When the 2015 legislative session began, 13 Republicans entered the Senate and Assembly chambers as California Trailblazers alumni. While they are all very different individuals, their success was based on a shared commitment to running smart, running hard and never letting up until all the votes were counted. It wasn’t easy, but today, it’s paying dividends for their constituents and all Californians.
Young Kim, Janet Nyguen, Catharine Baker and David Hadley illustrate how California Trailblazers is making a difference in the state legislature. Trailblazer candidates stopped Democrat supermajorities in both houses, and just last week, they helped block Democrat efforts to raise taxes during the final days of the legislative session. These lawmakers, along with James Gallagher, Ling-Ling Chang and other Trailblazer Alumni represent the new Republican wave in California and diverse districts across California.
When they were candidates, they sharpened their campaign skills by maximizing the Trailblazers training program, which equipped candidates with the knowledge to win on Election Day and the tools to lead in Sacramento on day one.
Even before they officially took office, these Trailblazers alumni hit the ground running, creating policy priorities and preparing themselves to define, shape and control debate on important issues. While some may think this isn’t the norm for a freshman legislator, the Trailblazers program teaches candidates that full speed is the only acceptable speed.
Today, as the 2015 legislative session has come to a close, their contributions have been significant, not just individually but as a unified team. It’s not a stretch to say that without Trailblazer candidates Kim, Nyguen, Baker and Hadley, the liberal Democrats would be celebrating the enactment of new or increased taxes. In this year alone, the legislature considered policies to tax gasoline, cocktails, tobacco and health plans.
Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R – San Ramon), who earned Trailblazer status in 2014 and participated in more than a year of election and campaign training, carried important legislation in 2015 to support California’s veteran community. Baker’s veteran-assistance bill, AB 1401, has passed both houses of the legislature, signed by the Governor, and is now law. The bill would improve notification to veterans regarding available financial aid for higher education.
“Our veterans are faced with far too many obstacles upon their return to private life,” Baker, whose district includes portions of Contra Costa and Alameda Counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, said in a recent statement. “We have a duty to our military men and women to remove these unnecessary difficulties and support them through their transition, and that is exactly what Assembly Bill 1401 does.”
Trailblazer alumni are also leading the push for gender diversity in the technology industry by introducing legislation to empower young women and girls to reach for their dreams in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Assemblywoman Ling-Ling Chang (R – Diamond Bar) has continued to be an advocate for females seeking to start a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. Chang’s bill, AB 889, removes the cap on the number of high school students who enroll in STEM courses at their local community college.
“The number of STEM jobs in California will grow by 19 percent over the next decade. We must produce more STEM graduates to meet the growing demand and keep these jobs in our state,” said Chang. “Letting students take STEM courses at community colleges will prepare future video game designers and scientists for good jobs when they graduate.”
Assemblywoman Young Kim (R – Fullerton), who also achieved the distinction of Trailblazer status in 2014, continued her commitment to protect and support California’s small businesses when she entered the legislature. The Assemblywoman authored AB 419, which the Assembly passed unanimously earlier this year. The bill would make it easier for small businesses to access and navigate thousands of rulings and regulations created by agencies.
“Small business is the backbone of our economy,” said Kim. “Small business owners often can’t afford to hire costly attorneys to make sure they’re in compliance with the state’s burdensome regulations. Putting this information in one place will help our small business owners stay in compliance and focus on what they do best: running their businesses.”
In July, Governor Brown signed AB 1452, a measure authored by another Trailblazer alumni, Assemblyman David Hadley (R – Torrance), designed to protect students from school administrators who used loop holes to cover up accusations of misconduct, including cases of sexual abuse.
“I am proud that Governor Brown has signed my bill to close this loophole and increase school district transparency,” said Assemblyman Hadley. “AB 1452 is my first bill to be signed into California law, and I am honored to have the Governor’s support. This legislation is important for the protection of our school children from abuse and cover-ups.”
Assemblyman James Gallagher (R – Yuba City) introduced his first piece of legislation, AB 239, in February and the measure would have required any new regulations created by the State Air Resources Board (ARB) be approved by the legislature before they became law.
“Unelected bureaucrats in agencies like the ARB effectively make laws through these regulations,” stated Assemblyman Gallagher. “It is important that the Legislature take back control and actively approve these regulations before they go into effect. After all, the Legislature, not the ARB, is tasked with lawmaking, as they are elected and accountable to the people.”
Additionally, Senator Janet Nguyen (R – Garden Grove), who is a proud Vietnamese immigrant, introduced legislation, SB 366, to change the elections code to expand the pool of qualified translators and interpreters available to county elections officials for translating voting materials. Senator Nguyen’s measure, which Governor Brown signed earlier this year, provides county officials more flexibility to translate ballots for voters.
Together, the Trailblazers Caucus has made significant and immediate contributions, and most importantly, they’ve helped lead a Republican Caucus that blocked significant tax increases and protected hard working Californians. This is a testament to their hard work and resolve that validates the California Trailblazers program as a catalyst to help GOP candidates run and win in even the most challenging of districts. Now that they’ve transitioned from candidate to legislator, they remain committed to fiscally conservative public policies.
As CEO of California Trailblazers, I am so very proud of all that our legislators have accomplished. Their service continues to improve the lives of many Californians, and I am proud to watch them apply the skills they gained to improve California’s future.