I wanted to reach out with some important updates from the state and local level.
Last week was the House of Origin deadline, when bills must pass out of their house of origin in order to move forward in the legislative process. The Assembly and Senate voted on roughly 950 bills, of which 930 were passed. Senate policy committees began hearing Assembly bills in earnest this week.
The Legislature will finalize the budget for 2022-2023 fiscal year by June 15th. With such a large operating budget surplus, my Senate Republican colleagues and I submitted a letter to Governor Newsom outlining our budget priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. The state’s non-partisan Legislative Analyst Office has cautioned about the risk adding ongoing spending obligations. As such, I am focused on tax relief and one-time infrastructure investments.
It is my hope the governor and legislative leadership includes some of our priorities in the final budget framework.
As always, if you have any questions or require assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to any of my offices - we are here to help.
Response to Coastal Fire
A few weeks ago the City of Laguna Niguel was shaken by the devastating Coastal Fire which ravaged through the coastal community. Twenty homes were destroyed, eleven more were damaged, and over 200 acres were burned. The properties that were lost had been the home of some residents for over 20-years. As a resident of Laguna Niguel myself, my neighborhood was advised to evacuate. I had to return home from Sacramento and missed that Thursday’s Senate Floor session. It was heartbreaking to see my community experience this tragedy.
Thankfully, no lives were lost to the fire.
Because of emergencies like the Coastal Fire, I voted in favor of Senator McGuire’s SB 1062 which proposes to add 1,124 new firefighters to CalFIRE, including the addition of 356 full-time professional firefighters. Senator McGuire’s bill is timely and helps address CalFIRE’s staffing shortage.
Even though the fire has been extinguished and emergency services are no longer required, the healing process is just starting. My staff will continue to work with county and local officials to provide any and all resources to fire victims as they start to rebuild their lives.
On behalf of the residents of the 36th Senate District, I offer my deep appreciation and gratitude to the men and women of the Orange County Fire Authority, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, CalFIRE and surrounding agencies. Their timely response played a decisive role in preventing the fire from spreading further.
Finally, I would like to recognize the efforts of Laguna Niguel Mayor Elaine Gennawey. Her leadership was exactly what the residents of Laguna Niguel needed during this difficult time.
If you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to register for Orange County’s emergency notification system, AlertOC. If an emergency situation occurs in any of your registered locations, you will receive a notification, even if you aren’t currently there. Sign up for #AlertOC at www.AlertOC.org.
Senate Republicans Budget Request, 2022-2023 FY
The June 15th budget deadline is quickly approaching, and with such a large operating budget surplus, my Senate Republican colleagues and I submitted a letter to Governor Newsom, Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins outlining our budget priorities for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. Below are a few of our top priorities:
- Gas Tax Holiday. While the Governor proposed in January to freeze the scheduled annual inflationary increase to the gas tax for this year, legislative Democrats have repeatedly refused to support that modest idea or to approve a broader gas tax holiday, despite several opportunities to do so. As a result, those gas taxes are set to rise yet again in July to 53.9 cents per gallon. The state should immediately suspend the gas tax to reduce the cost of fuel for families suffering from record-high prices, and the revenues should be backfilled by the General Fund so that transportation projects will not be impacted.
- Address Mental Health and Homelessness Needs. Despite record-spending to address the homelessness crisis in the state, the population has only increased. The recent budget projections continue to show that the state has the resources now to commit to this critical need. In a caucus letter issued on April 14, Senate Republicans called for the state to commit $10 billion to build the facilities needed to help address the related crises of mental health, substance abuse, and homelessness. There is no path to addressing the homelessness problem that doesn’t involve expanding mental health treatment.
- Reduce Government-Imposed Debt for Job Creators. The state still faces an $18 billion unemployment insurance debt following the pandemic-related shutdowns. Job creators did not volunteer for this debt, but they will bear the costs of repaying it beginning in 2023. Those costs will make it more difficult to create new jobs in California, which still has one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates. While we appreciate that the Governor’s January budget proposal recognizes this problem by including $3 billion to pay down this debt, and some legislative Democrats have called for $7.25 billion, we urge that more should be included from the surplus to pay down that debt and clear the path for a more robust and sustainable job recovery.
