The 50th Assembly District was treated to a display of bullying last week: One of the candidates running against Betsy Butler's bid for the new district .
A consumers’ rights and environmental leader and a popular legislator, Butler has introduced a number of significant bills in the 1 ½ years since she took office in the 53rd District, and has seen five of them signed into law by Gov Jerry Brown.
“Betsy Butler has already mastered the art of negotiating with colleagues of every political stripe in the California Assembly, developed strong alliances to help push the progressive bills she’s introduced, and piled up an impressive track record in a remarkably short time,” said attorney and district resident Julia Shapiro.
Butler’s achievements in Sacramento and her decades of fighting on the front lines for equality and justice have won her the endorsements of the California Democratic Party, the California League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, United Farm Workers (UFW), the California Labor Federation (AFL-CIO), the Legislative LGBT Caucus and the Consumer Federation of California and other prominent organizations and labor unions, as well as many endorsements by California leaders and elected officials.
Among the 14 diverse bills that Butler introduced and is working to pass in 2012 are
- A bill that would protect consumers from abuses by unlicensed moving companies;
- An attempt to protect same-sex partners who co-own property from the increased property tax liability of the survivor owner upon a co-owners’ death;
- A bill that would allow placement in drug or mental health treatment programs as a condition of probation for military veterans who have committed certain crimes; and
- A measure that would ensure funding for local domestic violence prevention programs.
Butler’s highest-profile legislative achievement was the passing of her 2011 bill, the Toxin-Free Infants and Toddlers Act (AB 1319) that bans the chemical BPA (bisphenol A) from baby bottles and sippy cups in California. “I fought hard for this bill against well-organized special interests, and I was proud to see it signed into law by Governor Brown,” Butler told supporters. “I remain vigilant, and I’m continuing to work actively in Sacramento to do what’s best for the people of California."
The Vietnam Veterans of America California State Council named Butler “2011 Legislator of the Year,” along with state Rep. Ted Lieu, for her introduction of a bill that sought to establish veterans courts to help veterans and to properly address their unique issues that can lead to homelessness, incarceration or even suicide after returning home. Undaunted by a veto of that bill, in 2012 Butler has re-introduced a bill to establish veterans courts that could develop local, court-supervised treatment programs for individuals who qualify.
Butler’s bills signed by the Governor in 2011 also included
- A bill to protect seniors and dependent adults by increasing the fines for theft, embezzlement, forgery, or fraud;
- An environmental measure which allows all types of plug-in electric vehicles to park in designated electric-vehicle parking spaces while charging;
- A consumer protection bill that increases transparency regarding the fees assessed for providing documents required for the sale of a unit; and
- The authorization for the Department of General Services to dispose of unneeded, state-owned properties.
Unaffected by the recent criticism of her campaign, Butler’s supporters bear witness to her effectiveness as a lawmaker.
“Actions speak louder than words. I judge this candidate by the capabilities she demonstrates and by what she has accomplished for California,” said district resident Ingrid Van Eckert, a manager at Blue Shield of California. “Betsy Butler’s substantive legislative performance and her passion for the work she's doing are the reasons I support Butler for re-election in the 50th Assembly District.”
In the hard-fought 53rd Assembly District race in 2010, Butler was elected by a comfortable 10 percent margin despite $800,000 having been spent by special interests—including the oil and tobacco industries—on an onslaught of attacks in efforts to defeat her.
“Voters don’t like negative campaigning. It backfires on the candidates who use it,” she told a group of well-wishers recently. “I’ve seen this before. And I won.”