Silicon Valley lawmakers pass a flurry of laws
Assemblymember Alex Lee and State Sen. Dave Cortese had numerous bills signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo by Jana Kadah.

    This was a busy term for San Jose representatives in Sacramento. Much of their work made it to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk and was signed by Oct. 14. Most will be enacted  in January. They passed dozens of bills and secured millions of dollars for the South Bay.

    San Jose has two state senators and five assemblymembers representing various parts of the city and Santa Clara County. Here is review of these bills, covering a range of laws from housing to public health to vote rights, among others.

    Alex Lee

    Alex Lee, who represents the northern part of San Jose, had 11 bills  signed by the governor. Lee’s legislation promotes traffic safety, housing development, environmental justice and more.

    He lost out on one bill that came closer to reality this year social housing, but succeeded with others.

    AB 1490 helps increase the supply of affordable housing by providing developer incentives, such as expedited development reviews when existing buildings are repurposed for housing.

    AB 1503 gives students an excused full day for religious retreats per semester.

    Others include AB 604, a bill on water protection to ensure mobile home residents don’t get hit with unfair water service charges. While AB 664, requires landlords to assume responsibility for making sure tenants have access to safe drinking water.

    Aisha Wahab

    Aisha Wahab, the newly elected state senator, represents Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Milpitas and parts of San Jose in addition to Fremont, Hayward, Union City and Newark. She had six bills signed, although her bill to ban discrimination on the basis of caste was vetoed.

    SB 555 identifies pathways for 1.4 million homes through public, nonprofit, cooperative housing and acquisitions to be transformed into affordable housing.

    SB 464 expands the rights of victims and survivors of sexual assault by providing the option of an additional legal expert to ensure timeliness and increases the amount of rape kits available.

    SB 465 increases access to resources and information on the Department of Social Services website for refugees.

    David Cortese

    Sen. Dave Cortese decadeslong political career translated into 15 signed bills this year. He secured $11 million for local investments — including $3 million for a Guaranteed Basic Income Pilot Program to aid homeless high school students in Santa Clara County, and $3 million for the African American Cultural Center of Silicon Valley.

    SB 10, or “Melanie’s Law”, seeks to combat the growing opioid crisis directly in schools. The law makes it a statutory requirement for schools to intervene in cases of opioid abuse and addiction.

    SB 69 and SB 406, eliminates duplicate reviews for affordable housing plans and trims back red tape in the California Environmental Quality Act, known as CEQA.

    Evan Low

    Evan Low represents District 26 which includes Cupertino, San Jose, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale, as well as the unincorporated Santa Clara County districts of Burbank and Fruitvale. Five of his bills were signed.

    Low pushed hard for the enactment of AB 1371, which prohibits convicted rapists from fulfilling court-ordered community service in areas frequented by minors.

    AB 28, effective July 2024, imposes an 11% tax on the purchase of firearms and ammunition. The revenue will go to the newly-created Gun Violence Prevention and School Safety Fund to be used for various gun violence prevention and response programs.

    AB 341 prevents any new cardrooms from opening up and will limit expansion. This is a defeat for San Jose casinos that have been paying additional taxes on the promise it could add 15 new tables.

    Ash Kalra

    Ash Kalra, representing California’s 25th District that encompasses most of San Jose, including the downtown, and open space areas in southeast Santa Clara County. Kalra bill mainly focused on criminal justice reform. Eleven of his bills were signed.

    AB 58 allows counties, including Santa Clara County, to establish a pilot program to operate a deferred  judgment option for eligible defendants. This allows individuals to enroll in and complete an education workshop to have their case dismissed.

    AB 1414 protects consumers from predatory debt collectors by changing the law that allowed a creditor to show the court a list of charges rather than an actual contract proving a debt is owed. Now, debt collectors who file lawsuits will have to do it the same way as everyone else who goes to court.

    Gail Pellerin

    Gail Pellerin, who is in her first term, represents parts of South San Jose down to Santa Cruz. Five of  her 10 bills signed focused on election reform.

    AB 545 expands accessibility for voters with curbside voting available at all polling places. Handheld magnifying glasses and signature cards are required for individuals with vision impairments.

    AB 626 allows voters to return a mail-in ballot at a polling place and have it processed like a normal ballot. Previously, vote-by-mail ballots would require a ballot’s signatures to be compared to the one on file.

    Marc Berman

    Marc Berman, elected in 2016, represents the 23rd district which includes parts of West San Jose. Berman had 12 bills signed into law – ranging from election reform, preservation of financial aid and public health bills.

    AB 537 prohibits hidden fees that hotels tack on, ensuring the advertised price is disclosed upfront.

    AB 948 makes the existing $250 co-pay cap for a 30-day prescription permanent to ensure affordable access the medication.

    AB 1539 makes it a misdemeanor to vote in an election in California and an election on the same date in another state.

    Contact Jana at [email protected] or follow @Jana_Kadah on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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