A Message from Pat
It has been a year since California imposed strict lockdown measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is no sugarcoating the fact that the lockdown has imposed enormous economic and emotional costs on most Californians. Even more tragic is that more than 56,000 Californians have lost their lives to COVID-19, a stark reminder that we must continue to follow public health guidelines to limit the virus’ spread.
The good news is that the rate of new infections has gone down and the vaccination rate has gone up. Orange and San Diego Counties have advanced to the “red” tier of the state’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” which means more businesses can reopen.
We must continue to be vigilant. I will continue to urge the Governor to follow the science and safely reopen our state. For the latest information about COVID-19 in California, visit www.covid19.ca.gov.
COVID-19 Vaccine Update
More than 15 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered so far in California. However, demand continues to outpace supply. I am working with state and local officials to advocate for more supplies of the vaccine and to improve distribution efforts.
Individuals aged 16-64 who are deemed to be at the very highest risk to get sick from COVID-19 due to severe health conditions are now eligible for the vaccine. The Governor has said that he hopes every Californian will be eligible for the vaccine by May 1.
For the latest information on who can be vaccinated now, click here.
For the latest information in your county, visit the following websites:
Assembly Bill 86 was signed into law on March 5 that provides $6.6 billion to support schools that offer in-person instruction.
I believe California’s public schools should reopen safely. I voted for the bill because it provides vital resources to school districts who want to reopen sooner rather than later. It also protects school districts that are already offering in-person instruction.
However, the bill is not as strong as I would have liked, as it does not actually require schools to reopen for in-person instruction. I supported amendments that would have required schools to reopen within 15 days and provide in-person instruction at least three days per week. Unfortunately, those amendments were rejected on partisan votes.
I will continue to advocate for parents who are rightfully demanding that their children receive the quality in-person education they deserve.
California has loosened restrictions regarding youth sports and has reversed a ban on cheerleading squads at sporting events. As a co-author of the “Let Them Play” legislative resolution earlier this year, I welcome these developments. For more information about youth sports from the California Department of Public Health, click here.
State Assistance for Families and Small Businesses
The state has enacted the “Golden State Stimulus” that provides one-time $600 or $1,200 payments to individuals who meet eligibility requirements. Click here to see if you qualify.
Assistance is available for eligible renters and landlords for unpaid rent. Check eligibility and apply for relief at HousingIsKey.com.
Small Businesses and Nonprofits
Legislation that I co-authored to provide more than $2 billion in grants to small businesses and nonprofits affected by COVID-19 has been signed into law. This effort began last December when I co-authored the “Keep California Working Act” (SB 74), which ultimately led to legislative leaders agreeing to include most of the Act in a budget bill.
For more information on how to apply for a grant, visit www.careliefgrant.com.
Claims for unemployment benefits in California continue at historic levels. Since 2020, the Employment Development Department (EDD) has processed more than 20 million claims and paid $122 billion in unemployment benefits to support affected workers and their families.
My office has received hundreds of requests from residents needing assistance with the EDD. While my staff and I have been able to help many residents, the EDD’s continuing difficulties to respond on a timely basis makes it challenging for everyone involved.
I will continue to advocate for long-term structural changes at the EDD. With Californians continuing to struggle to contact a human being at the EDD and having to wait weeks – even months – for their benefits, it is way past time for the Governor and the Legislature to fix the EDD.
For the latest information on unemployment benefits, visit www.edd.ca.gov.
State Grants to Improve Our Region
Ensuring local governments and organizations in our region receive their share of state funding is one of my top priorities.
As vice chair of the Senate Housing Committee, I was pleased to see the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) announce more grants to help our region increase affordable housing. Click here to learn more.
HCD also announced COVID funding to help the homeless. Click here to learn more.
I am also pleased that the State Water Control Resources Board has awarded a $1.5 million grant to the San Elijo Joint Powers Authority and a $6 million grant to the Santa Margarita Water District. The money will help turn storm water into a resource to combat drought and the effects of climate change.
Here are some of the other things I have worked on over the past several weeks:
- Urged the Governor to focus on addressing critical priorities in his budget. Click here to read my op-ed in the Orange County Register.
- Wrote a commentary for the Presidio Sentinel on why a version of California’s anti-worker law (AB 5) should not be imposed nationwide. Click here to read it.
- Requested answers from the Governor regarding his announcement of a “third party administrator” to take over California’s struggling distribution of the COVID vaccine. Click here to learn more.
- Urged the Governor to not tax victims of unemployment insurance fraud. Click here to learn more.
- Introduced legislation in partnership with San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan to keep sex offender court hearings open to the public. Click here to learn more.
- Introduced a bill to strengthen Proposition 13 and end abuses. My bill could generate $269 million in new tax revenue – without raising taxes. Click here to learn more.
- Authored SB 214 to solidify the use of neighborhood electric vehicles. Click here to learn more.
- Welcomed the announcement of a $4.2 million grant to Orange County to build new housing units. My co-authorship of a 2018 bill to help reduce homelessness helped make this grant possible. Click here to learn more.
- Received the “2020 Senator of the Year” award from members of the Coastal Conservation Association of California. The award is in recognition of my co-authorship of Assembly Bill 1949, a bipartisan law that promotes sustainable fishing and expands the marine hatchery program in Carlsbad.
Sen. Bates accepts an award from members of the Coastal Conservation Association of CA
- Honored Oceanside’s Vallie Gilley as the 36th Senate District’s 2021 Woman of the Year. Vallie is CEO and founder of Feeding the Soul Foundation, executive director of O’side Kitchen Collaborative, and a small business owner. Click here to learn more.
- Last but not least, I wished a happy 100th birthday to Margaret Moon of San Clemente. She built barrage balloons in Ohio during World War 2 and helped families in need with food and clothing for many years.