April showers bring May flowers.
2023 so far has undoubtedly brought its share of challenges in California, from the continued devastating impacts of winter storms, innocent lives lost due to senseless gun violence, and high inflation rates experienced across the globe.
Despite these challenges, we’ve also made great strides in California, especially in April. Mifepristone remains legal in the U.S., and California will remain a sanctuary for reproductive rights. Our economy continues to grow with back-to-back months of record job growth. California remains a global leader in climate action and is officially two years ahead of our ambitious goals for zero-emission vehicles sold. We are making public higher education more accessible and affordable for all Californians. And what a time for sports, with all 4 California NBA teams making the playoffs!
As we close out a productive month and begin a new one, I’d like to share some highlights from this month that you might have missed.
Lieutenant Governor of California
Lt. Governor Kounalakis wrapped up a 3-day mini tour of California public higher education campuses that have received historic state investments in affordable student housing. Since 2021, California has invested more than $1.4 billion in student housing across the state and has funded twenty-five affordable student housing projects. These projects will add over 7,000 new beds for students across the state. 11 California Community Colleges (CCC) projects, 8 California State University (CSU) projects and 5 University of California (UC), and one joint project were selected. According to a study from UCLA, 1 in 20 UC students, 1 in 10 CSU students, and 1 in 5 CCC students report experiencing homelessness at some point during the academic year.
View the full Press Release.
Tour of UC Irvine
Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis also visited her 9th UC campus since taking office. The campus welcomed the Lt. Governor for a tour of the residence hall site and two other projects, a medical complex construction site, and a forensic exam site. UC Irvine is preparing for an $80-million expansion of its Mesa Court residence halls. During her visit, she engaged with student leadership regarding student needs such as affordable housing. She was joined by officials, including Irvine Mayor Farra, Vice Mayor Tammy Kim, and as UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman.
Groundbreaking at Sierra College & SF State
Sierra College in Rocklin and San Francisco State University broke ground on new affordable student housing projects made possible by the state’s student housing grant program. Lt. Governor Kounalakis attended groundbreakings at both campuses to celebrate the announcement and highlight California’s historic investments in affordable housing so all students can achieve the California dream.
Pepsico is Going Green
With 80% of smog-forming emissions coming from vehicles, California is leading the world in creating clean air emission standards for trucks and buses. Pepsico in Sacramento became the first location worldwide to receive a fleet of Tesla EV semi-trucks and tractors. All 18 Tesla semi-trucks are zero-emission trucks powered by 100% renewable energy, made possible by a Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District grant.
U.S. Climate Action Summit in Washington D.C.
In Washington D.C., the Lt. Governor attended the U.S. Climate Action Summit. She joined Colorado Governor, Bill Ritter Jr., to discuss the green economy and how California is leading the world in combating climate change.
Celebrating #EarthDay with our VP
To kick off Earth Day, the Lt. Governor joined Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington D.C. to commemorate the historic climate change initiatives rolled out by the Biden-Harris Administration in its first two years in office.
Fight Wildfires with XPRIZE
The Western United States has experienced a dramatic increase in destructive wildfires in recent years. In California, 18 of the 20 biggest fires in the state’s history have happened since 2000. To help combat the impacts of a warming climate, the Lt. Governor joined XPRIZE as they launched a 4-year competition that will award an $11 million prize to competing teams around the globe in support of innovative technologies to end destructive wildfires.
President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan Visits the Golden State
On April 6th, Lt. Governor Kounalakis welcomed President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan to Los Angeles. During her visit, the Lt. Governor highlighted California and Taiwan’s cultural relationship and economic partnership. California is home to more Taiwanese Americans than any other state in America.
Meeting with Chilean Ambassador to the U.S.
On April 24th, the Lt. Governor met with the Chilean Ambassador to the U.S., Juan Gabriel Valdes. Chile has a longstanding friendly relationship with the U.S. under both right- and left-wing governments. Chile is a major exporter of copper and has one of the largest lithium reserves in the world. The Lt. Governor highlighted the close cooperation California has had with Chile, in part thanks to the very active Chile-California Council.
Help on the Way for California’s Storm-Damaged Communities
On April 3rd, the White House approved California’s request to help bring vital resources to communities, including Pajaro, severely devastated by the winter storms. Lt. Governor Kounalakis visited the community of Pajaro last month, where she toured local berry farms flooded by the Pajaro River levee breach, causing an estimated 30-50% of acres of agricultural land in the area to be destroyed, displacing residents. The damage put hundreds out of work and destroyed 15,000 acres of crops worth an estimated $336 million, according to a Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office survey. Lt. Governor Kounalakis urged the Biden-Harris Administration to swiftly approve Governor Newsom’s request for a Presidential Emergency Declaration, which mobilized federal assistance to support storm response and recovery efforts to storm-damaged communities in California.
