Josh’s Legislative Record
In 2016, I got elected to the California Senate on a message of service, accountability, and common sense. In Sacramento, I was active, accessible, and accountable, unafraid to put people over politics and working families ahead of corporate interests.
Throughout my tenure as the State Senator representing the 16 cities of the 29th District, I focused on finding common-sense, practical solutions that helped improve the quality of life for California families. My legislation championed veteran services, mental health resources, public education, job creation, and transportation improvements.
See below for funding secured for our district and legislation passed.
Secured $20 million, allocated over 4 years, to create and fund the North Orange County Task Force, a 10-city collaborative initiative to address the root causes of homelessness and youth violence.
Secured $5 million in ongoing annual funding for Veteran Resource Centers across California’s Community College system to better serve and support veterans returning to school following their service.
Secured $87.7 million for safety improvements and traffic congestion alleviation on the 57 and 60 freeways.
Secured funding for much-needed recreational amenities in an under-served section of the city of La Habra.
Secured $15 million for the acquisition of land within the West Coyote Hills parcel for the preservation of open space and public access.
SB 52 is a straightforward district measure which facilitated the relinquishment of the portion of State Route 39, also known as Beach Boulevard, located in Anaheim.
Doing so allowed the city of Anaheim to make necessary safety and other improvements which are key to the revitalization of this historically significant but challenged stretch of Beach Boulevard.
The city of Anaheim is currently in the process of aggressively revitalizing an approximately two-mile stretch of Beach Boulevard located within the city’s jurisdiction.
As part of this initiative, Anaheim is working to lay the groundwork for new shopping, dining, homes, and community gathering places in the heart of west Anaheim.
This portion of Beach Boulevard, which is located wholly within Anaheim, was maintained by Caltrans, which could not commit the necessary resources to provide the safety and other improvements necessary for the continued and future revitalization of Beach Boulevard.
On the basis of similar issues in the past, other portions of State Route 39 have previously been relinquished to their respective cities in Azusa, Buena Park, Covina, and West Covina.
The City of Anaheim is committed to making the needed improvements to Beach Boulevard that will foster broad-based economic development, thereby bettering the lives of the residents in west Anaheim and the surrounding region.
Anaheim Local Official commented: “We could not have moved forward with our plans to revitalize Beach Blvd without the help of Senator Josh Newman. We’re grateful for his partnership on this issue, which is so important to this community and its future development.”
Senator Josh Newman commented: “I commend the City of Anaheim for taking on this important infrastructure project. I believe the 29th Senate District will benefit greatly from the City’s plans for revitalizing Beach Boulevard, and I hope this inspires further efforts at creative, forward-thinking economic development in the region.”
SB 374 corrected an oversight in previous law by extending express state authority to the Department of Insurance to enforce the federal Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) of 2008.
Under current federal law, group health plans and health insurance providers that provide mental health and substance abuse treatment programs are prevented from providing less favorable benefits than the current federal standard. Under state law prior to the passage of this bill, only the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) had express statutory authority of enforcement.
By only providing DMHC explicit authority to enforce MHPAEA, approximately 20 percent of health insurance policies issued in California are not subject to state enforcement. If the Department of Insurance is also given this authority, all state-regulated health insurance policies and all state-regulated health service plans would thereby also be subject to enforcement of federal requirements.
SB 374 ensures that all of the types of health insurance coverage to which MHPAEA applies are explicitly required by state law to comply with MHPAEA. Pursuant to federal law, states that do not substantially enforce MHPAEA risk ceding their enforcement authority to the federal government. Further, extending enforcement authority to the DOI ensures that compliance with MHPAEA will not be dependent on the continuing viability of the federal mandate in order to protect essential health benefits for Californians.
SB 442 requires residential pools to have two of the seven safety devices specified in the California Pool Safety Act.
The California State Department of Developmental Services reported that, as of December 2016, the agency was providing care for more than 755 near-drowning victims with severe brain damage resulting from the near drowning.
