On June 30, the legislature entered into its summer recess following weeks of committee hearings and consideration of bills in the Senate and Assembly. It has been an opportunity to spend more time in the district and re-group before we return to finish legislative work by the August 31st deadline.
In this summer edition of the e-newsletter, you will find information about pending legislation, including a few of my bills that are currently making their way through the process. I also share my thoughts about the recently enacted record-setting state budget and highlight events that have occurred or are coming up in the 23rd Senate District.
On a more serious note, I want to acknowledge that the last few weeks have been difficult for many in our country, culminating in the recent attacks in Orlando, Dallas, and Baton Rouge. After the terror events of December 2nd in San Bernardino, I know that it hits close to home for many of us.
As we recently celebrated our nation’s 240th birthday on July 4th, it’s a reminder of the need for our country to unite together to face the challenges we confront. In a 1776 letter to her husband and future President John Adams, Abigail Adams wrote about her hopes for our new nation that still ring just as true today:
“May the foundation of our new constitution, be justice, Truth and Righteousness. Like the wise man’s house may it be founded upon those Rocks and then neither storms or tempests will overthrow it.”
Let us continue to pray for the healing of our nation as we keep in our thoughts and prayers the victims and their families and the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep us safe every day.
San Bernardino Sheriff’s Academy Graduation. Recently, I had the honor of speaking at the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Academy graduation ceremony. These 52 individuals have taken it upon themselves to protect our communities, pledging to do so with character, integrity, and honor. Congratulations to these new officers, and thank you for your service!
CASA Dinner. In June, I spoke at the volunteer recognition dinner held by the Center Against Sexual Assault (CASA) of Southwest Riverside County. These volunteers give their time to be advocates for those who find themselves in crisis. Pictured here on the left is Rachel Leal, Director of Advocacy Services/Therapist II, and on the right is Diana Barnes-Fox, Director of Outreach Services/Therapist II.
California Department of Health - San Bernardino Attack. In June, I joined Senator Connie Leyva (second from left) in honoring employees from the California Department of Health who provided relief for San Bernardino County workers in the aftermath of the December 2 terror attack. We’re grateful for the role they played in helping our community recover.
San Bernardino Centenarian. In June, Yvonne Wood of San Bernardino turned 100 years old. Joshua Monzon with our office was on hand for the celebration. Born in Lincoln County, Kansas, her family moved to San Bernardino in 1925. Of special note is the role her mother played in the early days of McDonald’s, making the uniforms for the carhop on East Street in San Bernardino. Happy Birthday!
Independence Day Parades. It was good to see so many folks out wearing the red, white & blue at the 4th of July parades in Highland and Redlands!
Patton’s Metal Working Solutions. I want to thank Jon Novack, owner of Patton’s Metal Working Solutions, for the tour of their Ontario facility. I appreciated learning more about their business and product offerings.
Mr. Murphy Goes to Sacramento. Each summer, the American Legion-sponsored Boys State program comes to Sacramento. For one week, a thousand high school boys from all over the state learn about the importance of civic duty and participate in exercises that teach them more about the workings of our government. One of our past district office interns, Etiwanda High School senior Shane Murphy, took part in this year’s event and stopped by our capitol office. Good to see you, Shane!
In mid-June, the legislature passed a record-setting $122 billion state budget. With all the recent talk about the need to fund our roads and highways, I was disappointed that this budget instead prioritizes spending $1.7 billion on high-speed rail, allocating $1.3 billion for state office buildings in Sacramento, and increasing the vehicle registration fee on Californians by $331 million to pay for more bureaucracy. You can read more of my thoughts by clicking here.
This legislative session, I authored Senate Bill 1080, with the goal of holding accountable those individuals who vandalize memorials built in honor of our nation’s veterans and first responders. Unfortunately, these acts occur too often, as we were reminded by the recent vandalism of the new veterans’ memorial in Upland. To read about what happened to the bill and my thoughts on this incident, you can click here.
Legislative Update: Morrell Legislation
All bills pending in either the Senate or the Assembly will have to be passed to the governor’s desk by August 31 if they are going to be signed into law this year. Below is a brief update of bills I’m currently working on:
- Senate Bill 1136 requires that the legislature and the public regularly receive more detailed information regarding the spending of money generated by the controversial fire prevention fee. While I still support efforts to overturn the fee - which I believe is an illegal tax - this bill brings added transparency to the program and ensures that the public has access to this information in the years ahead. It has passed the Assembly Natural Resources Committee and is currently being considered in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Read more about the bill here.
- Senate Bill 1155 removes a barrier for veterans seeking work in California and encourages immediate entrance into the civilian workforce by waiving the application and initial license fees paid to the state in order to receive an occupational license. This policy shift will help veterans as they apply for jobs. SB 1155 has now passed two Assembly policy committees with unanimous support and is being considered in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Read more about the bill here.
- Senate Bill 1209 provides that a citation against a licensed contractor shall continue to be disclosed if that contractor applies for a new license or joins another existing license within the aforementioned five-year window, protecting consumers and upholding the integrity of the contracting industry. It has passed its Assembly committees and is now being considered by the entire Assembly.
Just prior to summer recess, leaders of the majority party pushed through legislation that undermines 2nd Amendment Constitutional rights. Rather than enacting laws that punish and hold criminals accountable who violate our laws, these bills only penalize law-abiding citizens. The reality is that these measures will not make our communities safer.
