Looking back on her eight years as a state senator representing the 19th District, Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, summed up the experience as “gratifying.”
Term limited after this year, her senate seat will be taken up by Monique Limon, currently the Democrat assemblywoman for the 37th Assembly District.
In an interview with the News-Press on Monday morning, Sen. Jackson said she is particularly proud of legislation that she passed in three key areas, environmental protection, equal pay, and pharmaceutical industry regulation.
In the first category, the senator cited legislation she passed against the expansion of oil drilling such as 2017’s SB 188, which she co-authored with Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, and Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens. The bill prohibits the State Lands Commission from approving new leases for oil and gas infrastructure in the three-mile coastal area controlled by the State of California.
Though oil and gas drilling does occur in federal waters, the senator said SB 188 makes the cost of putting oil on a freighter in this area “prohibitively expensive.”
Other environmental protection bills she is pleased to have gotten passed include the 2015 bills SB 551 and SB 379. The former directed the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources to create a plan for decommissioning oil and gas infrastructure in its jurisdiction, and the latter requires for cities and counties to make a plan for adapting to climate change impacts such as rising sea levels, fires, floods, and droughts.
In 2019, Sen. Jackson passed SB 358, which she said is considered “the strongest equal pay law in the country.” The bill requires companies with 100 or more employees to file a report to the federal government in order to identify where there is job segregation. Sen. Jackson explained that this is necessary because there is commonly a disparity between the number of men and women in higher paying job categories, a disparity that leans heavily toward the former.
Should former vice president Joe Biden be sworn in as president come January after President Donald Trump’s legal fights in key swing states prove unsuccessful, Sen. Jackson hopes this bill will be implemented in areas beyond California.
“That is a bill that will hopefully be implemented on the state and federal level with this changing administration,” she said.
Inspired by legislation out of the Canadian province British Columbia, SB 212 is a piece of “first in the nation” legislation that Sen. Jackson is happy to have authored. It requires pharmaceutical companies to create take-back programs for their medications and needles that go unused by patients after treatment.
This was meant to prevent seniors from getting hooked on their medication after treatment and to prevent young people from stealing and experimenting with leftover prescriptions.
She remarked that SB 212 said to pharmaceutical companies, “You need to take responsibility for the end-of-life cycle of your products.”
Recalling the first time she came to California to visit a cousin of hers who moved to the state from New York, Sen. Jackson said she saw the most beautiful view she’d ever seen as the plane landed.
“California has always been in my heart and one thing I love about this state is that we still have that pioneer spirit,” she said.
Originally a Bostonian, Sen. Jackson has lived in California for 40 years and came to this state to attend Scripps College in Claremont. After majoring in government and sociology there, she spent a few years back in her hometown to get a law degree from Boston University Law School.
She returned to California thereafter and has lived here ever since, forging a legal career that included serving as deputy district attorney of Santa Barbara County and as managing partner of the firm Law Offices of Eskin and Jackson, which had offices in Ventura and Santa Barbara.
Prior to beginning her first term as a state senator in 2012, Sen. Jackson served in the California State Assembly representing the 35th District from 1998 to 2004.
Though she practiced law for 22 years and is still an active bar association member, the senator said she won’t be re-entering her old profession when she gets out of office.
Instead, she hopes to use her experience in politics to consult and help others turn ideas into policy. Outside of the senate, she will continue to be an advocate for issues like diversity in the workplace and society and moving toward a greener future for posterity.
“These are areas where I can perhaps continue to speak and advocate and have a voice,” she said.