Face-to-face with Rep DeSaulnier

This first-hand account was written by CA-11 team members Toni Henle, Ted Lam, and Kristen Law

Representative Mark DeSaulnier met with us on December 7 to discuss his plans for the new blue Congress, and our request that he support Indivisible East Bay’s planned January 3, 2019 rally. The rally will be part of Indivisible National’s coordinated day of action at Members of Congress’s offices nationwide as the new Congress convenes. One primary aim of the January 3 rallies is to urge the House to pass H.R. 1 (House Resolution 1) as soon as possible without watering it down or breaking it up. The bill, titled “Strengthening Our Democracy,” is a bold democracy reform package focused on voter empowerment and access, getting big money out of politics, and cracking down on corruption.

We particularly wanted to hear DeSaulnier’s plans for two key committees of which he’s a member: Education and the Workforce, and Transportation and Infrastructure. He may become Chair of the Workforce Protection Subcommittee of the Education and the Workforce Committee, and told us that if he does his priorities for the subcommittee include:   

  • Holding field hearings on worker protection issues in West Virginia, Michigan and other states, since the current administration has not pursued violations related to worker protection.
  • Updating the WARN Act (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988), which now requires employers to notify the government and workers when layoffs are planned; changes would require employers to mitigate the effects of layoffs.
  • Changing calculations of tax incentives for local jurisdictions that want to bring in large businesses, in order to make it harder for corporations to play local governments off each other; this would be done, among other ways, by requiring “proscriptive” cost-benefit analysis of any proposed deal.
  • Making higher education more accessible through a constitutional amendment guaranteeing a free public education through college.

On the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, DeSaulnier is committed to infrastructure development that will both reduce climate-warming pollution and improve our economy.  He told us: “In California, we’ve been able to demonstrate that both are possible.” In his position on the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, DeSaulnier shared a desire to model “value capture” for transportation and infrastructure improvements: that is, using public financing tools that recover a share of the value transit creates. Revenue from value capture strategies can be used to repay debt incurred in financing the upfront costs of building infrastructure and fund the operations and maintenance costs of transit systems.

DeSaulnier is also a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which will be conducting hearings on the Trump administration. We didn’t have time to get into specifics, but very much look forward to following that committee’s work and engaging with him about it in the future.

Other items we discussed included the Green New Deal, election security, increasing youth civic engagement, and working with Rep. John Sarbanes (D- MD) to address independent campaign expenditures, also known as dark money.

Rep. DeSaulnier agreed to provide a statement for our January 3, 2019 rally and said his staff would work with us on the specifics.

Interested in working with the CA-11 team? Email us at indivisibleca11@gmail.com

Toni Henle is retired after a career in policy work at non-profits focused on workforce development. She is a member of the IEB Governance Committee, co-lead of Outreach to Organizations and a member of the Indivisible East Bay CA-11 team.

Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer. Ted is a member of the Indivisible East Bay Governance Committee and is co-lead of the Indivisible East Bay CA-11 team.

Kristen Law lives in East Richmond. When she is not working as a Community Engagement Specialist or teaching and practicing yoga, you can find her snuggling her pets, saving butterflies or testing vegan recipes. She was one of the founding members of Indivisible East Bay and co-leads the CA-11 team.