I know the English proverb is “March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth this year. Now that the bill introduction window has closed, we begin to settle in and discuss the new legislation being proposed. For my legislation, that means meeting with other legislators and those that would be affected by the bills to build a coalition of supporters.
I’m already making good headway. Earlier this week, my bill SB 1357 which would make it easier to remove corrupt politicians from office received unanimous bipartisan support from our Public Safety Committee. There are a lot more hearings coming up in April and I’m looking forward to presenting my bills to my Senate colleagues.
It’s also important that I hear from you. My door is always open, and I always appreciate a direct dialogue with you. And if you’re not able to drop by my office, you can contact my office 24/7 through my website if you have any questions, comments or insight to share. Keep your friends and neighbors informed about what’s going on in Sacramento and around the 12th Senate District by forwarding this email so they can sign up to receive our eNewsletters as well.
Reducing Your Utility Rates
On March 5, I joined State Assemblymember Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) and Modesto Irrigation District General Manager Allen Short at a press conference in Modesto to highlight SB 971, which would modify the state’s renewable portfolio standard program and save millions in future electricity costs to electricity ratepayers across the state.
We are going to see our rates rise dramatically over the next few years as our irrigation districts and utilities try to add wind and solar power sources in order to meet the program goals. For example, Merced Irrigation District estimates it will cost an additional $30 million over the next nine years to comply with the program. That averages out to an additional $433 per customer each year. MID obtains enough hydroelectric power from the New Exchequer Dam to supply a majority of Merced’s power needs for many years. But as the program works now, that power is ineligible and the District needs to purchase enough renewable power elsewhere to meet its RPS mandate.
My bill allows hydroelectric power, our state’s oldest renewable energy source, to be part of the equation. SB 971 would change the program by computing RPS based on a utility’s total load, less the portion generated from large hydroelectric facilities. So if a utility district received 25% of the electricity it delivers to its customers from these facilities, their new RPS mandate would be on the remaining 75% of power generated from other sources.
SB 971 would significantly reduce the costs of complying with RPS. From Turlock to Merced to Modesto, this would mean multi–million dollar annual savings.
If you want to learn more, please watch the press conference.
Woman of the Year
I had the great pleasure of naming Salinas resident Ruth Andresen as the 12th Senate District’s Woman of the Year for 2012. She has been described by the Salinas Californian as the “grand lady of county education” for her service to Monterey County. Ms. Andresen was first elected to the Monterey County Board of Education in 1963 and served 12 terms over 48 years. During World War II, she worked for the Military Geology Unit, which assisted in developing pre-invasion plans for Europe and Asia. In the 1960’s, she received a research grant from the National Science Foundation to study ocean currents.
Ms. Andresen is a truly remarkable woman and is more than deserving of the Woman of the Year. She has been a pillar of the community and a role-model to generations of Monterey County residents.
Turlock Government Night
On March 14th, I participated in Turlock Government Night with Congressman Jeff Denham, Supervisor Vito Chiesa and Mayor John Lazar. This was our second year doing the event and it is just a great forum for the citizens of Turlock to talk to their elected officials. Government night works so well because so many of the issues facing Turlock can be addressed by more than one of us. The Turlock Journal provided a write up of the topics that were brought up and addressed at the event.
Last month, I went out to meet with the students involved in Teens Run Modesto and see them in action. It is a 26 week program that culminates in the students running the Modesto Marathon, which they did on March 18.
The results of the marathon were impressive! Modesto High’s Maria Perez won her age group and Davis High’s Frankie Segura came in second, both running it in 3:37. In the Junior High category, Prescott Jr. High’s Austin Domer and Steffany Garcia came out on top.
The great thing about Teens Run Modesto is it not only gets the students active, but it also emphasizes goal setting and character development. If you would like to support the program, please visit Teens Run Modesto website http://teensrunmodesto.org/.
Ag Day 2012
This year’s Ag Day theme was Know Your Farmer. That couldn’t be a more appropriate theme for our district. It was a great chance to celebrate everything our ag community provides, not just to our economy, but to our society. We must celebrate those that provide us with the food that graces our tables.
We also recognized the anniversary of ACR 42 last year, which declared Sundays as “Eat Local, Buy California Grown,” a motto I truly believe in. When you buy California grown, you are not just supporting our state economy, but you are providing your family with the fresher, more nutritious food.
With Former Speaker Willie Brown at Ag Day
March is always busy with numerous groups coming through the Capitol to speak to their Assemblymembers and Senators about their issues and pending legislation. Here are a few of the groups I got the chance to meet with personally:
California Retired Teachers’ Association members Rich Gipson, Susan Miller, Susan Harmon, and Carol Luhring
3 FFA graduating seniors from our district that were chosen for the Sacramento Leadership Experience. Only 40 are chosen from a membership of 70,000!