Six bills from SCV senators pass committees

Senator Henry Stern discusses Senate Bill 794 in April 2017.

Both Senators Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) and Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) saw progress on senate bills this week, as all of those introduced in committees were approved to move forward.

Four of Stern’s bills went to committee, one of which was SB 801, which would require the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Southern California Edison to obtain additional energy storage and reduce dependence on gas from Aliso Canyon.

“This is a step toward saving people money and heartache,” Stern said.

The bill, which passed through the Energy, Utilities and Communications committee Monday, is a complimentary bill to Stern’s SB 57, which would prevent natural gas injections from resuming in Aliso Canyon.

“We must pivot from the Porter Ranch crisis to a cleaner, safer, more affordable energy grid that benefits all Southern California ratepayers,” Stern said in a statement.

The Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee saw Stern’s Senate Bill 794 on Monday as well.

Because Proposition 64 passed, legalizing recreational marijuana at the start of the year, the bill would require servings of edible marijuana products to be stamped or marked with a symbol noting it contained the drug. The Bureau of Marijuana Control would design the symbol to be put on baked goods and candy.

“We are about to see an explosion of edible products and I have serious concerns about how that’s going to be regulated,” Stern said in an interview with The Signal. “This impact on young people can be incredibly significant. This is an effort to get ahead of it and bring some sanity to the cannabis industry.”

Tuesday, the Human Services Committee saw and passed SB 332, Stern’s initiative to equip foster youth who are nonminor dependents with the resources and paperwork needed to register to vote.

“Of all young people who should be engaged in our democratic process, it’s foster youth,” Stern said. “They are often forgotten, left behind and up against huge challenges.”

Under the bill, the California Secretary of State’s online voter registration link, phone number and email address will be added to three existing forms currently used for foster dependents ages 18 to 21.

“They don’t have to be passive in that process and can advocate for more resources and better social services,” he said. “We want to make sure their influence is heard and let them know I’m thinking about them and say, ‘your voice matters.’”

In Stern’s effort to get high school students more civically engaged, Senate Bill 596 was passed through committee as well.

“We want the kids’ first experience voting not to just be a popularity contest,” Stern said. “It’s about their lives and situation. Voting is more than prom king and queen.”

If the bill is passed, it would allow all high school students to elect a youth representative for a statewide commission to have their voices heard in Sacramento.

All of Senator Stern’s bills will go to the Senate Appropriations Committee next.

For Wilk, his Senate Bill 634, which would create the Santa Clarita Valley water agency, passed the Governance and Finance Committee 6-0 on Wednesday.

“I want to ensure that residents of the Santa Clarita Valley have a first-class water provider,” Wilk said in a statement. “In the end, it is my goal to create an agency that everyone will be proud of and will deliver on the promises that people expect.”

The bill would reorganize the Castaic Lake Water Agency and the Newhall County Water District if passed, and will go to the Senate Appropriations Committee next.

Senate Bill 792, Wilk’s effort to fairly redistribute $250 million in Measure B funds for Los Angeles County trauma centers, passed The Governance and Finance Committee 7-0.

“My goal has always been to see accessible trauma service for all of L.A. County and equity in how the tax dollars are distributed,” Wilk said in a statement. “Our hard-earned tax dollars go to downtown L.A. and don’t return. We put into the system and deserve healthcare, homeless services and road repairs just like people in Hollywood or Beverly Hills. This bill is a small but significant step in that direction.”

If passed, the bill will establish a Measure B Oversight Commission to reallocate the funds approved in the 2002 passing of the measure to where money is most needed.

“Measure B funds have not been distributed equitably and today’s vote underscores the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance’s support for accountability, transparency and equity in the disbursement of this money,” Wilk said.

Senator Wilk’s SB 146 was supposed to be heard on Tuesday by the Natural Resources and Water Committee but has been postponed.

If passed, the bill would prevent the State Water Resources Control Board from issuing a permit to appropriate water from any river or stream that has the endangered unarmored threespine stickleback fish in it.


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