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.
Learn more about what I’m working on in Sacramento and what’s happening around the district!
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.
Each fall, I look forward to spending extended time back home in the district. It is a much-needed break to meet with more of you to discuss what is going on in Sacramento and what next year might look like for the legislature. I always appreciate these opportunities and hearing your take on the issues.
Since we last touched base, the Governor officially brought to a close the 2015 legislative season, making his final decisions on what bills to sign or veto this year. Of the 941 bills that reached his desk, he signed 808 of them. As with every legislative session, the results are usually a mixed bag and this one is no exception. Later on in this newsletter, I share thoughts on some of these bills.
Here in the district, it has been a busy couple of months. I’ve attended a number of community meetings during the week that I usually cannot make when the legislature is in session. I have also had the chance to talk with students about my experience in business and now as a legislator. Additionally, our office has hosted a few events including the Ark of Safety emergency preparedness forum and our office’s annual Women of Distinction Ceremony, both of which you can read more about in this issue.
Thank you for taking the time to browse through my newsletter. As always, if you ever have questions or if our office can be of service on state-related issues, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
University of Redlands. I always enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to speak with college students about our state and government. Thanks to University of Redlands Professor Greg Thorson for giving me some time with his educational policy class! Great group of informed students!
Founding Documents Fireside Chat. I recently had the opportunity to talk with families and youth in Yucaipa and the Pass communities about our nation’s founding principles, as contained in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. I want to thank the Yucaipa California Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for hosting. Pictured here, from left to right, is Kasey Haws, President Jim Wilson, President Darryl Cartozian, my wife Joanie, myself, DeEsta West, and President Franklin Adams.
South Los Angeles-Inglewood Republican Assembly (SLAIRA). Thanks to the newly rebooted SLAIRA for recognizing me and a number of my colleagues for our conservative voting records this past legislative session. It was an honor to be acknowledged. Pictured here – Back, left to right: California Republican National Committeeman Shawn Steel on behalf of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Assemblywoman Young Kim of Fullerton, myself, Congressman Ed Royce District Director Stephanie Hu, Assemblyman David Hadley, and Senator Joel Anderson. Front, left to right: SLAIRA board members President Keith McCowen, Assistant Treasurer Paul Wyatt, Treasurer William Rodriquez Morrison, Secretary, Michele Penman, Membership Director and Unit Chaplin Jason Wilkins, California Republican Assembly (CRA) National Committeeman Johnnie Morgan and Vice-President Lawrence Phillips.
Ritual Brewing Co. I stopped in at Redlands-based Ritual Brewing Co. to congratulate co-founders Steve Dunkerken and Owen Williams for their Best of Show win in the Commercial Craft Brew Competition at the 2015 California State Fair. Their Fat Hog Barleywine Ale beat out over 1,000 entries! They also brought home two gold medals from the recent Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Congratulations, guys!
Redlands Apartments. Glad to be on hand for the ribbon cutting of the new Circa 2020 Apartments in Redlands. Congratulations to Steve Reeder and the UCR development team! In the left photo, San Bernardino County Supervisors Robert Lovingood (far right) and James Ramos (far left) join Steve Reeder in cutting the ribbon.
Reading Across the 23 rd District. One way I have been making the rounds in the 23 rd Senate District this fall is by visiting with kids and their families at our libraries. I enjoy the time to read together and explain the job of a Senator. Clockwise from the top left: story time at the Paul Biane Library in Rancho Cucamonga, the Yucaipa Branch Library, the Banning Public Library, and the Sun City Library.
This year, the legislature collectively introduced 2,769 different measures. Of those bills, 941 made it to the Governor for his consideration and 808 ultimately became law. The Governor spent most of September and October deciding whether to sign or veto the bills before him. Here are some of the hits and misses from that final month.
Senate Bill 111 - Signed
This bill provides needed state funding to match the federal dollars secured to modernize schools serving military families throughout California. The federal funds are set aside to repair, upgrade, and replace inadequate public school facilities located near military bases. I was proud to be a co-author of this measure.
