Pat's Perspective

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

COVID-19 Update

Illustration of the COVID-19 virus. Image credit: Centers for Disease Control.

The Governor has issued revised guidance affecting activities in Orange and San Diego Counties. Visit the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy for the latest details on each business or activity in your county.

Counties assigned to the red tier are still experiencing “substantial spread” of COVID-19. Businesses and activities must be in compliance with all industry-specific directives set forth by state and county governments.

California’s official reopening guidelines have changed three times, with more changes expected to come. This has understandably caused frustration as a group of local leaders have called for a more moderate approach that will allow more of our state to reopen now. Five mayors recently wrote an op-ed that articulates very well the frustration and concerns that they have about the guidelines. Click here to read the op-ed.

I know that the continuing government-mandated shutdown of much of our state continues to hurt many Californians. I have and will continue to advocate to the Governor for a safe reopening of our economy based on the facts regarding COVID-19.

While we have made progress towards reopening our state, all Californians must continue to pitch in by following public health guidelines to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

For statewide information on COVID-19, testing, economic reopening, and more, go to www.covid19.ca.gov.

For COVID-19-related information regarding your county, click on the links below:

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Where’s My Ballot

Image of a vote-by-mail envelope with the text “Where’s My Ballot?”

The California Secretary of State’s office has announced that voters in all of the state’s counties can track the status of their mail-in ballots for the November 3 General Election. For more information, visit www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-status/wheres-my-ballot.

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Wildfires and Power Shutoffs

Image of Senator Bates with firefighters
Click here to view a 30-second public service announcement on wildfires.

California’s firefighters are working hard to stop and prevent wildfires during this unprecedented wildfire season. We thank them for their ongoing efforts.

CAL FIRE has put together materials to show how we can do our part to minimize the dangers of wildfires. Visit www.readyforwildfire.org to learn how to prepare your home and family in case a wildfire starts in your area.

My Senate website also has a “Wildfire Information” resource page that you can visit here.

If severe weather threatens a portion of the electric system, it may be necessary for electrical utilities to turn off electricity to residents. Such an event is known as a “Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS).” Visit the website of your power provider to sign up for notifications and to know the status of PSPS in your area:

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Legislative Update

Image of Senate Chambers
Senate Chamber, California State Capitol

Due to the Legislature’s focus on COVID-19 response, economic recovery, and public safety-related issues, legislators delayed consideration of most of their measures until next year.

However, I am pleased to report that the Governor did sign my Senate Bill 934 to help non-profits save money, reduce paperwork, and make more efficient use of state resources. Click here to learn more.

The Governor also signed two other bills that I co-authored:

  • SB 406 – Enacts several health care-related changes, such as requiring the Department of Health Care Services to take action against an unlicensed facility if it has received a substantiated complaint, or refer the complaint to the appropriate enforcement agency.

  • AB 323 – Helps keep many community newspapers open for at least another year. Unfortunately, the Senate rejected my amendment to help keep these newspapers open for even longer. Click here to learn more.

Other legislation of note that I supported and that the Governor signed into law include:

  • AB 793 – A first-in-the-nation law requiring plastic beverage containers to contain an increasing amount of recycled material. This law has been called “the most ambitious, aggressive recycled plastics content law in the world.” Bipartisan progress on the environment is possible and AB 793 proves it. Click here to learn more.

  • AB 2257 – This law addresses some of the problems created by AB 5, which codified a very restrictive test to determine who is and who is not an independent contractor. However, more needs to be done to protect the rights of Californians who want to continue to work as independent contractors.

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State Grants

One of my top priorities as your state senator is to ensure our region receives its share of funding from state government programs. For example, I have been pleased to announce several grants this year that will help fund a variety of areas such as:

In related news, individuals, business owners, local governments, and non-profits can apply for state grant and loans. The California State Library has launched a new California Grants Portal at www.grants.ca.gov where you can find more than 100 programs available valued at almost $19 billion in a variety of areas. The portal is your destination to find all grants and loans offered on a competitive or first-come basis by California state agencies.

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