District Report - January 2021
Hope your new year is off to a good start. We are all looking toward better days in 2021.
A promising development is the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in our state. Administering vaccines to everyone is critical to ending the pandemic. Learn more about our rollout guidelines.
At the same time, lawmakers are working with Gov. Gavin Newsom on a much-needed pandemic relief package to support people and businesses struggling through these tough economic times. Highlights are in this newsletter.
We heard a detailed update on the pandemic and schools at my Jan. 12 virtual town hall featuring state Superintendent Tony Thurmond. Watch the video.
Our next virtual town hall – on COVID-19 and housing -- will be Feb. 9. Look for more details to come.
In this Issue:
- Vaccines Arrive in California w/FAQs
- Overview of Governor's Proposed Budget
- Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program
- Cash for College - Grants Available
- In the News
As always, my office is available to help you with a state agency or answer any questions you might have. You can contact me by visiting my website.
Senator, 3rd District
Californians have made extraordinary sacrifices to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Help is on the way as the state begins its rollout of safe and effective vaccines. California’s vaccine efforts are led by the California Department of Public Health.
These FAQs provide general information about the vaccine and will be updated as additional information becomes available:
Has California received COVID-19 vaccines? Yes. California has started to receive shipments of COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna. The federal Food and Drug Administration is reviewing additional potential vaccines for possible approval.
What information is available about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines? The Pfizer vaccine has received authorization for use on people 16 years and older. There are two doses given 21 days apart. It is 95 percent effective against COVID-19 one week after the second dose. The Moderna vaccine has received authorization for use on people 18 years and older. There are two doses given 28 days apart. It is 94 percent effective against the virus two weeks after the second dose.
What are the benefits of being vaccinated? These vaccines are meant to prevent you from getting COVID-19. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that getting a vaccine also may help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.
Can the vaccine give me COVID-19? No. The currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines do not contain live COVID-19 virus. The vaccines therefore cannot make you sick with COVID-19. The goal of the vaccines is to teach our immune systems how to fight the virus. The vaccines also will not cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current COVID-19 infection.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe? Yes. The vaccines have received an emergency authorization use from the FDA. In addition, California has its own Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. The expert members of this Workgroup have confirmed that the vaccines have met high standards for safety and efficacy.
Additional information may be found on the website of the California Department of Public Health: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/ncov2019.aspx
Also, information about vaccine safety may be found on the CDC’s website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety.html
Despite the tough year we just had, responsible budgeting has left us in a good position to invest in what’s most important to Californians. Right now, that means supporting a robust public health system faced with an unprecedented challenge and help for small businesses struggling to hang on. We need to improve wildfire protection and this budget does that. Overall, I think Gov. Newsom presents a thoughtful foundation that I look forward to building upon with my legislative colleagues.
Gov. Newsom’s $227 billion budget makes a substantial investment in COVID-19 response and recovery while supporting essential services including schools, wildfire safety, housing and homelessness mitigation.
- $85.8 billion investment in schools with a focus on the safe reopening of in-person instruction.
- $4.4 billion in emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic. Included is $372 million for vaccines, $2 billion for testing and $473 million for contact tracing.
- $4.5 billion economic recovery package and $2.4 billion in economic stimulus. The proposal includes $575 million in small business grants and $71 million in fee waivers.
- Individual stimulus checks of $600 to more than four million Californians.
- $1 billion in wildfire prevention, response and recovery with $323 million for fire resiliency programs. Includes more firefighting crews and aircraft. Remote monitoring and systems for prepositioning of resources.
- $1 billion for new and low-income housing construction.
- $1.1 billion for homelessness
- The proposal maintains a healthy $34 billion in combined reserves and surplus.
Gov. Newsom previewed his Equitable Recovery for California’s Businesses and Jobs plan earlier this month as part of his proposed 2021-22 state budget. It called for immediate legislative action on $575 million in additional grants for the California Relief Grant Program. This investment will add to the initial $500 million allocation announced November 30, bringing the total amount for the Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program to $1.075 billion.
The Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program offers grants up to $25,000 to micro and small businesses and nonprofits that have been impacted by the pandemic. Grants will be distributed across the state, with priority given to regions and industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, disadvantaged communities and underserved small business groups. All applications will be considered and prioritized based on impact.
Round 1 for the Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program has closed. But because of overwhelming demand, a second round of applications will open at 8 a.m. Feb. 2 and will run through 6 p.m. Feb. 8. Applicants who submitted all necessary documents in the first round and met eligibility requirements, but did not receive a grant, do not need to reapply; their applications will be rolled over for consideration in the second round.
For more information on grant requirements and eligibility, please visit CAReliefGrant.com.
The application period for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is required to access most financial aid, is now open. Paying for college can be difficult, but California has always been a leader in providing eligible students with an affordable college education.
The Cal Grant is a need-based state financial aid program that has been a big part of making college affordable for many California families. Qualified students can receive up to $12,630 in funding to attend almost any college in California – awards vary depending on economic need, grades and the college you attend.
Don't delay! The deadline to apply is March 2. For more information or to file your application, visit the California Student Aid Commission.
Undocumented students meeting certain criteria can apply for student aid through the California Dream Act program.
Additionally, we passed AB 19 in 2017, creating the California Community College Promise Program to provide tuition-free education at a Community College for one academic year for all first-time, full-time students. To learn more, click here.
Below are some of the latest news stories that may be of interest to you. As always, please contact my office if you have any questions about state policy or want to express your position or ideas for legislation.
- California budget calls for $15 billion in economic relief
- Sen. Dodd introduces power reliability bill
- Legislators sound off on U.S. Capitol attack
- North Bay senator proposes wildfire tech innovation center
- Dodd hosts state schools chief in virtual town hall
- Legislation to restore Mare Island Naval Cemetery becomes law