The Morrell Monthly: May 2014

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Connect with me on Social Media
Memorial Day
10th Annual Women of Distinction Awards Ceremony & Dinner
Community Hero Spotlight:
Raymond Lujan Vasquez
Legislative Update
Budget Update
Intern Spotlight:
Dana Betancourt

Connect with me on Social Media

To find out more about what I am working on in Sacramento, or events happening in our district, please visit my websiteFacebook, or Twitter pages. You can also contact me via e-mail at

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Memorial Day

Technology professionals in local classrooms

“...they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.” – Congressman James A. Garfield, 1868 (later the 20th President of the United States)

For many Americans, the three-day Memorial Day weekend is the traditional kick-off to summer. The sun starts shining, pool parties become the norm again, and families and friends get together for barbecues and picnics. While it is certainly filled with relaxation and catching up, it should also be a time of reflection.

This holiday is one of our nation’s most important, as we honor the men and women who lost their lives defending our country. They were willing to put everything on the line to uphold the freedoms and liberties that we too often take for granted. We owe them and their families a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid.

May 1868 marked the first official observance of this day, in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. Then known as “decoration day,” it was a time for communities to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. At a ceremony in Arlington Cemetery that year, Congressman James A. Garfield made the remarks above that still resonate today about those who have gave the ultimate sacrifice.

As you make plans for the weekend ahead, let’s pause to remember the millions of Americans who gave the last full measure of devotion in loyalty to our country. May we never forget their memories.

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10th Annual Women of Distinction Awards Ceremony & Dinner

10th Annual Women of the year award
Susan Zador is honored as Woman of the Year for the 40th Assembly District during a special ceremony held at the State Capitol in Sacramento. (l to r) Then-Assemblyman Mike Morrell, Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, Susan Zador, Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal

Please join me on Friday, June 20, as we honor outstanding women throughout the 23rd Senate District who give back so much to our communities. This year, we will be highlighting the work of Woman of the Year Susan Zador and establishing the Christina Milian Inspirational Scholarship. The night will include a special musical performance by Symphonie Jeunesse.


Friday, June 20, 2014
5:30 p.m. check-in, 6-8 p.m. dinner and awards ceremony


National Orange Show, 689 S. E Street, San Bernardino, CA 92408


$40 per person (sponsored tables available)

For more information or to RSVP by June 6, please call (909) 801-5040 or email

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Community Hero Spotlight: Raymond Lujan Vasquez

Photo of Raymond Lujan Vasquez with Assembly Resolution

Raymond Lujan Vasquez grew up in the Guasti area of Ontario and, along with 4 friends, forged their parents’ signatures in order to enlist in the Army’s First Calvary at the ages of 15 and 16. “We didn’t want to stay home,” said Vasquez. “We went down to the recruiter’s office and told them we wanted to join, but the Army recruiter said ’You kids go home.’ But we didn’t – we wanted to go. ”

After graduating from Fort Riley in 1942, they were moved from cavalry horseman to foot soldiers and sent to the South Pacific to help in the 81st division take over an airstrip from the Japanese. During this mission Private Vasquez earned his first Purple Heart for losing a finger in battle. The bullet hit his rifle and broke it but was stopped by the cigarette lighter in his pocket.

A few weeks later Vasquez was sent to Bataan, into what would become one of the most horrifying parts of the war. “We were ready to unload. We had our rifles, but had no ammo,” he said. “The CO said, ’See that jungle? As soon as you hit land, run for it.’ I asked him, ’Sir, where’s our ammo?’ and he said to me, ’We don’t have any for you guys.’ And I said, ’What are we supposed to do?’ and he said to me, ’You’ll have to survive, survive any way you can.’ We landed and took off running into the jungle.”

Mr. Vasquez was only 16 when the battle ended and as a POW began the forced Bataan death march. With four guards to each group, the Japanese lined the men up and they began marching them north. They shot or bayoneted any man who fell, attempted to escape or stopped to try to drink. The guards chased off, raped, or killed any Filipino civilians who tried to give water or food to the prisoners.

