The Morrell Monthly: June 2014

Thursday, July 3, 2014

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To find out more about what I am working on in Sacramento, or events happening in our district, please visit my website, Facebook, or Twitter pages. Now you can find me on Instagram!

And as always, you can contact me via e-mail at

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This Month:
Patriotic Reflections

Image of The Spirit of 76

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto - “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Do the words above sound familiar? Probably those last two lines. These lyrics form the fourth verse of our national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key.

Key was inspired to write about our nation’s flag after witnessing the British bombing of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. He began composing the piece on September 14, 1814. We will celebrate its 200th anniversary this year.

Throughout the 19th century, and particularly during the Civil War, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was one of the nation’s best-loved patriotic songs. They were comforting words during a time when many Americans were just beginning to reflect on the ideals and values our flag represented. It became our national anthem in 1931.

While the Stars and Stripes are flown year-round, Old Glory tends to take on special meaning this time of year, amidst the observances of Flag Day and fireworks of the 4th of July. May these words resonate in our hearts as we celebrate the freedom and liberty that comes with our Independence Day!

Learn more about “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the website of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

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Community Event:
A Wonderful Celebration - 10th Annual Women of Distinction Awards:

Senator Mike Morrell with San Bernardino resident and Woman of Distinction Tammy Martin-Ryles.
Senator Mike Morrell with San Bernardino resident and Woman of Distinction Tammy Martin-Ryles. Ryles is a teacher and president of the Inland Cities East Chapter of the Southern California Black Chamber of Commerce.

On Friday, June 20, over 350 people attended our annual Women of Distinction award ceremony. It was a privilege to recognize 75 women from across the 23rd Senate District for their work in our region. Thank you to everyone who made the night so special!

I have always believed that America's greatness comes from her people, and especially those that go out of their way to better their community and help their neighbor. These women not only live up to that ideal, they exceed it. They set extraordinary examples for all of us to follow.

To read more about the evening and see more pictures, you can visit my website.

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Legislative Update:
Are Higher Taxes On The Way

Earlier this month, I presented a resolution to honor the anniversary of the passage of Proposition 13. This voter-approved law has kept property taxes stable for millions of Californians, and especially helped seniors and first-time homebuyers. Unfortunately, legislators in the majority party killed this celebratory measure in committee. Read more about what happened here.

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Budget Update:
2014/15 State Budget Signed By Governor

Next year’s budget is a mixed bag for Californians. It increases funding for important state services like education and begins paying down our debt. At the same time, however it takes us down a path of record-level General Fund spending - almost $12 billion more than the previous year. Total state spending is up nearly $25 billion to a high of $254.4 billion (see chart below).

I’m also concerned that it devotes more tax dollars to the $80-billion high-speed rail project. Making matters worse, much of that money is coming from the job-killing regulations of the state’s Cap and Trade program under AB 32.

While there were supportable parts of this budget, bad habits of the past combined with last-minute giveaways made it impossible for me to vote for it. To read my full statement, click here.

You can also learn more about the budget at this link.

Chart illustrating critical need for restrained spending and health reserve

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Community Hero Spotlight:
Norman Gibbs

Photo of Norman Gibbs

Veteran Norman Gibbs had a unique experience during World War II.

Despite becoming cross-eyed at high altitudes, Norman served as a gunner in the Army. After returning from a bombing run on Vienna, the engines on his B-17 began failing one by one. As engine #4 began to overheat the crew bailed out somewhere over Yugoslavia. Seven of them landed safely, but tragically, Norman never heard from the other three again.

After landing in snow they began to walk and used their parachutes for warmth when night fell. While walking the next morning, they came upon Croatian soldiers who took them to a village and lined them up against a wall. Norman recalls worrying they were going to face a firing squad. But instead, they were treated well by the Croatian soldiers and then turned over to the Germans a few days later.

While being interrogated, Norman was surprised to learn that the Germans knew so much about him. Somehow, they even had copies of his high school report card from Iowa. Norman knows he was fortunate to be treated well since the war was nearing its conclusion. “I think they knew the war was pretty much over”, said Norman.

About three months after bailing out of his plane, Gibbs was rescued from the German POW camp by American soldiers. He still has the records the Germans kept on him, including notes about his appearance. Especially compared to other POWs, Norman feels very lucky that his experience was not worse.

Please join me in thanking Norman Gibbs for his service to our country.

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Intern Spotlight:
Jerika Hargis

District Office intern Jerika Hargis
District Office intern Jerika Hargis

Jerika Hargis is a recent graduate of California State University, San Bernardino, with a degree in Political Science. Her career interests are in nutrition, policy making, and governmental work. Her goals are to make a difference to benefit others in the community or abroad. She would like to next join the Peace Corps, and then return to school to earn a graduate degree in Public Policy or Public Administration.

Jerika is insightful and wants to help people, even if it means going above and beyond what is required of her. She is eager to learn and enthusiastic about any task that is given.

One thing she has learned here in the office is to remain calm in stressful situations and pay attention to detail. It is the small details that can fundamentally change the outcome of a situation, if the right focus is given to the task at hand. She feels she has learned how to multitask and that her overall experience at the office will be applicable to her future career goals.

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Fire Season:
One Less Spark Means One Less Wildfire

This year, our state faces two potentially devastating forces of nature - drought and wildfire. Alone each can destroy thousands of acres of orchards, pasture land, crops, homes, and businesses. Families can also suffer from the loss of jobs.

Homeowners looking for information on how to prepare themselves, their families, and their homes for wildfires can visit Ready for Wildfire. The site offers tips for residents to make their homes more resistant to wildfires and to help their families create an early evacuation plan to be ready when a wildfire strikes.

Here are some tips to help prepare your home:

  • Clear all pine needles and leaves from your yard, roof and rain gutters.
  • Remove tree branches less than six feet above the ground.
  • Landscape using fire resistant/drought tolerant plants.
  • Use trimming, mowing and other outdoor power equipment before 10 a.m.
  • Check to ensure burning outdoors is allowed in your area.
  • Completely extinguish all campfires.
  • Make sure trailer chains and other parts of your vehicle are not dragging on the road.

Here are some additional links:

Follow CAL FIRE on Twitter for the most current fire event updates
Prepare Your Wildfire Action Plan
Emergency Supply Kit Checklist

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Facts & Figures

California - the Worst Case Scenario

In case you missed it, Chief Executive Magazine recently released its 10th annual survey of more than 500 CEOs across the U.S., grading states on measures including taxes, regulations, quality of the workforce, and quality of the living environment to determine the Best and Worst States for Business.

If there is a pattern in the survey, it is that states cutting taxes and regulations have generally improved economic growth over those that have not.

Key points in the survey:

  • Texas continues its 10-year position as the best state overall. California, to no one’s surprise, continues to rank as one of the worst states to do business.
  • The top 10 “Best States in which to do Business” all have Republican governors.
  • Seven of the 10 states which fall at the bottom of the list have Democratic governors.
  • According to The Economist, it takes two years to open a new restaurant in California compared to six to eight weeks in Texas.

California is Still a “Donor State”

As the capitol buzzes about the state budget, it’s important to look at where our tax dollars go. Most Californians realize a portion of their taxes goes to the federal government. The IRS makes it hard to forget that. But many Californians may not know that much of what they send to Washington does not return to benefit Californians.

California sends the largest amount of tax dollars to the federal government - more than $292 billion in 2012. That’s more than $7,690 per person flowing out of California to the federal government - an amount that equals 14.6% of the general state product.

Graphic of Federal Aid as a Percentage of State General Revenue, FY 2012

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