I joined many of my colleagues in opposing these measures. I am disappointed that several of them were signed into law, but I remain committed to working against them. For updates on these bills and others, I encourage you to click here.
In the weeks ahead, the legislature will be considering hundreds of bills. Here are a few bad bills that will be worth keeping an eye on:
Senate Bill x1-1 (Beall, D-San Jose) would add 12 cents/gallon and 22 cents/gallon to the gas tax and diesel tax respectively, $35 to both the vehicle registration fee and a “road access charge,” and $100 to zero-emission car registrations. When our state already has some of the highest gas taxes and the worst roads, we should instead be looking at how the state can more efficiently use the money it already has. To read about tax-free alternatives proposed by the Senate Republican Caucus, click here.
Senate Bill 1146 (Lara, D-Bell Gardens) seeks to limit the First Amendment rights of faith-based colleges in California. I opposed this bill in the Senate and since its passage, have been working with college presidents and my colleagues in the Assembly to stop it there. For more information about why colleges are concerned about this this bill you can click here.
Senate Bill 1093 (Hancock, D-Berkeley) undermines the taxpayer protections put in place by Proposition 13, which sets fixed property tax rates on homes and businesses. It would create huge tax increases for business owners, even on those who lease their property.
On August 20, I’ll be hosting a community coffee in San Bernardino. If you’re in the area, I encourage you to attend and learn about the big issues facing the legislature in the final weeks of the 2015-16 session and ask questions you may have regarding state issues. I look forward to seeing you there!
Saturday, August 20 • 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
D.J. Coffee Shop
265 E 40th St.
San Bernardino, CA 92404
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Contact the District Office at (909) 919-7731 or visit senatormikemorrell23.eventbrite.com
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 12th Annual Women of Distinction event will be held at the Goldy S. Lewis Community Center located in Central Park in Rancho Cucamonga on Friday, October 7.
The nomination window for this year’s event is now open through August 1, 2016.
For questions, please contact Melissa Boyd at (909) 919-7731.
Patriot Spotlight: Teresa Bullock
Teresa Bullock of Hemet was recently recognized with the Patriot of the Present Award for Community Service at this year’s Patriots of the Past, Present, and Future. She is a Gold Star Mother and Blue Star Mother, whose two sons were deployed to Iraq in 2006. One of her sons, SSG Christopher Webb, died in Iraq when his Humvee was hit by an IED in 2007. Teresa currently serves as the 3rd VP, Blue to Gold Liaison for Blue Star Mothers CA30 and as the Patriotic Instructor for the National Blue Star Mother Board, working with the active duty, veterans, and their families. Through her dedication to helping others, she honors her sons and the military service they and others have given to our great nation.
*The Blue Star Mothers of America is a nationally chartered veterans’ organization since 1942 that provides much needed support for mothers of our deployed military.
Photo credit: Images by J.Dixx Photography (www.jdixx.com)
Intern Profile: Jillian Pascua
Year-round our district office welcomes interns excited about public service and eager to develop their knowledge of state and local government.
Among the interns this summer is Jillian Pascua, a 20-year-old History and Political Science major at Vanguard University of Southern California.
Passionate about politics and public policy, Jillian says she chose to pursue an internship with our office because of our commitment to serve the people of California and conservative principles. Additionally, she is eager to learn about the legislative process.
After completing her Bachelor of Arts degree at Vanguard University, Jillian wishes to attend law school and eventually find a job working within the political arena. She is passionate about preserving our constitutional rights, maintaining our freedoms and fighting for justice. At school she has been a cabinet leader of The Forum, the political club on campus, as well as a member of the Women’s Chorus. In her free time, Jillian loves to spend time with her family and friends, go to school, read her Bible, sing, learn, and talk about politics.
Throughout her time working out of our district office, she has enjoyed getting to know the staff and learning various tasks. Thanks for the great job you’re doing, Jillian!
Recommended Reading: Calvin Coolidge on the Declaration of Independence
Each year on Independence Day, we celebrate not only our independence but the birth of a nation founded on principles of “equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, and] the rights of man”.
President Calvin Coolidge’s 1926 4th of July speech is a timeless reflection on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
The only president to share his birthday with Independence Day, Coolidge’s remarks are a reminder of the principles that built the foundation of this country and why more than ever we need to instill them in the hearts of future generations.
Fund Shifts Mask Real Budget Growth
General Fund budget spending is only part of state spending. In addition to the $122.5 billion in General Fund, the 2016 Budget Act will spend $44.6 billion in special funds, $3.8 billion in bond funds, and $95.9 billion in federal funds. As shown in the chart above, total state spending for 2016-17 is $266.8 billion.
Since the recession, legislative Democrats have altered spending to shift many programs off the General Fund and on to special funds. In fact, true General Fund program spending, which includes fund shifts, transfers, and various General Fund offsets, never dropped more than five percent below 2007-08 spending. When accounting for all of these offsets, true General Fund program spending has increased to $136.1 billion, which is $33.1 billion higher than it was before the great recession.
Giving Back: USBloodDonors.org
This past spring, singer Pat Boone and actor Robert Hays came to the Capitol to promote the important role each of us can play in becoming blood donors.
Following disasters or other emergency situations, it is critical that hospitals and medical centers are well-supplied to give care and save lives.
Through the organization USBloodDonors.org, you can sign up to be a standby donor and receive alerts when there is a need for blood donations.