Assemblyman Mike Eng, whose district includes Alhambra, introduced a legislative package Friday morning at his new Alhambra office. His agenda for 2011 is comprised of 15 bills touching on a range of issues that include health care coverage, adult education, water, and anti-bullying laws.
Eng, joined by proponents of the bills, discussed four of the measures during the conference:
– Assembly Bill 189 ensures that school districts receiving funding for adult education will spend at least 65 percent of the money on programs for adults. The bill is especially relevant to the Alhambra School District, said teacher Sylvia Guerrero, which cut its adult education programs last year by 95 percent. Guerrero said that Alhambra was "ground zero" in the effort to save adult education, and that recent cuts were particularly harmful for minorities. She also noted that many high school students rely on adult education programs to satisfy graduation requirements.
The bill "will restore funding in core programs such as English as a second language, adult basic skills, high school diploma classes, and career technical education," Guerrero said.
Eng added that the bill will not only help adult minorities find jobs, but also to become legalized citizens and to better communicate with their children.
– AB 161, designed to protect businesses from repeat offenders, prohibits criminals from returning to the property on which they'd perpetrated the crime. While section 602 of the penal code already prevents criminals from returning to the scene of the crime, it only extends to persons convicted of violent felonies. The bill will expand the law to include all felonies and lesser infractions. A felony will bar the criminal from entering the property for five years, while a misdemeanor will bar them for two years, and an infraction-level petty thief will bar them for one year. Lieutenant Ken Wright of the LA County Sheriff's Department said that the bill will quicken the process in which a repeat offender is reported and persecuted.
"Businesses won't need to wait. The person can be arrested on-site for merely returning to the scene of the crime," Wright said.
– AB 1088 urges state agencies to collect data on the full array of ethnicities in the Asian Pacific Islander communities. The bill will require the agencies to disaggregate the data, rather than clumping Asian populations into one category. An M. Le of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center said that the bill will help health-providers understand the unique needs of the separate ethnic communities, and to provide the proper health education for those groups.
– AB 72 requires health insurance plans to cover acupuncture. This will include all services provided by an acupuncturist, including the traditional "cupping" treatment. If passed the bill will provide over 1.6 Californians with access to acupuncture, the California Health Benefits Review Program reported in a 2007 assessment of AB 72.
Other measures include AB 467, which provides funding to local agencies for groundwater cleanup, and AB 1156, which re-writes the legal definition of bullying, placing the focus on the effects it has on a victim's academic performance.
Eng expects the bills to arrive at the governor's desk by July.