Barbie’s in Bonn with Assemblywoman Garcia

Politicians often employ props in advocacy of their projects and policies, but it’s a safe bet that not many legislators carry Barbie dolls to make their case, especially Barbie dolls with tampons affixed to their tiny torsos.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia stowed twin Barbies in her carry-on luggage en route to the U.N. climate conference in Bonn and is using them here to illustrate her campaign to end the California sales tax on tampons. Her proposal on the issue stalled this year, but the Democrat from Bell Gardens continues to argue that taxing necessities for women and children is unfair.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia’s “tampon Barbies.” Photo by Julie Cart for CALmatters

Walking between events Monday, Garcia placed her blonde and brunette Barbies as hood ornaments on one of the very expensive electric cars parked around the sprawling complex.

On a rare sunny day, Garcia also talked about air pollution, an issue she’s learning more about as she meets with environmental-justice groups and others at the conference.

She authored a law that passed this year as a companion to the extension of California’s cap-and-trade system for reducing carbon emissions. It calls for stricter monitoring of emissions in slow-income communities to better track public health problems.

Garcia admits the legislation does not have the teeth she intended it to and said she will make another run at the issue next year. “I expect more bills will be needed, and I’m prepared to advocate for that.”

In the meantime, she’s been hosting listening sessions around the state to hear directly from residents on how best to implement the law.

“In Oakland, it’s about the refineries,” she said. “You get to L.A. and it’s about the trucks and the cars. That’s the purpose of the bill: that we have local plans that make sense to them. There’s a long road ahead.”

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