Democrat Serving in the State Assembly
Rebecca Bauer-Kahan was first elected to the California State Assembly in 2018 to represent the 16th Assembly District. She immediately made her mark on the Legislature when she was selected by her colleagues to serve in the Assembly leadership as Assistant Speaker pro Tempore and Chair of the Select Committee on Women's Reproductive Health – the first committee of its kind in the nation.
In the Assembly, Rebecca has been laser-focused on issues that reflect our community's values and on delivering fiscal resources that our region desperately needs. In 2022 alone, she passed 15 pieces of legislation highlighting District 16 priorities, including bills strengthening gun safety, protecting victims of sexual exploitation, providing better access to health care, streamlining government services, improving the environment and more. She has also secured millions of dollars over the past five years to fund important local projects in Assembly District 16, which includes the communities of Orinda, Moraga, Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore.
Before serving her community in the Assembly, Rebecca was an accomplished attorney, environmental advocate, community volunteer, law professor and mother. As an attorney, Rebecca specialized in ensuring major corporations complied with environmental laws and regulations by leading internal investigations to improve their environmental practices, while maintaining profitability. She also oversaw and grew her office’s pro bono legal programs to include work in the critical arenas of civil rights, immigration, homelessness and domestic violence.
Rebecca is the granddaughter of refugees, who came to the United States to escape the Holocaust. They were able to secure a sponsor, a stranger who made a great sacrifice to allow them to survive – and thrive – here in this country. Her grandparents’ experience has shaped Rebecca's perspective, inspiring her to help others in her own community. That included spearheading the effort to provide emergency legal services at San Francisco International Airport on behalf of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) to assist refugees and immigrants impacted by the Trump Administration’s travel ban.
Rebecca is a proud Bay Area native and a product of public schools. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University Law Center. She and her husband, Darren, live in Orinda with their three children.
I originally ran for the Assembly back in 2018 to make our community better, to stand up for what’s right and to work on solving some of our community’s – and our state’s – most pressing issues. And I have done that, over the past five years, by bringing my passion for solving problems to get things done on the issues that matter most to our families and by delivering for our community.
After being sworn in, I immediately rolled up my sleeves and got to work for our community. I was honored to be selected by my colleagues to serve in the Assembly leadership as Assistant Speaker pro Tempore.
In the Assembly, I have focused on issues that reflect our community's values and on delivering resources and funding that our region desperately needs. And I have worked diligently across party lines every year to put our community before politics and get things done, including securing millions for local projects, including local parks and recreation programs, local environmental programs and more.
I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish by working together. I look forward to continuing to work with you to make our community better.
A Strong Record of Success
Since she was first elected, Rebecca has made a commitment to focus on the issues that matter most to her community. Her approach has paid off for her constituents, as she has had tremendous success in passing important new legislation, including bills on climate change and the environment, education, women’s healthcare, decreasing wildfire risk, gun sense, mental health, public safety, government transparency, wise expenditure of tax dollars, and more.
Environment and Climate Change
An environmental lawyer and as Chair of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, Rebecca’s determination to protect the air, water and land in our environment and battle climate change is a top priority for her in the Assembly. One of her greatest achievements for the environment has been fighting and winning the decades-long battle to preserve 3100-acre Tesla Park in perpetuity as open space and parkland, working with Governor Newsom’s team and others to make it happen.
In order to protect our water and air, she increased penalties for those who illegally dump garbage (AB 1216), and worked to electrify and modernize California's ports to reduce pollutants from fossil fuels (AB 1594). She is pushing to reduce fossil fuels by helping to fund and support a new state-of-the-art hydrogen-fueled public transportation system that will extend to the Tri-Valley, giving commuters a green option for getting to work. To protect our precious water supply, she introduced AB 460, which would help stop illegal water use by increasing the authority of the Water Resources Control Board. As a member of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, she helped small farmers to reduce water consumption and protected drinking water by codifying a program to provide small farms with grants to convert to micro-irrigation systems (AB 1086). She introduced AB 1205 to combat profiteering by investment funds in water rights and groundwater, and AB 2857 to improve groundwater sustainability plans. Her AB 2805, now law, enhances California’s Regional Conservation Investment Strategies water program.
Rebecca has worked for several years to eliminate harmful chemicals from our environment, and introduced her “Clean California” package of bills in 2023 with this goal. Her bill to remove neonicotinoid pesticides from our environment and to protect bees and other pollinators from their toxic effects was signed by the Governor and bans over the counter sales of lawn and garden products containing these toxic substances (AB 363). In fall 2023, she passed AB 267, which removes unnecessary toxic chemicals from tents. AB 234, introduced last year, aims to ban the sale of products that intentionally contain microplastics, which are harmful to the environment. An earlier bill, AB 426, was designed to improve our air quality by strengthening regulation of toxic air contaminants.
