Recent Comments

    Gaining Ground on the Progressive Agenda

    By Assemblymember Phil Ting–

    After California voters gave Democrats a super-majority in both the state Senate and Assembly following the 2018 elections, we were able to send Governor Newsom key bills advancing progressive values by last month’s legislative deadline. Most notable is legislation protecting renters, workers, and the environment.

    With housing costs top of mind for many residents, lawmakers approved AB 1482, a bill that caps rent increases to 5% per year, plus inflation, and makes it more difficult to evict tenants. I am proud to co-author this proposal because it will help millions of renters while housing construction increases over the next few years. When supply can meet demand, housing prices should stabilize—which is why I have two bills on the Governor’s desk that facilitate housing growth.

    The first, AB 68, eases local red tape to encourage more homeowners to build Accessory Dwelling Units, more commonly known as in-law units, backyard cottages, and granny flats; the other, AB 1486, gives affordable housing projects priority to build when surplus government land becomes available.

    Another key victory for progressives is AB 5, which benefits workers in the gig economy and other sectors vulnerable to exploitation. The legislation establishes guidelines in determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, as outlined in a state Supreme Court decision. The distinction is important because employees are entitled to minimum wage, overtime pay, and other benefits. Without it, companies such as Uber and Lyft, for instance, claim that they don’t have to abide by these labor laws. Although Governor Newsom already signed AB 5 into law, some gig economy companies have threatened to challenge it at the ballot box next year, giving voters a chance to repeal it. If it comes to that, I hope voters will see that all workers deserve to be fairly compensated.

    Finally, I’m excited to share progress about my work on recycling. We are in the midst of a crisis, as China and other overseas markets stopped buying much of California’s recycled waste last year. Now, recyclable plastic is stacking up in warehouses, or worse, being sent to landfills. Under my bill, AB 792, California is poised to continue its environmental leadership with the world’s strongest recycling requirement that will help to reduce litter and boost demand for used plastic materials. By 2030, 50% of beverage containers must be made from recycled materials, a standard higher than that mandated in the European Union. In my mind, there’s no sense in making new plastic every time a manufacturer needs a single-use bottle.

    Adding to the already dire situation was the August closure of the state’s largest recycler, rePlanet, which operated hundreds of redemption centers. With fewer and fewer locations available, these closures served a major blow to Californians who turn in bottles and cans to receive their CRV deposits back and to the value of scrap material on which our recycling system depends. My bill, AB 54, is an emergency measure that allocates $5 million to pilot five mobile recycling sites, with at least one location required in a rural area. Another $5 million will be used to help keep our remaining recycling centers open.

    While we await word on the fate of the key housing and recycling bills mentioned above, I’m already looking forward to the new legislative session that will begin in January. I hope to continue to work on ways to move California forward and to further our progressive ideals.

    Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the Westside of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma and Daly City.