Prior to the passage of this bill, the annual aggregate costs related to drowning and drowning-related injuries are conservatively estimated at more than $205 million a year. Through its modest and cost-minimal enhancements, SB 442 greatly reduces residential pool drownings in California, reflecting improvements in industry standards and changes in technology for pool alarms, specifically: requiring two barriers to accessing the pool; and making compliance with the law an item included in the home inspection defect report at the time of a home sale. SB 442 also provides conformity across the state for pool safety compliance
Said Senator Josh Newman: “Unlike many of the policy issues state government grapples with, the problem of residential pool drownings is relatively straightforward and wholly preventable. I was struck by the fact that a modest, common-sense update to existing law could go a long way toward not only saving California families the lifetime of heartache caused by pool drownings, but also saving taxpayers millions of dollars associated with children who are rescued from pool drownings while suffering brain injuries that require massively expensive lifelong care. By adding an additional layer of protection, along with the inclusion of technological improvements in pool alarms, SB 442 does that at virtually no cost to the taxpayer and with a minimal burden to homeowners.”
SB 455 allows all military families to benefit from pre-transfer school enrollment by clarifying that children of military parents can make arrangements in advance to transfer to any school district where they will be residing, so long as they provide proof of residence within 10 days of the prescribed date of the Permanent Change of Station order.
Military service members are routinely reassigned to new duty stations around the country on a three- to four-year rotation. Typically, service members receive the official orders which detail their destination and time frame of arrival in early to mid-spring for transfer and relocation to take place in the summer months.
Prior to this year, military families transferring on official military Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders to California were not eligible to register their children in their destination school until after they had actually moved and were physically located within a school district’s boundaries. As a consequence, the children of military families often find themselves at a disadvantage by no fault of their own because of missed deadlines which often lead to missing classes needed for graduation, sometimes leading to more summer school or even forcing the children of military parents to graduate later than their peers.
SB 455 ensured that children and families know which school they will be attending, with the assurance that they can register in advance for the classes that best meet the child’s educational needs.
SB 503 (Newman and Portantino) extends the “Keep Arts in Schools” and the “Protect Our Coasts and Oceans” voluntary tax contribution funds until January 1, 2025.
The “Keep Arts in Schools” Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund was established in 2010 to help the California Arts Council (CAC) support and expand access to Arts education for children throughout the state. The “Protect Our Coast and Ocean” Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund was established in 2013 to help the California Coastal Commission (CCC) support and improve habitat restoration efforts throughout the state. Both funds are funded by individuals who elect to make a charitable contribution when filing their California state income tax returns.
Donations received are used for the CAC and the CCC’s competitive grant programs. The grants administered by the CAC provide funding for programs that increase access to Arts education for communities, non-profit organizations, veterans, children and schools throughout the State of California. The grants administered by the CCC provide funding for programs that develop coast and ocean stewardship, habitat restoration, marine science laboratories, and provide increased access to the beach for children from inland and underserved communities.
SB 570 clarifies the rules governing income and eligibility for the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Children (CalWORKs) program by exempting education benefits, stipends, or allowances received from the US Veterans Administration from being counted as income or assets for the purposes of determining eligibility for CalWORKs.
Prior to the passage of this bill, California law exempted GI Bill education benefits from being considered in CalWORKs eligibility and benefit calculation, but because the statute had not been updated since the passage of the federal Post-9/11 GI Bill, there is ambiguity as to whether housing stipends available for post-9/11 GI Bill recipients or education benefits received by survivors are also exempted from consideration under the CalWORKs program.
Supporting the success of low-income parents in their academic, employment, and training goals not only improves their economic opportunities, but research has shown that it makes their children more likely to finish high school and to seek college opportunities for themselves. This two-generation approach to poverty reduction has been recognized nationally as a strategy that works.
This bill ensures that veterans and surviving family members fully benefit from the GI Bill and other US Veteran Administration education payments.
