Assemblyman Ed Chau — who represents Alhambra and a large portion of the west San Gabriel Valley in the California State Assembly — held a press conference on Oct. 7 in Monterey Park to discuss legislation he authored in 2014, including bills for groundwater cleanup, affordable housing for the mentally ill, and additional bike racks on buses. A total of 14 bills introduced by Chau in 2014 will be incorporated into California law in 2015, the assemblyman said.
One of these pieces of legislation is Assembly Bill 1043, a bill that pushes local agencies to clean up groundwater. AB 1043 will allow local agencies such as nonprofit organizations to use grants from Prop 84 — a $5.4 million bond program to improve water quality — to sue ground water polluters and keep the money recovered for local clean up efforts. Funds currently recovered from suing ground water polluters go back to the state, a system that provides little or no incentives to hold responsible parties accountable, according to Chau.
"There's no telling what the state of California is going to do with that money and as such there is no incentive for people to pursue polluters," Chau said. “My bill will allow the proceeds recovered from these polluters to be able to be used locally. For example, if we live here in the San Gabriel Valley and we recover $10 million from the polluters, now that $10 million is going to stay here in the San Gabriel Valley for us to help clean the groundwater."
Chau also authored a bill that funds affordable housing for the mentally ill. AB 1929 uses tax funds collected through Prop 63, or the Mental Health Services Act of 2005, and will release over $400 million to local governments. Chau noted that those counties that have exhausted their share of funds from Prop 63 will not receive any additional money. Counties that request these funds are required to use them to provide housing assistance to those suffering from mental illness.
The assemblyman also championed legislation that would add a third bike rack onto buses in California, previously not allowed due to state vehicle length limitations. AB 2707 will provide 40-foot transit buses with an exemption.
The legislation was a response to growing ridership and demand for public transportation, Chau said. “For the past 50 years or so, we’ve had increase in ridership in public transportation. Many of these transit riders are increasingly using bicycles to access bus services," Chau said. "There's a higher demand for these bicycles to be mounted onto these buses.”
Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1043, AB 1929, and AB 2707 in September. The laws will go into effect on Jan. 1.
Chau is facing off against Esthela Torres Siegrist in November to represent the 49th State Assembly District. Both Chau and Siegrist have been invited to share their ideas and platforms on Alhambra Source.