Last week, the Legislature wrapped up its work for the year after having acted on more than a thousand bills. That means I'm back in the district full time for the next three months, meeting with people to talk about their concerns and their priorities for the upcoming year.
As I look back on the first year of my first term in the State Senate, I'm especially proud of the spotlight we were able to shine on spending, pension, regulatory and CEQA reform. After months—if not years—of talking about the importance of getting Sacramento's fiscal house in order and putting people back to work, we're finally seeing our colleagues on the other side of the aisle pay attention to these issues. And while the bills we passed this year didn't go nearly far enough to advance these priorities, you can be sure I will continue engaging with legislators on both sides of the aisle in the upcoming year to get these reforms passed, get our state's finances back on track and get our neighbors back to work.
In the meantime, my focus is on connecting with the people I serve: you. If you have any comments about the bills we passed this year or any additional feedback to share, you're always welcome to contact our office through our website at http://cannella.cssrc.us
Earlier this month, we launched a new video segment called “Ask Anthony,” where I answer questions I've received from people around the 12th Senate District. It's just another way I'm trying to keep the channels of communication open and make sure I'm responding to your concerns. The first question came from Cynthia in Madera, who shared her frustration about the burden California's onerous regulations have on small businesses. Click on the video below to hear my thoughts on what we can do to make California a more business-friendly state.
On September 1, I had the opportunity to present a resolution on the Senate floor honoring 12-year-old Nicole Kissel, who helped save Charles “Dale” Ostrander from drowning while swimming in the waters off the Long Beach peninsula in Washington State on August 5. It was a great opportunity to honor a local hero, but it was even more fun to sit down and talk with Nicole about her family and how the first few days of school have been going. Click here to watch our chat.
I'm pleased to report that my colleagues have given their final approval to Senate Bill 513 and Senate Bill 707, my two agriculture-industry supported measures. SB 513 continues the popular Certified Farmers' Market program and reinstates a rendering enforcement program at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). SB 707 adds olives to the list of crops included in the Fruit Tree, Nut Tree, and Grapevine Improvement Advisory Board at CDFA. This addition will provide the industry access to disease-free, virus tested, and true-to-type certification for oil olive trees developed through extensive research supported through the Foundation Plant Services program at UC Davis.
Did you know that Valley residents and businesses have been fined as much as $29 million a year for failing to meet federal ozone standards? That translates into a $12 vehicle registration fee hike for anyone who has a car in the area. That's why the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issued an Air Alert last week to remind area residents to cut back on driving and help reduce ozone emissions. Even though the Valley's air quality has improved significantly in recent years, we all still need to do our part to help avoid these penalties. Visit www.valleyair.org to learn more about the Air Alert notification system and sign up for the District's automated email list.
The public comment period for the draft environmental impact reports for both the Merced to Fresno and Fresno to Bakersfield sections of California's proposed high-speed rail project has been extended to October 13, 2011. That means there's still time for you to weigh in with any comments or concerns you may have about the project's potential impacts. For more information about the High-Speed Rail Authority's public hearing schedule, visit http://hsr.ca.gov.
Don't forget to keep an eye on your mailbox for your vehicle registration renewal forms this year. Because of legislation passed in May, the Department of Motor Vehicles hasn't been sending registration renewals with its usual 60-day advance notice: instead, the DMV is extending a 30-day grace period for renewals with a due date between July 1 and December 31 of this year. However, those 30 days begin from the due date on your renewal form – not from the day you receive your renewal. You won't pay a penalty if you make your payment within that 30-day window. But if you pay even one day after the grace period ends, you'll be hit with a whopping 60 percent penalty. To make sure you avoid these stiff fees, you can use the DMV's online renewal program available at www.dmv.ca.gov.