Morrell Monthly: December 2016

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Image of painting

Christmas is a time to give thanks and count our blessings, for the company of family and friends with whom we gather to share in the hope that we hold for the coming year.

I am also reminded of how fortunate we are to live in this country, where among our freedoms, we can be with loved ones to mark this holiday. It is a legacy passed down from the founders and all those who have answered the call to defend our nation, going back to its earliest days.

George Washington’s deep faith was a constant guide in establishing and ultimately leading the United States. The painting above, entitled The Prayer at Valley Forge, illustrates his devotion to God even during that cold winter in Pennsylvania when it was difficult to see the Light in the darkness.

In that same spirit, I pray that you and yours are surrounded by the peace and goodwill that comes with the anticipation this season brings. From my family to yours, Merry Christmas.

Image of Morrell Family

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Image from Swearing In Ceremony

In December, I joined my colleagues in taking the oath of office to begin a new term. I am honored to have the opportunity to advocate for the citizens of the 23rd Senate District as we work to make government more effective, efficient, and accountable to the people.

Since entering public office, a key priority of mine has been promoting transparency and increasing citizens’ accessibility to their state government. Going into the next legislative session, we have reason to be optimistic on that front.

In past years, it has too often been the case that the public does not always get a fair chance to review legislation or the final budget before it is voted on. Even my fellow legislators and I have not always been privy to the details until just hours before we vote.

I introduced several bills, year after year, to require legislation to be in print and posted online at least three days before a vote of the legislature. Yet each time, I was rebuffed in my efforts.

However, I was proud to see voters take the matter into their own hands by overwhelmingly passing Proposition 54 in November. This initiative now enshrines in the state constitution the same requirement that each bill be in print and posted online at least 72 hours before it is approved. It also requires every legislative meeting to be recorded and made available online and allows the creation and sharing of recordings of these proceedings.

Through Proposition 54, voters have sent the legislature a strong message that they are tired of backroom deals. With these provisions enacted, Californians will have a more open government and greater opportunity to hold Sacramento accountable – critically important at a time when majority party leaders are actively looking to increase taxes and weaken taxpayer protections.

Our state confronts many challenges. We still have friends, family, and neighbors who are struggling. Roads continue to deteriorate, despite having some of the highest taxes in the country. Concerns about crime are growing. At the same time, debt and unfunded pension liabilities threaten the financial security of future generations. As we begin a new chapter in our nation’s history, it is now time to solve these problems head on, all while ensuring that ours is a government that works for us and not the other way around.

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December 2 – One-Year Anniversary

Picture of two people with a flag

On December 2nd, our community marked the first anniversary of the terror attack that took place at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. While we may try to forget the moments of fear, we will never forget the memories of those lost and the courage and sacrifice shown by many on that day. They are reminders of good in a world that is too often consumed by acts of violence and evil. We continue to remember and pray for the victims, their loved ones, and all who are still healing.

Events were held throughout the area, including a Night of Remembrance at CSU San Bernardino. I encourage you to watch this video put together by station KVCR, which highlights the ceremonies that took place.

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Lake Arrowhead Veterans Monument Dedicated

Picture of Lake Arrowhead Veterans Monument

It was a privilege to be on hand to help dedicate the Lake Arrowhead Veterans Monument. Designed and built by Eagle Scout Liam Gavigan of Lake Arrowhead’s Troop 89, it flies the flags of each branch of the Armed Services. Special thanks to Liam for the many years he spent to make this tribute to our men and women in uniform a reality.

To read more about his project and the ceremony, you can check out these stories:

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Legislator of the Year – Military Officers

I was humbled to learn that the Military Officers Association of America (California Council of Chapters) recently named me as their 2016 Legislator of the Year. It’s truly an honor to be recognized by this organization.

Our nation’s heroes and their families give up so much in defense of our nation. As more veterans call California home than any other state, it is our duty to do all we can to enable them to build successful lives here, while at the same time ensure their service and sacrifice is never forgotten.

You can read more here.

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12th Annual Women of Distinction

Picture of Sara Hector at Women of Distinction 2016
2016 Woman of the Year (San Bernardino County) – Sara Hector of Yucaipa

Picture of DeniAntionette Mazingo at Women of Distinction 2016
2016 Woman of the Year (Riverside County) – DeniAntionette Mazingo of Hemet

This fall, I partnered with the National Latina Business Women Association (Inland Empire) to host the 12th Annual Women of Distinction Ceremony, recognizing 45 women from around the 23rd State Senate District for their work in the community.

Over 300 guests filled the hall at the Goldy S. Lewis Community Center in Rancho Cucamonga to recognize the honorees.

It’s too often that quiet acts of service go unnoticed. The annual Women of Distinction Ceremony is a tradition that recognizes the positive impact made by women from across the 23rd Senate District. These women are held in the highest esteem by family, friends, and colleagues and it is my privilege to shine a spotlight on their successes. I thank them for the work they do on behalf of others.

