Assemblyman Dante Acosta poses for a picture at his Santa Clarita office on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

Acosta looks back at first year in Legislature

Reflecting on his freshman year in office, Assemblyman Dante Acosta, R-Santa Clarita, said his priorities remain unchanged.

He went into his new role as a legislator with a focus on the 38th District’s needs, caring for vulnerable populations, increasing government efficiency and maintaining public safety, he said.

Acosta garnered some success in public safety, but belabored the pace at which Sacramento politics moved in comparison to his previous position as a Santa Clarita city councilman.

Public safety and transportation

In his first year in Sacramento, Acosta authored three bills signed into law.

He served as the vice chair of the Natural Resources Committee, and he also spent time on the Committee on Aging before moving over to the Committee on Banking and Finance.

His most significant victory in the public safety arena was the passage of Assembly Bill 539, which makes getting evidence easier for officers and deputies to seek evidence.

The bill gives law enforcement the right to try to obtain a court-ordered warrant for invasion of privacy cases, aiming to help victims of “revenge porn,” in which sexual images or videos are made public online when the victim expected privacy.

Santa Clarita requested control of a state-operated portion of Sierra Highway between Newhall Avenue and Friendly Valley Parkway, leading to Acosta’s AB 1172.

The legislation allows the city to perform their own maintenance, which the assemblyman said affirms his focus on the district’s wants.

Assembly Bill 1027 passed as well, which allows Californians who are 21 and older to take an intermediate or advanced motorcycle class for licensing instead of an introductory course.

Assemblyman Dante Acosta poses for a picture at his Santa Clarita office on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

Goals for next year

Acosta hopes to revisit some of the bills that were killed their first time around.

His foster youth bill will be at the top of his priorities, he said.

Had it passed, AB 754 would have provided grants to foster youth to engage in extra-curricular activities.

He plans to increase efforts to shut down Aliso Canyon until a root cause analysis is completed, an effort he collaborated on with Senator Henry Stern’s Senate Bill 57.

The assemblyman also wants to decrease taxes and make housing more affordable.

Assembly Bill 1528 would have allowed students who are enrolled in an online charter school to continue their education through their program even if they move away from the area.

AB 632 aimed to streamline contracting for businesses owned by veterans who have disabilities.

Department of Motor Vehicle customers would have had the option to store their information on the DMV’s website to automatically renew their licenses to avoid late fees through AB 714.

Assembly Bill 849 would have established a task force to analyze workforce development programs managed by the state, creating one standard to measure a program’s success.

Two of his public safety efforts regarding serious felonies and criminal sentencing through AB 537 and AB 538 were killed.

An effort to make health insurance fairer for individuals, AB 782 also failed to make it through.

A learning experience

Though Acosta said his time as a Santa Clarita City Council member prepared him for handling constituents’ needs and made him aware of how government works, he said it did not prepare him for the slow pace of state politics.

While problems like potholes can be solved within a few days at the local level, legislation is required for any issues in the Assembly.

“In Sacramento, the answer is ‘let’s run a bill,’” Acosta said.

Being in the Assembly has also taught him how to work collaboratively with other legislators.

As a member of the state’s minority party, the assemblyman said it takes bipartisan effort to accomplish anything.

He is one of 22 freshman Assembly members elected last November, and said building relationships with this bipartisan group will help pass legislation in the future.

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