Don Perata’s Farewell Message as a Senator

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I want to thank you for the privilege of serving you in the State Legislature these past twelve years.

During that time, our community, the state – the nation and world – have had our share of highs and lows. But, together, we’ve done some things we can all be proud of.

• In 1997, we convinced Governor Wilson to create the ovarian and prostate cancer fund. For many years, this fund allocated $27 million annually toward ovarian and prostate cancer research. The same year, we passed a law requiring labeling about the dangerous gasoline additive MTBE. We also secured state funding that resulted in the completion of the Chabot Observatory.

• In 1998, we created the nation’s toughest assault weapons ban. The same year, we passed the landmark mental health parity bill that required HMO’s and insurers to cover mental illnesses as they do physical illnesses.

• In 1999, we established the state’s toughest-ever penalties for oil refinery emissions. We required medical decisions be made by doctors, not HMO’s, placed a time-limit on referrals to specialists, and carried legislation to increase the number of mental health providers in the state. We also created the first-ever state cord blood banking program for children at risk for sickle-cell, and leukemia.

• In 2000, we created landmark transportation funding for seismic retrofit projects, increased public transportation funding and congestion management throughout the Bay Area. The ongoing funding we created continues to fund transportation projects in the Bay Area – reducing congestion, expanding public transportation, funding bike paths, and creating jobs. The same year, we increased access to breast cancer screening for low-income women, and created a prescription drug benefit for AIDS patients.

• In 2001, we created the state’s first safety standard for arsenic in water, put forth legislation to protect heritage trees – old growth redwoods, and strengthen the state’s adult day health program for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia — allowing the program to qualify for federal funding. We created the state’s first program regulating so-called payday lenders.

• In 2002, we saved funding for In-Home Supportive Services which provides services for the disabled. We provided rehabilitative services to mentally-ill juvenile offenders and passed a law curbing dangerous sideshow activity and reckless speed contests. We penned legislation to encourage energy conservation by providing savings to energy consumers who used less. The legislation culminated in an executive order by the governor.

• In 2003, we carried legislation to improve literacy programs for prisoners and increased funding for urban school districts.

• In 2004, we passed legislation to complete a seismically-safe Bay Bridge. In the subsequent 3 years, we:

Increased the minimum wage

Secured $5 million for Alameda County in the state budget to help fund local efforts that reduce violence and recidivism.

Passed breakthrough global warming legislation, which requires California utilities to contract for cleaner sources of energy.

Created a law to establish a voluntary biomonitoring program to determine the level of contaminants to which Californians are exposed.

Providing $47M in funding as well as “strike-teams” for low-performing school districts – and flexibility to meet state standards.

Created a landmark discount drug program for seniors.

Created safeguards for electronic voting machines to ensure they count every vote.

Carried legislation to keep nurses safe on the job and to permanently restore disabled workers’ benefits.

• In 2006, we created the nation’s largest-ever infrastructure bond package. We funded parks, affordable high-density housing, roads, public transportation, levees and provided funding for improving air quality.

• In 2007, we created a bill to fund $800M for underground storage, water quality improvement, water conservation and Delta rehabilitation.

• We passed legislation to oversee private colleges and professional schools, requiring improved disclosure and accountability to students.

• We required those who sell “cap-and-trade” environmental credits to actually reduce pollution and legislation to oversee the expenditure of millions in taxpayer-paid “climate action dollars” to ensure that these monies are spent on efforts which reduce global warming.

• We created a law requiring lenders to contact property owners to attempt to avoid foreclosure, provide tenants additional time to move from a foreclosed property and mandate maintenance of foreclosed properties to diminish the impact on the value of neighboring homes. Experts say the new law slowed home foreclosures in the state.

It has been my pleasure and my honor to have represented you in Sacramento for more than a decade. There are many to thank for their faith, support and partnership. Without a doubt, this has been the best part of the job.

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