Acosta looks back at highs, lows of legislative session

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

This year, Assemblyman Dante Acosta, R-Santa Clarita, co-authored laws that addressed business regulations, youth opportunities and environmental issues.

At the end of the 2018 California legislative session, which closed out Friday, Acosta was involved with two bills signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown and another that could still receive Brown’s signature.

One of his major moves, Acosta said, was pushing Senate Bill 1249, the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, through the Assembly and the Senate. The bill bans testing makeup products on animals, but needed major changes before the Assembly fully accepted it, he said.

The bill originally had restrictions that if any product ingredient had possibly been tested on animals, even if it was out of the company’s control, then the product would be banned, he said.

Acosta, a co-author of the Assembly bill, said he worked on loosening those provisions of the bill in its final form so the company would be held accountable for its final product tests. Acosta said the issue was significant to cosmetics makers in the region such as Paul Mitchell, a Santa Clarita-based beauty company that had pledged to go cruelty-free.

“A lot of these bills I’ve been working on matter to the Santa Clarita Valley,” he said. “District-specific bills aren’t always the case, but I always work on stuff that I know will affect the people of Santa Clarita.”

Acosta also said he used his position as vice chair of the Natural Resources Committee to amend major environmental bills signed into law, such as SB 1013, which authorizes monetary incentives for refrigeration systems with a low global warming potential.

Next year, his priorities will be focusing on re-introducing failed bills  — such as the California Construction Corps, which sought to create a new California Conservation Corps program to train youth in the foster care or criminal justice systems in construction-related jobs. The bill was defeated in the Natural Resources Committee.

AB 2101, which creates a volunteer force to provide assistance to seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia, is also a failed bill that Acosta plans to bring bipartisan support to, he said.

Acosta is waiting on the fate of SB 967, which he co-authored with Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto, to see if foster youth in California will have their tuition waived if they obtain a 4.0 grade-point average.

“I think we need to make sure we give foster youth every opportunity possible to be successful despite their circumstances,” he said. “I met with several foster youth in the Santa Clarita Valley from College of the Canyons, I learned about their struggles getting through life, and I thought, ‘There’s kids in our own backyard who need this.’”

Christy Smith, Acosta’s challenger in the 38th Assembly District race this year, said she agreed with Acosta’s support of foster youth, referring back to a bill he introduced from May 2017 that gave funding for foster youth in extracurriculars.

“The one bill my opponent put forward in past sessions that I believe had a lot of merit was the additional grant funding for foster youth to participate in extracurriculars,” she said. “If I were to be elected, I would like to pick that bill up and carry it.”

Smith said her priorities in Sacramento, were she to be elected, were on focusing on ensuring local public schools got adequate funding and establishing more air quality regulations through environmental bills.

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