As the news is dominated by the Trump Administration, Russia, and the systematic dismantling of everything we’ve gained in the last 50 years at the federal level, it’s easy to lose hope. However, California is a bright spot to cling to as we count the days until the next election.
For the seventh year in a row, the Legislature passed and Governor Brown signed an on-time balanced budget. Unlike the budget discussions going on at the federal level, California’s budget increased funds that benefit working families rather than the wealthiest 1%. It increases funding to education, healthcare, care for the disabled, transportation, and labor law enforcement for both the private and public sector.
The Governor also signed a historic transportation funding package that will provide $52 billion over the next 10 years. This legislation will fund projects to improve our roads, public transit, and trade corridors. It will undoubtedly improve the lives of everyone trying to get to work and school, and will create and sustain many thousands of jobs.
Our Teamster legislative agenda also continues to move forward. Our three sponsored bills have a really good chance of becoming new laws.
AB 553 by Assembly Member Daly (D, Anaheim) would ensure that injured workers who cannot return to work have full access to the $120 million Return to Work Fund in our workers compensation system. The bill has passed each hurdle on a bipartisan basis and is scheduled for hearing in the Senate Industrial Relations Committee.
AB 695 by Assembly Member Bocanegra (D, San Fernando) would clarify that motorists must yield to on-track maintenance vehicles that our maintenance-of-way members use to keep our rail system operating. This is a safety measure for our members and motorists alike. The bill has moved through the Legislature unanimously and is awaiting action by the Governor.
AB 673 by Assembly Member Kansen Chu (D, San Jose) would require transit agencies to consult and consider recommendations by the union representing their drivers on safety issues before the agency purchases new buses. This is a recognition that drivers and their union have expertise that would be helpful to address safety concerns like bus driver assault and traffic accident prevention through the types of equipment purchased. The bill just passed off of the Senate floor and is awaiting action by the Governor.