Tag Archives: Tom Torkalson

On a Sense of Normalcy: Looking to Our Legislators

( – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

The last few weeks have been crazy here in San Francisco and at Calitics. Sex scandals, flame wars, yada, yada.  So, let’s take a breather to talk about a few bills that are pending in the Legislature as we speak.  After all, this is really what this blog is here for: getting good legislators to write good progressive legislation.  I selected these legislators from a somewhat casual look at legistlation, but I wanted to highlight some of what is going on in the Legislature these days. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at what some of our legislators are working on

  • Assemblyman Mark Leno: Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act: Yup, this is Mark Leno’s Marriage Bill.  Asm. Leno, a long time leader in San Francisco politics, is back at it, introducing this bill back in December at the kickoff of the legislative session.  The bill is pretty much the same bill that Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed in 2005.  Assemblyman Leno’s historic work in getting the bill passed in 2005 marked the first instance of an American legislature approving a same-sex marriage bill. (Although, Spain, a Catholic nation, has bested California and the rest of the US considerably on marriage equality.)

    Assemblyman Leno has also introduced an Assembly resolution  opposing the Iraq escalation.  Sen. Carole Migden (also of San Francisco) introduced a similar measure in the Senate (SJR 1).

  • Speaker Fabian Nunez: In addition to globetrotting, the Speaker, who hails from LA, has been busy helping to craft Assembly Dem policy. As I addressed last week in a diary about a health care town hall in SF (with exclusive Calitics video!), the Speaker has a competing health plan to the governor.  Well, not so much competing, because Arnold Schwarzenegger can’t get anybody, on either side of the aisle to introduce his bill http://www.capitolwe…].  The bill (AB 8) is a placeholder, only giving “legislative findings” that our health care system kinda stinks.  I won’t go into all the details now, but here is his press release and his Democratic address about the plan.  You can even listen to it in MP3 in two languages. Sweet! 

    And while I very strongly oppose his cable reform bill that was enacted last year, I am sure that the Speaker’s final term will include substantial work in a variety of policy areas.  Hey Speaker, how about a California net neutrality bill?

  • Sen. Shiela Kuehl: Sen. Kuehl is no one-trick pony.  Although everybody knows about the northern-LA senator for her single payer bill, SB 840 (last session’s info), that is not her only bill of note. She also authored SB 129 (PDF) to bring the law against threatening or obscene electronic contacts (e.g. threatenting phone calls) to include calls to cell phones and text messages.
  • Sen. Tom Torkalson: Sen Torkalson, whose seventh senatorial district overlaps with much of Ellen Tauscher’s tenth congressional district, has been a progressive leader on education issues.  He also scored a 100% on scorecards by the League of Conservation Voters(PDF) and CalPIRG.  This year he has introduced several new pieces of legislation, mostly focused on education. SB 44 aims to recruit teachers both in quantity and in quality.  Teacher shortages are a huge problem, especially qualified teachers.  Our teachers are aging, and this legislation that creates the California Center on Teaching Careers could be a good step in replacing our teaching professionals.

    The Senator also has a number of other proposals currently pending.  Sen. Torkalson also authored an increase on cigarette taxes, and a bill to help CALWorks recipients attend college.