Hancock Emphasizes Education Legislation, Gun Control

STATE SENATE//LEGISLATIVE UPDATE | State Sen. Loni Hancock delivered a total of 19 bills these past two months with a clear emphasis on education. However, Hancock’s most famous bill dealt with firearms and was introduced with State Senator Darrel Steinberg last month.

State Sen. Loni Hancock

The firearms bill is complementary to assemblywoman and fellow Berkeley resident, Nancy Skinner’s bill that seeks to restrict and regulate firearms. Hancock’s bill hopes to ban possession of magazine with capacity for more than 10 bullets.

But, Hancock’s large focus on education is unsurprising given her time as the head of the Western Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Education during the Clinton Administration. In addition, to U.C. Berkeley being one of the largest employers in her district. In the past, Hancock has been a vocal opponent to tuition increases and education cuts to higher education. She currently chairs the  State Senate Select Committee on Workforce Development, School Environment, and Student Wellness.

Hancock’s bill SB 660 focuses on technical schools and would require the “Superintendent of the Public Instruction, using funds appropriate in the Budget Act for regional occupational centers and programs, to apportion from the amounts provided in the annual Budget Act for those purposes an amount to each county office of education, school district, and joint powers agency based on the same relative proportion of funding that each county office of education, school district, and joint powers agency received in the 2012-13 fiscal year for those purposes.” Also the bill would authorize local educational agencies that operate technical education programs to form regions and require the apportioned funds to be used to develop and maintain career technical education funding.

SB 730 would encourage a stronger relationship between the governing board of a community college and high school pupils to provide academic opportunities. The bill would require the partnership agreement to outline the terms of the partnership and authorize the partnership agreement to include other terms. As for SB 300 it would merely require the state board to consider the adoption of revised curriculum framework and evaluation criteria for instructional materials in science.

SB 259 would provide student employees whose employment is “contingent upon their status as students are employees or higher education employees for the purposes” of the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act. SB 379 would authorize a charter school that operates an early college high school or middle high school to claim a day of attendance based on 180 minutes of attendance for a pupil. This pupil must also be enrolled in a community college, California State University or a University of California as specified, “notwithstanding any other provisions, including provision of the Charter Schools Act of 1992.”

Another notable bill outside of education deals in proper waste removal of mattresses. SB 254 will tackle an issue that Hancock tried to address last year but the bill died on the Senate floor. Hancock’s bill will create a recovery and recycling program for used and unwanted mattresses that she considers a health threat to residents.

Hancock said in a press release that “illegally dumped mattresses are a terrible blight on our communities” and “Not only deface a neighborhood but they can become a health hazard and a breeding ground for mold and pests. Cash-strapped cities are forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars collecting and disposing of abandoned mattresses. That’s money that could be better spent on police and other vital services for the community.”

She again teamed up with Skinner on two bills in reponse to the August 2012 Chevron refinery fire in nearby Richmond. The bills would increase one-day civil penalties from $25,000 to $100,000 for large-scale air quality polluters. Other bills deal with environment, local government, taxes and occupational safety and local development.

Shane Bond is an East Bay Citizen contributor.

CORRECTION: Hancock gun bill seeks to ban possession of magazine clips holding more than 10 bullets, not solely the manufacture and sale of such firearms.