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Valley Dem Pays the Price for Opposing Newsom’s ‘Beat Big Oil’ Law

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Assemblymember Dr. Jasmeet Bains is a Delano Democrat. (GV Wire File)
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Assemblymember Dr. Jasmeet Bains (D–Delano) was punished by the chamber’s leadership for being the lone Democrat to oppose Gov. Gavin Newsom’s legislation forcing oil companies to turn over earnings data and exposing them to penalties.

On Thursday, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D–Paramount) told Baines that he was removing her from the Assembly Business and Professions Committee, which is a plum assignment.

“While I am disappointed, I remain firm in my commitment to serve the interests of the people I was elected to represent. I look forward to continuing to work with the Speaker and my colleagues to expand access to health care, provide good-paying jobs, and ensure our communities are safe,” Bains said in a statement to reporter Ashley Zavala of Sacramento television station KCRA.

At a signing ceremony for the new law in Sacramento, Newsom declared, “We proved we can actually beat big oil.”

Newsom’s Chief of Staff Takes Cheap Shot at Bains

Bains could have skipped the vote and conceivably not become a target of her Democratic colleagues. But she voted no and later explained why in a tweet.

“Stand alone if you must, but always stand for the truth. As the lone Democrat to oppose the new gas tax, I will never throw my constituents under the bus. I will continue to fight for lower gas prices and a stronger Kern County,” Baines said.

Dana Williamson, who is Newsom’s chief of staff, then took a cheap shot at Baines, posting in a replay to Baines’ tweet:  “Alone and confused you shall likely remain.”

However, Bains got in the last word with a later tweet that included a photo of her surrounded by supporters at the Capitol and the hashtag #NeverAlone.

Bains Shows Her Independence, Stands up for District

Bains, who was elected in November, has exhibited an independent streak while representing her Kern County district.

In February, she introduced ABX1-3, a bill that would require refineries to increase the amount of California oil they buy and process.

The bill calls for 50% of all oil refined in California to originate from the state by 2035.

“California oil production occurs under the strictest health, workplace safety, and environmental protection standards in the world,” Bains said.

“Policies designed to restrict in-state oil production have made us more reliant on foreign sources of oil. Our biggest oil markets now include countries with atrocious records on human rights and those directly responsible for the deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.”

Kern County Produces 70% of California’s Oil

Last July, The New York Times reported that Kern County produces 70% of the state’s oil.

In addition, oil provides 16,000 jobs in the county.

“And, most crucially, oil and gas generate nearly one-quarter of the county’s property tax revenue, which pays for schools, law enforcement, hospitals, and other public services,” The Times stated.

About Assemblymember Bains

Bains received 60% of the vote to defeat fellow Democrat Leticia Perez, a Kern County supervisor, in November to represent the 35th District.

She is the first South Asian woman and Sikh elected to the California Legislature. She also was the first medical doctor appointed to lead the Assembly Aging and Long-Term Care Committee.

“Growing up as a girl in Delano, I couldn’t have imagined that one day I’d have the title of ‘doctor,’ let alone, ‘Assemblywoman-elect,’ ” Bains said two weeks after the election. “But at my core, I’m still just a daughter of the Valley who was lucky enough to go away to medical school and return to serve the community I call home. … ”

 

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email