Senator’s 2015 agenda includes stopping UC tuition hikes
By Miriam Raftery
January 1, 2015 (San Diego) – Four bills by State Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego) become law today. Two aim to protect the elderly in residential care facilities, a second will protect victims of human trafficking and save the state money by consolidating trials from multiple jurisdictions, and a fourth will speed up testing of beach water quality.
One of his top goals for 2015 will be to keep higher education “accessible and affordable for all of California’s students.” Block and Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León recently introduced SB 15 which would eliminate tuition increases for the University of California system and provide substantially greater support to all of the state’s public education institutions.
Block expects to focus on his priority issues – education, seniors, veterans and public safety in the coming year. His recent appointment as chair of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee will offer a new issue area in 2015.
“California is in a better economic situation than it has been for many years, and it’s time to reinvest in those people and programs that will help the state thrive – such as higher education,” Block said.
He credits California’s improving fiscal health with the passage of his SB 850 bill, which will will allow California’s community colleges to offer four-year degrees for the first time ever as part of a pilot program. Recent studies show that California will need one million more adults with four-year degrees by 2025 to remain economically competitive. “SB 850 can help us meet that serious and urgent challenge,” Block said. The selection process to choose the 15 colleges in the pilot is already underway and the pilot schools will be announced in late January.
Below are details on Block’s four other bills that take effect today, January 1, 2015:
- SB 911, Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE) Staff Training & Protection: Protects seniors living in RCFEs by increasing requirements for administrators and prohibiting retaliation against employees who call 911 when residents need urgent care.
- SB 939, Human Trafficking: Consolidates serial human trafficking, pimping, and pandering cases from multiple jurisdictions into a single trial. This will save courts money and time. SB 939 will remove the need for victims, witnesses, and defendants to travel to multiple counties to testify in court proceedings. It will also spare witnesses who are victims of human trafficking trauma resulting from repeated testimony against their assailants.
- SB 1382, Increased Licensing Fees for RCFEs: Increases licensing fees for residential care facility owners to improve oversight and transparency at these care facilities for seniors.
- SB 1395, Beach Water Quality Testing: Authorizes counties to use quicker tests to determine beach water quality if they comply with federal Environmental Protection Agency guidance. Quicker notification to California’s 238 million beach-goers will assist in protecting public health. Quicker notification will also allow beaches to reopen sooner for visitors and business owners dependent upon beach-goers for their livelihood.