It's been said that as California goes, so goes the country. If that's true and based on last week's 15th town hall by State Senator Steve Glazer, a Democrat, and Republican Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, there's hope that the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate and the president will yet see eye-to-eye on some bipartisan legislation.
Baker and Glazer have been traveling their districts to show that members of opposite political parties can stand together on major state issues.
They were together again last week, sharing the stage before several hundred participants in Foothill High School's multi-purpose room Feb. 27.
"We look for common ground, see where there might be differences and then work through them," Glazer said, adding that the two of them have voted together about 85% of the time.
They talked about that common ground as they reviewed their accomplishments in the legislature and views on pending issues.
Gun control: Glazer pointed out that California was the first state to ban assault weapons and continues to have some of the toughest gun laws in the country.
"Even so," Baker said, "we still have problems. Convicted felons, for instance, are not allowed to have guns, but they do. We need to fix that. We need stiffer penalties for violators."
Colleges: Both oppose tuition increases of $342 proposed for the University of California and $228 for California State University campuses. They cited an audit that showed the last tuition increase was used to fund office perks and excessive executive and administrative personnel salaries.
Glazer also urged colleges to enable students to graduate in four years. Four-year graduation rates for those who started as freshmen in 2013 now total 30% or less because they can't get all the classes they need in those four years.
Housing: Baker and Glazer endorsed the June ballot's $4 billion bond to finance low-income home building and provide home loans for military veterans. They were less enthused by other housing measures that ease local development restrictions.
Conservation: Glazer wants property tax relief for homeowners who install solar and fire sprinkler systems, and tax credits for those who install rain water capture systems.
"In Australia, a third of all homes have systems to recapture water," Glazer said. "I like that idea."
Oroville Dam: Baker praised Gov. Jerry Brown for signing into law two weeks ago Assembly Bill 1270 that protects water storage. It was prompted by last year's crack in Lake Oroville Dam's main and emergency spillways, causing the evacuation of more than 180,000 people living downstream.
"We were just 45 minutes away from that dam breaking," Baker said. "There was no reason for that to happen."
Bullet train: Baker said this could be a crucial year for the troubled multibillion-dollar high-speed rail project. Always opposed by Baker, Glazer said he regretfully voted for it.
Costs have gone up by more than one-third since 2016 with the rail authority now spending about $500 million a year, Glazer said. But both he and Baker said there may be bipartisan support in the legislature to cancel the project.
Glazer, a former mayor of Orinda, won a special election to the State Senate in May 2015 and was re-elected to a four-year term two years ago. He represents the 7th District, which encompasses most of Contra Costa County and the eastern portions of Alameda County, including Pleasanton.
Baker, a lawyer, was first elected to the State Assembly in 2014, re-elected two years ago, and is a candidate for re-election this year. Serving in the 16th Assembly District, she represents Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley and Lamorinda.