When looking at a map of state legislative districts and Kern County, a total of five state representatives represent Kern County — two of them in the state senate and three in the state assembly.
The two state senators are Senate Melissa Hurtado (D) and Senator Shannon Grove (R). The three assembly members are newly elected Assemblywoman Jasmeet Bains (D), Assemblyman Vince Fong (R), and Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R). All of which have introduced new bills this year. Here are two of the most bills that have been introduced by each representative this year so far.
Melissa Hurtado (D) – Bakersfield
SB-245: This bill, introduced on January 26, 2023, by Hurtado and Susan Rubio, would remove age limitations on access to CalFresh and would allow anyone to be eligible for the program if the individual’s immigration is the only cause for ineligibility. The bill would also impose a state-mandated local program. The bill currently awaits review by the Human Services Committee.
SB-244: Senate bill 245 would prohibit all foreign governments from purchasing, leasing, acquiring, or holding an interest in agricultural land within California. However, the bill makes exceptions if a government had previously held before January 1, 2024. The bill was introduced on January 19, 2023, and is also coauthored by neighboring Senator Shannon Grove. The bill is currently under review by the Judiciary Committee.
Shannon Grove (R) – Bakersfield
SB-237: Bill 237 would punish the possession, sale, or purchase for sale of fentanyl by imprisonment for 4 to 6 years. It would punish the transportation of fentanyl by imprisonment for 7 to 9 years. The bill would also punish the trafficking of fentanyl by imprisonment for 7, 10, or 13 years. All imprisonment would be at a county jail. The bill was introduced on January 24, 2023, by senators Grove, Brian Dahle (SD-01), and Susan Rubio (SD-22). SB-237 currently sits in the Public Safety Committee.
SB-293: This bill would require the Department of Education to make statewide summative California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) results available to the public by October 1 each year. The bill would also require the state board’s calendar for delivering results to the department to be consistent with the new deadline. Senator Grove introduced the bill on February 2, 2023. The bill currently awaits review by the Public Safety Committee.
Dr. Jasmeet Bains (D) – Bakersfield
AB-786: Assembly bill 786 would require the California Department of Aging to establish the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Education and Support Grant Program. This five-year grant program would expand access to evidence-supported dementia caregiver education, training, and support to caregivers of those with dementia. AB-786 was introduced on February 13 of this year. The bill is currently under review by the Aging and Long-Term Care Committee.
AB-1203: This bill would exempt breast pumps, breast pump storage and collection supplies, breast pump kits, and breast pads from sales and use taxes in California. The bill does not require the state to reimburse local agencies for sales and use tax revenue loss due to the bill. Dr. Bains introduced the bill on February 16, this year. The bill is currently pending referral.
Vince Fong (R) – Bakersfield
AB-641: Introduced by Fong on February 9, this bill would expand the definition of an automobile dismantler and aims to target catalytic converter thefts. The new definition would now include a person who keeps or maintains on property owned by the person, or under their possession or control two or more used catalytic converters that have been cut from a motor vehicle using a sharp implement. The bill is currently under review by the Transportation Committee.
AB-619: This bill would authorize a nonprofit entity that provides services contracted with a state agency, during a state of emergency, to request the state agency to allow that nonprofit to modify the method in which it provides those services. It is to be allowed so long as the purpose of the contract is served. The bill would require the state agency and the nonprofit entity to prepare and sign an addendum to the contract establishing the terms and conditions of the modification if agreed upon by the state agency. It would also require nonprofits to notify each state agency from which it receives funding of a closure or of an impacted program and identify and thoroughly document all expenditures associated with the closed program and retain documentation to justify expenses and to support claiming continued state funding, as specified. The bill would require these state agencies to ensure that funding is available to pay for canceled services, closed programs, or reduced service levels. The bill was introduced by Fong on February 9 of this year and currently is under review by the Emergency Management Committee.
Tom Lackey (R) – Palmdale
AB-1544: This bill would authorize a police or sheriff’s department that is investigating an open case of suspected child abuse or severe neglect to forward to the Department of Justice a report in writing of its investigation made on or after January 1, 2024. Current California law prohibits police or sheriff’s departments in the state from doing so. The bill was introduced by Lackey on February 17 of this year and is currently pending referral.
AB-622: Currently, existing law provides that a person who leaves their home to go into another state or precinct in this state for temporary purposes (due to natural disaster), with the intention of returning, does not lose their domicile. The state defines domicile as someone’s “residence” for voting purposes. Under AB-622, people who simply return to their districts would also not lose their domicile as well. The bill was introduced by Lackey on February 9 of this year and is currently pending referral.
As the new year goes on, it will be interesting to see which bills will be passed by the state legislature and ultimately be signed by the governor. Residents of Kern County will see firsthand what their representatives have been advocating for in Sacramento.