Summer is around the corner, but with the temperatures approaching the century mark, it feels like it’s already here. Along with May flowers, this month usually brings a flurry of committee meetings, legislative deadlines, events and activities throughout the district, and the Governor’s May Budget proposal that gives us a better picture of how he wants to spend your tax dollars.
As Vice Chair of the Senate Rules Committee, we have also been interviewing and confirming Gubernatorial appointees to various positions for the Executive Branch, including some with ties to the 12th Senate District. I take a particular interest in these folks, as they are typically known in our community and I want to ensure we have effective representation.
Since my last Capitol Update, I now serve on several new Subcommittees, Joint and Select Committees. Although they do not meet regularly like standing committees, important policy issues are periodically discussed so legislators and the public have a better understanding of the process and potential solutions to improve California’s future.
Help keep your friends and neighbors informed about what’s going on in Sacramento and around the 12th Senate District by forwarding this email. It’s easy to sign up to receive my eNewsletters, and you can also follow me on Facebook (link is external) and Twitter (link is external) for the latest news and updates.
Honoring our Heroes
The recent, tragic loss of two law enforcement members has gripped our community with sorrow and grief. The Stanislaus County Sheriff Department laid to rest two of their own after a horrific car accident that took the lives of Deputy Jason Garner and Community Service Officer Raschel Johnson. It was with a heavy heart that I adjourned the California State Senate in their memory.
My Legislation, Your Legislation
With my district’s needs in mind, several of my bills have been moving through the legislative process. Here’s a rundown of a few:
SB 335 — Codifies the Nursery Advisory Board into statute, which currently only exists at the behest of the CDFA Secretary. Passed the Senate and awaiting a hearing in the Assembly Agriculture Committee.
SB 372 — Creates a groundwater sustainability agency for specific water contractors as required under State Law. The agency would cover the areas within the boundaries of the Central Canal Water District, Firebaugh Canal Water District, San Luis Canal Company, and the Columbia Canal Company. Passed the Senate and now awaiting a hearing in two Assembly committees.
SB 373 — Authorizes the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority to utilize design-build when constructing its Surface Water Supply Project. Design-build is a lower-cost procurement method for public works projects. Passed the Senate and awaiting a hearing in the Assembly.
SB 403 — Authorizes the Judicial Council to dispense with certain surplus properties, including the Firebaugh Courthouse so that the Police Department can utilize it in the future. Passed the Senate Appropriations Committee and on its way to the Senate Floor.
Other measures can be found by going to my website.
Chosen as Legislator of the Year
In March, I was honored to be selected as the California Dental Hygienists’ Association Legislator of the Year for efforts to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of California’s dental health care program — Denti-Cal. As part of my 2016 legislative package, I authored Senate Bill 1098, which was in a response to the Little Hoover Commission recommendations and the State Auditor findings entitled “Fixing Denti-Cal” saying the program could not attract enough dentists and was unable to provide most beneficiaries access to care. The report contains a number of recommendations, such as the Legislature setting a higher target goal, which is currently in the low 40% range. SB 1098 became law January 1, which sets a 60% goal utilization rate and requires a report back to the Legislature to ensure it is met.
Waxing Poetic — California Poetry Out Loud Competition
The Senate Floor occasionally features well-spoken presentations and arguments, but not quite like this group. Recently, I recognized Florencia Gregorio from Alisal High School as the Monterey County Champion and Ella DeAmaral from Anzanar High School as the San Benito County Champion. Both were finalists for the California Poetry Out Loud Competition. Each County Champion competes in Sacramento to then make it to the National Competition. We are so proud!
Future Farmers, With a Bright Future
It is said that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Well, as luck would have it, at the last minute I was given the opportunity to swear-in the FFA Mock Legislature at the State Capitol when they gathered on the Senate Floor. Hope I sounded prepared. The FFA representatives, some from my district, were definitely an impressive bunch with a bright future. Congratulations on your accomplishments.
Unfortunately, with the release of the Governor’s May Revision Budget, we learned that funds for Career Technical Education and Future Farmers of America were cut out. That prompted an uproar in communities throughout the state and by legislators, myself included, to demand that the budget committees reinstate that funding. A very short time later, the Governor announced the inclusion of dollars back into those programs. Success!
Breaking Ground and Cutting Ribbons
Congratulations to CEO Leslie Abasta McGowen and her team as they opened the Livingston Community Health Delhi Center on May 12, which was the 7th clinic to be opened in Merced County in 10 years. My representative, Shannon Picciano joined Congressman Jim Costa and Assemblyman Adam Gray, as they cut the ribbon, formally opening this newest clinic.
It was a great day for a groundbreaking at the Valley Children’s Medical Center in Modesto. Thank you to the community, my District Director Helen Condit, Assemblyman Heath Flora and Derek Carr for making it a special occasion.
On May 5, Merced County Department of Workforce Investment, in partnership with Merced College and Merced County Public Works Department, held the first-ever graduation of the WorkNet Building Inspector Training Class. It was a pleasure to provide certificates of recognition to these 22 deserving graduates.
Congratulations to Susana Banuelos; Anastacia Rodriguez Torralba; Guadalupe Gonzalez Ruiz; Guadalupe Zulema Villegas; and Juana Gonzalez, as they received scholarships on April 26 from the Merced Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Best wishes as you move into your college careers.
Patterson High School Supply and Logistics students were featured at the Manufacturers Council of the Central Valley 2017 Annual Luncheon, giving a presentation on their program.
Navigating the State’s Bureaucratic Maze
I became involved in politics because I was frustrated by the lack of responsiveness I saw in my government and wanted to get something done for my community. Helping people navigate what can sometimes be a complicated web of government bureaucracy is a part of that effort. See how we can help here.
An internship in my Capitol or District office can help individuals learn about the legislative process and give back to the community. For information on applying, go to my website and click on the “Apply for an Internship” icon.
Here, I’m pictured with Newman resident and Orestimba High School graduate Blaine Ball who has interned for me in both the Capitol and District offices.
Office Hours In Your Neighborhood
The mobile district office allows my constituents to receive personal assistance on a variety of issues, including help with the DMV, the Employment Development Department, or matters involving other state agencies or state legislation. Appointments are not necessary, but can be made by calling my district offices. Click here for upcoming dates, times and locations.