Pat's Perspective: May 2015

Friday, May 15, 2015
In this Issue
 Wildfires - Are You Ready?
Fire Fee Refund
Drought Restrictions
Legislative Update
Transportation Update
Environmental Good News
San Diego Forward
Upcoming Events
36th District Highlights
Connect on Social Media

 Wildfires - Are You Ready?

ReadyForWildfire.org banner

California now faces the threat of wildfire nearly year-round due to drought conditions.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has already responded to a 75 percent increase in wildfires this year. While state and local authorities will continue to do everything they can to prevent and fight wildfires, we can help by maintaining defensible space and hardening our homes with fire resistant materials.

To learn more, please visit www.ReadyForWildfire.org.

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Fire Fee Refund

woman writing a check

Are you a homeowner who wants to preserve your right to a fire fee refund because you believe it is an illegal tax?

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has filed a lawsuit (HJTA v. CAL FIRE) that is before the courts that contends, “The fire fee is really an illegal tax under Proposition 13.” The lawsuit is challenging the fee and seeking refunds for people who have filed a timely Petition for Redetermination. To be eligible for a possible refund, you must file a petition form within 30 days from the date printed on the notice to pay the Fire Prevention Fee.

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Drought Restrictions

water

As you may have heard on the news, the State Water Resources Control Board recently approved mandatory water cuts of up to 36 percent for communities throughout the state.

While everyone agrees on the need to conserve in the midst of California’s historic drought, I believe the Board took an unwise “one-size-fits-all” approach in its latest order.

In advance of the Board’s meeting, Senator Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) and I sent a letter to Felicia Marcus, the Board’s Chair, to urge her to modify the regulations to account for existing investments in drought-proof water supplies.

For example, San Diego County has been developing drought-proof local water supplies to support the local economy and reduce dependence on outside sources. Modifying the final regulations would provide a greater emphasis on local water supply development. A modification would also support manufacturing jobs, which would be severely threatened by additional across-the-board water cuts that do not recognize the drought measures that have already been done in the region.

Unfortunately, the Board denied our request, as well as requests by other regions to accommodate their unique circumstances. Despite this setback, I will continue to advocate for our region’s water needs to ensure that we are treated fairly by the state.

For tips on how you can save water, please visit http://saveourwater.com/.

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Legislative Update

California State Capitol

The last few weeks have been very active for my bill package. We made notable progress on several of my bills as Senate policy committees passed four of them, and the entire Senate passed two to the Assembly. No senator voted against any of those bills. Here’s a quick update:

SB 722 - GPS Monitoring: Removal of Device
Authorizes a felony penalty of up to three years for child molesters and rapists who willfully remove or disable a Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking device. This bill is specific to those offenders on parole, probation, or post release community supervision. Approved by the Senate Public Safety Committee. Pending in the Appropriations Committee. Read my press release here.

SB 787 - San Clemente Hospital Emergency Services
Allows Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in San Clemente - known as “San Clemente Hospital” - to continue operating the only emergency department located between Mission Viejo and Oceanside. The Senate Health Committee referred the bill for further study to gather more community input. Read my press release here.

SB 479 - Applied Behavior Analysis Licensing
Licenses and regulates behavior analysts to help ensure that children with autism have access to safe services from qualified professionals. Approved by the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee. Pending in the Appropriations Committee.

SCR 46 - Arthritis Awareness Month
Proclaims May 2015 as Arthritis Awareness Month and recognizes the efforts of the Arthritis Foundation to seek access to care for all Californians. Approved by the Senate and now pending in the Assembly.

To learn more about my 2015 legislative package, please visit my website.

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Transportation Update

traffic stock photo

Transportation Dollars for Transportation Projects

California’s transportation system has been neglected for years. Despite the fact that we pay more transportation taxes and fees than virtually any other state, we spend less money to maintain our roads.

That is why I have co-authored Senate Constitutional Amendment 7, which would ensure that any current or future transportation taxes and fees are used for transportation projects. It would inject $1 billion up front and over $1.1 billion annually into fixing our roads and highways without raising taxes. It would return funding certainty to local transportation authorities for years to come.

Maintaining our roads and highways properly will increase the quality of life for millions of commuters who will be able to spend less time on the road and more time with their families. It is an environmental win too as less gridlocked traffic will improve air quality statewide.

Alternative Fuels

I recently met with Commissioner Janea A. Scott, from the California Energy Commission, to talk about alternative fuel technologies and the DMV fees that the state’s drivers pay to help fund these technologies.

