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Republican assemblymember Kelly Seyarto discusses his bills recently signed by Gov. Newsom

Office of asssemblymember Kelly Seyarto
Portrait of Murrieta state assemblymember Kelly Seyarto

Republican assemblymember Kelly Seyarto spoke with KVCR's Jonathan Linden to discuss his bills AB-1876 and AB-1968, which Governor Gavin Newsom signed in July.

Below is a transcript of the conversation between KVCR's Jonathan Linden and California assemblymember Kelly Seyarto.

Jonathan Linden: Republican assemblymember Kelly Seyarto represents assembly district 67, which includes the cities of Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, and a portion of Riverside. On July 19, Governor Newsom signed assembly bill 1876, which was authored by Seyarto. Just to get started here, assemblymember, can you tell listeners about your bill AB-1876 and the issue it's trying to address?

Kelly Seyarto: Well, sure, I'd be glad to. So, AB-1876 is an emergency career substitute teaching permit, and it's in response to the growing issue of a lack of substitute teachers to come in when regular teachers are out because the pandemic has created more temporary vacancies that need to be filled. And what this does is... there's a couple of ways for them to get a permit, the district, they can get a permit for the potential person that's coming in to fill a temporary vacancy... but the credentials for doing that, or the requirements for that are that they the substitute teacher has to have taught in a district for three years and accumulated 90 days per year, of each of those years, to be able to get this permit. But some districts do a consortium type of model, which means they all pull from a pool. So, you may have three different districts that pull teachers into their district. So, they may have worked 40 days in one district and another 30 in a different district and yet need 20 more. So, they have the actual qualifications, but because they're in a consortium instead of one district, they can't qualify for that emergency permit. And so, what this does is it allows teachers that are in that consortium type of model to qualify the same as if they were in one district the whole time. So that'll help free up more qualified and credentialed substitute teachers to be able to be utilized for longer-term vacancies.

Jonathan Linden: And was this an issue that some of the school districts in your representative area… were coming to you and saying this is a real problem for us?

Kelly Seyarto: Well, in general, talking to a lot of the school districts as COVID-19 was going through, the nature of COVID-19 is that they're off on a more extended period of time, and it can be more frequent. So, they were faced with having to pull people from administration to go sit in classrooms to be able to accommodate the kids in the classroom and accommodate the teaching environment. And even with that, they were running short. So, I was hearing from different districts, and I was also hearing from employees, teachers, and also principals of schools that this was becoming a real problem. And so, it's something that we identified, that can be done a little bit different, so that it would free up more people or more teachers to be available to substitute teach.

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Office of Assemblymember Kelly Seyarto
Assemblymember Kelly Seyarto speaking on the floor of the California State Assembly during a joint informational hearing.

Jonathan Linden: And you also had another bill, AB-1968, which was also sort of education-related. Could you tell listeners about that as well?

Kelly Seyarto: Well, we all know the scourge of sexual assault issues on our campuses. And a lot of times, up until now, there was no uniform way of somebody accessing information and resources that they may need to deal with... and these are the survivors of these incidents... to deal with these incidents. So, what this does is it creates a uniform and standard way for them to present this information on each campus, each California State University (CSU) campus, so that it is the same throughout the system. And so, there's a uniform way for them to access the information and resources they need to deal with the sexual assault.

Jonathan Linden: And what would some of those resources look like exactly?

Kelly Seyarto: Well, some of them can be referrals to different agencies, for mental health, they can be referrals to hospital care, they could be referrals to counseling, and of course referrals to law enforcement, so that these things can be reported. So, it's just all the different agencies that are involved in assisting somebody... would be in one place for them to access so that they can get the assistance they need immediately. If they don't know where to go to be seen, then it may be too late for them to have evidence collected that can help lead them to being able to get the justice they need from having been assaulted.

Jonathan Linden: And some people might be surprised to hear a Republican like yourself having bills signed by Governor Newsom. I would presume some people wouldn't think that would be happening in California. Can you talk about the process of you being a Republican and getting legislation through the state?

Kelly Seyarto: Well, for one thing, these bills don't really have a red hue or a blue hue to them; they are dealing with everyday problems that everybody has, regardless of what their political affiliation is. And especially in the environment that we have up in Sacramento, where we obviously have a very lopsided house, you know, it's important to be able to get things done. There are still things that we can do out there. And so, those are the things that we go over at the beginning of the session to see where we can make a difference. You know, we can fight for those other things, but we kind of know going in those other things are probably not going to get through the process.

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Office of Assemblymember Kelly Seyarto
Assemblymember Kelly Seyarto sitting at his Sacramento office desk.

But there is also things that we can get done, and when we focus on those issues, you know, for one thing, we have to have a tremendous staff, which I have, and they're very diligent about following these bills through and answering questions and being proactive with the various players so that when the bill actually gets presented in committee, that it has a great chance of being approved by the committee, and, once it gets to the floor, the same thing. And right now, I'm proud of having... you know, we have six bills, two of them are signed by the governor, and we have four others that are in various stages on the Senate side of possibly getting there as well, which I'm proud of it, not just as a Republican, but as a representative of people in the district.

Jonathan Linden: And is there anything else that you would like to share with our listeners about these two laws that we were just discussing or the other pieces of legislation you have up for approval right now?

Kelly Seyarto: Well, one thing I'd like to share is this. There's no way any of these builds get through without the diligence of the legislative staff or district staff, you know, the chief of staff that is down in the district. The work that they do behind the scenes, the work they do to make sure that if I need to come in and have a meeting with people to discuss these bills, and the work they do preparing me to be able to hit the right points when we're in a committee so that the bill has the best chance to pass... to me that's what people need to understand. There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes... that your staff is hired to be able to do, and I'm fortunate enough to have one of the best staffs in the building as far as I'm concerned. And that means the people in the 67th assembly district right now also have one of the best staffs up here to get things done like this.

Jonathan Linden: Well, Republican assemblymember Kelly Seyarto, it was a pleasure speaking with you again.

Kelly Seyarto: Well, it was great being back with you, Jonathan, and I appreciate you having me on.

Jonathan Linden is a reporter at 91.9 KVCR in San Bernardino, California. He joined KVCR in July 2021 and had previously interned for the station in the Spring of 2019. Outside of KVCR, Jonathan also interned for KALW in San Francisco, KFI in Burbank, and Radio HCJB in Quito, Ecuador.