The California Legislature has reconvened in Sacramento for the second half of the 2015-16 legislative session. I am reminded of Mark Twain’s quote of “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”
I do appreciate the opportunity to be back at the State Capitol to stand up for our district. This includes defending taxpayers, protecting our constitutional rights and advocating for our district’s interests. With the Senate and Assembly considering hundreds of new bills this year that could affect our lives in some way, I take my responsibility to represent you seriously.
Democrat and Republican lawmakers will have their disagreements, but that must not stop us from finding some consensus on our state’s most pressing priorities - such as transportation, jobs and education. Stay tuned, as I hope 2016 will be a productive year for California.
California State Capitol
Both events help set the tone at the Capitol for the rest of the year, where legislators will consider his proposals in upcoming committee hearings. You can read my thoughts on his State of the State address here.
For my thoughts on the state budget, please click here to read the January 24 column I wrote for the Orange County Register.
California State Senate Chambers
The last few weeks back in Sacramento have been especially busy as I presented three of my bills in policy committee hearings.
On January 13, the Senate Governance and Finance Committee approved my Senate Bill (SB) 259 to address an outdated Proposition 13 tax interpretation. SB 259 is designed to prevent a repeat of examples similar to the 2006 purchase of a hotel in Santa Monica where the purchaser realized he could structure the transaction without any one entity owning a 50 percent majority share in the property.
Despite the fact that 100 percent of the ownership of the hotel changed hands, the property was not reassessed, resulting in a tax loss to Los Angeles County of over a million dollars annually. SB 259 is supported by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Business Roundtable and the California Business Properties Association. On January 21, the Senate Appropriations Committee killed the legislation due to strong opposition by organized labor.
Also on January 13, the Senate Health Committee refused to pass my SB 787 to allow a standalone emergency room in San Clemente Hospital. The Assembly Health Committee also refused to pass similar legislation by Assembly Member Bill Brough. We are considering next steps with community members and have asked San Clemente Hospital to remain open until a solution is agreed upon. You can read our full statement here.
Finally, the Senate Human Services Committee blocked my SB 659 to help homeless adults and children. The bill would have funded successful programs similar to Vista’s Solutions for Change and Sacramento’s Saint John’s Program for Real Change that provide shelter and housing to homeless persons in a sober environment. Unfortunately, the committee had concerns about mandatory drug and alcohol testing. While SB 659 is dead, the concept is not. I will continue to fight for a smarter approach to address homelessness.
With tax season heating up, free tax return preparation is available for qualifying taxpayers.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.
In addition to VITA, the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors. The IRS-certified volunteers who provide tax counseling are often retired individuals associated with non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS.
To find help near you, visit the IRS website by clicking here.
Furthermore, California’s Franchise Tax Board is sitting on $28 million in unclaimed tax refunds, some of which may belong to you. To get more information on a possible refund, call 1.800.852.5711 or go to www.ftb.ca.gov/online/refund.
“Cash for College” is a statewide program coordinated by the California Student Aid Commission that brings together high schools, college financial aid experts, and community organizations to provide low-income, college-bound high school seniors and their families hands-on help applying for financial aid.
Cash for College workshops are held throughout the state between now and March 2, the deadline for applying for most state-funded financial aid. Most Cash for College workshops are held at local high schools or colleges.
These workshops provide information on everything students and families need to know about post-secondary financial aid. Counselors and financial aid representatives from local colleges attend the events and help attendees complete the FAFSA. As an incentive to attend a Cash for College workshop, the program awards one senior at every event a $1,000 scholarship just for filling out a survey and submitting their Cal Grant application by the March 2 deadline.
To find a workshop near you, click here. Be sure to enter your city and type “CCFC2016” in the “Search for events or categories” field to get relevant results.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a leading cause of death in youth under 25 and the number one killer of student athletes, but heart screenings are not part of regular youth exams.
The Eric Paredes Save A Life Foundation has provided 18,000 free heart screenings for youth age 12 to 25, finding about 1 in 100 at risk from an undetected abnormality or risk factor.
Screen your teen on Sunday, January 31, at El Camino High School in Oceanside. The foundation asks for advance registration, but they will take walk-ins all day of the event until 3 p.m. For youth under 18, parents need not be present as long as the screening paperwork is signed, which can be downloaded here.
For more information and to register, visit EPSaveALife.org.
With heavy rains hitting California this winter, it is never too early to prepare. To report an emergency, including downed wires, call 9-1-1.
Here are some helpful links to help you prepare and stay informed:
- Ready San Diego - emergency preparedness information for San Diego County residents.
- Ready OC - emergency preparedness information for Orange County residents.
- San Diego Gas & Electric - power outage information for local customers. To report an outage call 1.800.411.7343.
- Southern California Edison - power outage information for local customers. To report an outage call 1.800.611.1911.
- Be Storm Ready - a webpage on my Senate website that links to other resources.