The Commission receives $100 million each year from these fees to spend on projects, such as biofuel production, electric charging infrastructure, and hydrogen refueling stations.

The fee is a result of the passage of Assembly Bill 8 in 2013, which extends to January 2024 a fee to fund emission reduction and alternative fuel programs. While AB 8 is now law, it is important to ensure these dollars are being used as they were intended. My meeting with Commissioner Scott gave me a better understanding of these programs and I will be providing constituents regular reports as these programs progress.

Climate Change Legislation

As you may have heard, Senate Bill 350 was introduced this year that would require a reduction of petroleum use by 50%, an increase in the Renewable Portfolio Standard by 50%, and an increase in energy efficiency in buildings by 50% -- all by 2030.

As a member of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, I could not support SB 350 in its current form because the bill would hurt jobs and substantially increase energy prices for ratepayers in the long-run.

California must have a balanced solution that meets our energy needs and maintains a clean, safe, and healthy environment. New energy laws and regulations should be affordable, achievable, accountable to the people, aligned with other jurisdictions, and accommodate changing circumstances. SB 350 does not meet those conditions as mandating a drastic reduction in the use of traditional energy will only make that energy more expensive.

Highway Construction

I-5 freeway

For Orange and San Diego County commuters, you may have noticed more traffic-related construction than usual, especially on Interstate 5. I certainly have, as I frequently use that freeway.

To keep up to date on the latest construction and how to prepare accordingly, please check out these helpful websites:

Orange County Transportation Authority

Caltrans District 11 - San Diego and Imperial Counties

Caltrans District 12 - Orange County

You can check current highway conditions, see a map of ongoing projects, and much more. Check it out!

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Environmental Good News

Aliso Creek Estuary. Source: scwrp.org
Aliso Creek Estuary. Source: scwrp.org

Two pieces of good news to report this month:

Restoration of Aliso Creek Estuary

I am pleased to announce that the California Coastal Commission has approved funding to develop a plan to restore the Aliso Creek Estuary in Orange County.

The estuary is currently a degraded lagoon, but has the potential to become once again a thriving environmental jewel home to a diverse ecosystem. I strongly support efforts to restore the estuary and asked the Coastal Commission to approve the funds.

Restoring the estuary will take several years, but preliminary work is now underway. For example, the Laguna Ocean Foundation is assembling a team of experts in estuary restoration to identify methods of restoring the mouth of the creek.

I look forward to continuing the good partnerships that have been forged with local groups to promote a healthy Aliso Creek Estuary.

OCTA’s Measure M Program will Preserve Land in Laguna Beach

Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) officials recently purchased 151 acres of open space in Laguna Beach, marking the seventh property acquisition under the Measure M Freeway Environmental Mitigation Program. When I was a member of the OCTA’s Board of Directors, I was pleased to have participated in the program that preserves and restores natural habitats and allows for expedited delivery of freeway projects.

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San Diego Forward

San Diego Forward logo

For almost three years now, community members and local agencies have helped the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) develop “San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan.

The plan seeks to address questions such as:

What do we want our region to look like in 2050?
Where will we live?
How will we get around?

The SANDAG Board released the Draft Plan on April 24, 2015. You are invited to take part in a series of workshops that will be held throughout the region in May. Come to a workshop or participate online. Please visit sdforward.com for more information.

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Upcoming Events

The events below are just a taste 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.

Oceanside: Armed Forces Day Operation Appreciation

Date: Saturday, May 16
Time: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Location: Oceanside Pier Amphitheatre (200 N the Strand, Oceanside, CA 92054)
About: The Oceanside Chamber of Commerce will bring the business community and area residents together to provide a day of recognition to all active-duty military stationed on Camp Pendleton and nearby military bases. Thousands of active duty military and their family members are treated to a day of free food, carnival rides, and entertainment at the Oceanside Pier Amphitheatre.

Laguna Niguel: Live Smart and Save Money Utility Event

Date: Saturday, May 16
Time: 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Location: Laguna Niguel Civic Center (30111 Crown Valley Parkway, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677)
About: Free event concerning energy conservation. Includes activities, music, and prizes.

Dana Point: Doheny Blues Festival

Date: May 16 and 17
Time: 4 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Location: Doheny State Beach (25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, CA 92629)
About: Attendees enjoy stages of alternating music, an international food court, an eclectic vendor village with 50+ unique booths, microbrew tasting, and a Kidz EcoFest with educational exhibits for the younger music fans. From Grammy winners to music legends, Doheny will host many of the top names in rock, soul, and blues music.

