The Legislature is in the home stretch of the 2015-2016 Legislative Session. Many bills remain on the table–some of them good, but many will hurt our job market and the economy. Generally, the bad ones will make things more expensive for the rest of us.
For example, Senate Bill 32 (Pavley, D-Agoura Hills) would require more extreme emission reductions by 2030. What does that mean to you and me? Higher prices and, for business owners, higher costs. The Air Resources Board has already indicated that meeting this 2030 limit will likely require the complete elimination of gasoline, diesel, and natural gas as fuel sources–plus higher prices while they are still available. Meeting the new emission limits will also require increased mandates on the dairy industry, restrictions on the use of fertilizer, significant new fees on refrigerants, and changes in tillage or cropping patterns–all very expensive actions that will directly affect food prices.
Assembly Bill 1108 (Burke, D-Inglewood) is another questionable proposal. The bill requires at least 15 percent of all new vehicles sold in California be Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) by 2025 and 100 percent be ZEVs by 2050. The bill, being pushed by Tesla, the manufacturer of electric cars, would also cut plug-in hybrid vehicles out of the new ZEV program. I struggle to see how the typical Californian will come up with the tens of thousands of dollars needed to purchase this type of vehicle.
Clean air is obviously important. We should all be doing our part to keep our environment as clean as possible, but just because something looks good on paper, doesn’t mean it is a realistic or wise course of action.
In 2006 the Legislature approved a memorial to victims of the Armenian genocide but it has yet to be constructed. The victims of genocide who died at the hand of evil, tyrannical regimes deserve to be memorialized in California’s Capitol region. Bureaucratic inertia in the development of a Master Plan for Capitol Park has delayed the construction of the memorial. Assembly Bill 2790 is a measure moving through the Legislature that would require construction on the memorial to begin by December 31, 2020, whether or not the Master Plan has been completed.
Voting by mail is an excellent option to encourage voting and to hold costs down for counties, especially in rural areas where polling places may be inconvenient and where it might be difficult for the county to absorb the costs associated with running an election. Senate Bill 450 is currently being considered by the Legislature. If passed, it will make it much easier for entire counties to adopt a vote by mail system.
Please visit the California Senate’s website to learn more about measures pending before the Legislature.
The Senate lost one of its own last month. It was a heartbreaking loss to our ranks when my friend and colleague Sharon Oden Runner passed away in mid-July. Sharon cared deeply for the people of California and was a tireless public servant. My thoughts and prayers go to her husband, George Runner and the Runner family during this very sad time. We will miss you Sharon.
The Senate also recently adjourned in the memory of Hughson resident and former Assemblymember George House who also died in July. Besides serving in the Assembly, George was a fellow almond farmer, a member of the Hughson School Board, and commander of the Modesto office of the California Highway Patrol. He was a beloved and respected member of our community. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
Former Senator Marion Bergeson, the first woman to be elected to both the Assembly and the Senate as well as a trailblazer for education, passed away in July at 90 years of age. She was a stalwart of Orange County politics and well-respected voice on many issues.
These three wonderful people will be missed, but their contributions and service to California will not be forgotten.
Representing a rural district has its distinct advantages–the people, the communities, the scenery, and the small-town feel. It also has the disadvantage of encompassing more than 27,000 square miles. As a result, we have three district offices (locations can be found here). We also conduct mobile district office hours in many of our communities. The schedule for those is on my website. If you are having difficulty with a state agency (such as DMV, EDD, etc.…), please call or email any of my district offices or talk with my staff during mobile district office hours. We are here to help.
Congratulations to 95-year old Charles “Chuck” Lishman, who was selected as Veteran of the Year by Assemblymember Frank Bigelow and myself. Lishman served in the United States Navy during WWII and is a Pearl Harbor survivor. Mr. Lishman, his wife Dorothy, and family attended the 9th Annual Veteran of the Year Recognition Luncheon with other veterans and state lawmakers.
It was a pleasure to be on hand to mark the 100th anniversary of the Forestiere Underground Gardens–a Fresno area treasure and, according to CNN’s travel website, one of 10 coolest underground wonders. It really is a wonder, too. Be sure to check it out.
Joanne Parsons, our community representative in Bishop attended the Eastern Sierra Music Festival (ESMF) last month. The ESMF benefits the National Wounded Warrior Center in Mammoth. Joanne presented ESMF representatives with Certificates of Recognition from my office. Left to right: Barbara Laughton, ESMF Marketing & Media Relations Chair; Mike Patterson, ESMF President; Julie Faber; Lisa Bennett, ESMF Vice President; Joanne Parsons, ESMF Hospitality Chair; Cheryl Underhill, Volunteer and Vendors Chair; and Laura Bennett, ESMF Board Liaison. Front row: Megan Allen, ESMF volunteer; and Allie Faber.
Pat O’Brien, from my Oakdale Office, was out and about this month. You may have seen her at the ribbon cutting for Mosce Credit and Ambeck Mortgage in Turlock; Svenska Lash Loft in Modesto; or the groundbreaking for the El Rio Memory Care center in Modesto, as pictured here.
Jenna Welch reports she had a great time at the Oakhurst National Night Out! It was awesome to see so many people come out to help promote public safety!
Shannon Major, from my Fresno Office, attended the graduation for the BRIDGES to the Community Summer Program on my behalf. These students spent a good portion of their summer building relationships, reaching goals, developing their skills, and volunteering throughout our community. What a great group!