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LWV League of Women Voters of California
Sacramento County, CA November 5, 2002 Election
Smart Voter Full Biography for Deborah Ortiz

Candidate for
State Senator; District 6

This information is provided by the candidate

Deborah Ortiz was elected to the 6th State Senate District in November 1998. Senator Ortiz' strong interest in education, health and the environment are reflected in her Senate committee assignments. She is the Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and is also a member of the Education, Budget and Natural Resources committees. Her new district includes the cities of Sacramento, Citrus Heights and part of Elk Grove, as well as the communities of Antelope, Rio Linda, Elverta, North Highlands, East Sacramento, Arden-Arcade, Rosemont and portions of Rancho Cordova.

Senator Ortiz's passion for widening access to higher education is evident in her landmark legislation to dramatically increase state-funded scholarships for college. Her Cal Grant expansion bill, SB 1644, will provide an additional 80,000 California students will have the money to go to college. For the first time, we will be able to tell students that if they get the grades, they will receive financial aid # guaranteed.

Senator Ortiz worked successfully last year to fund an adequate public heath infrastructure. Public health programs and their preventative strategies successfully stopped epidemics in the past such as cholera, small pox and typhoid. But the success of these programs has also made them easy targets for budget cuts. Senator Ortiz saw the diminishing funding base for the most rudimentary health protection and sponsored a bill to provide resources for improved communicable disease control and community health surveillance activities.

An outspoken senior advocate, Senator Ortiz authored legislation to rewrite outdated statutes regulating continuing care retirement communities. This effort would have a major effect on improving quality of care and residents' rights. Additionally, Ortiz sponsored a bill to create a much-needed statewide legal hotline for senior citizens.

As a member of the Senate Education Committee, Ortiz is deeply involved in shaping public education reforms. One of her main priorities is improving the situation for low-performing schools. She continues to lead the effort for statewide universal pre-kindergarten programs, as well as expansion of successful after-school programs. Last year she authored legislation to provide emancipated foster youth the training and employment they need to successfully transition into independent living.

Senator Ortiz is committed to improving the environmental outlook of the Sacramento region. She has worked to mitigate the damaging effects of rice burning and upgrade flood protection. She sponsored legislation to clean-up contaminated Union Pacific rail yards and expand urban shade tree programs.

Senator Ortiz spent two years as Chair of the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee. She was responsible for developing laws that affect the salaries, benefits and working conditions of California's public employees. Her commitment to public employees is unsurpassed -- she vowed not to accept a pay raise until state employees received one. After only one year as chairwoman, Senator Ortiz was widely recognized as a leader in state retirees pension reform.

First elected to the Assembly in November 1996, Ortiz championed legislation to give state workers a long-overdue pay raise; create statewide after-school learning programs for a half million at-risk students; and raise millions of dollars for cancer research. Her cancer research bill marked the first time state funds will be used towards a gender-based cancer research and an awareness program.

She has authored several pieces of landmark legislation, including the Michelle Montoya School Safety Act, which requires private and public schools to complete criminal background checks on all employees before they are hired, and prohibits hiring of anyone convicted of a serious or violent felony. She worked to fund a statewide electronic fingerprinting system that will enable schools to complete the criminal background checks in 72 hours.

Deborah's background is in local government. She served on the Sacramento City Council where her work focused on making neighborhoods safer. She authored the Sacramento ordinance prohibiting the sale of firearms in neighborhoods and requiring gun dealers to register with City Police.

Born and raised in Sacramento, Deborah attended the University of California at Davis and graduated from McGeorge School of the Law.

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: November 4, 2002 11:56
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