Catharine Baker: Real Results, Not Partisanship
When I ran for State Assembly, I ran with a very specific mission: to tackle the major issues affecting our community and our state – our kids’ education, our infrastructure (water and transportation), public safety, our state’s affordability and financial stability – but to do so in a different way… a way that goes beyond partisan lines and special interest powers, that reaches across the aisle and listens to any good idea regardless of which political party came up with it. I’ve done just that from day one, and I’ve seen how effective it’s been.
This approach works. Here’s just a sample of some of the bipartisan bills I’ve authored, all signed by Governor Jerry Brown in my short time in the Legislature:
- Legislation to put California students first in admissions at the University of California, by ending UC’s unfair practice of lowering admission standards for out-of-state students compared to our California kids, requiring a cap on the number of out-of-state students admitted to the UC system, and ensuring that out-of-state students admitted to UC must meet or exceed the qualifications of our California students (AB 1711, AB 1674).
- Legislation to improve transportation in the East Bay, including landmark legislation to connect BART to the Central Valley commuter ACE trains in the Tri-Valley, taking 30,000 cars off our Tri-Valley interstates (AB 758).
- Securing $20 million for a new local BART parking garage, so commuters have a better option than driving to work or parking on our city streets when BART lots are full.
- Legislation sponsored by the Brady Campaign to support common-sense gun control, including legislation to establish a gun violence research center at UC Davis (SB 1006), to increase the minimum age for owning a gun (AB 2103), to require more rigorous hands-on training in order to obtain a concealed carry license (AB 3), and to expand firearms safety compliance for gun owners (AB 1525).
- Legislation making our communities safer, including bills protecting children from child abuse in schools (AB 1058), protecting victims of domestic violence and reproductive care providers from stalkers and abusers (AB 2263), ensuring crime victims receive full restitution from their perpetrators (AB 2295), protecting children from repeated trauma of court testimony against their abusers (AB 993), and protecting victims of human trafficking and domestic abuse from having to disclose their private information in public court documents (AB 953).
- Legislation to make government services more accessible to people with disabilities (AB 434).
- Legislation to bring accountability and transparency to the Bay Bridge project (AB 1284).
But there is much more work to do. Below are additional issue areas on which I’ve worked and hope to continue to work. Check them out, and let me know what you think!
Reforming, modernizing, and holding our education system accountable
I’m a parent of school-age twins, and an active parent leader in our local schools. I am honored to have received the Legislator of the Year Award this year from the California School Board Association for being a champion for our schools, their funding, and their performance.
Teachers should have every dollar they need to help each child meet his or her full education potential. As your Assemblywoman, I’m fighting to ensure school funding actually reaches the classroom rather than being diverted into the education bureaucracy. That’s why I have authored and voted for legislation increasing state education funding each year I have served in the Assembly, and lead the successful fight to repeal the harmful cap on our school district reserves. I authored legislation to reform the rigid teacher seniority system so school districts can consider the needs of children and the school, and not just rigid seniority rules. I support legislation that creates a more comprehensive and useful evaluation system for teachers - to support and reward effective teachers, to provide more training and mentoring for those that are struggling, or to get rid of the ineffective ones. I have also co-authored legislation to support sustained career technical education (CTE) and STEM programs in our local schools. In addition to supporting teachers and parents, I’m a strong supporter of increasing local education funding. This includes legislation that I supported to increase school facility funding to help build new schools and modernize our campuses. I co-authored bipartisan legislation to make much-needed reforms to the Local Control Funding Formula to ensure our own local schools have the funding they deserve.
Putting California students first in higher education
California colleges should be for California students first. In recent years, we learned that California students were being disadvantaged in UC admissions because UC administrators were admitting more out-of-state students who pay higher tuition and get in under lowered admissions standards compared to our California kids. I authored bipartisan legislation that limits the number of out-of-state students UC can admit (AB 1711), ensures out-of-state students who are admitted meet or exceed the qualifications expected of our California students, and requires UC to identify and implement cost-saving measures to reduce UC’s reliance on tuition increases. I also authored a bipartisan bill that helps transition veterans to success in higher education when they leave active duty (AB 1401), and a bill to help better ensure students attending a CSU are more likely to graduate within 4 years (SB 412). These bills have all been signed into law and are making a difference now.
Protecting our environment
As an avid hiker, I enjoy the outdoors with my family, and fight to protect our environment for future generations to enjoy. We have a responsibility to preserve and enhance our parks and open space, protect biodiversity, and keep our air and water clean. That’s why I’ve voted to protect our open spaces, and voted to do our part in fighting climate change. Specifically, I:
- Voted for California’s landmark climate change legislation (AB 32, AB 398).
- Authored HR 70 and AJR 29 to protect our California coastline from the federal proposal to expand offshore oil drilling.
- Authored successful legislation to protect California’s National Monuments from federal reductions and de-listing proposals (AJR 15).
- Voted for legislation to allow California to continue its strong environmental programs if the federal EPA tries to roll them back (SB 49, SB 51).
- Voted for legislation to keep the U.S. engaged in the Paris Climate Accord (AJR 20).
- Voted to increase use of renewable energy resources by 50% (SB 350).
- Supported critical funding for our state and local park districts (AB 2444), and was the deciding vote in favor of more funding for parks and open space (SB 5).
- Coauthored a bill that allows BART to increase its use of renewable energy, enabling BART to reduce the carbon footprint of hundreds of thousands of Bay Area commuters (SB 502).
- Supported banning the sale of products that use microbeads, which harm environmental systems such as water and sea life (AB 888).
- Voted to increase pipeline biogas development to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (AB 2313).
- Voted to require pipelines in ecologically sensitive areas be retrofitted with enhanced spill prevention technology (AB 864).
- Voted to clean up toxic lead-acid battery sites and facilities (AB 2153).
- Voted to improve fleet modernization programs to remove high-polluting cars off the road AB 1691).
- Voted to enact a moratorium on gas injection into Aliso Canyon wells (AB 380).
- Coauthored legislation to develop a regional biosolids to clean energy project in the East Bay Area (SB 1213).
Fighting for smarter transportation solutions
The first bill I introduced in the Legislature would prevent future BART strikes in a way that is fair to workers and riders. I am the only candidate in this race with a record of fighting for new laws to end BART strikes.
I also fight for smarter transportation policy in California. I oppose High Speed Rail, and support legislation that would re-direct High Speed Rail funds to better transportation investments in roads and transit, school facilities, and water storage. I authored historic legislation to extend BART to ACE (Altamont Corridor Express) in Livermore to remove 30,000 cars from I-580 every day. I also secured funding for more local BART parking and commuter options, and authored successful bills to streamline burdensome regulatory review of transportation projects and reform Caltrans so money goes to transportation, not bloated state bureaucracy. Specifically, I:
- Secured $20 million in funding for a new local BART parking garage.
- Supported legislation eliminating High Speed Rail and Twin Tunnels and redirecting those billions of dollars to water storage, schools, and transportation.
- Authored a bill to prohibit Metropolitan Transportation Commission from transferring toll bridge money to an extravagant downtown San Francisco office space (AB 1938).
- Supported putting transportation dollars in a lockbox to be spent exclusively on transportation, not redirected to unrelated spending, and ensure transportation improvements are made without raising taxes and fees unnecessarily (ABX1-18, AB 1363).
And, I opposed the recent increase in gas and car taxes and the effort to raise local bridge tolls on Bay Area commuters without appropriate government accountability.
Paying down the state debt and not leaving it for our kids
The state government is literally hundreds of billions of dollars in debt. As your Assemblywoman, I’m fighting for fiscal discipline and for paying down the debt we have now, so it is not a burden on us or our children. I am also fighting to keep taxes and spending down. I:
- Supported SB 86, paying down $240 million of unfunded liabilities and $173 million of transportation bond debt.
- Support state labor contracts that require state employees to contribute to their pensions.
- Voted to reform the maze of unfair regulations by requiring the Governor annually to collect and report on all regulations that affect small businesses.
- Authored a bipartisan bill to reduce the state's unfunded pension burden (SB 1149) and make 401(k) plans available to state workers.
Protecting women’s equality and health
We need to ensure women are treated equally and with dignity in the workplace, and are afforded the same opportunities as their male counterparts. We also need to work to reduce healthcare costs and ensure that we have a strong provider network to serve the growing needs of our state. I have strongly supported modernizing the traditional work week to allow employees to have more flexible work schedules (AB 2482). I also support guaranteeing equal pay for equal work and keeping a woman’s reproductive choice safe and legal to protect women’s health and human dignity. For example, I:
- Voted for the historic Equal Pay Act signed by Governor Brown (SB 358).
- Authored a bill that provides protection for reproductive healthcare workers and domestic violence survivors to protect them from stalkers and abusers (AB 2263).
- Supported a bill that streamlines access to contraception for patients with prescriptions (SB 464).
- Supported a bill to allow doctors to provide patients with 12 months of continuous birth control (SB 999).
- Voted for legislation allowing women to seek reproductive care directly without requiring a referral from their primary care doctor (AB 1954).
- Supported multiple bills recognizing the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, and protecting a woman’s right to choose, and supported multiple resolutions urging Congress to continue funding of women's reproductive healthcare facilities.
- Voted to prohibit employers perpetuating lower pay for women by banning sole use of an employee’s prior salary (AB 1676).
- Voted to require an employer to allow employees to take up to six weeks of parental leave to bond with a new child (SB 654).
- Authored legislation that will require the state to apply for federal funding for maternal health.
- Voted to increase the maximum duration of paid family leave benefits from six to ten weeks per year (AB 908).
I also have authored several bipartisan bills to combat sexual harassment. One bill creates an Independent Ombudsman to investigate allegations of sexual harassment in the Legislature (AB 2959), so women are not required to report incidences of harassment only to those who might have committed them. Another would prohibit taxpayer dollars from being used to pay sexual harassment settlements of lawmakers (AB 750). Another, the Legislative Employee Whistleblower Protection Act, would help victims of sexual harassment come forward without fear of retaliation at work.
