By JUDITH JOFFE-BLOCK
Tom Ammiano has had a busy winter. Not only did he leave the board of supes after 14 years of service to represent the 13th District to the State Assembly (mostly representing eastern San Fran), he also made his acting debut playing himself for a few seconds in the movie Milk.
Ammiano is the new vice chair for the Committee on Human Services, which oversees social services such as child welfare and food stamps. He also sits on the committees for Appropriations, Education, Health and Rules. These were apparently the appointments Ammiano had his fingers crossed for—he told SF Weekly, “I got pretty much everything I wanted.”
In his first move as Assemblymember Ammiano, the veteran gay rights activist authored a resolution opposing Proposition 8. His counterpart in the Senate, Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), introduced a companion resolution. H.R. 5 finds that Prop 8 was an invalid revision—rather than amendment—to the California constitution.
So far the new assembly session has been mostly about introducing bills and not a lot of voting yet. Ammiano’s name has been on a couple as co-author—A.B.x2 1, a bill sponsored by Assemblymember Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) that mandates a salary freeze for state employees who earn more than $150,000 until 2012, and the California Fostering Connections to Success Act, A.B. 12, which would redesign part of the state’s foster care program in order to make it eligible for federal funds.
In the wake of the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant by a BART policeman on New Year’s Day, Ammiano linked up with state Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco-San Mateo), also a former supe, to call for an independent committee to oversee BART police and make the agency more accountable.
“Unlike the San Francisco Police Commission, BART lacks any real means for the public to air their grievances regarding police conduct, or for an independent body that can propose corrective actions,” the two said in their statement. They are expected to introduce joint legislation on the matter.
Ammiano played hooky from Sacramento for some local business on Jan. 15 when he was the first in line at City Hall to get a city of San Francisco ID. The new IDs are aimed at making it easier for SF residents who are homeless, undocumented immigrants, or transgendered (the cards are gender neutral) to prove identity and access city services. As supe, Ammiano introduced the cards last summer, but they were stalled by a lawsuit that charged they illegally aided undocumented immigrants. A superior court judge dismissed that notion last fall.
And finally, the assemblymember’s own website alerted us to some national kudos he received recently. A New York-based think tank, the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, named the San Francisco health insurance program Ammiano spearheaded as one of the top 10 public policies of 2008.