Today the Legislature convenes to begin this year’s legislative session. I am excited and optimistic about what we--as a statewide legislative body--can achieve this year. There are two landmark pieces of legislation already introduced this year that I would like highlight.
Legislation by Assemblyman Mark Leno acknowledging the right for all people, regardless of sexual preference, to be married. The time has come for us as a State to treat everybody equally under the law. So long as the state licenses marriages, creates rules about marriages, and provides benefits to married couples, all couples should be able to receive those benefits.
Also being re-introduced this year by Senator Gil Cedillo is legislation to permit all Californians to apply for drivers licenses. The driver’s license bill is common sense legislation to ensure that every Californian is able to go to work, drive safely and earn a living. Immigrant labor drives our economy; nevertheless, our policies ignore this reality. It does not make sense to me to deny immigrants the right to obtain a driver’s license, restricting immigrants from driving their children to school, driving a sick relative to the hospital, or driving to work.
I will be introducing a substantive legislative bill package this year. My flagship bill this year is The California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act of 2005. This bill creates real and genuine campaign finance reform. The problem is clear. Year in and year out we see rivers of campaign contributions flooding into the coffers of politicians. Increasingly, we are seeing campaigns are being funded by special interests, political action committees, large corporate donors, and from those who have a stake in what happens in Sacramento. As the old saying goes, ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune.'
This must stop. The only way to turn around this dependency on special interests to finance campaigns is to create system of public financing. Under my bill the process is simple. A candidate need only gather a small number of $5 dollar contributions from within the district to qualify for the program. It is that simple. We must start looking at the corrosive influence of special interest money has on public policy. We have to turn around the increasing cynicism about our political process. I believe public financing of campaigns is the way to do it.