As I near the end of my first two years as your State Senator, I continue to be humbled by the great honor to serve the residents of the Inland Empire. My husband, Al, and I have spent our lives and raised our daughters here in the Inland Empire, so I am excited to work hard every single day to improve the lives of our neighbors and community.
Just this year, Governor Jerry Brown signed eight bills that Team Leyva introduced including legislation to:
- End the statute of limitations on rape (SB 813)
- Permanently extend overtime for domestic workers (SB 1015)
- Require review of environmental justice impacts on local communities (SB 1000)
- Protect communities from lead pipe dangers (SB 1398)
- Improve career technical education at California community colleges (SB 66)
- Expand educational services for homeless students (SB 1068)
- Recover and reuse food waste as clean energy and fuels (SB 970)
- Extend career technical education course options for high school students (SB 1123)
The vast majority of these bills received bipartisan support and will help to ensure justice for rape victims, continue to offer important workplace protections to hardworking Californians, protect our communities, help students succeed and strengthen the quality of life for residents across California. The success of these bills is also a testament to the hard work by countless committed constituents, advocates and organizations that sent letters, emailed, testified, wrote editorials and supported these bills each step of the way through the legislative process.
This year, I was also proud to author SB 1385 to ensure that local and law enforcement agencies that responded to the December 2, 2015 terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino would be fully reimbursed for eligible costs incurred as a result of that tragedy. Though it did not receive a single 'No' vote in either the Senate or Assembly, Governor Brown vetoed SB 1385, citing that he did not want to create a precedent for future tragedies. Fortunately, the Governor also noted in his veto message that the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) would continue working with local agencies to make sure that they received the millions of dollars in funding requested by the bill. To that end, my staff and I continue to work directly with OES to ensure that all of the affected local agencies receive the reimbursement that they rightfully deserve.
Team Leyva is actively working right now on our 2017 legislative package, which we will be unveiling in the next few months.
While our Capitol team has been busy in Sacramento, Team Leyva in the district has also been incredibly busy working with constituents to resolve issues, host local events, partner with organizations to advance their goals and help our local 20th District communities thrive. Here are a few highlights of the district events and programs that my office proudly sponsored recently:
In partnership with the Mexican Consulate, Guatemalan Consulate, Inland Empire Latino Lawyers Association, and the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center, I hosted a citizenship fair in Pomona on Saturday, September 17, 2016. The successful event was able to help approximately 50 residents apply for their citizenship. Individuals and families from throughout the 20th State Senate District and Southern California attended the citizenship fair to receive citizenship document preparation assistance. Event participants were provided assistance with paperwork, legal review, passport pictures and packet preparation free of charge.
Leading up to the citizenship fair, I hosted three volunteer training sessions where approximately 45 volunteers were trained in how to complete the applications for citizenship and fee waiver requests. The citizenship fair was a huge success and I plan to host additional citizenship fairs in 2017.
On Friday, September 30th, I kicked off my fall Career Day at Kucera Middle School in Rialto. Career Day volunteer speakers were greeted by the warm smiles of student ambassadors and school staff, including Principal Monique Conway. All classrooms were abuzz with volunteers speaking on career pathways ranging from landscape architecture and firefighting to public affairs and working for the Dodgers organization. Speakers left reinvigorated by the energy and enthusiasm of the Kucera Middle School students.
During the school visit, I also had the opportunity to lend a helping hand to the nutrition services staff that-every school day-are on the frontlines feeding our students so that they are ready to hit the books. The nutrition staff was even impressed by my skills at the lunch register. My experience as a grocery checker at Alpha Beta many years ago clearly trained me well!
Health and Community Resource Fair
I co-hosted my 2nd annual Health and Community Resource Fair on Saturday, October 8th at Ayala Park in Bloomington along with our partners San Bernardino County Supervisor Josie Gonzales, Molina Healthcare and the Inland Empire Healthcare Group.
Health fair attendees received free eye screenings and prescription glasses made on location from Tzu Chi mobile units, medical screenings from Central City Community Health Center and free mammogram testing from Alinea Imaging. Attendees also received information from organizations throughout the greater Inland Empire community, including Community Action Partnership and the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice. I look forward to continuing to sponsor this annual event and to the event growing in years to come.
Mobile Home Conferences
As Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Manufactured Home Communities, I have hosted several Mobile Home conferences and events across the Inland Empire. On September 16th, I convened an informational hearing of the Select Committee to discuss how to improve mobile home parks through education and licensing of property managers. Panelists gave brief presentations and then answered questions on whether a mandatory training and licensing program for onsite managers would help to resolve many of the problems that have been reported to and by the committee. Then, on October 29th, I hosted a Community Mobile Home Meeting to offer another opportunity for mobile home community owners and residents to learn important information, as well as offer testimony to the committee about personal experiences and to ask questions of panelists.
As I have done regularly since taking office in December 2014, I will continue to tour mobile home parks in the Inland Empire and across California to speak directly with residents so that we can together improve the safety and quality of life for the entire community.
Young Senators Program
Earlier this summer, the first group of high schoolers graduated from the very successful 20th State Senate District Young Senators program. This successful nine-month program offers leadership development opportunities to students and teaches them about state government and the legislative process, while helping them recognize firsthand the importance of community involvement and public service.
During planned excursions, Young Senators were able to interact with the public, private and non-profit sectors throughout the district. These Young Senators are definitely on the path to success and will clearly be future leaders in the Inland Empire. Team Leyva recently welcomed our second cohort of Young Senators and I look forward to working with them and local community groups so that their experience is just as beneficial as it was for our first group of Young Senators.
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 the legislation and district events that Team Leyva is already working on for 2017, and I look forward to continuing to work on your behalf in the California State Senate. If you ever need further information or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my staff and I or review my Senate website for additional information.
Connie M. Leyva
Senator, 20th District