Typically only one individual is selected for this award, but the extraordinary contributions made this year by Assembly Member Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville), Assembly Member Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) and Sen. Jim Beall (D-San José) all deserved commendation.
League President Stephany Aguilar presented the awards to each of these outstanding legislators during the concluding general session of the League’s 117th Annual Conference & Expo in San José.
Assembly Member Alejo
The League recognized Assembly Member Alejo for his commitment in passing legislation that would restore a redevelopment tool for disadvantaged communities and establish a 25 percent set-aside for affordable housing.
Assembly Member Alejo has consistently championed policies and legislation that improve California’s most struggling communities. Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 24 signed AB 2, which is supported by a wide coalition of business groups including the California Chamber of Commerce and the Western Center on Law and Poverty, authorizes the creation of a new entity at the local level called a Community Revitalization Authority. This will provide a redevelopment option for the most disadvantaged and poorest areas of the state and the newly created entity would be empowered to invest the property tax increment of consenting local agencies (other than schools) and other available funding. The result will be greater employment opportunities, lower crime rates, more affordable housing and the repair of deteriorated and inadequate infrastructure.
League President and Scotts Valley Council Member Stephany Aguilar presented Assembly Member Alejo with the award. “I want to thank Assembly Member Luis Alejo on behalf of California’s cities for his incredible dedication to our state’s most disadvantaged communities. He understands how tax increment financing can be effectively used to transform communities and revitalize the areas that need the most investment.”
Assembly Member Ajejo’s upbringing shaped his views and inspired his public service. Through this background, he brings perspective on the challenges poor communities face and what the redevelopment tool meant for them.
“I’m truly honored to receive this award from the League of California Cities,” states Assembly Member Alejo. “For the past three years I have been working diligently to create policy that will serve as a new effective tool to help and uplift disadvantaged communities throughout the state. I am grateful to have had the support of the League of California Cities and work side by side with them to help the state’s most disadvantaged communities.”
Assembly Member Cooley
Assembly Member Cooley was honored for his leadership in passing the League-supported Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act.
Assembly Member Cooley, a former League first vice president and Rancho Cordova mayor and council member, agreed in late 2014 to serve as author of AB 266, the League and California Police Chiefs Association’s sponsored medical marijuana regulatory framework legislation. AB 266 ultimately became authored by Assembly Member Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) and became part of a legislative package that comprises AB 243 (Wood) and SB 643 (McGuire). This package is known as the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act and is on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk awaiting action.
League President and Scotts Valley Council Member Stephany Aguilar helped present the award to her former colleague on the League board of directors. “I am honored to recognize Ken for his vision and leadership in crafting such a solid framework for medical marijuana. His work on this critical issue was instrumental in ensuring that the framework contains strong provisions that protect the public, local control and patient safety and access.”
Assembly Member Cooley: “I’m honored to be named League of California Cities’ Legislator of the Year. When I agreed a year ago to author the League’s medical marijuana bill, my aim was not simply to support strong local control. I also felt that I could help bring this issue to a successful end after its repeated failures and such a breakthrough would strengthen the institution for future challenges. With the support of the League of California Cities we were able to meet both of those goals this year and I am so very proud of what we have accomplished.”
Steering AB 266 through the various committees of the Assembly with energy and vision, Assembly Member Cooley played a significant role in the drafting and amending of this legislation to ensure it retained the strong local control and public safety provisions that were absolutely imperative for the League’s and California Police Chiefs Association’s continued support. He never wavered in his support of the legislation or in his desire to collaborate with his fellow legislators on this important issue.
The League also presented the Legislator of the Year Award to Sen. Beall for his long-term commitment to transportation issues and his efforts in the most recent legislative sessions to provide a new, sustainable source of funding for California’s state highway and local streets and road system. He has been particularly helpful in ensuring that the critical maintenance needs for the network of local streets and roads remains prominent in these discussions.
Sen. Beall in 2015 introduced SB 16 in the regular legislative session and SBx 1 1 in the Special Session on Transportation Funding to provide up to $4.3 billion in new transportation revenues divided evenly between the state and cities and counties. He is chair of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee and has been appointed as chair of the Joint Legislative Conference Committee on Transportation Funding, which will continue to work on a transportation funding proposal this fall. In addition, his SB 321 this year seeks to provide more stability to the variable gas tax; last year his SB 628 contained the Governor’s new tax increment tool, Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts.
League President and Scotts Valley Council Member Stephany Aguilar presented Sen. Beall with the award in his hometown of San José. “As a former city council member and county supervisor, Sen. Jim Beall understands the importance of the local streets and road network, along with our state highways, to California’s overall mobility, economy and quality of life. We thank him for his efforts, and look forward to continuing to work with him to develop sustainable funding sources to improve the quality of our state and local transportation network.”
Sen. Jim Beall: “As a state senator and a former San Jose city council member, I have witnessed the League of California Cities’ impressive ability to shape progressive legislation that enables our cities to meet the challenges of the 21st century. I consider it a great honor to be chosen as the League’s Legislator of the Year, and I look forward to continue working with the League to make our communities livable, healthy and sustainable.’’
League Board of Directors Creates Distinguished Legislative Leadership Award to Recognize Six Legislators for Leadership in Authoring Medical Marijuana Legislation
The League board of directors on Thursday, Oct. 1 voted to create a new award for legislative leadership. It will be given for the first time in 2015 to the six legislators who worked together this session to secure the passage of a trio of bills to provide for the comprehensive regulation of all aspects of the cultivation, sale and use of medical marijuana with strong local control provisions, including dual state-local licensing and a provision empowering local governments to unilaterally shut down a marijuana business for non-compliance with local licensing requirements.
The package includes AB 266 (Bonta, Cooley, Jones-Sawyer, Lackey, Wood); AB 243 (Wood); and SB 643 (McGuire).
The award will be presented locally to these legislators for their tremendous leadership and collaborative efforts resulting in the development and approval of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act:
- Assembly Member Rob Bonta (D-Alameda);
- Assembly Member Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova);
- Assembly Member Reginald B. Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles);
- Assembly Member Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale);
- Assembly Member Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg); and
- Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg).