Assemblyman Tom Lackey updated the Government Affairs committee on some legislation and opined on the insurance situation.
By Mary-Justine Lanyon
“This is an exciting time in the state legislature,” Assemblyman Tom Lackey told members of the Government Affairs committee at their Aug. 1 meeting. The committee is part of the Lake Arrowhead Communities Chamber of Commerce.
Accompanied by his district director, Pamela Balch, Lackey attended the meeting in person.
“We’re down to the last month (of this legislative session),” he said, adding some controversial bills had been put off. “We have 1,500 to wrestle with,” he said.
Many of those bills are job related, including one that would set a $25 minimum wage for healthcare workers.
AB 898 requires the reporting of all injuries to staff and residents in juvenile facilities, where the age has been increased to 26. “They had not been monitoring the increased violence to staff,” Lackey said. “We are trying to get a more even picture.”
He is also pleased about AB 1435, which increases the maximum age of those applying to the California Highway Patrol from 35 to 40. “A lot of people moving out of military service would like to transition to the CHP,” Lackey, himself a CHP officer for nearly 30 years, said.
Numerous times, Lackey noted, the legislature had tried to address child trafficking and increase the penalty for someone so convicted. SB 14, introduced by Senator Shannon Grove, passed out of the Senate by a unanimous vote of 40-0. From there it went to the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee, where it did not pass.
The bill, Lackey said, would allow this offense to be considered a serious felony and qualify for the three-strike law. “Public Safety did not have the decency to pass it,” Lackey said. “People became outraged. The feedback was incredible. It got to the governor’s ear and he took interest in this.”
The governor, Lackey said, “put pressure on the legislative leadership. We met the next day on the Assembly floor and voted for the Public Safety Committee to readdress and reconsider the bill. They met and it barely passed – two members still couldn’t support it. The good news is it’s moving forward now.”
To date every fentanyl bill has been killed, Lackey said. “I think that will change. To this point, the Public Safety Committees have squashed them.”
Committee member Cindy Gardner raised the issue of homeowners insurance with Lackey. “The big companies are pulling out. Is this a game being played by the insurance companies? It’s like a poker game. The insurance companies want to change how they set rates. The Department of Insurance is resisting that. The community pays the price.
“So many on the mountain have been pushed to the California Fair Plan,” Gardner said. “Then they have to add a supplemental plan. My little add-on piece increased 58 percent this year. I challenged it. I am not in the same risk factor as someone in Northern California out in the boonies with no hydrant, no water supply, no mitigation. We have fierce mitigation up here.”
Committee chair Laura Dyberg added that she is now hearing that the insurance issue is affecting real estate as people can’t close escrow due to the insurance costs.
“Right now, this is a very serious problem,” Lackey said. “Cal Fire has the authority to draw up the maps. A lot of become highly controversial. Unfortunately, the majority of the legislature does not live in rural areas. Their sympathy is not where it needs to be, their heart is not where it needs to be.
“A significant number of them,” Lackey added, “think people shouldn’t be living in remote areas of the state. That’s how crazy some of these people are. They really don’t care. People don’t understand how bad and unfair this is.
“It’s called the California Fair Plan but it is everything but fair,” Lackey said. “All the communities need to be very vocal.”
The assemblyman noted he had been at a community meeting the night before in Lucerne Valley. “The fire chief said that, when the maps get presented to county leadership, they are mandated to pass them, to say yes. What kind of system is that? Why is there even a vote if they are mandated to say yes?
“It’s becoming unfair, undemocratic. We need to pay attention, push back,” Lackey said, noting that his insurance had been canceled. “I live in the desert with a hydrant in front of my house.
“We all need to work together. I know how bad it is.”