Making California a pro-job, pro-employment state
I come from a small family business background. My Grandfather, Uncle Fred, and Dad founded and worked together in our small family business while I was growing up. I’ve been working across party lines to modernize outdated regulations that suppress job creation, to make smarter infrastructure investments that support economic prosperity, and to promote innovative job opportunities for working families. Specifically, I:
- Supported changes to the GI bill to allow veterans to use the benefits as startup capital to establish a business.
- Supported legislation to improve access to career technical education (CTE) to ensure pathways to great careers and a workforce able to meet the needs of the future.
- Authored a bill, passed with bipartisan support, to remove red tape to help address the shortage of mental health professionals (AB 773).
- Supported AB 419 to reform the regulatory process by requiring the Governor each year to collect and report all regulations that affect small business.
- Authored legislation to allow employers and employees to agree to more flexible work arrangements (AB 1038).
Reducing gun violence in California
Preventing gun violence is in the interest of every Californian, and should not be a partisan issue. While gridlock in Washington prevents more effective federal laws from being passed, I have worked across party lines with my colleagues to take real steps towards a safer community. In the Legislature, I have voted for over two dozen common-sense gun control reforms, almost always as the only Republican voting in support, and I have personally co-authored more effective gun control bills, including legislation sponsored by the Brady Campaign (as the only Republican in the state to do so). Specifically, I have authored or voted for the following common-sense gun control bills:
- AB 1525, which I authored and which was sponsored by Brady Campaign, to expand firearm safety and education information.
- SB 880/AB 1664/AB 1135 Strengthening California’s assault weapons ban.
- SB 707 Expanding the ban on guns in schools to include “concealed carry” firearms.
- SB 1006 I co-authored this bill to establish the California Firearm Violence Research Center.
- AJR 24 Opposing federal rules that would weaken California’s concealed carry laws.
- AB 2103 I co-authored this bill to raise the age limit to purchase long guns from 18 to 21.
- AB 3 I co-authored this bill to require appropriate training for concealed firearms permits.
- AB 2666 and AB 3064 I authored these bills to more strictly penalize felons who repeatedly break our gun laws and to get those repeat offenders off our streets.
- AB 103 Increasing penalties for individuals with warrants in illegal position of a firearm.
- AB 156/SB 1235 Expanding background checks.
- AB 7 Strengthening prohibitions on “open carry” of firearms.
- AB 736 Increasing fines for firearms dealers who violate Department of Justice regulations.
- AB 785 Increasing penalties for possession of firearms by convicted persons.
- AB 857 Requiring persons who build their own firearms to comply with identification procedures.
- AB 1176 Increasing penalties on illegally transferring firearms.
- AB 1511 Expanding background checks for loaning a firearm.
- AB 1602 Funding the California Firearm Violence Research Center.
- SB 456 Penalizing threats to discharge a firearm at a school.
- SB 464 Strengthening firearms storage requirements for licensed firearms dealers.
- SB 869 Requiring more stringent firearms storage methods.
- SB 894 Requiring firearms owner to report theft or loss of firearms.
- AB 1673 Closing loopholes regarding unfinished firearm parts.
- AB 1674 Extending limits of transferring firearms.
- AB 1695 Preventing “straw man” possession of firearms.
- SCR 62 Encouraging parents to have gun safety conversations with their children and preventing gun accidents in the home.
My campaign has not accepted any contributions from the NRA, which gives me an “F” grade, but I have received financial support from Everytown for Gun Safety, the parent organization of Moms Demand Action. I also co-authored a budget measure to fund the Department of Justice program to get guns out of the hands of people in California who are prohibited by law from owning a gun (felons, those with mental disabilities, and domestic violence abusers).
Making housing more affordable
There is no question we have a shortage of housing, causing it to be out of reach for many Californians. That’s why I’ve supported streamlining onerous state and local regulation that make it harder to build new housing (SB 540), voted for $1 billion in funding for veterans’ housing (SB 3), and co-authored bills to make it easier for home buyers to save for and make the down payment on homes they would like to buy (AB 1736, AB 53, and AB 198). I Co-authored a bill calling on President Trump to reinstate the mortgage fee reduction (AJR 4), and supported doubling the renter’s tax credit.
Bringing bipartisan cooperation and independence to the Legislature
When I ran for the Legislature, I promised to be bipartisan and independent from political parties and special interest powers. I’ve done just that: working with Democrats and Republicans on legislation that would impact the day-to-day lives of people in our community and state. Good ideas don’t come from just one party. My record shows I put good policies over partisan lines. I’ve proven that I can be effective working across the aisle. I’m also proud to be the only candidate in this race with endorsements from Democrats, Independents, and Republicans on every city council and school board in our Assembly District, and to have bipartisan support of my bills. A Sacramento Bee review of voting records found I had the most bi-partisan record of any Assembly member in my first term.