Every year, I am surprised how quickly the month of January flies by. Just after the New Year, we began our new session and hit the ground running. Right now is our time to introduce new legislation which you can read more about below.
Water will be a major issue as we face the driest year in our state’s history. With our archaic water system not designed to sustain a rapidly growing California, it is imperative we act now and not later. Our water system was built 50 years ago to serve a population half our current size; and today, we are nearing an ecological disaster as reservoirs have a fraction of their normal storage, ground water is being overdrafted, farmers have stopped farming, workers are being laid off, and communities are facing water rationing.
That’s why I have been, and remain committed to, taking an active part in placing a new water bond on the ballot. I recently introduced new legislation with Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) outlining a new water bond package that will increase our state’s water storage and access to clean water. What’s more, SB 927 decreases the original $11.1 billion price tag by almost $2 billion, eliminating the unnecessary earmarks and keeping water in the water bond.
The past few months have been both busy and exciting. I’ve met with many of you I already know at different events and have had the opportunity to meet numerous new faces. I’m always pleased to speak with constituents and community leaders across the district, finding out more about what issues are important to you, what’s working and what’s not, and of course, what’s affecting our community and, together, how can we make improvements. In the next month, I will begin to work on ideas for legislation for the upcoming session, and personal interaction is the best way for me to understand what needs to change.
I would like to hear from you about your ideas for legislation or any other issues that you might have. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office through my website if you have any questions, comments or insight to share.
Help keep your friends and neighbors informed about what’s going on in Sacramento and around the 12th Senate District by forwarding this email so they can sign up to receive my eNewsletters, as well. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and updates.
In January, I presented SB 841, legislation to expand much-needed healthcare resources in the San Joaquin Valley by training more physicians in the region and accelerating the planning process to launch a new medical school at the UC Merced campus. I am very excited about this legislation, as I believe the San Joaquin Valley is disproportionately affected by California's physician shortage. SB 841 will seek to end these health disparities and provide healthcare resources to people that are currently underserved due to lack of physicians.
Additionally, I drafted new legislation to increase state agency transparency. In 2012, as a result of the state park funding scandal, we discovered it was all too easy for a state entity to hide funds in accounts that could not be monitored. SB 898 will provide the fiscal transparency that you deserve so unelected bureaucrats can be held accountable for the way taxpayer dollars are spent. Read more about this bill.
As I indicated earlier, water is an incredibly important issue which I will be actively addressing throughout the year. I'm currently working with Senator Vidak to ensure the water bond package eliminates unnecessary pork and keeps what's important — water — in the water bond. We must immediately address this issue as we face one of the driest years in California's history. Lack of water means a loss of jobs, a shrinking food supply, and threatens the integrity of our drinking water. In January, I participated in a water rally hosted by the Latino Water Coalition and the NAACP to drive home the importance of fixing our water system and the need for a water bond that keeps water in the bond. California is relying on a water system built 50 years ago to serve a population half our current size. As a member of the bipartisan coalition of legislators who called upon Governor Brown to issue a drought declaration last year, I applaud him for recognizing the dire situation we all face. I am committed to working with him and my colleagues in the Legislature to develop short- and long-term solutions to ensure we provide water to those that need it most.
State of the State Address
Governor Brown recently delivered his State of the State Address and overall, I am pleased that he is addressing many topics I feel are of great importance to our district and state, including a need for investment in water storage, increased investment in education, and repaying our debt. You can read my full statement on the address.
Appointments and Recognitions
It has also been an incredibly humble year for me as I've received several recognitions, including the Rural County Representatives of California Legislator of the Year award. I was also appointed to the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency that promotes efficiency, economy and improved service through reports, recommendations and legislative proposals.
Mobile Office Hours
Please join my staff for mobile office hours throughout the district, where you can receive personal assistance on a variety of issues, including help with the DMV, the Employment Development Department, or matters involving other state agencies or state legislation.
Thursday, February 6
Planada Community Center
9267 E. Stanford Avenue
Thursday, February 13
24285 Lincoln Street
Friday, February 28
938 Fresno Street, Second Floor
Cash for College Events
As we have seen state tuition rise exponentially over the past few years, it's becoming increasingly difficult for families and their children to afford to go to college, preventing students from obtaining a higher education, and in turn, affecting our future workforce and ultimately, our economy.
That said, I would like to cordially invite high school students and their families to attend free a Cash for College workshop to learn more about how to apply for Cal Grants. The Cash for College program is a partnership with the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) and the South County California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP). Events will be held throughout January and February in Merced, Le Grand, Los Banos, Dos Palos, and Madera.
Cash for College Workshops provide assistance, guidance and resources to high school students who wish to apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Middle Class Scholarship, as well as one-on-one assistance for how to complete the Cal Grant GPA verification form. Students also have the opportunity to apply for a $1,000 scholarship from the California Student Aid Commission. Please note, to complete the application, parent and student 2012 or 2013 tax forms and student social security card are needed.
It's so important that students and parents are made aware of the resources and opportunities available to them. I strongly encourage all prospective students attend a Cash for College workshop near you to take full advantage of financial aid resources. Workshop locations, dates and times are below.
Merced Cash for College Events
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
3600 M Street
Merced, CA 95348
Saturday, February 8, 2014
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
610 Merced Mall
Merced, CA 95348
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Merced County Office of Education
632 W 13th Street
Merced, CA 95341
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
3600 M Street
Merced, CA 95348
Dos Palos Cash for College Event
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Dos Palos High School
1701 E. Blossom Street
Dos Palos, CA 93620
Madera Cash for College Events
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Madera South High School
705 W Pecan
Madera, CA 93637
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Madera Community College Center
30277 Avenue 12
Madera, CA 93638
For more information, please visit http://asmdc.org/issues/fundingcollege/.
Feel free to call my Merced office at (209) 726-5495 to make an appointment in advance.
District and State Happenings
Earlier in January, I spoke at a water rally on the Capitol steps with the Latino Water Coalition and NACCP about the dire consequences our state faces and what steps we need to take to address our archaic water system.
It was an honor to receive the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) Legislator of the Year award. My good friend, Merced County Supervisor John Pedrozo, presented the award.
I attended the Nuevo Latino Rotary Club of Winton's charter dinner in January and presented a resolution to Club President Salvador Walle. The organization is dedicated to improving area communities and eliminating disparities through education.
Celebrating the holiday spirit in December, here I am with California Highway Patrol Captain Sam Samra and Merced County Supervisor John Pedrozo helping Santa give toys to needy families at the Planada Community Day.
Late last year, it was my privilege to speak about the importance of understanding government processes and introducing the "There Ought to be a Law" contest with a Los Banos High School Civics Class.