Morrell Monthly: July 2017

Monday, July 10, 2017

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Our office is here to serve you. If you’re having difficulties with a state agency, need a question answered about pending legislation, or want to know more about upcoming events, please give us a call at (909) 919-7731. You can also email me at Senator.Morrell@sen.ca.gov.

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Learn more about what I’m working on in Sacramento and what’s happening around the district!

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Mobile Office Hours

Members of my staff hold regular monthly office hours across the 23rd Senate District. If you have an issue or concern that you would like to share in person but can’t make it to our main office, please plan to stop by. You can view the entire schedule here.

Please note that due to the July 4th holiday, office hours in Lake Arrowhead will move to July 11th at the same time and location. Hemet office hours, normally scheduled on the first Tuesday of the month, will next be held in August.

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MESSAGE

Dear Friend,

With the end of spring came significant deadlines at the Capitol, including for the state budget as well as for what is called the “House of Origin,” a point of the year when bills must switch between the Senate and the Assembly if they are going to proceed any further. In this newsletter, you can read about measures I’ve worked on and my thoughts on other major legislation that is making its way through the process.

Among the articles below, you will also find a link to an app developed by Cal Fire intended to alert people when wildfires occur. With several fires already flaring up in our area in the past several weeks, it is critically important that we are ready for what could be a busy fire season ahead. A special thanks to all of the firefighters who are working to protect our families and homes.

I hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer ahead.

Best regards,

Mike

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Record-Setting 2017-18 State Budget

Every year, lawmakers and the governor must develop a state budget that sets spending priorities for the next year. At the constitutional deadline of June 15, the legislature passed the 2017-18 budget and the governor approved it on June 27. As always, there are things to both like and dislike in the budget.

While I agree that it is prudent to continue building our state’s rainy day fund, the budget also spends $1.5 billion of our money in new gas and car taxes and another $1.1 billion on high-speed rail. Furthermore, the budget includes provisions that erode taxpayer protections set by the Board of Equalization and also upends over one hundred years of legal precedent empowering the people to hold their representatives accountable through the recall election process.

For these reasons and several others, I could not support the budget and was, regrettably, a “no” vote.

To read my full statement on the state budget, you can click here.

The full budget is also available at www.ebudget.ca.gov.

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SB 184 - Protecting Citizens’ Privacy and Personal Information

Stock photo of lock buttonOne of the bills I am authoring this session came from a constituent who was concerned about the confidentiality of public forms that include Social Security Numbers.

Working with San Bernardino County Assessor-Recorder-Clerk Bob Dutton and the County Recorders Association of California, Senate Bill 184 would allow county recorders to further protect Social Security Numbers on public documents created before 1980 (currently, this information can only be truncated on more recent documents).

The bill passed the Senate unanimously and is next being considered by the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection.

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SB 679 - Increasing Legislative Accountability

At the midyear deadline, Senate Bill 679 was approved by the Senate on a unanimous, bipartisan vote. SB 679 aims to reduce the revolving door by increasing the amount of time that state legislators are prohibited from lobbying the legislature from one year to two years if a legislator resigns from office. While my original bill increased the restriction to five years, the amended version of SB 679 still represents a significant step forward in this effort. For more information on SB 679, click here.

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SB 197 - Building Specialized Veteran Medical Facilities

Image of Soldier in front of flag

This legislative session, I am a co-author on Senate Bill 197, which would lower the cost of constructing medical facilities in California that serve veterans and active duty troops afflicted with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and related conditions.

The bill is part of a bipartisan effort on this issue and continues to make its way through the State Assembly after having garnered unanimous support in the Senate. For more information on SB 197, click here.

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Fire Tax Update

Photo from the forumIn mid-June, I joined Assemblyman Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear Lake) for information forums on the controversial fire prevention fee, also known as the “fire tax.”

Some contend that the fee is an illegal tax because it did not receive the required two-thirds vote of the legislature.

Additionally, many property owners, who should be receiving direct services for paying the bill, do not see how their money is being spent.