- Prepare for Long-Term Droughts. Earlier this year Senate Republicans called for significant investments in water infrastructure to prepare California for long-term droughts. We argued that surplus funds should be used to build the Sites Reservoir and repair water conveyance in critical areas of the state to provide water storage for 1.5 million homes per year and promote much-needed water access for California’s food producers. Senate Republicans renew our request for an investment of $3.3 billion in water infrastructure to be allocated as follows:
- $2.6 billion to fully fund the already voter-approved Sites Reservoir
- $685 million for the repair of the Friant-Kern/Delta-Mendota Canals and the San Luis Field/San Joaquin Divisions of the California Aqueduct
- Better Wildfire Prevention. Last year the state began to take wildfire prevention more seriously and raised its investment to $1.5 billion, after decades of neglect and constant calls from Senate Republicans to increase funding for this purpose. Unfortunately, we were dismayed to learn that this administration’s much-touted program to fast-track environmental reviews for wildfire prevention, the California Vegetation Treatment Program, hasn’t completed a single project as of the April 12, 2022, according to a report from Capitol Public Radio. Better wildfire policies improve residents’ safety as well as air quality. Avoiding major wildfires would do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than many of the majority party’s mandates and restrictions. Senate Republicans renew our calls for continuous significant funding and for removal of bureaucratic roadblocks stalling wildfire prevention and treatment projects.
In addition to supporting the Senate Republican budget priorities, I am also requesting additional funding for watershed restoration efforts and behavioral health facilities in SD 36. Below is short summary of the budget requests:
- Watershed Restoration: County of Orange (South) and County of San Diego (North) - Amount: $37 million
- This proposal provides vital grant funding for restoration and conservation efforts to protect and enhance habitat for sensitive wildlife populations in watersheds in Southern Orange County and Northern San Diego County east of Interstate 5, with priority on projects in the San Mateo Creek watershed.
- Behavioral Health Wellness Campus, County of Orange (South) -Amount: $10 million
- The County of Orange in partnership with Be Well Orange County is requesting one-time funding of $10 million to expedite the completion of an urgently-needed Behavioral Health Families and Children’s Campus, which will deliver coordinated mental health services, support, and resources to children and their family members.
As I previously stated, it is my hope the governor and legislative leadership will include some of the requested budget priorities in the final budget framework.
House of Origin: Summary
As I mentioned earlier, over 930 bills passed out of both houses before the House of Origin deadline. Although I am unable to highlight every bill that passed, I am able provide you with a small list of bills I supported and bills I did not support.
Bills I Supported:
SB 1198 (McGuire)
- SB 1198 would create the beer direct shipper permit, which authorizes beer manufacturers to sell & ship beer directly to of-age Californians for personal use and allows beer manufacturers across the nation to apply for a permit.
SB 1227 (Eggman)
- SB 1227 would allow an additional intensive treatment period of up to 30 days for a person who is gravely disabled & meets other criteria with the purpose of avoiding conservatorship while still giving treatment.
SB 1357 (Archuleta)
- SB 1357 would expand the disabled veteran’s property exemption to allow a 100% disabled veteran to receive full property exemption.
SB 843 (Glazer)
- SB 843 would increase the amount of the renter’s tax credit & requires an annual inflation adjustment.
SB 936 (Glazer)
- SB 936 would create a center to train former inmates in forestry management.
Bills I Did Not Support:
SB 866 (Wiener)
- SB 866 would allow minors between the age of 12-17 to receive the Covid-19 vaccine without the consent of a parent or guardian passed off the Senate floor 21-8. Unfortunately, the Coastal Fire prevented me from casting a vote; however, had I been in Sacramento I would have voted ’NO’ on the bill. You can read my full statement on Twitter or Facebook.
SB 1419 (Becker)
- SB 1419 would restrict the parent or guardian of a minor from inspecting or obtaining copies of the minor’s patient record.
SB 1273 (Bradford)
- SB 1273 would eliminate the requirement for schools to report to law enforcement when a student is in possession or sale of narcotics or other controlled substances. Additionally, schools would not be required to report acts of assault, including incidents of attacks, assaults, or physical threats, by students against school employees. Organizations like the California State Sheriffs’ Association (CSSA) and the California Coalition of School Safety Professionals remain opposed to the bill.
SB 1038 (Bradford)
- SB 1038 would prohibit a law enforcement agency or officer from installing, activating, or using any biometric surveillance system in connection with an officer camera or data collected by an officer camera. The Peace Officer’s Research Association of California (PORAC) and the California State Sheriffs Association (CSSA) remain opposed.
