What was your reaction to the Supreme Court’s Proposition 8 decision late last month?
I’m deeply gratified that as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, LGBT and straight Californians alike can equally enjoy the benefits of marriage. I am overjoyed that the Supreme Court struck down California’s Prop. 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. At the same time, the court’s ruling left several questions in its wake that will continue to call marriage equality into question throughout the country. Will same-sex California couples’ marriages be acknowledged in states without marriage equality? Will federal law truly provide equal protections to same-sex spouses? While I continue to celebrate this important legal victory, I look forward to a day when all Americans can enjoy true marriage equality.
What is the Select Committee on Coastal Protection, and what will it be reviewing?
I serve as the Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Coastal Protection, which carries forward the public conversation about coastal protection in the 21st century. If the state is to continue to benefit from its world-class coastal resources that support its $43 billion coastal economy, it must focus its attention now on the numerous threats the coast currently faces.
The committee is charged with reviewing a variety of environmental issues that may affect California’s coastline, including renewable and sustainable ocean-based energy options, land-based marine debris such as plastic waste, plans to address infrastructure challenges due to sea levels rising, the backlog of Coastal Act violations, and proposed updates to Local Coastal Programs. Select committees are special committees that may conduct research, hold hearings on matters of interest to the state, and make legislative recommendations, but they may not consider or vote for specific legislation. I will use the findings of the committee to help shape future legislation to help protect our invaluable coastline.
I’ve already held one hearing, where experts discussed the economic and environmental problems posed to coastal communities by plastic marine pollution. Panelists presented the marine plastic pollution problem and data, and made recommendations to reduce plastic pollution. This fall, at UC Santa Cruz, I will hold a follow-up hearing that will focus on additional environmental threats to our oceans.