(SACRAMENTO) – Tuesday, two bills by Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez passed their first policy hurdles with unanimous support in Assembly policy committees. Both bills now move to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
AB 71, Salton Sea Governance, was heard in Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, passing on a vote of 15-0. The bill fills the void created by the elimination of the Salton Sea Restoration Council in 2012. AB 71 empowers the Salton Sea Authority — composed of the Imperial Irrigation District, the Coachella Valley Water District, Imperial and Riverside Counties, and the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians – to work in consultation and collaboration with the Natural Resources Agency to develop a realistic restoration plan for the Sea. In addition, the bill authorizes the Salton Sea Authority to conduct a Funding and Feasibility study, in consultation with the Agency, to evaluate short and long-term funding opportunities to help determine a financially sustainable restoration project. Phil Rosentrater, Deputy Director of Riverside County Economic Development Agency, and Roger Shintaku, Executive Director of the Salton Sea Authority, provided testimony in support. AB 71 is one of three “Save Our Sea” proposals introduced this session by Pérez.
“The unanimous support for these bills in policy committee is an important validation of the approaches we are taking,” said Pérez. “Our Salton Sea governance proposal ensures local participation in Salton Sea restoration and assures funding for a feasibility study that will help to identify fundable restoration alternatives. This approach won broad consensus among stakeholders last year.”
AB 494, Prison Literacy Act Update, passed on a 7-0 vote in Assembly Public Safety Committee. AB 494 updates the 1987 Prison Literacy Act to reflect post-realignment prison education goals established by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) in its April 2012 Blueprint, “The Future of California Corrections.” The Blueprint articulates CDCR’s mission to improve access to rehabilitation programs, including access to academic and literacy programs, placing 70 percent of eligible state prison inmates in programs consistent with their academic and rehabilitative needs. AB 494 seeks to save state dollars and increase public safety by helping to prepare inmates with the basic education skills necessary to successfully live in the communities they return to following their incarceration.
“Our update to the Prison Literacy Act sets basic standards for the use of prison education program dollars that are already in the budget,” explained Pérez. “This is an area of the law that needs to be revisited and updated given the growing need for an educated workforce. Studies show a decrease in recidivism as education level increases. Setting standards to increase the education levels of inmates will help ensure that this population has the skills necessary to live productive lives upon parole.”
To read the bill language, please visit www.leginfo.ca.gov.