That is a reason why the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, on behalf of these property owners, is currently challenging the legality of the fee as part of a class-action lawsuit, arguing that because many payers have not received services for their payments, the fee is functioning more like a tax, which benefits everyone, not just the payer. More information is here.

During my time in the legislature, I have worked to repeal the tax on this premise. I have also pushed for more transparency in how the state spends the tax and have teamed up with my colleague, Assemblyman Frank Bigelow (R-O’Neals), on AB 211 to accomplish that goal this year.

You can read more about the community forum in Lake Arrowhead from The Alpenhorn News.

Photo credit: Gail Fry, The Alpenhorn News

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Other Legislation of Note this Session

The legislative year has been a particularly busy one, with several major proposals coming to a head over the past few months.

One that I covered in my last newsletter was the governor’s signing of the largest gas and car tax increase in state history pushed by Democratic leadership (Senate Bill 1). The new tax burden will amount to $5.2 billion per year. I have worked on getting articles out to papers in our area and around the state on the gas tax, explaining why it is the wrong solution and how existing gas tax money needs to be used the way voters have said they want it spent. You can read more of my thoughts in the Daily Bulletin, the East Bay Times, and the GV Wire.

Another measure to watch is Senate Bill 54 (de Leon, D-Los Angeles), which would protect dangerous criminals by making California into a “sanctuary state.” State sheriffs remain opposed to the measure because it limits their ability and discretion to communicate with federal counterparts. You can read about my concerns with the bill and its impact on public safety in this op-ed I wrote for the Independent Journal Review.

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Women of Distinction 2017 - Nominations Open

Photo of the 2016 honorees from BeaumontEach year, I’m honored to host the annual Women of Distinction Awards Ceremony & Dinner to recognize extraordinary women from around the 23rd Senate District who have positively impacted their community.

The 13th Annual Women of Distinction event will be held at the Goldy S. Lewis Community Center located in Central Park in Rancho Cucamonga on Friday, November 3.

The nomination window for this year’s event is now open through August 1, 2017.

For more information, you can visit the website here.

An online nomination form is available here.

For questions, please contact Melissa Boyd at (909) 919-7731.

Pictured above the 2016 honorees from Beaumont: From left to right: Deborah St. Martin; a representative from the National Latina Business Women Association - Inland Empire; Debra J. Williams; Senator Mike Morrell; and Gabriela Perez.

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PATRIOT SPOTLIGHT: Marvin Nottingham

Photo of Marvin NottinghamHemet resident Marvin Nottingham served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. For his efforts during the battle on Iwo Jima, he earned a Bronze Star.

In 1950, he began a career in education as a high school chemistry and physics teacher. He went on to be appointed Vice Principal at Coronado High School, Principal at Hemet High School from 1963-1967, and Principal at Palm Springs High School for two years thereafter.

Marvin went on to earn his Doctorate in Education Administration and was a professor at USC from 1975 to 1985 while simultaneously serving as a professor of School Administration for the U.S. Department of Defense schools in Korea, Japan, and Germany.

He was the Department Head of Administration at the University of Idaho from 1980 until his “retirement” and settled in Hemet in 1990. He continues to tirelessly serve his community. He established the San Jacinto Mountain Scholarship Foundation with the California Retired Teachers Association, which awards scholarships to graduating seniors from San Jacinto Valley high schools. He was the first president of the Hemet Education Foundation and has been a member for 54 years. He continues to remain active through his advocacy and support of several nonprofit organizations including Valley Restart Shelter, Inc.

Marvin was recognized with a “Greatest Generation” Award for his military and community service at the Patriots of the Past, Present, & Future Ceremony held last spring to honor veterans in the 23rd Senate District. I want to thank Marvin for his dedication to our nation and his passion for education.

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Photos

Image 2 of visit from University of Redlands Political Science Students

University of Redlands Political Science Students. In closing out the academic year, Dr. Renee Van Vechten brought her political science students from the University of Redlands to the State Capitol for a visit. Go Bulldogs!

