Assembly member talks with the public
First District Republican Assembly member Brian Dahle visited Mount Shasta Dec. 14 and took questions from constituents on gun control, abortion, broadband internet access, transgender issues, marijuana, the state pension system and rural medical issues.
Dahle represents a huge area of northern California including all of Siskiyou, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta and Sierra counties, and parts of Placer and Butte counties.
He noted that only two rural Assembly members represented one third of California, making it difficult to get other members of the Assembly and Senate to understand rural issues.
“I took the 20 members of the Black Caucus to Lake Tahoe,” Dahle said. “None of them had ever been there.”
He recounted a visit to Compton with the area’s representative: “I asked him where his water comes from and he answered ‘from the tap.’ He could drive across his district in 17 minutes. He has no concept of the area I represent. Our lifestyle is not anywhere on the legislature’s radar.”
Asked if he supported either banning or restricting abortion, Dahle said, “I will vote every time to preserve life.”
It was noted that a woman in El Salvador received 30 years in prison for an abortion, and Dahle was asked what penalties he would support for doctors and women involved in the procedure.
He said discussing penalties is “splitting hairs.”
Dahle said “there are many problems” with legalizing marijuana, and he noted that a potential 2016 proposition in California to legalize the drug might conflict with Proposition 215 that allows the use of medical marijuana.
“States that have legalized it have not seen anticipated tax revenues,” Dahle said. “It’s complicated. There is no perfect answer.”
He agreed with one speaker that marijuana is “a gateway drug.”
Assembly Bill 1266
California recently enacted Assembly Bill 1266 giving students in public K-12 schools the right “to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities” based on how they see themselves, not their birth gender.
An attendee protested that the law is an “appalling invasion of privacy.”
A transgender attendee who claimed to have lost a job as a logger because of prejudice against transgender people, said, “It’s more complicated than people understand.”
On firearms laws
Dahle said simply, “We don’t need any more gun control.”
On rural medical issues
He said he is exploring ways to streamline federal aid for rural medical issues and ways or lure doctors to rural areas.
Dignity Health Mercy Medical Center Mount Shasta, for example, is a Critical Access Hospital that allows certain higher federal reimbursements than urban hospitals.
Dahle said he is working on getting credit lines established for rural hospitals so they could receive federal money before it was spent and then pay it back.
“Hiring doctors is a real issue,” he said.
On broadband internet
Several attendees spoke on rural broadband access, saying that large providers have a monopoly on access resulting in restrictions on speed and higher prices.
Dahle said he would get “educated” on the economics of the issue.
“Big business is screwing little business every day,” Dahle added.
On state pension system
He said the state pension system owes “hundreds of billion of dollars that are not available.”
“It’s going to eat us up,” he said.
Dahle said, “If I were king for a day” he would consider instead of raises for state employees, putting that money into the pension fund.