May 19, 2020-State Senator Connie Leyva

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Member/Alternates Only Meeting

Virtual meeting via ZOOM


Present:   Patti Arlt, Deborah Barmack, Carole Beswick, Mike Burrows, Chris Carrillo, Mark Cloud, Ken Coate, Sandra Cuellar, Kevin Dyerly, Louis Goodwin, Otis Greer, Fran Inman, Mark Kaenel, Lowell King, Bill Lemann, Dan Little, P.T. McEwen, John Mirau, Dan Murphy, Vikki Ostermann, Bansree Parikh, Catherine Pritchett, Thomas Rice, Dan Roberts, Elizabeth Romero, Dan Schenkel, Kristine Scott, Paul Shimoff, Sol Teh, Lupe Valdez, Pete Van Helden and Ray Wolfe.

Guests:  S. Magna, Tom Nightingale and Manuel Saucedo.

Announcements:  1) The Executive Committee will meet Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 8 am via ZOOM.  2) The “Inland Leaders” met for a virtual lunch last week.  The group is focused on an accurate census.

M/S/P:  Minutes from May 12, 2020

Louis Goodwin, Chair presiding.

Senator Leyva is Chair of the Senate Education Committee and spoke about California educational institutions and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Senator stated that she is serving on a task force that is focused on closing the digital divide.  She has been a longtime proponent of access equity.  This task force has been operating for a few years, but the pandemic has brought a new urgency to the problem.  Some 20% of students do not have access to computers or the internet.  The task force is working with Internet service providers (ISP’s) to create more mobile hot spots and other issues.  Some 400,000 devices and 350,000 hot spots were first needed.  They now need 270,000 devices and 300,000 hotspots for internet access.  The task force hopes to resolve issues by year end.


Re-opening schools safely has many challenges.  Conditions at the numerous school districts vary.  They are currently setting up criteria in case of a second wave of the virus.   Children typically do not understand physical distancing and ongoing use of PPE.  Reductions of class size have been discussed but the cost will be very expensive.  Keeping the classrooms cleaner is a focus and would include increasing the janitorial staff.  Year-round school and variation of start times are being discussed.  They are hopeful that “in person” schools may re-open in August.


Our legislators are governing remotely.  Interpretations of the State Constitution vary between the Senate and Assembly with the Senate believing that remote voting should be allowed.


The Governor’s proposed budget is somewhat a reflection of “worst case scenario”.  He is being cautious and, as the tax deadline has been extended, we will not know the real impacts until July.  The May revise has a reduction in Cal Grants which is very disappointing.  Given the expected loss in state revenue it is not surprising.  Federal funding will help fill the gap but cannot be relied upon.  Letters supporting Cal Grants are welcome.


The Employment Development Department (EDD), which was on the verge of a major upgrade of their system, is overwhelmed and struggling with the huge influx of unemployment applicants.  Some State workers have been moved to the EDD to help process claims.  The EDD has strong leadership under Labor Secretary Julie Su but the department has had more claims this past March than they did last year (2019).  The Senator urged those that are experiencing long wait times to contact their Senator or Assemblymember.


The Governor has a responsible plan and his stages of returning make good sense.  He is leading the way for contact testing. However, the road to recovery is a long one and we must be cautious.


A Q & A period followed.


Members were asked to remain to learn of and approve some membership category changes.

  • Leaving membership: Rogers, Anderson Malody & Scott
  • Primary representative for BNSF: Lena Kent (LaDonna DiCamilo no longer with BNSF)

M/S/P: Lena Kent will serve as the primary representative for BNSF.

  • Primary representative for Charter Communication: Sandra Cuellar (Del Heintz retired)

M/S/P: Sandra Cuellar will serve as the Primary representative for Charter Communication.


Meeting adjourned at 8:55 a.m.