The ceremony highlighted the work of two “Women of the Year” – Yucaipa resident Sara Hector, representing San Bernardino County, and Hemet resident DeniAntionette Mazingo, representing Riverside County.

To watch VIDEO highlights from the event, click here.
To see PHOTOS from the event, click here.
To READ more about the evening and see the complete list of honorees, click here.

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UPCOMING: Patriots of the Past, Present, & Future - Nominations Open!

Image of Patriots of the Past, Present and Future flyer

On March 10, 2017, I will be hosting the 4th annual Patriots of the Past, Present, and Future ceremony and policy forum at March Field Air Museum in Riverside to honor individuals and organizations for their commitment to our nation.

Nominations are now being accepted for “Patriots of the Past” and “Patriots of the Present.” To be considered, individuals and organizations must be based in the 23rd Senate District. A selection committee will choose three finalists for each era in the following categories: Business, Education, Public Safety, Community Service, and Civic Engagement.

Entries are also being accepted for the “Patriots of the Future” category. This year, we are asking young people under the age of 21 to share what patriotism means to them by submitting an online questionnaire as well as a photo taken with a veteran in the community.

For details, including online forms, please click here.

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

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Image of Patriots of the Past, Present and Future flyer

Redlands family visits the Capitol. It’s always a special privilege to welcome constituents to the Capitol. In November, the Larivee family (Andrew, Beth, Bob, and David) of Redlands traveled to Sacramento and stopped by our office. Beth (second from left) accompanies school tour groups to Sacramento each spring; she put our experts to the test with her facts and trivia!

Did you know you can book Capitol tours through our office? Click here for more information.

Image of students receiving scholarship

Etiwanda students win scholarship. This fall, the California Special Districts Association launched a statewide video competition for high school students to demonstrate how “Districts Make the Difference.” Allicia Dean and Jade Bobeda of Etiwanda High School placed first for their video “A World without Cheese” (which you can watch here). They each received $1,000 scholarships for their project. Congratulations!

Image from event 1 Image from event 2

Ontario Airport under Local Control. In November, control of Ontario International Airport was officially transferred back to the Inland Empire! It was an honor to be on hand for this historic day in our region. At right: OIAA Board President Alan Wapner kicks off the ceremony. At left: I joined Rep. Ken Calvert and San Bernardino County Supervisor Curt Hagman at the day’s event.

Image from Swearing In day at the Capitol

Yucaipa Visitors. On Swearing-in Day at the Capitol, Erik Sahakian (associate pastor at Wildwood Calvary Chapel) and his daughter Skylar made the trek to Sacramento to take in the day’s events. It was great to see them in Sacramento!

Image from the Redlands Bowl Performing Arts

Redlands Bowl Performing Arts. The Redlands Community Music Association recently changed its formal name to Redlands Bowl Performing Arts. Joanie and I were glad to be on hand to mark the occasion with board president, Jan Hudson.

Image of Patriots of the Past, Present and Future flyer

Pearl Harbor Anniversary. On December 7th, our nation marked the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Todd D’Braunstein of Upland stopped by our office to share a photo he took during a recent trip to Hawaii of the USS Arizona Memorial from atop the USS Missouri Memorial.

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JOINING THE TEAM: Senate Fellow – Scott Terrell

Image of Mike Morrell with Scott Terrell

Each year in the Senate, our office has had the opportunity to host a Fellow through the Center for California Studies based at CSU Sacramento. This upcoming session, we are pleased to announce that Scott Terrell will be joining our staff.

Scott has called Lemoore, a small town in the Central Valley, his home for the last 13 years. Prior to this, he was born and raised in Plainview, Texas. He attended California State University, Fullerton graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing.

Scott is excited about the year ahead of him in our office. He looks forward to getting a holistic education of the legislative process in the California State Capitol. In addition, he looks forward to putting the skills learned during his time studying marketing to use in helping the office with communications and research. He is interested in the issue areas of education, agriculture, water, government transparency, and taxation.

Following the fellowship, Scott hopes to get a job within the Capitol building to continue to influence and help shape public policy in California. In his off hours, Scott is a food and music enthusiast who loves to spend time with his friends and family, particularly his two nieces.

Welcome to the team, Scott!

For more information about the Senate Fellowship program, you can click here. Applications are now being accepted through February for the 2017-18 class.

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LA Times Article: “California’s climate fight could be painful”

With California’s new laws on climate change kicking in, reporter Ralph Vartabedian of the Los Angeles Times recently wrote an article looking at how the state’s policies could adversely affect jobs and our economy, especially as California goes it alone on many fronts.

One particularly interesting fact is that even with a reduction in emissions, California’s effect on overall climate change will be minimal, since we account for only 1 percent of the world’s emissions.

To read this in-depth look, click here.

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