Senator Josh Becker’s March ‘23 Newsletter
Welcome to my March newsletter!
While we certainly need the rain, it’s startling to see the amount of damage the accompanying wind storms have done to homes and businesses in the area. Tens of thousands of people lost power, mostly in San Mateo County, in the late February storms and it is just unacceptable that our electricity grid seems to be so fragile.
I certainly applaud and thank the workers who toiled around the clock to bring the power back up in some pretty treacherous conditions. That being said, as long as PG&E relies on an infrastructure that seems more 1923 than 2023, we’re going to continue to see these problems. This has to change. Having the light go on when you flip on the switch is not an unreasonable expectation in an economy that is the fourth largest in the world.
If you suffered any damages as a result of the power outages – perhaps you had to stay in a hotel or you had food spoil in your refrigerator – you may be entitled to compensation from PG&E. To find out more, fill out a PG&E claim form as soon as possible.
Also this winter, the skyrocketing price of natural gas has led to some alarmingly high power bills for many people in our area. If your PG&E bills are too high, see if you qualify for PG&E’s California Alternative Rates for Energy (CARE) Program. Qualified applicants may be able to save as much as 20% on their monthly power bills.
Around the Peninsula
Canopy's Teen Urban Foresters
As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is today! I really appreciate Canopy for letting me and my team join in with their tree planting at KIPP Valiant Community Prep. Greening schools help children with cleaner air, provide immeasurable aesthetic benefits, and maybe even will allow for some good old tree climbing in the future!
Java With Josh
It was great to see nearly 50 people at Mazra Mediterranean Restaurant last month for my latest “Java With Josh.” I was fortunate to be joined by San Bruno Mayor Rico Medina and I really enjoyed all of the great questions and the terrific give-and-take with folks.
I’m not sure just yet when and where I’ll be buying coffee next, but stay tuned!
Black History Month
I recently had the good fortune to join students from local Arbor Bay Elementary School on a tour of the Domini Hoskins Black History Museum. Right now, it’s a “pop-up” museum at the old Cost Plus site in downtown Redwood City, hosting thousands of artifacts from San Mateo County and beyond. Thank you to Carolyn Hoskins for the tour and for your dedication to Black history!
Burlingame Women's Club
I had a great time at the Burlingame Women's Club last month, catching up with old friends and getting a chance to talk about climate issues, housing, education and a host of other topics. Thank you so much for the invitation and for making me feel so welcome!
Having a spirited discussion with Burlingame Vice-Mayor Donna Colson.
Tax Filing Deadlines Extended!
Normally, this would be the time of year when we have to start thinking about filing our annual tax returns, but because the December and January storms led to a disaster being declared in 44 of California’s 58 counties (including San Mateo and Santa Clara), the deadline has been extended for most filers in those affected counties.
The deadline to file for most Americans is Tuesday, April 18 because the traditional April 15 deadline falls on a Saturday, and Monday, April 17, is recognized as Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C.
However, because of the terrible storms we endured at the beginning of this year, the deadlines to file both your California state income tax return and your federal income tax return have been extended to October 16.
If you or someone you know needs help preparing their taxes, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free help for taxpayers who qualify.
Also, if you have children, make sure you check to see if you qualify for the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), which is designed to help working people who earn less than $30,000 a year. You can find out if you qualify by using CalEITC4Me’s online calculator.
Re-Enrolling In Medi-Cal Coverage
An estimated 3 million Californians are in danger of losing their Medi-Cal coverage if they don’t re-enroll soon.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the federal government added dozens of protections and increased benefits in Medicaid programs across the nation (in California, we call Medicaid “Medi-Cal”) and eliminated the annual eligibility reviews for people.
The federal COVID-19 emergency will end in May, meaning everyone in the Medi-Cal program will need to pass an eligibility review. You should get a renewal form in the mail, so if you do, fill it out and return it right away to keep yourself and your family covered.
However, if you don’t get a letter – or you don’t want to wait – visit KeepMediCalCoverage.org to re-enroll as soon as possible. If you are no longer eligible, you may be transferred to Covered California, the Affordable Care Act program that started offering insurance in 2014 and is designed to provide subsidies for low- and middle-income people.
What's Happening in Sacramento
The first couple of months of the legislative session are when the overwhelming majority of new measures are introduced that we’ll be discussing and voting on through the spring, summer and early fall.
I have introduced 24 bills this year, covering a wide variety of topics. I won’t detail all of them here, but you can check them all out on the Legislature’s bill information website. A handful I will mention are:
SB 308 will encourage companies to develop products and strategies to remove carbon dioxide from the air to help California meet its carbon dioxide reduction targets.
SB 382, the California Workforce Pay for Success Act, will help uplift under- or unemployed Californians by providing money to private, non-profit workforce development programs with a proven track record of training workers for successful careers.
SB 420, the California Transmission Prioritization Act (CalTPA) will make it easier and quicker to build the 15,000 miles of new transmission lines California is estimated to need to modernize its power grid.
SB 719, the Law Enforcement Communications Transparency Act, will return California to the 90+ year old practice of making police radio communications available to members of the media.
"There Oughta Be A Law"
I know many of you are anxiously looking forward to hearing about the winner of my “There Oughta Be A Law” contest!
I was fortunate to have a number of good ideas submitted and I’m still deciding which one I want to move forward with this year. Stay tuned for an update in next month’s newsletter!
How To Reach Me
Whenever you’re having a problem with a state agency, need information about state programs or want to voice your opinion about bills and issues pending before the Legislature, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can reach me at (650) 212-3313 or firstname.lastname@example.org and you can always check out what I’m up to on Twitter at @SenJoshBecker and on Facebook at fb.me/Sen.Josh.Becker.
Senator, 13th District