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Hope for Change

I had heard a lot about the dysfunction in Sacramento before I was elected to the Assembly. Now that I have been up here for a few months, I can tell you with experience that the Capitol truly is dysfunctional.

Nevertheless, a few things have struck me that give me hope that things can be changed for the better. First, several of the Assembly’s new members are from local government. I am hopeful that in our new roles, we will all continue to be mindful of how our decisions impact local communities.

Second, there is a desire amongst many of the new members to work together across party lines. This does not mean that we will be able to find agreement on every issue or that we won’t have to take strong positions on certain issues. As we have already seen, the budget will be the most difficult area for us to find common ground.

I am working with freshman Assemblymember Henry Perea, a Democrat from Fresno, to pass legislation to streamline the process so cities and counties can make roadway improvements that improve traffic safety without having to jump through major environmental hoops. This important measure was brought to me by Tuolumne County but would have a positive impact on cities and counties statewide. This bill grants an exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which partisan Democrats routinely vote against. Assemblymember Perea recognized the benefits to local governments and public safety and chose to be a joint author of my bill. I believe working together we will be successful in passing this measure.

As a councilmember, I worked with people who had a broad array of perspectives, some similar to mine, others vastly different. But in the end, we had a common goal. Extreme partisan bickering has led to legislative dysfunction and paralysis, and does nothing to serve the citizens of California.

As Republicans and Democrats, we must find ways to work together for the good of our state, while remaining true to our core convictions. I am hopeful that the new blood in the Capitol is bringing with it a new perspective and over time, we will be able to change the culture in Sacramento in ways that better serve the citizens of California.

So far, I have had success with getting my bills out of committee with bipartisan support. I will continue to work hard toward that end, for the benefit of our local communities.