mound of research that indicates pretty clearly that when kids start too young, they struggle to keep up and that struggle continues for years and years,” Simitian said Wednesday.read more ...
As the final days of the 2010 legislative session wind down in Sacramento, a Silicon Valley lawmaker is pushing to give California the most far-reaching mandate for renewable energy in the United States.
But there’s more to it than putting up some wind turbines and solar farms. The lofty goal is struggling through a complex tangle of utilities, labor unions, environmental groups and green energy companies—each concerned about everything from the price of your monthly PG&E bill to the number of jobs the measure might, or might not, create.
“It is an extraordinarily complex task,” said State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, “both in respect to the issue itself and the politics surrounding it.”
The showdown over Simitian’s bill, SB 722, could come to a vote early next week. The bill would require California’s utilities to produce 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.read more ...
For decades, millions of Californians with children who have fall birthdays have struggled over whether to pack their 4-year-olds off to kindergarten – or hold them back because they might be too young to start school.
This week, California state legislators may be the closest they’ve ever come to making that decision for parents, with room for some exceptions.
A bill by Sen. Joe Simitian, a Palo Alto Democrat, would roll back the date that entering kindergartners must turn 5 from the current Dec. 2 to Sept. 1.
Educators hope the change in the age limit will reduce the number of children in special education and those who are held back, as well as help close the achievement gap that divides affluent and lower-income kids.
read more ...
Cruise ships and large commercial ships will be banned from dumping any kind of sewage—even highly filtered wastewater—along California’s coast out to three miles from shore, under new rules from the Obama administration.
The rules, which are scheduled to be announced Wednesday at a news conference in San Francisco, give California among the strictest laws in the nation limiting pollution from large ships.
“This is going to cover the entire California coastline,” said state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto. “Oceangoing vessels should not consider our coastline a place for dumping sewage.”
In 2005, Simitian wrote a bill that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed banning sewage discharges in state waters from cruise ships and commercial ships larger than 300 gross tons.read more ...
The California Legislature has passed a resolution expressing “deepest regret” for the wartime internment, curfews, confiscations and other indignities that thousands of Italian and Italian American families faced.
When Mike Maiorana was a boy during World War II, his family was like a lot of others in his Monterey neighborhood. In 1942, his mother was declared an “enemy alien,” along with 600,000 other Italians and half a million Germans and Japanese who weren’t U.S. citizens. And when the government seized fishing boats for the war effort, Maiorana’s dad, a naturalized U.S. citizen, saw his livelihood go down the drain.
Families like the Maioranas last week received a formal acknowledgement from California. A measure that swiftly made its way through the Legislature expresses the state’s “deepest regrets” over the mistreatment of Italians and Italian Americans during World War II.
The resolution was the brainchild of a 79-year-old San Jose man, Chet Campanella, who entered a legislator’s annual “There Oughta Be a Law” contest.
Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) sponsored a bill based on Campanella’s idea. “I was wholly unaware of the circumstances he described,” Simitian said. “Somehow this story had passed me by.” Simitian said he saw “contemporary importance” in the effort: “We’re at war on the other side of the world, and I think it’s important to remember that there are millions of Americans who are ethnic Arabs or Muslim by faith, and that they’re good Americans.read more ...
Diana Argenti and Natalie Bivas, two teachers who presented a petition to Sen. Simitian urging California to require children to be older when they begin kindergarten, explain in an opinion piece why the Legislature should set the cutoff to start school at age 5 by Sept. 1.
Over the past 10 years, kindergarten has become increasingly academic, though teachers still make time for art, music and play. For some children, it is too much.
They try to keep up, but fall behind right away. They keep lagging their classmates when they are 7 and 10 and 15 - or until they give up.
As teachers, it breaks our hearts, especially when their struggle has such as an obvious cause: They started kindergarten too young. It has an obvious remedy: Require kindergarteners to be 5 by Sept. 1. We’re calling on the Legislature to pass Senate Bill 1381, authored by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, that will make this overdue change.
read more ...
Two months ago, a reporter received a profanity-laced e-mail critical of one of her stories. The sender appeared to be Carl Guardino, the chief executive of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. He hadn’t sent the e-mail. Guardino was the victim of online impersonation. He soon found out he wasn’t alone - friends, colleagues and relatives had stories of usurped identities and tarnished reputations.
The state law on impersonation is not equipped to deal with the digital age. But a bill making its way through the Legislature is looking to change that. Inspired by Guardino’s story, state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, introduced a bill in June that would make it a misdemeanor to maliciously impersonate someone.read more ...
Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Morain writes that the next governor needs to defend a state’s right to protect personal data.
