Morrell Monthly: February 2018

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


George Washington portrait in State SenateDear Friend,

February has been a busy month both in Sacramento and in the 23rd Senate District.

In this edition of our newsletter, with key deadlines having now passed, you’ll find updates on various legislative developments as well as some highlights on events from throughout the Inland Empire, including our office’s recent small business forum.

Just a few weeks ago, our nation also observed Presidents’ Day, which was originally set aside to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. Our first president’s portrait hangs in the State Senate (pictured at right).

In his youth, he copied out 110 “Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation,” a list he carried with him throughout his life. I thought I would share one of those points with you: “Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

It is an honor to represent you in the State Senate. I’ll keep you posted.


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Bills I’m Working On

Mid-February was the deadline to introduce bills for the current legislative session. For information on which measures are pending and their status, you can visit the California Legislative Information website any time at

I am authoring a number of bills this year on various issues ranging from safety in the classroom to taking a look at burdensome aspects of state occupational licensing. A few highlights are below.

Committees will begin considering the bills in late March through mid-May. I will keep you posted on their progress.

  • SB 921 – Furthers government transparency by requiring state entity websites to disclose on their homepages the number of people they employ and their total authorized budgets.
  • SB 924 – This bill exempts members of the National Guard from paying state income taxes on income earned as a service member on active duty in California.
  • SB 1371 – Believe it or not, the State does not actually know the number of occupations for which it requires licensing. This business-friendly bill directs the state to develop and maintain a comprehensive list of the occupations currently requiring a license.
  • SB 1456 – Based on legislation passed by several other states, this measure strengthens requirements on public schools to ensure there is communication between districts when a teacher or school employee is fired for reasons of sexual misconduct.

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Proposition 57 – Early Release for Sex Offenders?

Los Angeles Times headlineDuring the 2016 election, Governor Brown promised voters that his Proposition 57, an initiative to expand early parole opportunities for felons, would exclude persons convicted of registrable sex offenses by way of regulation.

However, on February 9th, a Sacramento Superior Court Judge preliminarily ruled that the initiative was too vague in its definition of “violent” felonies and that the Department of Corrections and

Rehabilitation would have to revise its draft regulations to expand eligibility to an estimated 10,000 sex offenders, potentially releasing them to the streets.

Last year, I joined efforts to push for tightened regulations through the department to keep our communities safe.

Senate Republican Leader Pat Bates also led our caucus efforts to expand the definition of what qualifies as a “violent” felony, but legislative Democrats killed the bill.

We are committed to maintaining this resolve in the year ahead to protect our families and loved ones.

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After Four Years, Whistleblower Protection Act Signed

Pen and signature lineIn early February, the legislature passed Assembly Bill 403, thanks to the relentless efforts of Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore). I am proud to be a coauthor of this bill, which extends existing state worker whistleblower protections to legislative employees.

Specifically, AB 403 establishes the Legislative Employee Whistleblower Act, prohibiting any legislator or legislative employee from intimidating a person into not reporting sexual harassment, sexual assault or other illegal, unethical, immoral or inappropriate behavior.

You can learn more about AB 403 here.

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Small Business Forum a Success

At the end of January, our office held its first small business forum – an event designed to share tips and best practices with new business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. The workshop reached capacity and we are looking forward to hosting another in the future.

Thanks to co-host Lifeway Church and our partners Small Business Development Center, Inland Empire Women’s Business Center, and SCORE for helping make the forum a success!

Breakout session at Small Business ForumBreakout session at Small Business Forum

For more information on our partner organizations and resources available, check out these links:

Inland Empire Small Business Development Center
Inland Empire Business Women’s Center
SCORE Inland Empire
Small Business Administration
Governor’s Office of Business & Economic Development

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Hometown Heroes: Responders to San Bernardino Terror Attack Honored with Medal of Valor

San Bernardino Strong logoIn mid-February, President Trump presented 12 individuals from around the country with the Medal of Valor, in recognition of their courageous service to our communities.

Among the honorees were six responders to the San Bernardino terror attack that occurred on December 2, 2015. While that day is one we will never forget and a reminder of the presence of evil in our world, we are also grateful for the actions of so many who answered the call to save lives. This honor is well-deserved.

Individuals acknowledged include:

  • Deputy Shaun Wallen, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department
  • Corporal Rafael Ixco, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department
  • Detective Bruce Southworth, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department
  • District Attorney Investigator Chad Johnson, San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office
  • Officer Nicholas Koahou, Redlands Police Department
  • Detective Brian Olvera, San Bernardino Police Department

Thank you to these heroes. You can read more about the ceremony here.

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New officers for San Bernardino Area Chamber of CommerceNew officers sworn in for San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce
San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce. I was asked to swear in the new officers of the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce at their 110th installation event. Thanks to retiring chair John Nolan and his board for their service – and congratulations to incoming chair Jim Wheeler and the new team!

New Calimesa Chamber of Commerce President Wynona DuvallOutgoing Calimesa Chamber of Commerce President Donna Lotz
Calimesa Chamber of Commerce. I also had the privilege of joining the Calimesa Chamber of Commerce for its installation of new officers this winter. At left, is Wynona Duvall, the incoming president and at right, is Donna Lotz, the outgoing president. Thanks to these women and the past and present officers of the chamber for their dedication!  (photo credit: News Mirror)

Inland Empire Caucus meets at Capitol
Inland Empire Caucus. Periodically throughout the year, I join my legislative colleagues from around the Inland Empire in meeting to discuss issues that are priorities for San Bernardino and Riverside counties in the coming year. At our first meeting of 2018, we were briefed by delegations from both areas.

Woman’s Health Care Symposium honorees
Riverside Woman’s Club. District Representative Joshua Monzon attended the Riverside Women’s Club 4th Annual UCR Doctor’s Corner Woman’s Health Care Symposium on behalf of our office. Their work in the community includes partnering with students at the UC Riverside School of Medicine, who make presentations during this event. They also honored community leaders for their efforts, including (pictured above from left to right) Darlene Trujillo-Elliott, Nancy Melendez, and Robin Maupin.

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I-15 Toll Lanes Up for Review

map of I-15 CorridorUntil March 16, 2018, the public has the opportunity to weigh in on the draft environmental impact report regarding the proposed toll lanes being constructed on the I-15 corridor.

The report is posted online at Hard copies of the document are also available at a number of libraries in the area.

A public hearing in an open house format will be held on Thursday, March 1, 2018, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at Etiwanda Intermediate School in Rancho Cucamonga

Let the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority know your thoughts on the project.

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Why We Still Look to Washington & Lincoln

Front page of magazine Mountain LifestyleThis month, we marked Presidents’ Day, reflecting on the legacies of our nation’s presidents, especially George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Both of these men’s portraits hang in the Capitol – Washington overlooks the Senate and Lincoln watches the Assembly. Their presence is an ongoing reminder of the impact they made on our national spirit.

I was invited by a local magazine, Mountain Lifestyle, based in the San Bernardino Mountains, to share my thoughts on these two presidents.

To read it in their recent issue, click here.

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