Rebecca helped the city of Dublin acquire $2.29 million in state funding to build a new park/open space. She has been working together with local land preservation organizations to help obtain state funding to preserve even more open space, including helping a local nonprofit coalition obtain $1.1 million to conduct conservation planning for targeted open spaces. She has fought successfully to secure significant state funding to restore creeks and water quality in our community: $4 million to restore McCosker Creek, $125,000 to seed the restoration of San Pablo Creek, and $1 million for the cleanup of PFAS-contaminated groundwater wells. In order to increase public access to parks and open space, she authored and passed AB 618 and AB 1150, which put in place responsible park reservation practices so more Californians can enjoy access to the environment.
Rebecca believes that fighting climate change is one of the top challenges facing California, our nation, and our world today. She pledges to continue, as a member of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, the important work of introducing ambitious bills and innovative programs in order to tackle this enormous issue head on.
Diminishing the Threat of Wildfires
As we face an unprecedented threat from wildfires, Rebecca has taken action to keep us safe and hold those responsible accountable, including PG&E, by introducing the Utility Accountability and Wildfire Prevention Act (AB 2356). To better protect our community from fires, she fought and secured (1) $3.5 million in new firefighting equipment for the for East Bay Regional Park District, which oversees over 126,000 acres of parks, wildlands and open spaces in our community, so that it can more effectively fight fires. And (b) $800,000 to fund a local fire district’s efforts to educate the community on fire prevention. As the effects of climate change intensify wildfires across the West and the nation, Rebecca has led efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses and protect our environment. She has focused on protecting and expanding open spaces in our community to decrease the threat of wildfires encroaching into overbuilt areas, and on pushing for funding from the Governor’s Office for construction of critical fire breaks in the District that protect our communities. She also passed AB 2083 to make utility companies pay for the fires they cause by preventing them from passing those costs on to ratepayers.
Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights
Rebecca is a recognized state and national leader on protecting women's health and a woman's right to choose. As the Founder and Chair of the Select Committee on Reproductive Health – the first select committee of its kind in the entire nation -- Rebecca took quick action to fight back against the Trump Administration and right-wing extremists when they overturned Roe v. Wade. She took decisive steps and her bill, AB 1666, was signed into law and enacted the very day Roe was overturned, creating a strong legal shield for California abortion providers and patients. Rebecca also passed AB 1242, written in partnership with the California Attorney General. This first-in-the-nation law protects patients who come to CA to seek abortions or reproductive care. California is home to many of the nation's leading tech companies which house endless amounts of personal data and communications of users across the country. AB 1242 created a legal shield so law enforcement in other states are unable to obtain these records to use to prosecute patients in other states who are seeking reproductive care. In 2022, Rebecca also participated at the White House’s request in a collaborative meeting of national legislative leaders working to protect access to reproductive care.
In 2023, Rebecca continued this critical work defending Californians' privacy and reproductive rights. Her bill AB 254, signed into law by the Governor, extended powerful privacy safeguards to digital reproductive health services like menstrual tracking apps. Her bill AB 352, now law, protects patients and providers by preventing information on reproductive and sexual health from being automatically shared during interstate medical records-sharing. She also introduced AB 315 to protect Californians from misleading advertisements by Crisis Pregnancy Centers, groups that masquerade as being reproductive health clinics but then mislead patients about their pregnancy options and pressure people away from accessing abortion. Rebecca continues to fight in this important battleground, as there remains much more work to be done to ensure that a woman’s right to choose is protected and that the privacy of both patients and providers is secured.
Rebecca has become a state champion in combating the rising mental health crisis in our communities. In September 2022, Governor Newsom signed into law her landmark bill AB 988, the Miles Hall Lifeline and Suicide Prevention Act, which transforms the way California responds to mental health emergencies to ensure people in crisis receive the appropriate urgent care they need. AB 988 is named for Miles Hall, a 23-year-old who was shot and killed by police officers in 2019 during a mental health crisis. AB 988 implements 9-8-8, the national Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis hotline, an alternative to police response for people experiencing a mental health crisis. A person in crisis can now call 988 (instead of 911), an easy-to-remember number that can connect the caller to mobile crisis support teams staffed by mental health professionals and trained peers, much reducing the role of police in crisis response. Calling 988 will save lives - a recent study found that at least 1 in 4 fatal law enforcement encounters involves an individual with serious mental illness. In December 2023, Rebecca proudly celebrated the inaugural meeting of the 988 - Crisis Policy Advisory Group at the California Health and Human Services Agency (HHS), a crucial step in implementing the vision of AB 988 into the reality of a more responsive behavioral safety net.
Recognizing the need for change in this arena, Rebecca has introduced other important legislation relating to mental health. Her bill AB 2089, signed into law in 2022, protects patients’ privacy by implementing HIPPA and other patient protections for the first time to data collected by all mental health apps in California, preventing those apps from their current practice of harvesting and selling this information. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission then followed California’s lead by proposing an order banning the online mental health service BetterHelp from sharing users’ sensitive mental health data. To combat the shortage of psychiatric professionals and increase the pipeline for this desperately needed workforce so individuals can get the care they need, she also passed AB 2754, which modernizes requirements by allowing for digital training.
As the mother of three school-aged children and a product of Bay Area public schools, Rebecca has made our local schools and student success one of her top priorities in the Assembly. She is fighting to ensure our children get a quality education from Pre-K through college. Studies show that student success begins at a young age and a robust early education is proven to produce tremendous results. Preschool is shown to give our kids the head start they deserve, by reducing teen pregnancies and crime and improving overall earning power. She pressed to guarantee universal pre-school throughout our State so that every child has the opportunity to succeed.
Rebecca passed the critical Education Finance Bill to fund our public schools by bringing California's education spending up to the national per pupil average or higher (AB 39). When COVID-related budget decisions threatened California’s public schools, Rebecca held her ground to protect funding for our schools – ensuring our schools remained a top priority. She also pushed hard to have our schools reopened as soon and as safely as possible during Covid, and was a strong supporter of AB 86 to reopen schools, which passed in March 2021, so that every child could return to the in-person quality education they deserved. She introduced AB 3001 to make it easier for school districts to finance construction of workforce housing.
She continues to fight in the legislature to keep college affordable so that every child has the opportunity to earn a college degree, including passing a bill that removed income exclusions which had penalized families who receive CalWORKs benefits (AB 807). And she worked to provide key protections for the nearly 100,000 California students who attend online, for-profit, and out-of-state schools by requiring these schools to comply with state accreditation requirements (AB 1344). She recently introduced AB 769 to ensure that forgiven student loan debt from higher education does not become taxable income to the borrower. She has also supported funding vocational and career technical education programs that help our economy grow and efforts to help college students graduate without crippling debt.
In the District, Rebecca has worked hard to make the latest educational information available to students and parents, including hosting many expert workshops and town halls for constituents on subjects such as: (a) how to finance a college education, (b) mental health wellness for teens, (c) the “adolescent brain and marijuana,” (d) tackling student debt, (e) youth vaccinations, and (f) “back to school” issues. She has held numerous District Open Houses showcasing youth art and photography, and has named a Youth Poet Laureate to encourage students’ interest in the arts. She has hosted a “Civics Q and A” with District high school students and another “Q and A with Your Assemblymember” for elementary school students. Her efforts to promote gun sense seek to make our schools a safe place for every student to learn and grow without fear of violence. Rebecca makes a point of meeting regularly with teachers, education administrators and parents to keep abreast of the latest challenges for schools. She also introduced AB 1838 to require schools to provide parents with notices and report cards in the parents’ primary language, so that parents could be key partners with schools in their children’s education.
Rebecca has worked to increase access to quality, affordable health care throughout her years in the Assembly. When the Trump Administration tried to overturn the Affordable Care Act and end protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions, Rebecca fought to protect coverage for those who need it.
She authored a bill to help ensure Californians have greater access to quality, affordable health care by streamlining the open enrollment period for Covered California (AB 1309). And she took on Big Tobacco by co-sponsoring early legislation seeking to ban the sales of flavored tobacco to kids. She has worked to protect children and adults alike with severe food allergies from health risks by requiring specific training so food servers would understand allergens and cross-contamination issues, by authoring and passing a bill in honor of Natalie Giorgi, who died at 13 years old after being exposed to a deadly allergen at summer camp (AB 1532).
In 2022-2023, she authored and passed several important healthcare bills. To combat the shortage of psychiatric professionals and increase the pipeline for this desperately needed workforce so individuals can get the care they need, she passed AB 2754, which modernizes requirements by allowing for digital training. She also passed AB 1907 to improve the safety and quality of life in nursing homes, by increasing the number of government inspections. AB 1369 allows patients at the end of their lives to be seen virtually by doctors even if they are licensed in other states, often a critical need for an ill patient who cannot travel to see specialists. Her AB 1720 now protects patients who receive ultrasounds. She has also authored numerous bills in her ongoing mission to remove harmful chemicals from our environment in order to improve individuals’ health.
During the difficult pandemic years, Rebecca and her staff worked tirelessly to find appointments and sites for constituents to obtain vaccines, and to assist constituents having problems with health coverage to obtain help from the Department of Insurance and from Medi-Cal. She prioritized holding many online workshops and Town Halls to quickly bring the latest medical news directly to constituents from the experts. She located and brought much-needed personal protective gear to local medical professionals.
Rebecca is a state and national leader in the area of regulating Artificial Intelligence. In 2023, she introduced her landmark bill AB 331 to prevent algorithmic discrimination. The bill is the first of its kind in the state – requiring industry to follow best practices and cracking down on bad actors by requiring developers and users to mitigate the bias of automated decision tools (ADTs). AB 331 builds on President Biden’s “AI Bill of Rights” to create a first-in-the nation standard to prevent algorithmic bias. As Chair of the Assembly’s Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee, the committee tasked with evaluating AI-related bills, Rebecca is determined to protect people’s lives from a future where decisions that significantly impact them are made without their knowledge or consent.
Because AI is rapidly evolving, Rebecca believes that it is imperative that the legislature take actions now to ensure AI is used ethically and responsibly, and in a way that benefits everyone. Because ADTs are making impactful decisions now, Rebecca is continuing to fight vigorously for much-needed protections so that unchecked AI usage does not ingrain social injustice even further into our institutions. You can read more about how Rebecca wants California to take the lead on this issue, ahead of Congress, before it’s too late, here.
Fiscal Responsibility and Consumer Protection
Rebecca understands the value of tax dollars and works hard to ensure state funding is used efficiently and effectively. During the budget crisis caused by COVID-19, Rebecca made tough decisions to protect essential programs, while ensuring our state budget remained balanced. Once the state emerged from the pandemic, she has continued to apply those same principles to be an effective steward of state funds and to protect constituents’ hard-earned tax dollars.
Rebecca has passed multiple pieces of legislation during her years in office that were specifically crafted to save the state millions of dollars through smarter, streamlined fiscal practices, for example, AB 2483, signed by the Governor in 2022. And another of her bills saved taxpayer money by streamlining the development process for certain transportation projects (AB 1475).
Rebecca has also focused on protecting consumers and ensuring that taxpayers do not end up burdened with unfair costs. Her bill AB 2083, enacted in 2023, makes utility companies pay for the fires they cause by preventing them from passing legal settlement costs on to their ratepayers. AB 1287 eliminated gendered pricing known as the “Pink Tax” that unjustly targeted female consumers by charging them higher prices for the same goods. Her AB 1320 requires companies who provide money transfers to increase transparency and ensure that consumers have access to ready assistance. She has also introduced AB 769, which would ensure that forgiveness or discharge of student loan debt does not become taxable income to the student/consumer.
As a mother of three young children, Rebecca is committed to keeping California a national leader in gun safety policy. She has made gun violence prevention efforts a primary focus of her work in the Assembly, which is why she is the only candidate to have earned the Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate distinction.
Rebecca has introduced and passed bipartisan bills that strengthen gun safety laws, including prohibiting anyone who goes through a court-ordered mental health program from possessing a firearm while in the program (AB 1121) and modernizing the obsolete legal process that oversaw the transfer of firearms through estates or trusts (AB 1292). In 2022, she partnered with Governor Newsom on his priority bill package of gun control measures and authored AB 2571, which now bans the marketing and advertising of firearms to children, in response to firearm companies advertising guns specifically targeted to our youth. AB 2103, introduced in 2022, sought to create a pilot program to provide critical support services to victims and survivors of violence. AB 301, signed in 2023, now allows courts to consider body armor as a piece of evidence when deciding whether to grant a gun violence restraining order. With the launch of the White House’s new gun safety initiative in late January 2024, Rebecca anticipates there will be new robust opportunities to roll up her sleeves to collaborate nationwide on critical new gun safety laws.
Rebecca knows firsthand the transportation issues facing our community. Our roads are in rough shape, our infrastructure is crumbling, and BART has become unsafe and unreliable in recent years, and has lost significant ridership. That is why she is focusing on delivering resources for our community that will ease our regional transportation congestion, reduce traffic, and improve transportation options for everyone. She is a strong advocate to ensure our district has a voice at the table to fight and deliver for us in Sacramento.
In the Assembly, she is working to improve transportation options, find traffic solutions, and invest in our crumbling infrastructure, including fixing our roads, working to make BART more reliable and safer, and creating more BART parking. She is working to connect the Central Valley and the Tri-Valley to the rest of the Bay Area by helping to fund and support a brand new green transportation link that won’t run on fossil fuels.
She has helped cities and counties in our District to succeed in earning more funding from competitive state transportation grants so our region can get our fair share of state transportation funding. She passed a bill (AB 1475) to improve transportation construction projects around the state, making them more efficient so tax dollars could go further.
Other important legislation
Rebecca has also authored and passed bills that correct injustices in other important areas. AB 2282 equalized the criminal penalties for using hate symbols such as Nazi symbols, burning crosses and nooses, to make it clear that all Californians deserve to live without terror. Her enacted 2023 bill package improved protections for workers in vulnerable positions: AB 521 requests OSHA require a women’s restroom on construction sites and AB 1076 ended the unfair employer practice of including illegal noncompete clauses in workers’ contracts. She combatted harmful discriminatory gendered language with two new laws: AB 439 added nonbinary options for gender identity on death certificates, enabling nonbinary individuals to be correctly identified and respected, and AB 378 eliminated the use of the outdated word “he” in our state codes and replaced it with gender-neutral language. She protected the rights of our youth with AB 2658, which allows youth to count time spent on electronic monitoring towards their sentences, bringing their rights into line with the rights of adult detainees.
Rewards and recognitions
Rebecca has been honored to receive many awards for her work as an Assemblymember on issues that matter the most to her constituents, including these recent high lights:
She was named “Telehealth Legislator of the Year” in 2023 by nonprofit NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) for ‘Improving Outcomes for Those Impacted by Mental Illness’
She was honored as an Environmental Champion in 2024 by conservation nonprofit CalTrout (California Trout) for her freshwater conservation efforts
She was awarded the “Radke Championing Advocacy Award” by the East Bay Regional Park District and the nonprofit Regional Parks Foundation in 2022 for her efforts to restore East Bay creeks and protect its vast parklands from wildfire
She was named “Outstanding Elected Official” by nonprofit Alameda County Psychological Association in 2022, in recognition of her groundbreaking legislation and ongoing efforts in the important arena of mental health.
Winning State Budget Funding for our community's projects
Rebecca has fought successfully each year since 2018 to secure funding for critical projects in our local community. Highlights of these state funding victories in recent years include:
New Education Center. $1 million for construction of Mt. Diablo State Park’s new Mitchell Canyon Education Center, greatly increasing access to the park and its educational programs for local school children and other park visitors.
Clean Water. $1 million for remediation and clean-up of harmful “PFAS” chemicals from the City of Pleasanton’s groundwater wells.
Wildfire Protection. $3.5 million to purchase new wildfire protection equipment to combat wildfires in the East Bay Regional Parks that could threaten the safety of constituents and their homes, and $800,000 to fund a local fire district's education of constituents on fire prevention measures.
Creek Restoration and Public Access to Parklands. $4 million to restore McCosker Creek, a key local watershed, and construct new public access to hiking trails and campgrounds in the East Bay Regional Park system’s Robert Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, and $125,000 to restore San Pablo Creek.
New Open Space and Park. $2.29 million to fund the new Iron Horse Nature Park and Open Space in Dublin.
Children’s All-Abilities Playground. $1.4 million for construction of a state-of-the-art all-abilities playground at the City of Dublin’s Sports Ground.
Combatting Illegal Dumping. $750,000 for a joint pilot project by the Counties of Alameda and Contra Costa to combat rampant illegal dumping in the community.
Safe Route to School. $238,000 for construction of a protected bicycle and pedestrian pathway to provide a safe route to school for children, located in the City of Lafayette.
Accessible Children’s Park. $300,000 for construction of a new accessible park in the City of Lafayette.
Providing Stellar constituent services
When Rebecca was elected in 2018, she was determined to make her local District Office serve as a unique, efficient "one-stop shop" for constituents experiencing problems with state agencies. As an attorney, she knows how difficult and time-consuming it can be for someone to maneuver through government bureaucracy without help. Over the past five years, Rebecca's highly trained staff have personally assisted thousands of constituents with user-friendly, hands-on individual attention to help solve all sorts of difficult problems with agencies, including the DMV, the Franchise Tax Board, the Employment Development Department (EDD), the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Department of Insurance, the Department of Veterans Affairs, State Licensing Boards, the Department of Fair Employment & Housing, and more. During the tough pandemic years, her staff worked tirelessly to assist many thousands of constituents with critical issues, including helping them collect their hard-earned unemployment benefits from the Employment Development Department, finding places to obtain scarce vaccines, obtaining rent relief for tenants and securing relief funding for our community's small businesses. Rebecca and her staff continue today to prioritize providing services to constituents. If you need help with a state agency, she and her staff stand ready to assist you.