From time to time I like to highlight some of the organizations and individuals in our region that earn accolades for their fabulous work.
This month, I applaud Encinitas’ Solana Center for Environmental Innovation, the Orange County Department of Education and Orange County Waste & Recycling for receiving the state’s highest environmental honor - the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA). Established in 1993, GEELA is awarded to those that use sustainable business practices to conserve energy, reduce waste or prevent pollution while contributing to the local economy.
The Solana Center pioneered the first comprehensive curbside recycling program in San Diego County and one of the first community-based recycling programs in California. The center received the award for its organic waste reduction. The OC Department of Education and OC Waste & Recycling were recognized for their K-12 education program, “Project Zero Waste,” at 200 schools, resulting in an annual waste reduction estimated at 400,000 pounds.
I also congratulate the Santa Margarita Water District for receiving the Special District Leadership Foundation’s District Transparency Certificate of Excellence. Transparency is one of the most important qualities our local governments can practice and I applaud the leadership and staff for their efforts.
Located in South Orange County, the City of Aliso Viejo is home to more than 50,000 people amidst a beautiful natural landscape. It is continually ranked one of the safest cities in the nation, offering many family friendly amenities for its residents.
Although Aliso Viejo became Orange County’s 34th city just 15 years ago, it has a rich history going back to the 1890’s. The city’s name derives from Spanish for “old alder” or “old sycamore,” and now contains many amenities that promote a healthy life-work balance.
Aliso Viejo is home to dozens of companies, a beautiful college campus, an emerging biotech sector and numerous recreation opportunities. Yet the city is not resting on its achievements as it works to attract more opportunities to the area.
Learn more about Aliso Viejo by checking out its city government website at http://www.cityofalisoviejo.com/. Be sure to read the Orange County Register article that it published on Aliso Viejo last month.
The events below are just a sample of what’s happening in our beautiful district. Do you have an event that you would like me to include in my newsletter? Please let me know by sending me a message on my website. In addition, you can find more events in your community by visiting these links:
- Aliso Viejo
- Dana Point
- Laguna Hills
- Laguna Niguel
- Mission Viejo
- Rancho Santa Margarita
- San Clemente
- San Juan Capistrano
Mission Viejo: South Orange County Senior Day
(Sponsored by Senator Bates and Assembly Member Bill Brough)
Date: Friday, March 11, 2016
Time: 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Location: Norman Murray Senior Center (24932 Veterans Way, Mission Viejo, CA 92692)
About: A resource fair for senior citizens including complimentary breakfast and lunch. To RSVP, call Senator Bates’ Orange County district office at 949.598.5850.
Encinitas: Encinitas Station Farmers Market
Date: Every Wednesday
Time: 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Location: Downtown Encinitas - 600 S Vulcan Avenue, 92024
About: The market is comprised of 40+ vendors selling local farm fresh produce, specialty meats and cheeses, and flowers in addition to an array of artisan products including breads and gluten-free goods. There will even be gelato to cure that sweet tooth!
Rancho Santa Margarita: Free Blood Pressure Screening
Date: Every Tuesday
Time: 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Location: Bell Tower Regional Community Center (22232 El Paseo, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688)
Carlsbad: Winter Festival
Date: Friday, January 29 and Saturday, January 30
Time: 3 p.m. - 8 p.m. (Fri.) and 1 p.m. - 8 p.m. (Sat.)
Location: Carlsbad Village (400 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008)
About: Featuring an outdoor 40-by-80-foot skating surface made from layers of plastic polymer (no cold weather or frozen ice required), the rink will accommodate up to 150 skaters per hour. In addition to the rink, inflatable bounce houses, arts and crafts, and several other activities will be available in what we are calling a family, friendly weekend of physical activity.
Aliso Viejo: Free Electronics Recycling at AV Library
Date: Saturday, January 30
Time: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Location: Aliso Viejo Library (1 Journey, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656)
About: Drop off televisions, computers, monitors, printers, fax machines, LCDs, cell phones, chargers, DVDs, game consoles, MP3 players, ink and toner cartridges and other electronics for recycling.
Vista: Affordable Pet Licensing, Vaccination Event
Date: Saturday, January 30
Time: 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Location: Wave Waterpark parking lot (101 Wave Drive, Vista, CA 92084)
About: San Diego Humane Society will be on site providing affordable vaccinations and microchips. If you are a resident of Oceanside or Vista, you can stop by to renew or purchase a new license (late fees will be waived - unless previously issued an Administrative Citation).
Oceanside: Youth Heart Screening
Date: Sunday, January 31
Time: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Location: El Camino High School (400 Rancho Del Oro Drive, Oceanside, CA 92057)
About: The Eric Paredes Save a Life Foundation is offering free cardiac screenings for teenagers. Screenings takes less than 30 minutes (wait times may vary) and include review of a health history questionnaire, an EKG, and if indicated, an echocardiogram. The entire process is non-invasive - no needles or x-ray exposure - and the foundation assures each teen’s privacy is protected.
