LANCASTER — The two state legislators representing the Antelope Valley in Sacramento held a wide-ranging, interactive meeting on Saturday morning at the Antelope Valley Transit Authority headquarters.
Instead of the typical question-and-answer session volley at the conclusion of the meeting, state Rep. Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) and Sen. Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) took turns answering submitted questions from the 50-plus members of the audience from the meeting’s start. Throughout the two-hour-long event — which began at 10 a.m. and was live-streamed on Facebook — the duo veered across topics, from solar panel construction to homelessness to hemp farming.
In response to the question, “what can be done to provide a homeless solution in Antelope Valley?” Lackey said there was a limit to what the state government can do and prodded the public to be solution-oriented.
“We’ve earmarked a lot of money and homelessness is a top (priority),” he said. “We’re trying to stop the existential growth of homelessness, and we need your help. We need people showing up and volunteering with local nonprofit organizations.”
One of Lackey’s top priorities is to secure increased funding for programming for developmentally disabled. Referring to slashed funding for basic services such as transportation and job training, the 36th District assemblyman said he’s actively working to ensure the 2019-20 state budget provides more for the vulnerable segment of the population.
“I’m going to be pushing as hard as I know how,” he said, adding that the Gov. Gavin Newsom is more receptive to the issue than his predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown.
Hemp farming may be a reality in Antelope Valley soon thanks to Wilk, who updated his constituents on SB 153, a bill he co-authored to streamline hemp farming. In April, the bill unanimously passed the Senate Committee on Agriculture. In addition to bringing California’s hemp regulation and cultivation laws into compliance with the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, SB 153 would require the Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, in consultation with the governor and the attorney general, to develop and submit a state plan to U.S. Department of Agriculture on or before Jan. 31, 2020.
Rampant solar panel construction in the Valley was touched on in response to several questions from the public. “The spread of solar development needs to be addressed,” Lackey said, adding, “Clean energy is what we need to work toward.”
Attendee Darell Bennett, of Lancaster, made it clear after the session that he wasn’t a proponent of unregulated solar panel installation.
“I think they’re encroaching on us,” he said. “The people in the Antelope Valley are getting nothing from it. It all goes to L.A. The reflected light increases heat, which heats up everything.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, Lackey and Wilk chatted up with constituents individually. Before departing for an event in Santa Clarita, Lackey, a former Palmdale Schoool District board member, also briefly addressed the noose photo controversy, which he has also mentioned in several tweets this week.
“We need more sensitivity,” he said. “When you’re in a position of leadership, you’ve got to think and have better judgment. We need to learn from this.”