As the Senator representing the 20th State Senate District, I am honored to work every day on your behalf to improve our local schools, workplaces, environment and communities. Having lived in the Inland Empire since I was a small child, I am proud to call this region home and work with you to improve our neighborhoods and quality of life.
In our first year in office, my team and I introduced several bills that benefit California students, seniors and families, including the following three bills which Governor Jerry Brown signed:
SB 426 - "Financial Security for Seniors Act"
- Sponsored by Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, SB 426 protects seniors who purchase fixed, deferred annuities by prohibiting companies from charging penalties on the death benefit payout when a senior passes away early.
- This issue can be a problem for seniors who purchase annuities to secure their financial future-and then die in the first few years after purchasing them-since the living spouse / beneficiary would then receive less than the full amount of the original investment.
SB 532 - Protecting Students' Voices
- SB 532 protects and prioritizes the perspectives of California students by creating a formal and transparent process for both the establishment and removal of the student school board member position on a school district's governing board.
- This bill idea was brought forward by high school students who run and are active with the California Association of Student Councils.
SB 651 - Victim Restitution
- Co-sponsored by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office and the Crime Victims Action Alliance-and supported by many public safety groups-SB 651 expands the definition of a victim within state law to include family members, guardians and significant others as 'derivative' victims of a crime committed by a minor, making them eligible for victim restitution.
- Without this bill, family members of victims of crimes committed by a minor could not receive restitution to pay for important costs and services, such as therapy or counseling sessions.
All taking effect on January 1st, these three important legislative successes did not receive a single "No" vote in either the Senate or the Assembly. I would like to thank all of the constituents from the district and throughout the state that sent letters or emails, testified or otherwise supported these bills as they worked their way through the Legislature.
Beyond these three bills that were signed by the Governor, I am also very proud to have led efforts this year to strengthen career technical education, protect children from sex offenders, provide housing for women veterans, prevent teen relationship abuse, keep seniors and disabled residents in their homes, increase past due child support payments and help small businesses and communities access green / greenhouse gas reduction funds. Our fight on all of these issues-and so many more-will continue in the years ahead.
While my Capitol staff and I have been busy in Sacramento, Team Leyva in the district has been equally active in the Inland Empire resolving constituent problems, meeting with local groups and helping organize events to assist constituents in every community in the district. Here are a few highlights of the 20+ district events and programs that my office has proudly sponsored in 2015:
Mobile Home Conferences
As Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Manufactured Home Communities, I hosted three Mobile Home Conferences in Pomona, Colton and Corona. Mobile home owners, renters and other stakeholders participated in these events organized in partnership with local cities. A panel of experts and state officials discussed issues and answered questions related to mobile homes in California, including park inspections, Health and Safety Code and registrations and titles.
I also had the opportunity to tour several local mobile home parks, discussed issues with California Housing and Community Development Department officials and committed to continuing to work to improve the safety and quality of life for residents in these communities.
Young Women's Leadership Summit
Held during Women's History Month, over 140 attendees-mostly high school and college students-attended the first annual Young Women's Leadership Summit that I hosted in Chino. In partnership with Chaffey College, the Leadership Summit featured a resource fair, informational panels and motivational speakers, including keynote speaker Cal Poly Pomona President Dr. Soraya M. Coley and Chino Police Chief Karen Comstock.
During the lunch portion of the event, I also had the honor of recognizing active Pomona resident Ethel Gardner as my 2015 'Woman of the Year'. Ethel serves as Founder / Executive Director of the Kennedy Austin Foundation, a Pomona-based non-profit organization that she founded in 1993 following the tragic death of her only son.
Hiring Fest / Job Fair
In collaboration with Goodwill Southern California and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, my office hosted a Hiring Fest in Pomona where hundreds of participants were able to meet and interview with local employers, including the City of Pomona, Pomona Unified School District, Auto Zone, Cemex and the FBI.
Prior to the event, I was pleased to work with Goodwill to better prepare job seekers at a free Employment Preparation Workshops, which included Dress for Success, Resume Review / Revision, Interview Skills / Mock Interviews and Applying for Jobs Online. This Hiring Fest was the first-ever bicounty (San Bernardino County / Los Angeles County) job fair and employment event in Inland Empire history.
High School Voter Registration Event
Just a few weeks ago-along with Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder / County Clerk Dean Logan-I hosted a High School Voter Education / Registration rally at a local high school in Pomona. Over 300 high school students, mostly seniors, participated in the lively rally and learned more about the importance of voting and civic involvement.
As an elected official, I am always so excited when I see the next generation of leaders excited about voicing their opinions and participating in our democracy. It was truly a sight to see so many seniors that had already turned 18 registering to vote and exercising their civic responsibility.
Community Health and Resource Fair
Working with San Bernardino County Supervisor Josie Gonzales, I co-hosted a free Community Health and Resource Fair at a community park in the 20th State Senate District community of Bloomington.
Over 250 constituents, families, community representatives and individuals joined us at this very successful event organized in partnership with the Inland Empire Healthcare Group. Over 50 agencies, health and non-profit organizations provided valuable resources to attendees. The fair's program included a legislative update, health / dental / vision screenings, nutrition information and community resources, including free mammograms.
Young Senators Program
This past summer, I launched the Young Senators program for high school students in the 20th State Senate District. This successful nine-month program offers leadership development opportunities to students and helps them learn more about state government and the legislative process, while helping them recognize firsthand the importance of community involvement and public service.
Through planned excursions, Young Senators are able to interact with the public, private and non-profit sectors within the district. Since August, students have already attended an orientation session at CSU San Bernardino, a college readiness workshop and a dining etiquette session. Students that complete the program will be recognized at a ceremony in May 2016, as they will clearly be future leaders in the Inland Empire and California.
So many of these district events were such great successes that my staff and I look forward to making many of them annual events so that we can continue to bring these wonderful resources to other communities throughout the 20th State Senate District.
I am very excited about legislation and district events that Team Leyva is already working on for 2016, and I look forward to continuing to work on your behalf in the California State Senate.
Connie M. Leyva
Senator, 20th District