Senate Bill 406 - Vetoed
SB 406 would place an undue burden on both small and large employers by expanding the mandate requiring employers to grant 12 weeks of protected leave to employees. California already has a reputation as one of the least business-friendly states in the country. SB 406 would add to this narrative and make it more difficult for businesses to thrive here. You can watch my remarks about this bill on the Senate Floor here.
Assembly Bill 1461 - Signed
AB 1461 creates a “Motor Voter” program which will automatically register Californians to vote when they obtain their driver’s license. My concern with this bill is that there are insufficient safeguards to prevent ineligible people from becoming voters. By protecting these individuals from prosecution for fraudulent voting, the bill could facilitate voter fraud and further undermine the integrity of the electoral system.
Assembly Bill 775 - Signed
This bill will require crisis pregnancy centers, many of which are religious in nature, to post information about state health services, including abortion, at their facilities. I believe that it violates these centers’ freedom of speech by forcing them to display information with which they fundamentally disagree.
Assembly Bill x2-15 - Signed
One of the more high profile bills this year, ABx2-15 makes physician-assisted death legal in California. A terminal diagnosis is frightening. I watched my own father die from cancer. However, legalizing assisted suicide would irreparably disrupt the trust between patient and physician and further a cultural slide towards one that devalues life. When teenage suicide rates are at an all-time high, I am concerned with the message this sends to those who might be vulnerable. I also do not believe that this bill should have been pushed through during the special legislative session on health care funding instead of through the normal process.
Senate Bill 251 - Vetoed
SB 251 would have provided relief to businesses who demonstrate a concerted effort to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility requirements by providing an opportunity to resolve identified construction-related violations without being subject to frivolous lawsuits. Unfortunately, the Governor indicated that he vetoed this bill, among others, because the legislature did not give him his health care tax increase this year .
Pictured here clockwise from top left: 1. Maribel Brown is recognized as the San Bernardino County Woman of the Year. 2. Vicki Carpenter of Menifee served as the mistress of ceremonies. 3. Sally Myers is recognized as the Riverside County Woman of the Year. 4. Cecilia Bolbolian welcomes attendees on behalf of the National Latina Business Women Association - Inland Empire
Each year, the Women of Distinction Ceremony showcases the service of women from throughout our region. Awardees are nominated by members of the public from business leaders to colleagues and friends.
This year’s ceremony took place on October 16 at the Orton Center on the University of Redlands Campus and was co-sponsored by the National Latina Business Woman Association - Inland Empire. Over 340 people attended! We highlighted the work of two “Women of the Year” - Sally Myers of Riverside County and Maribel Brown of San Bernardino County - as well as 42 other women representing the various parts of the 23 rd Senate District.
Read more about the evening and see a full list of honorees here. Congratulations to all!
Near the end of September, I worked with the nonprofit Building Resilient Communities to host the 3 rd Annual Ark of Safety Forum at Christ’s Church of the Valley - Etiwanda Gardens. The event brought together community leaders and representatives from various faith-based and nonprofit groups in an effort to improve disaster response planning for the Inland Empire.
Keynote speaker Pastor Lee Neish of First United Methodist Church in Napa shared his church’s experience during and after the earthquake that hit Napa in August 2014, the largest to strike the San Francisco Bay Area since 1989. He discussed the lessons they learned, and in particular, the need to anticipate what unique challenges churches could face.
I want to thank Building Resilient Communities President Debra Williams for partnering with us on this event as well as the other participants, including the American Red Cross, Catholic Diocese of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches, Riverside County Emergency Services Dept., Riverside and San Bernardino County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), San Bernardino County Office of Emergency Services, Southern California Edison, Southern California VOAD, and others .
This fall, Board of Equalization Member Diane Harkey will be hosting the Connecting Women to Power Business Conference at UC Irvine. The event will bring together established entrepreneurs and leaders from major corporations, government agencies and key partner organizations to share ways of positioning women business owners to better compete in today’s global and ever changing business climate. I’m proud to be one of this year’s sponsors.