In California, privacy is a fundamental right. This state has a constitutional amendment identifying privacy as inalienable. And for better or worse, legislators don’t see themselves as potted plants. Some actually care about state law. All that means the next governor will grapple with privacy or lack of it right here in Sacramento.
“States often have to lead to get attention at the federal level,” said Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, the Legislature’s most prolific author of bills that seek to provide at least a thin veil of privacy. Simitian helped push a first-in-the-nation requirement that companies tell us when a security breach has spewed our personal information into other people’s hands. Because of a 2004 Simitian bill, California requires companies doing business in the state to post privacy policies on their websites. Lately, Simitian has sought to limit the misuse of radio frequency identification. Now Simitian is carrying legislation to protect people who use FasTrak to pay bridge tolls.read more ...
Senate Democrats and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration are embroiled in an improbable fight over renewable energy. They need to resolve it fast, for the sake of the state’s environment and economy.
The battle has its roots in California’s energy crisis of a decade ago. In one of the more significant measures to emerge from the debacle, then-Sen. Byron Sher pushed legislation in 2002 requiring that California’s privately owned utilities rely on the sun, wind, geothermal and other renewable sources for 20 percent of the state’s energy usage by this year.
The legislation made sense, given that energy merchants had been manipulating the supply of natural gas that fires most California power plants, and gouging utilities and, by extension, consumers.
By turning to renewable energy sources, Californians would gain more control over the electric system while also reducing carbon emissions.
Utilities have been racing toward the goal. Southern California Edison is closest. Pacific Gas ad Electric Co. is second. San Diego Gas and Electric Co. is lagging.
In too many instances, the utilities have turned to energy producers outside California for renewable energy. Out-of-state facilities provide no tax benefits or jobs to California. That makes no sense. Californians are expected to pay for renewable energy. As much of that money as possible ought to remain in California.
This issue is especially relevant as voters prepare to decide Proposition 23, the initiative on the November ballot that would suspend the separate mandate that California reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is also more urgent now that Senate Democrats in Washington, D.C., have dropped energy legislation that had contained provisions to reduce greenhouse gases and increase renewable energy requirements.
The jostling on renewables became mind-boggling last year when Schwarzenegger, the governor who champions the environment, vetoed legislation that might have resolved the dispute. Now, Sen. Joe Simitian, a Silicon Valley Democrat who replaced Sher, is pushing a new version of the measure, Senate Bill 722.
Like last year’s measure, SB 722 would increase the mandate that utilities rely on renewable sources for 33 percent of the energy by 2020. That is laudable. Importantly, the bill also urges that 75 percent of the renewable energy come from within California.
On that point, the administration is balking, as are lobbyists for manufacturing industries. There are questions of cost and doubts about whether the state could meet the goal. To meet it, the state may need to streamline permitting requirements and help resolve fights between environmentalists and energy providers on appropriate sites for new wind, solar and geothermal plants.
But there is no reason to bypass California entrepreneurs for energy producers from Montana and other states. California has its own sources of renewable power.
Approval of SB 722 would be a step toward energy independence, and a significant accomplishment for the governor who has tied his legacy to California’s environment. In the process, he and lawmakers would be helping to provide high-paying jobs in an area where they have said they want to direct the economy.
read more ...
Over the past 10 years, California spent more than $3.5 billion on an agency that failed to solve the water crisis in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Now, the state is trying again - with a newly formed agency.
Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, author of the bill that created the new agency - the Delta Stewardship Council - said there is no guarantee the council will succeed where the old agency, CalFed, failed. But something needs to be done. Decades of “benign neglect and ineffective governance have not served the state well,” Simitian said. “There’s always some risk with a new direction, but I think the old model was a proven failure.”
read more ...
An editorial in the Los Angeles Times called on the Legislature to pass SB 722
Since 2007, state Sen. Joe Simitian (D- Palo Alto) has been introducing bills aimed at requiring California to get 33% of its power from renewable sources such as the sun and wind by 2020.
California cannot achieve its ambitious goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions without this standard, which is why the Legislature should pass Simitian’s bill and Schwarzenegger should sign it. SB 722 would clean the air, produce jobs and make the state a player in the global race to dominate the green-technology industry.read more ...
A San Jose Mercury News editorial called for online impersonation to be made illegal
Impersonating someone with the intent to harm, intimidate, threaten or defraud is illegal in California — except when it’s done online. Existing state law, written in 1872, didn’t anticipate the existence of Facebook, MySpace or a host of other Internet sites that unintentionally created new ways to harm innocent victims.
State Sen. Joe Simitian has a solution. His SB 1411 would make it a misdemeanor to maliciously impersonate another person online. The Legislature should pass the Palo Alto Democrat’s bill, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should sign into law legal protections against online abuse.read more ...
