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The California state Capitol / Image via Shutterstock

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday night ordered all Californians to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The order, which you can read here, does not have an expiration date.

Newsom also said he will deploy National Guard troops to assist with food distribution, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Earlier in the week, the Legislature passed a bill granting $500 million in emergency funding, and allows for an additional $500 million if necessary. A separate measure provides additional resources for schools.

After initially saying the Legislature would continue with business as usual, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins announced lawmakers would be going on hiatus. On Monday, the Legislature passed Atkins’ SR 86, which allows her to appoint or remove members of a standing committee during an emergency, and for lawmakers and the public to participate in sessions remotely.

The state Franchise Tax Board announced Californians now have until July 15 to file their taxes.

The Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council launched a website where people can report hate crimes related to the coronavirus.

How San Diego Legislators Are Reacting to the Crisis

We reached out to the members of San Diego’s Sacramento delegation to see what they’re working on and prioritizing during the crisis. Here’s what some of them had to say. Their responses have been lightly edited for clarity and style. Sen. Brian Jones provided video responses, which are also included below.

What has your day to day looked like this week?

Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath: This week has brought with it many unexpected turns. As an Assembly member I was proud to pass $1.1 billion in emergency funding for our COVID-19 response on Monday.

My day-to-day since then looks like this:

  • Wake up and make breakfast with my family. My 9-year-old daughter, Maya, loves making banana waffles. Discuss daily schedules and routines. Family yoga or karate.
  • Go into the office or work remotely and address our constituents’ very real concerns about income, jobs, paying rent and business loans.
  • Talk with key stakeholders about impacts of COVID-19 to our local economy, health care system and workforce. If not already addressed by the Governor’s Office, ensure that they are on the agenda. I have to say I am very impressed with Gov. Newsom’s response. It is data-driven and holistic, which makes me very thankful to be living in and serving in elected office in California.
  • Take phone meetings with local organizations, elected officials and our military leaders to ensure a coordinated response to COVID-19.
  • Head home. Review my kids’ daily work and art.
  • Make dinner as a family. Play board games (our favorite right now is Unstable Unicorns). Relax and watch the “Great British Baking Show” with my daughter while my husband and son play some video games. Sometimes I’ll video conference with my friends once the kids are in bed.

Assemblyman Todd Gloria: It’s been focused on constituent service. I have been personally reaching out to impacted constituents, businesses, and other elected officials in my district to see how they are doing and what they need from us. My staff has been doing the same and is briefing me regularly. I’ve also been in contact with the speaker and governor’s office to get updates and advocate for resources or policy changes we need.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez: Well, no day has looked the same. We were in Sacramento at the beginning of the week so we adjourned and came home, and everyday going into the office, we try to triage the requests coming in and the questions. We are, twice a day, on staff calls with our entire staff to make sure we’re putting out accurate information and answer calls accurately, making sure what’s going on with the administration, people’s benefits, school closures, school lunches — just making sure we’re getting accurate information out there.

Sen. Ben Hueso: To protect public health and slow the transmission of the coronavirus, our physical offices are temporarily closed. However, our full staff from the district and Capitol offices are working remotely to continue to serve our constituents.

We are experiencing a high volume of calls and emails from constituents, many with the same concerns including these and more:

  • Financial assistance, such as unemployment insurance
  • Food assistance, including schools providing meals for children during the closures
  • Evictions, tenant and landlord rights, and other rental issues
  • Price gouging and other consumer issues, including deposits on celebrations/weddings
  • Property and income tax postponements
  • Small business loans and other financial assistance
  • DMV and other government office services/closures

We are working long hours to refer constituents to the appropriate state agencies for assistance, and engaging directly with those state agencies, as well as nonprofits, school districts and other community organizations to provide information to constituents about available resources.

Sen. Brian Jones:

Are you still working on other bills while the Legislature is out?

Boerner Horvath: I think we will definitely re-evaluate which bills are necessary to move this year. Addressing the pandemic, and enabling our subsequent economic and social recovery response, will be the highest priority. There are probably one or two bills I already introduced that we will move forward with because the issue is urgent even in a pandemic. I do think one should expect a shift in everyone’s bill package when we return to the Capitol. But until then there is much work to do.

Gloria: Yes, but it’s not the priority. Right now, combating coronavirus and keeping the public safe and healthy is the top priority. It remains to be seen whether we will be able to adhere to the legislative calendar or if it will be amended.

Gonzalez: We’re going to work on bills, but honestly everything we do is to serve our constituents and make sure we have accurate information. We’re much more concerned with providing state information and general information, like what are grocery stores hours, what is actually being passed in each jurisdiction about tenants’ rights.

Hueso: While things are understandably different now with telework, we are still actively working on legislation and engaging with stakeholders to advance our legislative package. However, right now our priority is working with our colleagues and community to help flatten the curve and mitigate its socioeconomic impacts. To that effect, our Capitol staff is also working with the governor’s administration and budget committee staff on the recent emergency funding granted by the Legislature to help combat the spread of coronavirus in California.

The two budget bills (SB 89 and SB 117) provide $500 million in general fund monies and authorizes increases up to $1 billion to help the state fight COVID-19. The funding will be used to:

  • Increase hospital bed capacity and purchase medical equipment;
  • Protect hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities most vulnerable to spread of the disease;
  • Provide lifesaving services to Californians who are isolating;
  • Support local governments in an effort to reduce the spread in homeless populations and provide safe beds for those experiencing homelessness;
  • Fund the cleaning of childcare facilities that remain open.

In addition, the budget package authorizes $100 million in Proposition 98 general fund monies for personal protective equipment, cleaning for schools that remain open, and allowing schools to maintain funding despite service disruptions.

The first allocation of the $500 million in emergency funding was made on Wednesday, when the governor directed $150 million for local emergency homelessness actions.

Jones: 

What are your biggest priorities for helping constituents and California residents through the coronavirus outbreak?

Boerner Horvath: My priorities have always been focused on my district and constituents. In an emergency, this is even more true. People who can’t go in to work or are losing their jobs because of this crisis are going to need assistance from wherever they can get it, and that’s part of where my team and I come in. We are working with constituents, residents, non-profits, service providers, cities and school districts and small businesses to ensure they have what they need to get through the next few months. I’m calling up our local chambers of commerce, school boards, senior centers and community resource centers to ask them what they need most in this time and the sorts of problems they’re experiencing. With updated information daily coming from all levels of government, we have set up a webpage to consolidate information. People can find that page by going to my Assembly website at https://a76.asmdc.org and clicking the red banner at the top of the screen.

Gloria: Connecting constituents to resources, being accessible to them for that purpose, and advocating for them. The coronavirus outbreak is impacting every part of everyone’s daily life – and people are scared. My goal is to do everything I can to help them and their families weather this crisis. We will get through this.

Gonzalez: Ours is just to keep people afloat. We want to make sure people have enough food to eat. We’ve been working with food banks and our schools to make sure people, without regards to immigration status, have enough to eat. Making sure our constituents losing their jobs can apply for unemployment insurance. Making sure our tenants don’t get evicted, our homeowners aren’t foreclosed upon. Making sure they know their rights. Making sure SDGE wasn’t going to turn off anyone’s power for nonpayment. Really the basics.

Hueso: Our No. 1 priority right now is the health and well-being of our constituents, our community and our state.

Jones: 

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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