Senator Brian Jones: Against the Odds but for the People

State Senator Brian Jones joins host T.J. O’Hara on Deconstructed to discuss California politics. Senator Jones represents the 38th District that covers the vast majority of San Diego County. He previously served six years in the State Assembly before being term-limited under California law and also served as a member of the Santee City Council both before and after his term in the State Assembly. He currently is the Vice Chair of three Senate committees and sits on four other committees as well as five Select committees. Senator Jones is also in the minority in California as a registered Republican.

In the California Senate, there is a supermajority of 31 Democratic Senators and only 9 Republicans. Perhaps he is used to fighting the odds as there was a supermajority of 60 Democrats versus 19 Republicans and 1 independent in the State Assembly. Yet, he continues to make progress. 

Senator Jones talks about the camaraderie in the Senate. While the Parties often disagree on bills that are before them, he speculates that 70-85 percent of Democratic bills that pass do so with some level of  Republican support. Of course, he notes that 100 percent of Republican bills that pass do so with Democratic support because, otherwise, the supermajority could quash anything tendered by his Party.

Last year six of Senator Jones’ bills passed and five were signed into law by Governor Newsom. Interestingly enough, the one that was vetoed by the Governor had the most union support and was sponsored by the SEIU. This year has been even better with nine bills being passed by the State Senate to make it to the Governor’s desk; two of which have been signed.

T.J. asks what tends to slow down or kill bills. Senator Jones explains that special interest groups are most frequently the cause. If a bill doesn’t fit their agenda, they try to suppress the legislation.

T.J. then brings up the Senator’s short videos called, Are You Kidding Me. The Senator explains the humorous origin of the videos and his commitment to not only exposing some of the dysfunctionality of what is happening at the State level but also potential solutions.

The two then engage in a discussion of the hidden taxes that often arise because of bills that make it through the process. Senator Jones raises the recently passed minimum wage law that requires food service workers to receive $22 per hour in wages as an example. He notes that the cost  will undoubtedly be passed on to consumers. He also cites the surcharges that are included in every utility bill that go unnoticed by taxpayers as well as the $1 per gallon gasoline tax that the State collects. Coincidently, with regard to the latter, a rebate check will be sent to California motor vehicle owners just before the November election... except in the case of some active-duty military personnel.

Senator Jones is a strong environmentalist, but a realist as well. He talks about the ongoing movement to ban gas stoves in all new construction and the highly publicized mandate to only allow the sale of EV cars by 2035. He speculates that there will soon be a legislative attempt to move the EV mandate to an even earlier year.

The Senator cites that one of the problems is how California determines who is an “effective” legislator. He suggests that the parameters make little sense.

T.J. queries the Senator about crime (including the $950 theft allowance), homelessness, and California’s public education system... all of which are spiraling out of control. Senator Jones addresses each issue describing their cause and the possible solutions. Listen to hear his assessments and determine if they align with yours. If so, Senator Jones is up for re-election this year.