Morrell Monthly: October 2017

Friday, October 27, 2017


Dear Friend,

As you are well aware, over the past several weeks, communities across our state have been ravaged by wildfire. Many are displaced and first responders continue to be pushed to the limit. Our prayers are with all affected and our gratitude goes to those fighting the flames.

Our region is all too familiar with these dangers. One important way to be ready is to know where to get information during a crisis. In this newsletter are links to local emergency alert systems to which you can subscribe for updates in these situations.

I’ve also highlighted some pieces of legislation that were considered and what ultimately happened to them. There were disappointments, such as the governor’s signing of a bill to make California a “sanctuary state,” which prevents local law enforcement from communicating with their federal counterparts in many criminal cases including assault of a peace officer, theft, or those involved with gangs.

However, there were also some successes. My staff and I worked to pass bills that further protect sensitive personal information as well as increase legislative accountability. Additionally, Republicans were able to stop legislation that would make the drug abuse epidemic worse.

During this time of year, I look forward to making rounds at community meetings that are difficult to attend when the legislature is in session. I have already visited some (see photos below!). Upcoming events in the 23rd Senate District are also listed.

As always, it is a privilege to represent you in the State Legislature.

Best regards,


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Legislative Update

Signed! Measure to Increase Legislative Accountability

As elected officials, our duty is to protect the public who have entrusted us with representing their best interest, not ours. That is why I am pleased the governor signed Assembly Bill 1620, which I coauthored to further discourage the “revolving door” of legislators leaving office to take jobs as lobbyists.

AB 1620 is a result of bipartisan discussions to extend these current revolving door restrictions on elected officials who depart from the legislature before the conclusion of their term. Current law prohibits state legislators from lobbying the legislature for one year after leaving office. I authored SB 679 earlier this session, which originally sought to increase that restriction to five years.

You can read more here in the Yucaipa Daily News.

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Signed! Bill Protects Privacy & Personal Information

Image of Social Security cardsLast fall, our office was contacted by a constituent who was concerned about the confidentiality of public forms that include social security numbers, especially paperwork issued upon being discharged from the military. The issue was also brought to the attention of San Bernardino County Assessor-Recorder-Clerk Bob Dutton.

After we conducted research into the issue, I authored Senate Bill 184, allowing county recorders to further protect social security numbers on public documents through partial redaction. The governor then signed this bill into law.

Californians should have confidence that the personal information they disclose on government documents will be kept secure. Every effort should be made to protect privacy and prevent the possibility of fraud or identity theft. SB 184 helps accomplish this goal.

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Senate Defeats Bill to Create Government-Sponsored Drug Injection Programs

Text over an image of drugsOne of the most troubling bills authored this legislative session is AB 186 (Eggman, D-Stockton), which would allow for the creation of state-sanctioned, government-run drug injection programs.

It was strongly opposed by law enforcement. Many of my colleagues and I worked to defeat its passage in the Senate and we succeeded - it fell two votes short.

While this is a victory, the bill can still be pursued again next year. However, we will continue to stand against this program and work toward solutions that break the cycle of addiction, not enable it.

You can read more about law enforcement’s concerns here.

To read a wrap-up of what happened to the bill in the Senate, along with comments from me and other senators opposed to the measure, read this San Francisco Examiner article here.

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Governor Signs “Sanctuary State” Bill

Another measure of particular concern this legislative session was SB 54 (de Leon, D-Los Angeles), a measure to make California into a “sanctuary state.” Unfortunately, the primary winners under SB 54 are individuals who have been arrested for committing crimes such as assault of a peace officer, serial theft, or misdemeanor battery, just to name a few, and have known gang affiliations.

State sheriffs remained opposed to the measure throughout the process because it limits their ability and discretion to communicate with federal counterparts. To see the California State Sheriffs Association letter in opposition to SB 54, including a list of protected crimes, click here.

To read more about my concerns with SB 54 in the weeks before the final vote, especially as it comes on the heels of years of changes to public safety, you can find my op-ed here.

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California First Responder Day

Photo collage from eventThank you to all those who were able to make it up to Snow Valley Mountain Resort in Running Springs for the inaugural California First Responder Day!

It was great to have members of the community on hand to thank the men and women who keep us safe as well as learn more about the hard work they do.

Special thanks to Laura Dyberg and the Mountain Rim Fire SafeCouncil for spearheading this effort and also approaching our office with the idea to designate September 23rd as First Responder Day here in California (Senate Resolution 40). We look forward to making this an annual event!

You can read more about First Responder Day in this story from the Alpenhorn News.

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Overreaching Power of the California Air Resources Board

California Air Resources Board LogoHave you heard about the California Air Resources Board? This unelected state agency is arguably one of the most powerful in California. It is able to enact policies with virtual unchecked authority.

In speaking earlier this year about his support for the gas taxes coming through California’s cap-and-trade program (read my thoughts here), the governor admitted he does not have confidence in these appointed bureaucrats to enact regulations that won’t destroy our state’s economy. They are unaccountable to the people.

For an overview of the control exercised by the Air Resources Board, I recommend reading this story from the New York Times, which also includes a critique of the board’s power (look for my quote!). The article is available here.

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November 3 • Women of Distinction 2017

Image of Senator Morrell with Sara Hector Image of Senator Morrell with DeniAntionette Mazingo
At left, 2016 San Bernardino County Woman of the Year, Sara Hector.
At right, 2016 Riverside County Woman of the Year, DeniAntionette Mazingo.

Each year, we host the annual Women of Distinction Awards Ceremony & Dinner to recognize extraordinary women from around the 23rd Senate District who have positively impacted their community.

