SACRAMENTO - Senator Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno) revealed key legislative initiatives he will be introducing for the 2021-22 legislative session. These proposals aim to bring relief and assistance to people and businesses affected by COVID-19, enhance wildfire response capabilities, and provide services to rural California.
“California needs to focus on its comeback as we await vaccine distribution and combat the pandemic,” said Senator Borgeas. “I intend to tackle California’s most pressing issues and move towards revitalizing our economy while protecting the health and safety of our community. I look forward to working with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to earn their support on these measures.”
Below are a select number of measures in Senator Borgeas’ bill package. (Note: These bills are awaiting bill assignment numbers):
Keep California Working Act - With the Governor’s recently announced proposal to provide $500 million in grant relief money for small businesses, California deserves more aggressive investment in business relief efforts to revitalize our economy. The Keep California Working Act would invest $2.6 billion (10% of California’s projected surplus) in grants to help small businesses that have sustained financial losses. This bill will be introduced with an urgency clause so that it can take effect immediately upon approval.
Shield Businesses and Schools Act - California’s businesses, schools and workers have taken extraordinary precautions to protect their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year two bipartisan measures that I supported and helped craft, AB 1035 and AB 1384, would have provided legal protections for schools, businesses, and their employees from third party lawsuits so long as they adhered to state and local health protocols. These were never granted a hearing in the Senate. Under this act, these proposals will be reintroduced and will incentivize businesses and school sites to abide by the guidelines while also shielding them from predatory COVID-19 related lawsuits.
California Small Business Fairness Act - Last year I introduced Senate Bill 1457, which would have encouraged state agencies to work with small businesses and establish policies to waive or reduce civil penalties and fines. This bill received unanimous support in the Senate, passed the Assembly Jobs Committee, but was not granted in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. I plan to reintroduce this bill in order to provide regulatory relief to businesses especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Disaster Response and Reform Act - With record wildfires amidst a global pandemic, many challenges arose during emergency evacuation and response efforts. For instance, thousands of residents were evacuated during the Creek Fire near Shaver Lake, but concerns existed about the potential transmission of COVID-19. While agencies and organizations rose to the challenge to safely assist residents, this piece of legislation would require the state to develop protocols in the event two public emergencies exacerbate one another and further complicate victim assistance efforts.
Rural Internet Connectivity Act - COVID-19 has emphasized existing disparities in rural communities regarding Internet accessibility. While schools transition in and out of remote learning, students without internet access are falling behind at alarming rates. This piece of legislation would initiate efforts to expand broadband service in isolated rural areas of California.