August arrived with a whirlwind of news that underscored the urgency of a warming climate. Both Tropical Storm Hilary and the devastation of the Maui Wildfire are stark reminders of the impacts of climate change. Still, California is stepping up to the plate to take action.
California continues to deliver as we transition towards a clean energy future. 1 in 4 cars sold in California last quarter were electric vehicles, an all-time high. California is committed to tackling our climate crisis head-on.
August was a groundbreaking month for mental health care as the FDA approved the first oral drug for postpartum depression. The Biden-Harris Administration also launched the SAVE Plan – the most affordable student loan repayment plan ever created – which has the potential to help over 3.8 million Californians currently burdened with student debt.
Although we celebrate our progress, we are also reminded of the work ahead. With California State University proposing a tuition increase, the upcoming vote in September holds the key to shaping the future of student access and affordability. I will continue to fight in opposition so that all students, regardless of who they are or where they come from, can reach their dreams.
Together, we stand at the crossroads of change, ready to face the challenges and grasp the opportunities that lie ahead. Let’s continue to work towards a brighter future for California and the people of our great state.
Lieutenant Governor of California
UC Student & Policy Center Grand Opening
Lt. Governor Kounalakis gave keynote remarks at the grand opening of the UC Student & Policy Center in Sacramento. Since 2004, the UC Center Sacramento has hosted an internship and public policy program, and the new Center will continue to house the existing program. In addition to providing new classrooms and office space for the intern program, the new Center will strengthen the University’s partnership with the State of California. The Center will bring together students, mission-driven leaders, renowned researchers, and innovators for signature events, speaker series, policy lectures, exclusive briefings, and more. It will also leverage the University’s world-class research to solve state, national, and global problems.
Obama-Chesky Scholarship Program
Lt. Governor Kounalakis spoke with students in the Design for Bangladesh program, which Obama Chesky Voyager Scholar Itbaan Nafi started. The Voyager Scholar program aims to help shape leaders who will bridge divides and solve challenges in an increasingly globalized world. As part of his scholarship, Itbaan pursued a ‘work-travel experience’ that led to the creation of the Design for Bangladesh program in partnership with Eastern University Dhaka. The Lt. Governor spoke about her experience as a diplomat and the importance of education as a tool for social and economic mobility.
Australia and California Joining Forces to Fight Climate Change
Lt. Governor Kounalakis joined Governor Gavin Newsom and California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot to welcome Australian Ambassador Kevin Rudd to California to sign a new landmark climate MoU between Australia and California. With this new partnership, both economies will focus on clean tech, net zero emissions, trade, and more.
San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Tribal Council Visit
The Lt. Governor met with Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena and members of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Tribal Council to discuss the priorities of the tribe and the implementation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
Prep for APEC
Lt. Governor joined business executives and economic leaders in Los Angeles for an APEC informational session in preparation for the APEC Summit in San Francisco in November.
The Fight for Reproductive Freedom Continues
Lt. Governor Kounalakis provided remarks at the NARAL Pro-Choice California’s PrivacyPAC After Dark event to highlight NARAL’s legislative efforts to expand reproductive freedom in California.
Keep Tahoe Blue
The Lt. Governor’s staff was invited by the Staff of U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to attend a field trip to Lake Tahoe. The tour included five stops:
- Tahoe City Transit Center: This was a recently completed transit center in Tahoe City that was part of the Lake Tahoe Transportation Action Plan. Staff heard from Placer County Supervisor Cindy Gustafson about the progress of their public transportation and the crucial need for expansion.
- Washoe Fire Scar: The area demonstrated the need for updated and expanded water infrastructure and the Washoe Fire’s environmental impact.
- Sugar Pine State Park: The area showed the need and benefits of prescribed burns and how they contribute to forest health. Staff listened to experts from California State Parks, the USDA Forest Service, and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
- Emerald Bay: A major tourist attraction in the Tahoe Basin with very little parking, a two-lane highway, and lots of people and congestion. The focus was sustainable recreation and transportation. Staff listened to experts from CA State Parks, USDA Forest Service, TRPA, and NV State Parks.
- Meeks Bay: The Chairman and other members of the Washoe Tribe are currently working with the local level government to bring back the Cutthroat Trout, which will help with water clarity.
State Lands Commission Update
On August 17th, the Lt. Governor chaired a meeting of the State Lands Commission. During the meeting, the Commission heard updates on efforts by the Port of Long Beach and the Humboldt Bay Harbor District to prepare for the development of offshore wind off Morro Bay and Humboldt Bay. The Commission also heard presentations on shoreline adaptation and nature-based solutions that can make the coast more resilient to sea-level rise. Among the items the Commission voted on, 31 of the 37 leases included terms to promote or enhance public access.
For full highlights of the meeting, please go to the Commission’s website.
Ocean Protection Council
The Lt. Governor’s staff chaired the August 15th meeting of the Ocean Protection Council. At the meeting, the Council took several actions to improve sea-level rise resilience and ocean health, including:
- $95.9 million to local, regional, and tribal governments who submit a successful application to the Senate Bill 1 Sea-Level Rise Adaptation Planning Grant Program for sea-level rise adaptation planning or implementation projects.
- $1,305,000 to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and $695,000 to the State Water Resources Control Board to update their respective contaminated site inventories and create a statewide prioritization of contaminated sites at risk of sea-level rise and groundwater shoaling.
- $1,905,672 to California Sea Grant for projects selected through a competitive solicitation to increase understanding and inform management of environmental microplastic contamination.
- $180,000 grant budget augmentation to the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project Authority to process and analyze microplastic samples collected by the Southern California Bight 2023 Regional Monitoring Program.
For a full summary of Council actions, please go to the Council’s website.
California Coastal Commission Meeting
The Lt. Governor’s staff represented the Lt. Governor at a California Coastal Commission meeting on Wednesday, August 9th. This year, the Lt. Governor, or her alternate, serves as a non-voting member of the Commission. At this meeting, the Commission heard updates on, among other topics, sustainability within the coastal zone, efforts to promote smart growth, and the Commission’s actions to address pollution coming from the Tijuana River.
- Staff attended meetings with the Vice Governor of China’s Hainan Province in Sacramento to sign an MOU focused on climate change.
- Staff met with the new Consul General of Belgium and bid farewell to the departing Consul General of India.