Irvine: Alzheimer’s Town Hall Meetings
Date: Tuesday, February 2 and Monday, February 8
Time: 7:30 a.m. - 9 a.m. (February 2) and 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. (February 8)
Location: Both meetings will be held at the Alzheimer’s Orange County offices (2515 McCabe Way, Irvine, CA 92614)
About: Learn about changes to the Alzheimer’s Orange County organization, voice your opinion and ask critical questions that will help shape its activities, programs and services.
Rancho Santa Margarita: Low-Cost Pet Vaccination Clinic
Date: Wednesday, February 3
Time: 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Location: Bell Tower Regional Community Center (22232 El Paseo, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688)
San Juan Capistrano: 13th Annual Rotary Car Show
Date: Saturday, February 6
Time: 7:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Location: San Juan Capistrano Community Center Sports Park (25925 Camino Del Avion, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675)
About: Spend a day in a bright, colorful world! Start the morning with a delicious plate of pancakes, prepared by the San Clemente’s Kiwanis Club. Continue your morning exploring oddly and large shaped decorations, sensational entertainers, a slide for tiny tots, face painting, much, much more and one great BIG egg hunt!
Mission Viejo: iPad Know How
Date: Tuesday, February 9
Time: 3 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Location: Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center (24932 Veterans Way, Mission Viejo, CA 92692)
About: Do you have a new iPad or just want to learn more about the one you have? Ed Schwartz will teach you the basics so you can do what you want. Registration for this free class is required and available by calling 470.3062.
Dana Point: Science Night
Date: Wednesday, February 10
Time: 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Location: Dana Point Community Center (34052 Del Obispo Street, Dana Point, CA 92629).
About: Please come and learn about current science-related topics presented in a family-friendly format. Generally, hands-on activities and/or displays will be present and geared towards children.
Laguna Hills: Chamber of Commerce Mixer
Date: Monday, February 8
Time: 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Location: Pizza 900 (23020 Lake Forest Drive #170, Laguna Hills, CA 92653)
About: Come meet and network with fellow chamber members and guests while enjoying Happy Hour beverages and complimentary pizza and salad. Please also invite a Laguna Hills business guest.
Oceanside: Enlisted Recognition Reception
Date: Thursday, February 25
Time: 6 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Location: Veterans Center of North County (1617 Mission Ave., Oceanside, CA 92058) About: The Oceanside Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee created the Enlisted Recognition Program in 2001 as a way for the business community to recognize the excellence of the local enlisted personnel. This event is open to the public and will feature delicious hors d’oeuvres and an evening of celebration as we recognize Marines and Sailors who have been identified by their respective commands as top performers and contributors.
Laguna Niguel: Family Fun Night: “Animal Magic”
Date: Friday, February 26
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Crown Valley Park (29751 Crown Valley Parkway, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677) About: Bring the whole family out for a magic show that combines comedy, magic, music, audience participation and live exotic pets in an entertainment experience that’s guaranteed to astound and amaze!
San Clemente: Sensational Springtacular
Date: Saturday, March 26
Time: 7 a.m.
Location: Vista Hermosa Sports Park (987 Ave Vista Hermosa, San Clemente, CA 92673)
Note: While my office strives to include accurate information at the time of publication, events are subject to change by the organizers/sponsors.
In addition to my many meetings, briefings, and other Senate activities, I also:
- Taped a short interview with Time Warner Cable’s Steve Swatt regarding transportation. The interview will air on Southern California Time Warner channels in the near future.
- Met with members of Cal State Fullerton to talk about improving graduation rates and closing the achievement gap.
- Discussed local government issues with Carlsbad Mayor Pro Tem Lorraine Wood and Council Member Michael Schumacher.
- Assemblyman Bill Brough and I met California Charter Schools Association President & CEO Jed Wallace (left) at a Sacramento reception.
- Greeted members of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association in Sacramento.
- Discussed senior issues with members of the California Senior Legislature at its Sacramento breakfast event. I’m pictured with Laguna Niguel resident John Pointer, the chair of the Senior Legislature’s Joint Rules Committee.
- And much more!
On my behalf, my office staff also:
- Presented a Senate resolution honoring Aliso Viejo Council Member Bill Phillips (center). Bill served as Mayor on three separate occasions and was a founding council member when the city was incorporated in 2001. Bill is pictured with current Mayor Mike Munzing and my Orange County field representative, Kristy Khachigian.
- Presented certificates to outstanding students in Vista.
- Met with various organizations and individuals to plan the March 11 Orange County Senior Day with Assembly Member Bill Brough.
- Engaged in meetings regarding Sober Living Homes and their effects on residential neighborhoods.
- Attended the annual San Diego County Economic Roundtable in San Diego.
- And much more!
To contact me, you can send a message on my website or mail a letter to:
Senator Patricia Bates
State Capitol, Room 4048
Sacramento, California 95814