View the full Press Release.
Support for California’s Fishing Communities
On April 6th, Governor Gavin Newsom and Lt. Governor Kounalakis (serving as acting governor) announced a request for a Federal Fishery Disaster Declaration to support the salmon fishing industry as it faces closure for the 2023 salmon season. If approved, the Federal Fishery Disaster Declaration would begin providing relief to fishing communities financially impacted by a closure. This action follows projections that indicate California’s Chinook salmon abundance is at historic lows, impacting our coastal regions and tribal communities.
View the full Press Release.
Dolores Huerta Day #SiSePuede
In honor of Dolores Huerta’s countless contributions to the labor, civil rights, and women’s movements, Acting Governor Kounalakis issued a proclamation declaring April 10, 2023, as Dolores Huerta Day. Huerta is a social justice legend globally recognized for her advocacy for workers’ rights and for helping to pioneer a transformative labor rights movement that carries on to this day.
View the full Proclamation.
California Ports Data Partnership
Over the past several months, the Lt. Governor’s Office has regularly engaged with the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development on the California Ports Data Partnership draft of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between California’s containerized ports. On Wednesday, April 26th, an MOU was signed between the ports of Hueneme, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Diego to collaborate on developing a direct cloud-based port data system. This system will include emerging data aggregation and analysis to support freight and supply chain efficiency.
View the full Press Release.
- Spoke with the California Grocers Association during their annual board meeting to discuss public safety, California’s economy, and support for small businesses.
- Joined the Latino Leadership Network to honor Senator Alex Padilla and Angela Padilla as this year’s recipients of the Eagle Leadership Award, which is rewarded to national leaders who have significantly impacted the lives of Latinos living in the United States.
- Recognized the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians for their unprecedented philanthropic support for Community College Students.
- Interviewed with Priya David Clemons on KQED Newsroom to discuss the Lt. Governor’s duties, recent engagements as the Governor’s International Affairs and Trade Representative, and the state’s investments in higher education.
- Met with several local Economic Development Offices to discuss future projects and initiatives from the Central Valley, Central Coast, and other parts of the state.
- Provided remarks at Dolores Huerta’s 93rd Birthday Reception in honor of her incredible work and legacy. This was also the 20th anniversary of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and the 5th Annual Dolores Huerta Day.
- Joined State Senator Nancy Skinner for an interview with Then There’s California Podcast regarding voter-approved Proposition 1, the 2022 ballot initiative that put the right to abortion into the state’s constitution, and the ongoing fight for reproductive rights in California and across the nation.
- Engaged with Board Members from the California Faculty Association, representing over 29,000 California State University faculty. In this meeting, she discussed CFA’s response to the Governor’s January Budget, legislative priorities, and membership issues.
- Met with the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors to follow up on wide-ranging economic issues to keep California moving toward an inclusive, resilient, and sustainable economy. The Lt. Governor serves on the council alongside top academic economists and the Governor’s Senior Advisor and Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, Dee Dee Myers.
- As Governor Gavin Newsom’s Representative for International Affairs and Trade, provided welcome remarks for the California-Mexico 2030 Summit at the University of California’s Casa de California in Mexico City. This forum highlighted the importance of pioneering a sustainable and climate-resilient economy in our binational border region.
- Met with Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass to discuss issues facing the City of Los Angeles, including housing, homelessness, and mental health.
- Provided remarks at the 24th Annual Denim Day Rally in Los Angeles to bring awareness to sexual violence and to stand in solidarity with survivors.
- Participated in a discussion session at the 41st Annual Almond Alliance Convention to talk about California’s agricultural industry, the economic impacts of climate change, water infrastructure investments, and what the state is doing to support the future of agriculture.
- Chaired the State Lands Commission’s April 7th meeting. Lt. Governor Kounalakis serves as chair of the commission, which manages over 4 million acres of tidelands, lake bottoms, river bottoms, and other submerged lands. The commission met and acted on several items, including requiring the City of Long Beach to develop a more robust plan for regulating oil operations. The revised plan ordered by the commission would better protect surrounding communities burdened by pollution.
- Attended the Ocean Protection Council’s April 24th meeting. As a member of the council, the Lt. Governor voted to fund several important ocean health programs, including developing environmental monitoring guidance for offshore wind, sea-level rise planning grants, kelp research and restoration efforts, and the implementation of OPC’s equity plan.