The 13th Annual Women of Distinction event will be held at the Goldy S. Lewis Community Center located in Central Park in Rancho Cucamonga on Friday, November 3.

To see a list of honorees at this year’s event, click here.

For more information, you can visit the website here.

Space is limited. For questions or more information, call (909) 581-9473.

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November 17 • Ark of Safety Emergency Preparedness Forum

Photo of emergency prepardeness itemsThis November, I will again partner with Building Resilient Communities at the Ark of Safety Forum. The free event is an opportunity for business, education, government, and faith-based leaders across the Inland Empire to join in discussions on how to best prepare for a crisis.

The 2017 event will focus on how to address active shooter scenarios, strengthen community partnerships and relationships, and relay one pastor’s experience during the shooting at North Park Elementary School.

For more program information, visit

To see highlights from past Ark of Safety Forums, click here.


Friday, November 17, 2017
8:00 AM to 3:00 PM


Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino
1201 E. Highland Ave.
San Bernardino, CA 92404


Contact the District Office at (909) 919-7731 or visit

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Image from San Bernardino City Council meeting

Update to the San Bernardino City Council. At its first meeting in October, I provided a legislative update to members of the city council as well as community member in attendance.

Image from Welcome to Mentone ribbon cutting event

Welcome to Mentone! The ribbon was recently cut on Mentone’s new sign, greeting visitors with a reminder of its “Rural with Tradition” heritage. Special thanks to the Mentone Area Community Association and Mentone Chamber!

Image with Cristina Puraci and family with Senator Morrell

Cristina Puraci. Teacher and Redlands Unified School District Board of Education Trustee Cristina Puraci is recognized at the State Senate. Pictured at left is Cristina with her husband, Adrian. To the right are Cristina’s son, Sebastian, and his wife, Simina. To read more about her story, including how she fled communist Romania to make the United States her new home, click here.

Image from the Redlands Assistance League Thrift Shop celebration

Redlands Assistance League Thrift Shop Turns 100. The Thrift Shop in Redlands was first opened in 1917 by the Red Cross to help the WWI war effort. It was later adopted by the women of the Assistance League and fully taken over by the Assistance League years later. Congratulations to the Assistance League and special thanks to president Deborah Barmack on organizing this celebration!

Image of Senator Morrell at the Rancho Cucamonga V.I.P Club

Rancho Cucamonga V.I.P. One of the largest senior clubs in the region, the over 300 members of the Rancho Cucamonga V.I.P. Club enjoy doing activities together, taking trips, and growing friendships. I appreciated the opportunity to share updates with them on the end of the legislative session. The club meets in the Rancho Cucamonga Hall located at Central Park.

Image from Loma Linda Chamber of Commerce meeting

Loma Linda Chamber of Commerce. I also had the chance to meet with members of the Loma Linda Chamber of Commerce during one of their early breakfast meetings. Special thanks to Karen McCulloch, the chamber’s operations manager, for arranging this event!

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Intern Spotlight: Arianna Chen

Image of Intern Arianna ChenArianna Chen is a junior at Pomona College in Claremont majoring in Politics and minoring in Computer Science. At Pomona, she is a member of the varsity tennis team which ended the season #6 in the nation last year. A native of San Jose, she is studying abroad in Athens, Greece during the fall semester. In her spare time, Arianna enjoys binge-watching old Disney Channel shows and continuing her quest to find the best ice cream place (so far, she still champions Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco, but her explorations in Sacramento has her endorsing Gunther’s as well).

This summer, she interned in our Capitol office in Sacramento, where she focused on conducting research for us. Arianna says that the most important things she learned this summer was being more confident, understanding the political system, and only being somewhat nervous when picking up the phone. She states that the coolest (and most uncomfortable) moment during her time in the office was when she was recognized on the Senate Floor.

Arianna says she is very grateful for this opportunity, and we are equally as grateful for her service and dedication this summer. We look forward to visits from her in the future!

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Local Emergency Alert Systems

Logo displaying Emergency Alert SystemWith the recent wildfire disasters occurring across our state, it is a sobering reminder for all of us to be prepared in the event of an emergency situation. Our local agencies have set up alert systems designed to give residents notice in these scenarios. For more information on county systems in our area, please click on the links below.

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Community Calendars

Image of CalendarEver looking for things to do around the Inland Empire? Check out the links below for various events and other activities that are planned throughout our region.

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“The honor of a nation is its life.”

Image of Alexander HamiltonThe quote above is attributed to Alexander Hamilton. As one of our nation’s founding fathers, he was a strong proponent of our Constitution and eventually rose to serve as the first Secretary of the Treasury.

In the quote he uses the word “honor” to describe one of a country’s most valued attributes. I often look up older definitions of words in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary to get a sense for their meanings in a historical context.

Here’s how it defines “honor”: True nobleness of mind; magnanimity; dignified respect for character, springing from probity, principle or moral rectitude; a distinguishing trait in the character of good men.

These descriptions all continue to speak to the important place honor still holds in society. It is part of the codes of our military, the oaths we take, and our Declaration of Independence. Hamilton’s observation aptly puts it into this context and is still applicable today.

If you have never explored Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, I encourage you to take a look at this online version here.

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Gas taxes go up November 1!

Logo of Car Tax CalculatorThe governor and Democrats in the legislature claim the new gas tax, SB1, will cost only $10 per month.

However, reading the fine print shows us the new gas tax will hit ordinary Californians a lot more. Depending on what car and how much you drive, SB1 will cost families hundreds of dollars every year.

California already pays one of the nation’s highest gas taxes, with some of the worst roads to show for it.

Click on the “Car Tax Calculator” link above to add up how much the new gas tax will really hit your family’s budget.

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