Sam Spagnolo served our country in the U.S. Navy from 1960-1964 on the USS Helena and USS Ranger. After returning home, Sam became a volunteer firefighter for six years and eventually worked his way up to become fire captain of the Rancho Cucamonga Fire Department where he served for 30 years. In addition to being a firefighter, Sam dedicated himself to the community by creating the Ashley Smith Fund for child burn victims and founded the city of Rancho Cucamonga’s CPR/First Aid Program.
Sam’s passion for his community led him to run for City Council in 2004 where he has served since and is currently the Mayor Pro Tem. Sam received the Congressional Recognition for “Grand Prix” Firefighting in 2003 and the Fire Quest Volunteer Award in 2002. In May, it was my privilege to recognize him as a Patriot of the Present in the Public Safety category at the 2nd Annual Patriots of the Past, Present, & Future . He currently serves as the Vice President of the League of California Cities Inland Empire Division and as Vice-Chair of the Omnitrans Board of Directors. Sam has been a Rancho Cucamonga resident for 44 years and has been married for 51 years to his wife Vi. They have 3 children and 7 grandchildren. Thank you for your service to our country and community, Sam!
Tara Yousif is currently interning with our office. She is a Political Science major and English minor at Azusa Pacific University and will be graduating in May 2016. Through her degree program, she hopes to eventually attend law school in Southern California, with an emphasis on criminal justice, including elder abuse and domestic violence. She aspires to one day become a judge.
Last semester, Tara studied abroad at Oxford University in England. She credits rigorous classes on Jane Austen as well as Classical Political with improve her reading and writing skills. During her time in Europe, she traveled to nine different countries. This experience was very influential to her life because it broadened her spectrum of diverse cultures. During her trip, she learned to adapt to different environments and live out of a backpack for five weeks. Out of all the countries she traveled, France was her favorite because of her love of architecture, and France’s combination of both old and new buildings. As a whole, her college experience is something she will look back on for the rest of her life.
While with our office, Tara has been involved in planning and carrying out events. During her time with us, Tara is looking to learn more about the criminal justice system, particularly within the 23rd Senate District. She says that speaking and interacting with constituents has exposed her to different issues that she had not taken into consideration before. Tara is also interested in matters relating to federal law and the impact it has on each state.
Tara has also enjoyed learning more about the Constitution and the importance of its guidelines for the structure and stability of our country. In addition, she says she has thought more critically about the unchangeable nature of the Constitution, and that in order for arrangements of government to work properly, self-evident principles and concepts must constantly be prominent in government.
We have appreciated having her on staff. Thanks for your hard work, Tara! .
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
- Abraham Lincoln
Two years before becoming president, Abraham Lincoln ran to become a U.S. Senator from Illinois against sitting Senator Stephen Douglas.
Lincoln would lose that race, but as we all know, his career in politics was far from over.
The series of debates held across the state are now some of the most famous in our nation’s history and serve as a model for informative and passionate political forums.
I thought it would be timely to share Lincoln’s and Douglas’s remarks.
When it comes to deciding where and how to grow a business, many factors are taken into consideration and, in particular, the number of regulatory hurdles in the way. According to numbers from the Pacific Research Institute (PRI), they can be costly.
PRI’s 50-State Small Business Regulation Index measures 14 regulatory components that are either positively or negatively associated with small business economic burdens.
In the graphic above, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) illustrates how burdensome the regulatory environment is in each state, based on the statistics compiled by PRI. It’s based on four issues: workers’ compensation programs, unemployment insurance, land use regulations (such as zoning regulations) and the economic efficiency of state energy regulations. If you guessed that California ranks at the bottom, you would be right.
While not necessarily surprising, this information is another indicator that if we want our state’s economy to get back to full strength, it is going to take working together in Sacramento to cut down on the regulations and taxes that intimidate so many current and would-be business owners .