Irvine: Orange County’s Alzheimer’s Association Action Day

Date: Saturday, May 16
Time: 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Location: 2515 McCabe Way, Irvine, CA 92614
About: Join the Orange County Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to learn the latest information on how Alzheimer’s Disease affects all of us. Hear nationally renowned speaker Matthew Baumgart and enjoy a free breakfast. No cost to attend.
More Information: jmark@alz.org or 949.757.3763

Encinitas: EcoFest Encinitas

Date: Sunday, May 17
Time: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Location: 450 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, CA, 92024
About: A free community celebration filled with music, art, entertainment, and delicious food. Get up to date on healthy living and how to save money through conservation and sustainability.

Vista: Strawberry Festival

Date: Sunday, May 24
Time: 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Location: Historic Downtown Vista
About: The festival features various activities, such as a kids&38217; ride, art displays, a festival run, pie-eating contest, costume contest, and much more.

San Clemente: Memorial Day Remembrance

Date: Monday, May 25
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: 106 Alameda Lane, San Clemente, CA 92672
About: Please join community members in honoring all branches of the United States Military at the Marine Monument, in Park Semper Fi overlooking the SC Pier and ocean. All service members welcome. There will be a special guest speaker.

Vista: Free Health Screening Day

Date: Saturday, May 30
Time: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Location: Kaplan College Vista Campus (2022 University Drive, Vista, CA 92083)
About: The screening offers FREE health tests such as cholesterol and blood sugar, refurbished eyeglasses, dental exams, and much more.
More Information: Please call 1.800.206.3971

Carlsbad: Music Festival Music Walk

Date: Saturday, June 20
Time: 4 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Location: Carlsbad Village (400 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008)
About: This event will feature 50+ musicians performing throughout the Village and embodies the Carlsbad Music Festival’s spirit of “adventurous music by the beach” while creating a community event for both audience members and musicians. The Village Walk is a fun, free community celebration of music.

Laguna Woods: South County Senior Summit (Co-Sponsored by Senator Bates)

Date: Friday, July 24
Time: 8 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Location: Laguna Woods Village Clubhouse 3 (23822 Avenida Sevilla, Laguna Woods, CA 92637)
About: Senator Bates is co-sponsoring this FREE summit with Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, which will feature important information for seniors, as well as complimentary breakfast and lunch.
More Information: Call 1.800.510.2020 to RSVP

Note: While my office strives to include accurate event information at the time of publication, it is subject to change by the organizer/sponsor.

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36th District Highlights

In addition to my many meetings, briefings, and other Senate activities, I also:

  • Met with members of the San Diego County Water Authority to talk about drought-related actions (pictured below)

Senator Bates with San Diego County Water Authority

  • Met with representatives from the Orange County Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association

Senator Bates with representatives from the Orange County Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association

  • Delivered remarks at the California Senior Legislature’s Senior Rally to ensure that seniors are a state priority

Senator Bates delivering remarks

  • Invited the Reverend Gary Tucker, the Chaplain of the Santa Ana Police Department, to deliver the Senate invocation

Reverend Gary Tucker delivering the Senate invocation

  • Met with representatives from the Junior Leagues of Orange and San Diego Counties

  • Participated in a meeting with the California Association of Realtors

On my behalf, my office staff also:

  • Attended the Escondido Chamber of Commerce’s presentation of a new economic study on energy costs and state energy policies affecting the San Diego region

  • Attended a water briefing with the Municipal Water District of Orange County and the San Diego County Water Authority

  • Participated in a San Diego Economic Development Corporation briefing on cyber security for local governments and the military

  • Participated in the La Costa Glen ribbon cutting for Glenwood Springs

  • Attended the San Diego Regional Chamber’s “Conversation with your Congressmember”

  • Attended a government leaders’ prayer breakfast in Irvine

  • Attended the Orange County Water District’s briefing on groundwater contamination cleanup projects

  • Participated in ribbon cutting ceremonies for Coastal Castles Realty and Downtown Tanning in San Clemente

  • Attended the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative and Transportation Committee meeting

  • And much more!

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Connect on Social Media

Facebook logo  Twitter Logo

To learn more about my work in the Senate, please “follow” me on Twitter and “like” me on Facebook.

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

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