Pictured: Rep. Julia Brownley, Rep. Salud Carbajal, Sen. Monique Limón, Rep. Mike Garcia. File photos. 

by Kimberly Rivers

Legislation authored, sponsored, and votes cast by your elected officials at the local, state and federal levels. 

Federal legislation

Firearm Background Checks: The U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 1446 on March 11, 2021. Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Dist. 26) and Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Dist. 24) voted in favor, while Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Dist. 25) voted against the bill. 

According to the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, HR1446 changes current background check requirements when a person not previously licensed to own a gun buys a firearm from a seller who is a federally licensed gun dealer. 

The bill would lengthen the waiting period from three to 10 days for a completed background check prior to handing over a purchased gun. If an initiated background check is not complete at 10 days, the purchaser can petition for eligibility determination. If another 10 days passes, then the firearm sale and transfer may take place. 

HR1446 now heads to the Senate. 

Right to Organize Act of 2021: House Resolution 842 protects unions by expanding protections for employees to organize and collectively bargain. The bill also broadens the positions in a workplace that are covered by fair labor standards. HR842 allows collective bargaining agreements to require all those who benefit from the agreement to contribute fees to the labor organization, even if state law prohibits that requirement, and the bill prohibits workers being reprimanded for participating in strikes. 

On March 9, Brownley and Carbajal voted in favor of the bill. Garcia voted no, and the following day tweeted, “I am a hard no on the PRO Act — which is essentially just an attempt to federalize California’s horrible job-killing bill named AB5.” Garcia was referring to Assembly Bill 5, signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September 2019, after legislative approval. The bill took effect on Jan. 1, 2020 and required companies to classify most independent contractors as employees. 

HR842 is headed to the Senate. 

State legislation in committee

Assemblymember Steve Bennett (D-Ventura) during the 2019 campaign in Ojai. Photo by Kimberly Rivers.

Idle oil wells: State Senator Monique Limón (D-Dist. 19) and Assemblymember Steve Bennett (D-Dist. 37) have partnered on two bills, Assembly Bill 896 and Senate Bill 47, each designed to give the state more tools to compel idle well owners to properly plug and remediate wells that are no longer producing oil and gas. 

In July 2020 according to state records there were about 2,200 idle oil wells in Ventura County, many of which have been idled well over five years. 

According to bill descriptions written by the state’s Legislative Counsel, AB896 would allow the state to place a lien on property that contains a long-idled well to help ensure proper plugging and remediation even when an operator reports they don’t have necessary funds for the project. SB47 would raise the current $1 million cap to $10 million within a fiscal year for the state to address “hazardous wells, idle-deserted wells, hazardous facilities and deserted facilities,” in the event the state must fund plugging and remediation. 

Beach erosion: Assembly Bill 826 introduced by Bennett and co-authored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Dist. 44), Assemblymember Suzette Valladares (R-Dist. 38), Limón and Senator Henry Stern (D-Dist. 27) would “establish the Beach Erosion Authority for Clean Oceans and Nourishment (BEACON) Program . . . administered by the existing State Coastal Conservancy to receive and use state bond funds for sea level rise mitigation in the coastal areas of Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Ventura, Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and Goleta. 

All of these bills are currently in committee where they were introduced.

To find your state representative visit: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov

To find your representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives visit: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative