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California State Government June 6, 2006 Election
Smart Voter Full Biography for Deborah V. Ortiz

Candidate for
Secretary of State; Democratic Party

This information is provided by the candidate

Deborah Ortiz was elected to the 6th State Senate District in November 1998. She is the Chair of the Senate Health Committee and is also a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. Her district includes the cities of Sacramento, Citrus Heights and parts of Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove, as well as the communities of Antelope, Rio Linda, Elverta, North Highlands, East Sacramento, Arden-Arcade and Rosemont.

Senator Ortiz is the author of the law making California the first state in the nation to authorize embryonic stem cell research. She also is the author of the state's landmark program guaranteeing college scholarships, Cal Grants, for students with good grades and financial need. As the author of the state law banning the sale of soda in grade schools and junior high, her early work on childhood obesity prevention has served as the model for the rest of the nation.

An outspoken advocate for those facing catastrophic illness -- as well as their families and caregivers -- Senator Ortiz wrote legislation directing millions of dollars into ovarian, breast and prostate cancer research and awareness programs.

Senator Ortiz has authored legislation to protect patients against unfair billing practices. One bill focuses on the uninsured patients, seeking to curb aggressive collections practices of hospitals. Hospitals have developed voluntary guidelines for charity care and reduced payments; however, there is evidence that they are not adhering to them. The second bill would provide greater protections for insured patients who get caught in billing disputes between their health care providers and their health plans.

Building on her commitment to public health, Senator Ortiz has authored legislation for the past three years to create the first state biomonitoring program in the nation. The bill would measure the "body burden," or leve and amount of toxics and chemicals retained in the bodies of individuals living in different areas of the state. Senator Ortiz believes this research is vital to protecting the health and well-being of millions of citizens and could help in the development of prevention measures for a full spectrum of diseases related to environmental exposures. Although the bill was vetoed by the governor last year, Senator Ortiz remains committed to establishing this important research program, and is co-authoring with Senate President pro Tem Don Perata a new bill this year.

A past 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. After helping to establish the commission charged with developing a master plan for expansion of pre-school, she continues to lead the effort for statewide universal pre-kindergarten programs. The author of the bill establishing the state's first experiment into after-school programs, Senator Ortiz is committed to expanding those programs statewide. 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. She lead the efforts to reduce children's exposure to lead, eliminate Chromium 6 from our water, map out naturally-occurring asbestos so potential homebuyers can take steps to protect their familes, and was one of the first public officials in the nation to recognize and address the danger of toxic molds in our homes and businesses.

She also is the author of legislation protecting family planning clinic patients, providers and volunteers from dangerous, pro-life protesters, and authored the state law requiring pharmacies to provide contraceptions to women seeking to have their prescriptions filled.

First elected to the Assembly in November 1996, Senator 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.

Senator Ortiz' 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, she 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: June 3, 2006 09:55
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