Sen. Dodd, State Leaders Recap Challenging Yet Productive Year
SONOMA – Despite challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic and climate-driven wildfires, California made significant progress in key areas this year including economic recovery, housing, criminal justice reform and disaster preparedness, Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, and his panelists said during a virtual town hall Monday night.
“We faced a second year of pandemic losses and serious ongoing problems – from wildfires to homelessness to drought,” Sen. Dodd said in a town hall that included panelists Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins. “But Californians are resilient. We are nation leading. Because we observed public health orders to wear masks and practice social distancing early on, we were able get back on track safer and sooner. We got vaccinated in large numbers. Today, nearly 30 million people in Californian are vaccinated. And by June 15, the state was fully reopened.”
Sen. Dodd said the Legislature in partnership with Gov. Gavin Newsom invested a portion of the historic $76 billion budget surplus in ensuring California’s economic comeback, providing stimulus checks to working people and small business grants. At the same time, they funded improvements to K-12 education, homelessness relief and wildfire safety. A record $1.5 billion was dedicated to fuels reduction and forest management to prevent future wildland infernos.
Sen. Atkins, whose bills to address the state’s housing crisis and the effects of sea-level rise were signed by the governor, said the scope of the year’s achievements deserves to be emphasized. She said California had a rare chance “to make generational changes … and we seized that chance,” she said at the town hall.
Gov. Newsom signed seven bills introduced by Sen. Dodd, including Senate Bill 109, which creates the Office of Wildfire Technology Research and Development to find new and innovative ways to prevent and fight fire. He also signed the senator’s SB 332, which expands the use of a time-tested prevention tool – prescribed burning.
On the pandemic recovery front, the governor signed Sen. Dodd’s SB 389, which allows restaurants to sell to-go cocktails with takeout food orders, providing another revenue stream for the hard-hit hospitality sector.
At Monday’s town hall, Lt. Gov. Kounalakis praised SB 389, saying she didn’t know of “anything more important to restaurants … and keeping them alive.”
Sen. Atkins said it “has been a big boost to so many small businesses.”
Other bills from Sen. Dodd that were signed into law include:
- SB 52: Designates “public safety power shutoffs” by utilities to prevent wildfire as local emergencies, making cities and counties eligible to receive federal financial assistance.
- SB 626: Streamlines the contracting process for State Water Project improvements, saving money and ensuring the most efficient delivery of water during the continuing drought.
Senator Bill Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Solano, Yolo, Sonoma, Contra Costa, and Sacramento counties. You can learn more about the district and Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.