An oped article by Sen. Joe Simitian in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
On the Internet, it’s easy to be someone else. You can set up a fake page on Facebook or MySpace; you can assume an identity on Twitter; you can appropriate someone else’s name when you create an e-mail account.
As the Internet provides new opportunities for mischief, or worse, state law must provide new protections. I have introduced Senate Bill 1411 to make it a misdemeanor to impersonate someone on the Internet if the intention is to harm, intimidate, threaten or deceive them. In addition, victims would gain the right to sue their tormenters.read more ...
Legislation aimed at requiring California electric utilities to meet the nation’s toughest renewable power quotas easily passed its first test Thursday, gaining support from a large number of usually conflicting interests.
The bill would require utilities to get 33% of their power from renewable sources by 2020, a boost from the current 20% standard. The bill, SB 722 by state Sen. Joe Simitian (D- Palo Alto), was approved by the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee on a 9-2 vote and is expected to win final passage in late summer.read more ...
Columnist Patty Fisher applauds Sen. Joe Simitian’s bill, SB 1381, to require children to be 5 by Sept. 1 in order to begin kindergarten.
Sen. Joe Simitian’s bill, SB 1381, isn’t a rush job designed to plug a budget hole. It’s a sound proposal to phase in the Sept. 1 start date, eventually saving $700 million a year. Half of that would go toward state-funded preschool for young fives.
It all began as a grass-roots effort by two Palo Alto teachers…The two presented Simitian with nearly 300 signatures from Palo Alto teachers supporting a cutoff change. . . . . Simitian introduced a bill and was surprised when it breezed through the Senate. “Maybe the timing was right,” he said. “The evidence is growing that this is a sensible thing for kids.”read more ...
More rigorous rules for installing red-light cameras at Inland-area intersections could be on the way, as a state senator combats what he feels is lax oversight of the operations and the reality that some cities are more interested in the revenue than road safety. But supporters of the status quo say the new rules will put the brakes on the cameras altogether by making them cost prohibitive.
As cameras go up around the state, officials would face more scrutiny and stricter standards when they propose them. . . . Frustration over the fines and the cameras are what led Sen. Joe Simitian, D- Palo Alto, to propose a bill expanding the requirements for police and cities interested in the cameras.
read more ...
Last fall, 24 kindergarten students walked into teacher Keiko Nobusada’s classroom at Oakland’s Thornhill Elementary School, their ages ranging from 4 to 6.
“The developmental levels between a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old are so great,” Nobusada said. “It’s very difficult for that child who turns 5 in November to compete with a child born a year earlier.”
And that’s the crux of a bill in Sacramento that, if approved, would require that a child whose fifth birthday is on or after Sept. 1 wait a year to enter kindergarten.
“Do you really want kids to start school before they’re ready?” asked the bill’s author, state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto. “The answer to that question is obviously no.”
read more ...
Commuters on California toll roads and highways subscribe to a device kept in the car, allowing electronic toll collection as they pass through a toll booth. Payment is made by credit card. Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, wants to not only prevent this information from being sold, he is proposing that state agencies periodically dump all outdated data.read more ...
Fatal accidents involving cell use while driving have taken their toll in California, and state legislators have reacted by adopting three laws restricting using cells while operating vehicles. But state Sen. Joe Simitian, author of those laws, says too many motorists are still fumbling with cell phones and pecking at tiny keyboards. Simitian has a bill that would increase first-time base fines from $20 to $50 for breaking existing cell laws and from $50 to $100 for subsequent offenses.read more ...
The state Senate passed a bill regulating the use of red light cameras Tuesday.
State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, introduced SB 1362, which establishes statewide standards for traffic enforcement cameras. The bill requires a history of collisions to justify the placement of cameras and that signs be posted warning motorists. It also makes challenging unjustified tickets easierread more ...
California lawmakers moved Tuesday to address controversy over cases of pension-spiking and double-dipping in which workers retire from one state job on a Friday and start another state job the next Monday. [...]
“Both of these issues have brought a pension system that was already viewed skeptically by many in the public under particularly harsh criticism,” said Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), who authored SB 1425. “I think frankly we can do something to restore public trust in government.”read more ...
For better or worse, kindergarten has replaced the cookies, milk and naptime of old with reading lessons and numbers worksheets. It’s hard enough for a 5-year-old to negotiate; teachers complain that those younger than 5 are especially likely to fall behind. That’s why most states have changed their laws, requiring children to have turned 5 close to the start of the school year in order to enter kindergarten. California is one of a dozen that haven’t; here, the cutoff date is Dec. 2.
A bill by state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) would do more than remedy the situation. [...]
SB 1381 is a smart and thoughtfully designed bill that deserves swift passage.read more ...