Image 4 of visit from Del Rosa Christian School

Del Rosa Christian School - San Bernardino. College students were not the only ones to make a recent visit to the Capitol. We also had 6th graders from Del Rosa Christian School in San Bernardino come by. Great discussion and questions from this group!

Image from the CSU San Bernardino USAF ROTC Commissioning Ceremony

CSU San Bernardino USAF ROTC Commissioning Ceremony. Air Force ROTC Detachment 002 at Cal State San Bernardino held its Air Force Commissioning Ceremony for the Class of 2017 in mid-June. I was honored to be there at the invitation of Michael Kampbell (pictured here). Congratulations to all - thank you for your service to our country!

Image from the CA Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Legislative conference

California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Legislative Conference. During the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Legislative Conference, I had the opportunity to sit on a panel and share about my experiences in business and offer advice to those in attendance. It was a great conversation. Special thanks to Chairman Frank Montes (from Riverside!) for the invitation to participate.

Image of UCR School of Medicine graduates

Update from the UCR Doctor’s Corner. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to speak during a meeting of the UCR Doctor’s Corner held by the Riverside Woman’s Club. With the UCR School of Medicine graduating its first class this spring, the Riverside Woman’s Club also saw its first students set off on their new careers, including Leila Magistrado (pictured at far right). Leila was placed in a competitive obstetrics and gynecology residency at Baylor School of Medicine in Houston. Congratulations, Leila! Also pictured: Riverside Woman’s Club Education Chair Lois Cunningham (far left), Dr. Desiree Reedus (center left), and classmate of Leila’s.

Image from Veterans Recognition Dinner

Veterans Recognition Dinner. As part of the annual Citrus Fair, the National Orange Show in San Bernardino held an appreciation dinner for local veterans. I was honored to be asked to speak and recognize World War II veteran Ilonka Polly Gunn, pictured here at center with her family.

Photo of local Cal Fire units

Raising Wildfire Awareness. Our local Cal Fire units have been active in promoting awareness about the need to be prepared in the case of wildfire. Field representative Joshua Monzon (center with light blue shirt) joined officials from around the Inland Empire on our office’s behalf at a press conference put on by departments in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Thanks to all of our firefighters for your efforts in keeping our communities safe this wildfire season. You can watch the press conference here.

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Staying Safe in the Heat!

With weather forecasters predicting high temperatures this summer, it is important to know how to stay safe in the heat. Here are some resources:

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Reminder -- Ready for Wildfire App Available

Image of CalFire logoIn the last eNewsletter, we highlighted the new app developed by CAL FIRE to help the public prepare and stay informed as wildfire season approaches. With fires already flaring up in our area, we thought it would be good to include the link again.

Users can set the app to alert them of a wildfire within 30 miles of the device. The app is free and available in the App Store or Google Play for mobile devices.

For more information visit: ReadyforWildfire.org

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Letter from John Adams to His Wife Abigail

Images of John and Abigail Adams

The significance of America’s Declaration of Independence in 1776 was not lost on the founders and the colonists. They knew that if their endeavors were successful, the events surrounding that day would be celebrated for as long as the United States continues to exist.

Among those at the signing was John Adams, who would later serve as our second president. In a letter he wrote to his wife, Abigail, he observed the following:

“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.—I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with4 Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

Read the complete letter here.

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Report: $370 Billion in New Taxes and Fees Proposed

Graphic of Major Annual Tax and Fee Proposals by Subject AreaAt the six-month mark of the legislative session, the California Taxpayers Association tallied the total amount in taxes proposed in the legislature this year, mainly by Democrats. If every measure became law, Californians’ tax burden would increase by more than $370 billion per year. Currently, existing taxes and fees bring in $179.47 billion.

One new law, SB 1, the car and gas tax pushed through by the governor and majority party leaders, is included in this report. It will cost drivers another $5.2 billion per year.

Since the start of the legislative session in December, lawmakers have introduced 2,578 bills and constitutional amendments.

The report published by the California Taxpayers Association identifies 90 proposals that increase taxes, fees, assessments or other charges.

You can read it by clicking here.

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