Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) has introduced her 2022 bill package that focuses on district and statewide priorities, including firearm advertisements, penalizing the use of hate symbols and illegal dumping, among other issues, according to a statement from her office.
"I'm proud to have introduced over 15 pieces of legislation that reaffirm my commitment to the values of this district," said Bauer-Kahan, whose district includes the Tri-Valley. "From addressing climate change and our drought, to reproductive rights and keeping our kids safe from gun violence, I'm ready to fight for the future of District 16 and all of California."
Among these bills is Assembly Bill 2282, which intends to equalize penalties for using three symbols of terror: the swastika, the noose and the desecrated cross.
Existing law treats all three as symbols of terror but applies different criminal penalties for the use of each symbol, Bauer-Kahan's office said.
Currently, at least one of the three terror symbols can be used legally in cemeteries, places of worship, public spaces and public facilities. Using a noose is penalized the most lightly of the three while a burning cross is the most penalized and is barred only from schools and private property.
AB 2282 would make the criminal penalties the same for using each symbol and expand the locations where they are all banned to include K-12 schools, colleges, cemeteries, places of worship, places of employment, private property, public parks, public spaces and public facilities.
"When we punish a burning cross more than a swastika, we are negating the psychological impact on and physical threat to a targeted group," Bauer-Kahan said. "With hate crimes increasing across the state, it's critical to recognize the power and destructiveness of these symbols, and restrict their use accordingly."
AB 2282 is jointly authored by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) and has more than a dozen Democrat co-authors across the Assembly and State Senate.
Also proposed by the local legislator, AB 2374 was introduced in response to an illegal dumping issue seen in communities across California.
The bill builds upon previous legislative efforts of Bauer-Kahan and Alameda and Contra Costa counties in 2019, which provided funding to the two counties to establish a pilot program for additional enforcement of illegal dumping laws in both counties.
AB 2374 raises fines on illegal dumping of commercial quantities up to $5,000 upon first conviction, up to $10,000 on a second conviction, and up to $20,000 on third or subsequent conviction.
Additionally, this bill will give judges discretion to require the convicted to pay for the removal of their illegal dumping, suspend the business license of any individual convicted of dumping waste connected to their business, and allow for that person's name and name of the business to be publicly displayed as convicted of illegal dumping.
The assemblymember has partnered with Gov. Gavin Newsom to advance the state's gun control measures with AB 2571, which seeks to restrict advertising of firearms to children and youth.
According to Bauer-Kahan's office, the last time any attempts were made to regulate firearm marketing was in 2014 through the unsuccessful passage of the federal Children's Firearm Marketing Safety Act. Since then, gun violence by and affecting children has skyrocketed. In 2021 alone there were approximately 259 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in 104 deaths and 168 injuries.
"I have no issue with guns or gun owners. I have serious issues with gun violence," Newsom said at a Feb. 18 press conference in San Diego where the introduction of the bill was announced.
He continued, "I have serious issues with a company that thinks it's OK to market a JR-15 modeled after a weapon of war, an AR-15 that took the lives of 20 precious first graders and six adults at Sandy Hook, and to promote it with a skull and bone and a pacifier. How the hell do they think that's OK? Selling stickers, t-shirts and hats marketing not a toy gun, but a JR-15, to start them early."
AB 2146 is another bill introduced by Bauer-Kahan. Co-authored by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), the legislation aims to protect bees and other pollinators from five key neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides.
AB 2146 would ban the use of imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran and acetamiprid on non-agricultural crops. Neonicotinoids are the world's most widely used insecticides and are toxic to pollinators -- just one square foot of grass treated with a typical neonic lawn product can contain enough neonics to kill one million bees, according to a statement from Bauer-Kahan's office.
AB 2070 aims to increase accountability and transparency when a private utility company conducts high-risk fire mitigation work, ensuring that local fire districts are aware and prepared when utility companies conduct "hot work" or controlled burns within their jurisdiction.
According to Bauer-Kahan's office, the bill comes from the judgment in a legal case between PG&E and the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District.
PG&E had sued the city of San Ramon to avoid an ordinance requiring the utility report when they did risky hot work. The court ruled in 2020 in favor of the fire district, which then reached a compromise with PG&E that will be codified in AB 2070.
Officials said that codifying this compromise from San Ramon into a new broader law will serve to protect Californians statewide when utilities perform this type of work.
"Our fire districts do so much to protect us from fires. It's essential we give them all the tools they need, especially during fire season," Bauer-Kahan said. "Utility work must happen in collaboration with fire chiefs to ensure our communities are safe from accidental blazes."
AB 2070 will also establish a framework for the utility to compensate a fire district for the use of an emergency transport team in the event that the company fails to provide sufficient notice of high fire risk work and a transport team is dispatched, according to Bauer-Kahan's office.
Other pieces of the legislative package include AB 1838, which aims to improve communications from schools to non-English speaking parents, AB 1907, which streamlines inspections of nursing homes in order to improve oversight, and AB 2436, which seeks to eliminate discrimination from gendered language on state death certificates.
More information on bills introduced can be found here.