SB 673 transferred responsibility for the administration and distribution of grants supported by funds collected through the existing Pet Lover’s license plate from the California Veterinary Medical Board to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
Since the creation of this specialized license plate program, which was designed to support and fund low-cost spay and neuter programs across the state, the fund has accrued more than $800,000. Unfortunately, none of the funds raised prior to the passage of SB 673 had been released in support of the programs for which they were intended as the California Veterinary Medical Board, which was assigned administrative responsibility under the terms of the original bill, did not have the capacity to administer a program of this size.
The Department of Food and Agriculture, which manages the “Prevention of Animal Homelessness and Cruelty” Fund, already possessed an existing framework to administer and distribute competitive grants such as the ones envisioned for the Pet Lover’s specialized license plate fund. The agreed-upon language in SB 673 outlines a collaborative relationship between the department and participating non-profits to ensure the funds continues to grow while being used to serve communities most in need, as originally intended.
SB 728 extended existing disabled veteran sick leave benefits to current state employees who serve concurrently as members of the National Guard or federal military reserves and meet other specified conditions.
Prior to SB 728, existing law included the California Wounded Warriors Transitional Leave Act (Act). The Act provided that any state officer or employee who is a military veteran with a service-connected disability rated at 30% or more by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA), and who is hired into state service on or after January 1, 2016, shall be eligible for an additional credit for sick leave with pay of up to 96 hours.
SB 728 amended that Act by extending eligibility for those existing sick leave provisions to now include current state employees who serve as members of the National Guard or federally recognized military reserve components and who return from federal active duty after having incurred service-connected disabilities rated at 30% or higher by the USDVA. Application of the state sick leave benefit to the newly eligible workers would be subject to the same time limits and accountability measures already codified in the existing Act.
SB 731 expanded existing disabled veteran sick leave benefits currently available to newly hired school employees to extend coverage to include existing employees who meet the veteran disability criteria.
Existing statutes prior to SB 731 provided any certificated or classified school employee who is a military veteran with a service-connected disability rated at 30% or more by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA) and who is hired on or after January 1, 2017 with an additional credit for pre-banked sick leave with pay up to 10 days leave for certificated employees or 12 days for classified employees.
SB 731 extended eligibility for the above sick leave provisions to include all current school employees who meet the existing service-connected disability standards. It also included current school employees who serve concurrently as members of the National Guard or federally recognized military reserve components and who return from federal active duty mobilization with qualifying service-connected disabilities. Application of the sick leave benefit to the newly eligible workers would be subject to the time limits and accountability measures contained in existing law.
SB 747 conformed California law and policy to current best practices utilized in other states with regard to maintaining the California National Guard’s (CalGuard) commissioned officer corps.
California state law provides that commissioned officers in the CalGuard must reside within our state in order to maintain their state-awarded, federally-recognized commissions. Should a commissioned officer relocate to a nearby state on anything other than a temporary basis, the officer’s commission is considered vacated–even if the officer is able to effectively honor all service commitments to the CalGuard–and they are discharged from the CalGuard. This statutory restriction has its historical roots in an era when communications technology was less developed and travel times were greater.
In today’s environment of digital communication and ease of travel, this restriction seemed outdated as well as out of step with best practices in other states. Nearly all other states now permit their National Guard commissioned officers to reside outside their states’ boundaries so long as the officers continue to meet their military obligations. This includes the other three largest National Guard states–Texas, New York and Pennsylvania, as well as all our most immediate neighbors–Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon.
Additionally, existing California law places no such comparable restrictions on enlisted members of the CalGuard. Enlisted personnel are permitted to live outside our state’s borders so long as they continue serving effectively.
SB 747 ensured that California continues to retain the service of highly qualified and committed commissioned officers who might otherwise be forced out due to this outdated residency requirement, and established parity with both the provisions of other states as well as California’s existing eligibility standards for enlisted members of the CalGuard.
SB 776 requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) to task employees with assisting veterans incarcerated in state prisons in applying for and receiving federal benefits for which they may be eligible.
