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New Glazer bills take on state pensions, renter support, pet safety

Local senator introduces variety of proposed legislation last week

Tri-Valley State Senator Steve Glazer introduced three bills last week aimed at addressing issues on the minds of people across the state: public pensions, rental costs and pet safety.

The pieces of proposed legislation would, respectively, allow new state employees to opt into a 401(k)-style retirement plan, double the California renter's tax credit and let first responders render medical aid to dogs or cats in emergencies without fear of legal repercussions.

All three proposals are designed as commonsense laws to help residents and taxpayers in the state, according to Glazer.

The first bill, introduced by the Orinda Democrat on Valentine's Day, would allow new state employees to opt out of the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and instead choose a self-directed and portable retirement plan.

"This pension reform idea would be good for employees and provide a more stable fiscal foundation for the state," Glazer said. "This new retirement plan would be especially attractive to millennials who do not intend to work for the state their entire lives."

Under Senate Bill 1149, new state employees would be offered a 401(k)-style plan in which their own contributions would be fully matched by the state at the same level the state now contributes to the CalPERS-defined benefit plan, according to Glazer's office.

The change in law would allow those workers, if they leave state employment, to take with them the entire balance in their retirement plan, whereas now state employees who leave pre-retirement can only receive refunds of their own contributions, plus interest. The proposed law would also mean the state would not face an unfunded liability for employees who choose the new option.

Glazer said his proposal is modeled after a University of California plan that has been offered to new employees since 2016, plus several municipalities in the state (including Danville and Glazer's hometown of Orinda) offer a 401(k)-style retirement plan instead of CalPERS.

The next bill, which has co-sponsors on both side of the aisle, would double the state renter's tax credit to $120 for renters filing their taxes as individuals and $240 for joint filers -- the first increase to the credit since 1979, according to Glazer's office.

"This increase is long overdue," Glazer said in announcing SB 1182. "The last time renters got a break, Jimmy Carter was president and Jerry Brown was 41 years old. Rents have skyrocketed since then but the renter's tax credit has remained frozen in time."

The credit goes to individuals with adjusted gross incomes of $40,078 or less and to joint filers with incomes of $80,156 or less.

Glazer noted that state legislators have approved or introduced a range of bills recently to address housing affordability and availability, with the potential to help renters over time as more housing is eventually built.

His new bill, however, directs "relief to the monthly budgets of struggling renters," he said.

The increase in the renter's tax credit would cost the state's General Fund an estimated $230 million a year, according to Glazer's office. In comparison, the home mortgage interest deduction cost more than $4 billion in 2017.

The final bill, SB 1305, would allow emergency responders to apply "mouth-to-snout" resuscitation -- or other urgent care -- to dogs or cat in immediate need without fear of criminal or civil action.

It is currently illegal for anyone without a veterinary license to perform veterinary medicine in California, meaning firefighters and paramedics are not permitted to provide basic first aid to dogs and cats rescued from emergency situations, according to Glazer's office.

The new bill, which has bipartisan support, would change that.

The proposed legislation would make it so a first responder or their employer would not be liable for civil damages or criminal prosecution if they provided pre-veterinary emergency care to an injured dog or cat at the scene of an emergency -- care that could mean the difference between life and death.

"Any first responder who puts mouth to snout to save a poor pooch's or kitty's life deserves only high praise and encouragement," Glazer said. "Our pets are so important to us, that we all would appreciate any effort to save them in an emergency. We should reward, not punish, those who protect our pets."

The bill would not require first responders to treat animals. Rather, it would condone them providing emergency medical services to stabilize the dog or cat such as opening and manually maintaining an airway, managing ventilation by mask, controlling hemorrhage with direct pressure or immobilizing fractures, according to Glazer's office.

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