IEB Meets With State Senator Nancy Skinner

On April 27, Indivisible East Bay had our first sit-down meeting with Senator Nancy Skinner, who represents California Senate District 9, covering Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, and several other East Bay cities and towns. We met Senator Skinner in her district office in downtown Oakland, where she spends most Fridays meeting with constituents and groups. We packed a lot into the very short – less than half hour – meeting.

First, Senator Skinner was curious to hear about IEB, especially wondering where most of our members are located and what our relationship is to other local Indivisible groups. Then we launched right into our big questions about why our Democratic legislature has been falling short of the bold, progressive agenda we think it should be capable of. Skinner pointed out that due to resignations we no longer have a Democratic super-majority, which complicates things.

In response to our question about why so many bills get held up—by Democrats— in committee when it looks like they have the votes to pass on the floor, she responded that it depends on the bill:

  • According to Sen. Skinner, SB 100, the 100% Renewable by 2045 energy bill that she co-authored with Sen. Kevin de León, was held up last year because the only version that could have passed at that time and gotten the governor’s signature would have had some harmful “poison pill” provisions attached. She thinks that being patient (and she didn’t say this, but we inferred, waiting for a new governor) will get us a better bill. Of course the longer we wait the better the bill will have to be if it’s going to get us to that 2045 goal. Skinner said this was just one example of the tradeoff between pushing a bill through quickly and ensuring a bill doesn’t have any “poison pill” provisions attached to appease the other side. Sometimes a bill is critical or time-sensitive enough that add-ons may be acceptable, but she usually prefers a “clean” bill.
  • On the other hand, Skinner said that in her opinion the “health care for all” bill, SB 562, the Healthy California Act, was held up in order to protect members who did not want to take a vote.

We moved on to upcoming legislation we want Skinner to support:

  • Assembly Bill 3131 would restrict police and sheriffs’ departments’ ability to buy and use military equipment. Skinner said that it hadn’t made it to her desk yet, but that she would be sure to take a look. We will follow up to make sure she does.
  • When we called AB 3131 a top criminal justice priority, Sen. Skinner asked, what about her Police Misconduct Right-to-Know bill, SB 1421? We were happy to tell her that one is also on our priority list—and we thanked her for introducing it.
  • We also asked her to keep an eye out for AB 3115, the Jails: Voter Education Program bill requiring that county jails allow external organizations to provide voter education to the incarcerated.

We moved on to discuss urban planning, telling Skinner that while there is disagreement within IEB (as across California) about the specifics of SB 827, the controversial “housing near public transit” bill she co-authored, we agree that we want her to do something to address the affordable housing shortage and boost public transit. She told us that she used to be one of those people who thought our government should not do anything to make it easier to build market-rate housing in the Bay Area, but that as she became better acquainted with the situation she came to realize that we need the revenue from that market-rate housing in order to subsidize affordable housing.

On the subject of elections, we asked Skinner whether she was familiar with Risk-Limiting Audits (RLAs). She isn’t, but expressed willingness to read our memo about election infrastructure issues, which includes a section about RLAs, the gold standard of post-election auditing of ballots that election security experts recommend all states implement ASAP. You can read our memo here.

We had no time to go into detail on election infrastructure, health care, immigration, cash bail, or CalFresh and other poverty reduction programs, but we left Skinner a detailed memo and promised to continue the discussion at another, hopefully longer, meeting very soon.

Want to get involved in talking to our state legislators about priority issues? Other state senators representing districts with a large number of IEB members are Bob Wieckowski in Senate District 10, which includes Hayward, Fremont, San Jose, etc.; and Steve Glazer in CA Senate District 7, which includes Walnut Creek, Antioch, Pleasanton, Livermore, etc. We’ve interacted with them in various ways and plan to set up similar meetings soon. Please email us at info@indivisibleEB.org if you want to get involved!

Contact Your Representatives!

Contact Your Members of Congress (Senators and Representatives:

Sen. Kamala Harris (email); (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553; 333 Bush Street, Suite 3225, San Francisco CA 94104

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841; 1 Post Street, Suite 2450, San Francisco CA 94104

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095; 440 Civic Center Plaza, 2nd Floor, Richmond, CA 94804

Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661; 1301 Clay Street #1000N, Oakland CA 94612

Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065; 3615 Castro Valley Blvd., Castro Valley CA 94546

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Contact Your State Representatives and Governor:

Assembly and Senate: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/

Governor Edmund G. Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: (916) 445-2841

End the Tampon Tax

By Rosemary Jordan

California Assembly Bill 9, which would have exempted menstrual products from state sales tax, was introduced before the State Assembly in 2016 but has been held back by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Women across California have gotten LOUD about the absurdity of classifying these products as “luxury” items, and now we have a tiny window to advance a new bill (number pending) being worked on now.

There is still a chance we can #endthetampontax this year. To do that, we need EVERYONE – yes, that means YOU! – to make your voice heard by the Fab Four: Assembly Appropriations Committee Chair Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, Senator (and incoming State Senate President Pro Tempore) Toni Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, and Governor Jerry Brown.

Please call, fax, email, post, visit them in Sacramento or send an urgent postcard. Better yet – do all of the above, and spread the word! Their contact info is below.

What to say:

My name is _____ and my zip code is ______. Taxing menstrual products is unjust and a further burden on those living in deep poverty. Please work to create a solution that advances gender equity. We can’t wait another year for equality and we’re convinced the resources can be found to make up for the lost tax revenue. Where there’s a will for justice, there is always a way. Please be a leader and a role model for equality and get this done! Thank you

Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher:
Capitol Office: State Capitol, Room 2114, P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0080
Tel: (916) 319-2080; Fax: (916) 319-2180
District Office: 1350 Front Street, Suite 6022, San Diego, CA 92101
Tel: 619-338-8090; Fax: 619-338-8099

Senator Toni Atkins:
Capitol Office: State Capitol, Room 4072, Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4039; Fax: (916) 651-4939
San Diego District Office: 1350 Front Street, Suite 4061, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 645-3133; Fax: (619) 645-3144

Speaker Anthony Rendon:
Capitol Office: State Capitol, Room 219, Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 319-2063; Fax: (916) 319-2163
District Office: 12132 South Garfield Avenue, South Gate, CA 90280
Phone: (562) 529-3250; Fax: (562) 529-3255

Governor Edmund G. Brown:
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-2841; Fax: (916) 558-3160

Rosemary Jordan is Co-Founder of Alameda4Impeachment, a registered Indivisible group and a partner in the Citizens Impeachment Coalition, which includes representatives of cities, towns and counties nationwide (including four in the East Bay) that have passed local Impeachment resolutions. Rosemary also serves on the Steering Committee of All Rise Alameda and is co-leader of the End The Tampon Tax In California campaign. She has over 20 years of professional experience in healthcare and aging.