Access to federal veterans’ benefits – especially low-income pensions, health care, and disability compensation – serve as vital support resources to incarcerated veterans upon their transition out of state custody as they undergo reintegration into general society. Evidence indicates that having access to benefits significantly improve recidivism rates and other post-incarceration outcomes. Veteran benefits also help support the families of incarcerated veterans as the families struggle to survive economically. In addition to directly helping the family members, the security this knowledge provides the incarcerated veteran often encourages them to be better institutional citizens during their periods of state confinement.
Due to recognition of the social, economic, and public safety benefits noted above, existing law requires the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to develop guidance policies relative to the release of veterans who are inmates. Prior to the passage of SB 776, existing law required that policies be developed with the intent to assist veterans who are inmates in pursuing claims for federal veterans’ benefits, or in establishing rights to any other privilege, preference, care, or compensation provided under federal or state law because of honorable service in the military. In developing the policies, CDCR may coordinate with CalVet and County Veteran Service Officers (CVSOs), or Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs).
Evidence suggests that existing practices, which rely on overworked, underfunded CVSOs or undertrained, uncertified VSO volunteers, are currently inadequate. SB 776 mandates that CalVet assign one trained and accredited employee for every five state prisons in order to better assist incarcerated veterans in applying for and receiving any federal veterans benefits for which they or their families may be eligible. A unique, non-scalable, inmate-managed veterans’ benefit program at Correctional Training Facility (Soledad) has proven how effective a strongly proactive, “inside” program can be at helping incarcerated veterans and their families.
SB 776 also requires CDCR to grant CalVet employees access to the hardware, software, and computer networks reasonably necessary to perform their duties while at the prison, while taking all necessary safety precautions. Finally, the bill requires CalVet and CDCR to cooperate and collaborate to ensure that the designated CalVet employees have the greatest access and effectiveness practicable, while taking all necessary safety precautions, in order to assist veterans incarcerated within state prisons.
Veterans Affairs, Chair
Jurisdiction: Bills relating to veterans, military affairs, and armories. Bills amending the Military and Veterans Code.
Business, Professions and Economic Development
The Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development is responsible for protecting California consumers from unethical and harmful professional and business practices and helping increase California’s local, national and global economic competitiveness. The committee has jurisdiction over and considers legislation that pertains to business, professional and trade practices, licensing and regulation (excluding attorneys, horseracing and alcoholic beverage sales) under the California Business and Professions Code, and specified segments of the Health and Safety Code and the Civil Code, as well as economic and community development and international trade. Specifically, the committee exercises oversight over a number of California’s professional regulatory boards, bureaus, and commissions under the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Department of Real Estate, as well as general business practices, weights and measurements, and all aspects of state and local economic development; including small business development and operations, development and expansion of non-energy technologies and overseas markets, economic disaster relief and industrial innovation and research.
Bills relating to public health, alcohol and drug abuse, mental health, health insurance and managed care, and related institutions.
Bills relating to CalWORKs and other welfare programs; CalFresh; child welfare and foster care; services to persons with disabilities, including those provided by regional centers and the state’s developmental centers; in-home supportive services (IHSS); aging and long-term care; community care licensing; and, social services and rehabilitative services, in general.
Bills relating to insurance, indemnity, surety, and warranty agreements.
Select Committee on Manufactured Home Communities
The Select Committee is authorized and directed to ascertain, study and analyze problems relating to manufactured homes, mobilehomes and prefabricated structures as a form of housing, including, but not limited to
- the manufacture, sales and financing of such units, taxes and fees imposed upon them;
- the effect of such housing on related land use matters, including, but not limited to, zoning, change of use and affordable housing; and
- the issues unique to both rental and resident-owned mobilehome parks and manufactured housing communities, including, but not limited to, landlord-tenant matters and health and safety code enforcement
with an emphasis on providing legislative recommendations for resolving problems in these areas
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