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Assemblymember Bill Monning

bill_MonningProposition 23 would suspend Assembly Bill (AB) 32, which helped establish California’s clean energy goals.  Who is behind Proposition 23, and what are your thoughts on it?

Two Texas oil companies are spending millions to push Proposition 23, a deceptive ballot measure that would eliminate California clean energy and air pollution control standards.

Four years ago, with support from business, labor, environmental and health organizations, California enacted AB 32, to hold polluters accountable for their actions and require them to reduce air pollution emissions that threaten human health and contribute to global climate change. This law, building on decades of state clean energy policies, has positioned California at the forefront of the clean technology industry, sparking innovation and clean energy businesses that are creating hundreds of new jobs. 

Proposition 23 would allow polluters to avoid state clean energy standards, eliminating competition and jobs from California-based clean technology companies and keep us addicted to fossil fuels.  It is important to note that more than 70 percent of the campaign contributions in support of Proposition 23 have come from outside of California, with the biggest contributors being Texas-based Valero and Tesoro Oil Companies and the billionaire Koch brothers. To advance the goals of AB 32, to create green jobs, and to protect our environment, I am voting no on Proposition 23.

With the 2010 legislative session coming to a close, what are some of your bills that readers may find of interest?

I am pleased to share two of my bills that successfully passed the legislature and that are awaiting action by the governor.

AB 2770 is focused on California’s underground economy where workers are paid cash under the table, often in violation of minimum wage laws. This practice is estimated to generate between $60 and $140 billion a year in unreported economic activity, costing the state at least $2 billion in uncollected revenues. This bill will establish a pilot program to investigate employment and payment practices within the swimming pool and spa construction industry, and requires the Employment Development Department to develop criteria that would help determine if an employer is violating laws protecting employee wages, hours and working conditions.  AB 2770 will level the playing field for business owners who are currently being outbid by non-compliant contractors and encourage compliance with state labor laws. Workers, law-abiding employers, and the State of California will all benefit should this legislation become law.

In California, the Fair Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act provide California employees up to 12 weeks per year of job-protected leave to care for an ailing family member, but there is no federal or state law providing job protection for an employee who must take time off after a family member’s death. AB 2340 allows an employee to take up to three days of unpaid bereavement leave following the death of an immediate family member and prohibits an employer from discharging or discriminating against the employee for taking documented bereavement leave.

You have recently selected the photography of Bob Fitch to be featured in your Santa Cruz District Office and your Capitol Office. Why did you select Mr. Fitch’s work and how did you become familiar with his photographs?

Bob Fitch is a world-renowned photographer of civil rights and labor movements. I had the honor of first meeting Bob when I worked with the United Farm Workers in the 1970s. His extensive portfolio includes portraits of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, and the women and men who helped to build these movements. The U.S. Postal Service selected one of Bob Fitch’s photographs of Cesar Chavez as the image featured on the postage stamp commemorating his legacy with the United Farm Workers.

Mr. Fitch is a photographer who not only documented the events of history as they unfolded, but was also an active participant in unions, civil rights organizations, and the Resource Center for Nonviolence in Santa Cruz. I will be recognizing Bob’s work at a reception in my Santa Cruz District Office located in the Santa Cruz County Government Building, Room 318B on Oct. 6, from 4 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.  For more information call (831) 425.1503.

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