Two bills authored by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, aimed to help the local community through schools and emergency medical services will become law at the beginning of 2012.

Assemblyman Das Williams

Assemblyman Das Williams

One of those bills, Assembly Bill 412, secures temporary funding for emergency medical services in Santa Barbara County. The other, AB 504, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday, will allow the Santa Barbara Unified School District to continue to receive local, voter-approved parcel taxes now that its elementary and secondary districts have unified.

Once law, AB 412 will reauthorize Santa Barbara County to collect an additional $5 penalty assessment on tickets issued for driving under the influence and other driving while intoxicated offenses. That money will be used specifically for emergency medical services in the county.

“It is vital for us to continue to provide support for the longest-serving trauma unit in the region,” Williams said. “While many emergency rooms in our area have closed down, it is essential for the safety of each of us to ensure that those that remain, are adequately funded so that all of us can be sure to receive life-saving treatment in case of an emergency.”

Although the bill will become law on Jan. 1, 2012, it will do so without the signature of Brown, citing his concern for the growing use of penalty assessments and placing a burden on a small group of people.

“Those who break the law should be fairly punished for their transgressions, but not be subjected to ever-increasing costs that are more properly the responsibility of the public at large,” Brown wrote in a letter Wednesday to members of the Assembly.

Without the governor’s signature, the legislation becomes law with the contingent that an alternative funding source be established by 2014. Identifying that funding source will be up to the community.

“This is good, for now, but the governor’s caution means the community will have to come up with the money on its own within the next couple of years,” Williams said.

The allocation of the money collected from the penalty assessments to support emergency medical and trauma care services will be implemented by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

Click here for a copy of letter from Brown regarding AB 412.

AB 504 clarifies that the Santa Barbara Unified School District can collect existing and future parcel taxes as it does now, so that residents only continue to pay for those schools that serve their community, as they do now.

“This bill simply ensures that the newly unified Santa Barbara School District does not lose vital funds needed to support our children’s education,” Williams said.

— James Joyce is a field representative of Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara.