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Diaper Bill Proposed By San Diego Assemblywoman Provokes Backlash

Miguel B./Flickr

Boxes of diapers.

Aired 8/11/14 on KPBS News.

Lorena Gonzalez vented her frustration in a tweet.

Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego is dealing with some hostile reactions after proposing eligible California families receive $80 a month to help buy diapers. 

Gonzalez vented her frustration in a tweet. A national television network had reported on one of her bills, which would subsidize diapers for some poor California families. She says the response was a barrage of hate mail, nasty phone calls and Facebook messages. Gonzalez tweeted “the offensiveness of comments” about her diaper bill exceeded anything she’d ever seen.

"I'm a progressive. I’m used to having some kinds of fringe people coming after people," she said. "But I think what is different about this is the lack of understanding and the racism and classism involved when dealing with poor women.”

Gonzalez says she's trying to remove barriers that prevent women from working. And she says she’s not afraid to have a legitimate debate on the bill. Critics have pointed out it could cost California about $120 million a year.

Republican political consultant Mike Madrid says the bill struck three hot buttons.

"It really speaks to people’s basic, core feelings about everything from immigration, to poverty, to welfare issues. All three of which are very dynamic and very passionate in their own right," he says. "And when you combine all three of them, I think what you’re seeing is a kind of a visceral reaction to the entire proposal.”

Madrid says other policy issues will likely face the same reaction in the future as demographic and economic divides grow in California.

Gonzalez' district includes portions of Chula Vista, National City and the San Diego communities of City Heights, Paradise Hills, Barrio Logan, Golden Hill, Sherman Heights, Logan Heights, Southcrest, Otay Mesa, Nestor and San Ysidro.

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