At various points along the route of the march they singled out prisoners, sometimes in groups, and shot them to death as an examples to the others. They were given none or very little food or water and no bathroom breaks. The Japanese guards killed between 7,000 and 10,000 men on the death march.

Conditions were not much better at Camp O’Donnell where Raymond and about 60,000 other POWs were kept. Disease spread quickly due to poor sanitary conditions with about 400 men dying per day.

Amazingly, after his liberation, Vasquez asked to return to active duty where he was injured again and received the Silver Star and a second Purple Heart for his actions.

“Four shells hit my helmet and pushed the liner down around my head. I still have the four dents in my head”, said Vasquez.

The military wanted to send him home, but he said “no” and the Air Corps was looking for people who knew how to fly. Vasquez, who had learned to fly at Ontario Airport, was sent to distract the enemy so the bombers could accomplish their missions.

He left his military service as a staff sergeant having earned the Silver Star and three Purple Hearts. He and his wife Adella have four children, eight grandchildren, and 21 great-grandchildren.

It was many years before Raymond was able to open up about his experiences and the memories of his time overseas still haunt him.

Please join me in honoring Raymond Lujan Vasquez for his service and thank him for sharing his incredible story.

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Legislative Update

Tougher Criminal Penalties On Politicians Who Violate The Public’s Trust

What’s going on in Sacramento? If you’ve followed the news lately regarding the suspensions of three state senators, you might be asking yourself this question. While there has been discussion on the need to restore ethical standards at the Capitol, talk and classes will only go so far. Read more of my thoughts on this issue by reading my op-ed in The Press-Enterprise.

Senate Committee Blocks Bill to Encourage Charitable Giving

During these hard economic times, Californians have had to make tough decisions about how they spend their money, and that has often meant cutting back on giving to their favorite charities. That’s the reason I authored Senate Bill 1378, which would create a new state tax credit for individuals who contribute some of their hard-earned money to charities and nonprofits.

The measure is modeled after a law in Arizona. Organizations in Arizona that qualified for the state’s 2014 program include chapters of the Boys & Girls Clubs, Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and local food banks.

Unfortunately, the Senate Governance and Finance Committee rejected SB 1378 on a party-line vote. While I’m disappointed in the outcome, I’m even more concerned that it proves members of the majority party would still rather see tax dollars keep flowing to government programs like high-speed rail than to charities helping the neediest in our society.

To read more about SB 1378, click here.

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Budget Update

Governor’s Revised Budget Proposal

On May 13, the Governor released the “May Revision” of his proposed state budget. For the most part, it is a good framework that keeps our state moving in the right direction – especially with the bipartisan passage of a new rainy day fund that will be up for approval by voters in November. While I don’t agree with the Governor on every issue, his goal of holding the line on new state spending is a welcome gesture. I hope the majority party the in Legislature heeds the Governor’s advice.

The chart below illustrates the critical need for both restrained spending and a healthy reserve. When capital gains spiked in the past, state leaders locked in new programs and services that later were subject to deep funding cuts when the economy suffered downturns. Capital gains are once again on the rise, but this time, we must resist the urge to commit to more spending.

Read the Legislative Analyst’s full report on the Governor’s May Revision here.

Chart illustrating critical need for restrained spending and health reserve

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Intern Spotlight: Dana Betancourt

District Office intern Dana Betancourt
District Office intern Dana Betancourt

Dana Betancourt has lived with her family in Rancho Cucamonga for 18 years. She is currently a junior at California Baptist University in Riverside, majoring in Political Science with an emphasis in Pre-Law. Dana has a passion for local politics and has been involved with local political campaigns such as Congressman Gary Miller. She recently interned in my Assembly office.

Local politics are a calling for Dana as she feels that it is important that every person should know who their local representatives are and become more active in their community. Interning in our office has opened many opportunities for Dana to meet great people of the Fortieth District. Attending events and constituent outreach is one of the many jobs Dana enjoys during her time at the office.

After graduation in December 2014, Dana plans on taking the LSAT exam and applying to local law schools. Dana aspires to one day become a district attorney in Southern California.

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