A trio of bills from local Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) were introduced in the State Legislature last week, two focusing on climate change and the other addressing gendered language in the California Government Code.
Rolling blackouts left more than 800,000 California homes and businesses without power during a record heatwave last summer. As a result, Bauer-Kahan drafted Assembly Bill 427, which requires the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to create guidelines for the state to purchase excess power stored in solar-powered home batteries and electric cars.
"We owe it to Californians to use every tool available in our clean energy arsenal to mitigate these blackouts, while at the same time reducing the state's dependence on fossil fuels," Bauer-Kahan said. "Figuring out appropriate guidelines to tap this massive unused energy source is simply common sense."
The excess clean energy in consumers' homes and cars "could have filled gaps in supply, during these times of high demand for power, by being aggregated and sold to the grid -- helping to prevent devastating outages," Bauer-Kahan said.
AB 426, known as the "Air Quality Analysis Act," which allows local air districts to collect data from "indirect" pollution sources like warehouses and distribution centers, was also introduced by the Tri-Valley representative last week. The districts would also be allowed to evaluate the health impacts of the pollution sources on surrounding communities, thereby helping "look for innovative ways to reduce toxic air contaminants and make our air more breathable."
"Every community deserves safe and breathable air," Bauer-Kahan said. "Communities should not have to be forced to choose between affordable housing and clean air. We should be doing everything in our power to find the sources of these harmful pollutants so we can in turn find solutions for communities."
Jack Broadbent, executive director of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, said the district is "grateful" for AB 426's introduction and "proud to sponsor this important bill."
"In addition to causing regional pollution impacts, emissions from transportation and goods movement can cause significant local public health impacts to people that live near large facilities such as warehouses and distribution centers," Broadbent said. "AB 426 would allow the Air District to better understand these local emission impacts and work with facilities and local communities to improve local air quality."
The Tri-Valley legislator also teamed up with Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis in introducing AB 378, or the "Gender Equity in Leadership Act," on Feb. 1.
AB 378 "seeks to update woefully outdated and gender-specific code sections relating to the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Controller, Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner, and Board of Equalization," and make all references to the office holder's gender be neutral.
"Current language in our law that assumes our Governor or our constitutional officers could only ever be a 'he' plays into the sexist bias that we in California have been fighting" Bauer-Kahan said. "Gendered language is neither precise nor accurate. Gender-neutral language reflects that anyone, regardless of gender identity, can serve at the highest levels of California government."
Bauer-Kahan continued, "In 2021, we have our first elected female Lieutenant Governor, a female Controller, Treasurer, and Secretary of State. The majority of California's constitutional offices are held by women, yet the California Government Code refers to those office holders as men."
The bill would "systematically" go through the Government Code, "eliminating gendered language in reference to government officers, as well as other members of government and the public."