Progress in Regional Bike Share
Last month, I hosted a second regional bike share stakeholder meeting to further our efforts in creating a comprehensive, functional and user-friendly bike share program for the entire Los Angeles region. The second meeting was attended by representatives from the County of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), and the cities of Beverly Hills, Culver City, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood, as well as bicycle advocates from throughout the region. The purpose of the second meeting was to provide feedback on the initial phase of an implementation prepared by Metro that incorporated many of the issues identified by all of the stakeholders at the original meeting last October. This feedback will also be provided to Metro’s governing board at their next public hearing on January 23rd in the hopes of obtaining full authority for moving forward with the initial phase of the plan. At the first meeting, all the stakeholders acknowledged that a regional, compatible system that cities can opt into when ready must be the primary goal. However, everyone also acknowledged that the coordination of various elements such as bike infrastructure, potential vendors, funding options, bicycle kiosk locations, safety education, advertising or sponsorships, and governance amongst so many local agencies will require many more discussions. The initial meeting was convened out of concern that cities in our region may begin to develop bike share programs independently, which could easily be incompatible with their neighbouring city, making the system worthless for riders who cross multiple cities in their commute. Not only would this be impractical for many commuters, but it would take many years before compatibility issues are resolved. The various bike share vendors and operators use different bikes, kiosks, and locking devices and their contracts with the local agencies could last multiple years. Additionally, there are significant start-up costs that would need to be reinvested should a city or the county switch vendors or operators. Requiring commuters to switch bikes in different service areas would also create kiosk location problems since riders would need to switch bikes. These are all of the issues that we are seeking to avoid by creating a regional system.
Reforming California's Film Tax Credit Program
For most of the past century, California, and particularly the Los Angeles region, has been the undisputed World Capital of the Entertainment Industry. And while this title is often associated with the glitz and glamour of high-society celebrities and the iconic Walk of Fame, the entertainment industry is the largest employer in our region and supports the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of middle class people. But now that livelihood is threatened as is our regional and state economy. Financial incentives offered by other states and countries, have lured film and television production away from California. For example, between 2008 and 2009, feature filming days declined by 30 percent. And while 1-hour basic cable television shows have increased 48 percent from 2005 to 2012, California’s market share of these productions dropped 48 percent. During this same period, California’s market share for network show production declined a staggering 58 percent. It is not surprising that the precipitous drop in film and television production has coincided with the aggressive, predatory practices by states such as Louisiana, Georgia and New York and countries such as Canada and Britain. Since creating tax credit and rebate programs, film and television production spending in Louisiana topped $700 million, an 800 percent increase since the state began its tax credit program. Georgia reported $880 million in film and television production spending, a 600 percent increase since their tax incentive program was created. Georgia also reported that the state’s film industry created $3.1 billion in economic activity and 5,000 directly-related jobs. In 2012, New York reported a record number of television productions. While California’s own film tax credit program, created in 2009, has proven effective by recouping a fraction of the runaway production losses of the last decade, our program is still far too insufficient to compete against the other incentive packages. We have still lost 90,000 middle class jobs and $3 billion in wages. Many of our local small businesses that rely on a healthy local entertainment industry have been deeply impacted. Our workforce now finds they must follow those productions across the country in order to make a living. This means sacrificing time with their families or giving up on California and moving. However, in many cases, people are now just unemployed. We cannot stand by and let one of California’s iconic bedrock industries be victimized by the predatory practices of other states and countries. We must stem the flow of runaway production, and then support industry growth with the goal of reclaiming California’s position as the World Capital of the Entertainment Industry. This is why reforming California’s film tax credit program will be one of my top priorities this legislative session. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
2013 Bobcat Protection Act
In my first year as an Assemblymember, I was pleased to introduce twenty bills, ten of which were signed into law. One of the bills I authored was the 2013 Bobcat Protection Act, which will establish no-trapping zones around Joshua Tree National Park and other public parks and wildlife refuges throughout the state. I take seriously Californians' commitment to preserving irreplaceable natural resources and protecting our State’s wildlife from exploitation, and the legislation was aimed at honoring those values. As your Assemblymember, I am in Sacramento to voice your concerns and to take meaningful action to ensure that they are met. As we approach 2014, I am eager to hear what you believe needs to be done to make California a better place. Please feel free to contact me and share your ideas for legislation.
Affordable Care Act
In the month of October, my staff and I hosted two town hall events to provide education forums for the general public regarding the Affordable Care Act ("ACA"), the Federal healthcare legislation that goes into effect on January 1, 2014. The approximately two hundred attendees at each event were provided the opportunity to raise questions and concerns regarding the ACA with our knowledgeable panel of experts including Herb Schultz with the US Dept of Health and Human, and Lisa Finkelstein with LA County Dept of Health Services. Attendees learned valuable information about how to obtain health insurance, how to choose the best plan, and how the ACA will affect their lives going forward. Because the ACA will soon be implemented, and 31% of the population of AD 50 remains uninsured, I hope to organize more town hall events in the coming months.