Cal Tax Foundation Report
The California Tax Foundation sent out the following press release on their latest report. The California Tax Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 1980, improves public policy through independent, nonpartisan research.
SACRAMENTO - During the first five months of 2022, state lawmakers considered raising annual taxes and fees by more than $194.62 billion, the California Tax Foundation reported today.
“The tax and fee proposals were introduced despite the state’s reserves of more than $37.1 billion, a windfall of unexpected tax revenue ($19.4 billion above projections during the first nine months of the 2021-22 fiscal year alone), and a projected surplus of $97.5 billion,” the report notes.
The foundation’s Tax and Fee Report tallies 64 proposals with higher taxes or fees. Although the cost to taxpayers cannot be quantified for 51 of the measures, the remaining 13 represent a cumulative total of $194.62 billion in additional taxes and fees if all were approved.
The largest tax measure under consideration is ACA 11 (Kalra), which includes an estimated $162.8 billion in tax hikes, including a gross receipts tax on businesses, payroll taxes on California employers and employees, and a personal income tax increase on individuals with income above $149,509. The measure, intended to partially fund a government-run “single-payer” healthcare program in California, is alive and could be placed on the ballot in anticipation of the reintroduction of a single-payer implementation bill. The last day for legislative measures to qualify for the November ballot is June 30th.
Another major tax increase is included in AB 2289/ACA 8, a package that would impose a $22.3 billion “wealth tax” on California residents and former residents. While the last day for constitutional amendments to qualify for the November ballot is June 30th, tax measures can be passed at any time as long as they are approved by a 2/3 vote of the Legislature.
36th District Highlights
- I had the pleasure of attending the Lewis F. Moulton Arrival Day and presenting the Moulton Museum with a Senate Resolution. In honor of Lewis F. Moulton, who arrived in Orange County on May 6, 1874, and his wife Nellie Gail Moulton, who was an avid plein air painter and supporter of the arts community and education in the county, the Moulton Museum will provide educational programs and feature a wide array of artifacts, artwork, pictures, film, maps and telegrams from before Orange County was formed and through its development.
- I joined Orange County Clerk-Recorder Hugh Nguyen and several other community leaders at the grand opening of the Laguna Hills office. South Orange County branch office. South Orange County residents will now have access to the vital services the County Clerk-Recorder’s office provides such as birth, death and marriage certificates, and real property recording services.
- Each month, the Vista Chamber of Commerce honors and recognizes outstanding students from local high schools. The core of the Rising Star of the Month is the student who makes a difference in their home, school & community with sincerity and passion. This month, the Vista Chamber of Commerce’s Rising Star of the Year Ceremony recognized students for their outstanding efforts in their school and community, receiving cash scholarships in varying amounts to put toward their higher education. These awards - Rising Star of the Year Award, Special Recognition, Award of Excellence, and Award of Merit - were distributed based on applications sent in and reviewed by a panel of judges in the community.
Rising Stars of the Year:
Esmeralda Ortiz - Vista Visions Academy
Alyssa Crevoiserat - Guajome Park Academy
Rebekah Christoffersen - Major General Murray High School
Olivia Song - Mission Vista High School
Nyla Lopez - Rancho Buena Vista High School
Sarina Schulthess - Vista High School
Linsey Harris - Vista High School
Matthew Draves - Vista High School
Raul Rodarte - Trade Tech High School
Awards of Excellence:
Aaliyah Cortes - Guajome Park Academy
Stevin Latimer - Mission Vista High School
Hahle Taylor - Vista High School
Awards of Merit:
Isabella Melendy - Guajome Park Academy
Malia Mitchell - Guajome Park Academy
Uriel Medina - Major General Murray High School
Malea Van Brocklin - Mission Vista High School
Megan Luck - Mission Vista High School
Maesoon Rahman - Mission Vista High School
Maxwell Davis - Trade Tech High School
- My office was able to attend the Vista Chamber of Commerce’s Ribbon Cutting Event welcoming Path Finance Group as the newest member of the chamber. Path Finance Group was represented by Paul Hagerty.
- My office was also able to attend the Vista Chamber of Commerce’s Ribbon Cutting Event welcoming Legal Shield as one of the newest member of the chamber. Legal Shield was represented by Brad Kerow.
- My office was also able to attend the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce’s Salute to Education event which highlights outstanding achievements in education by teachers and students in the surrounding school districts.
- My office was also able to attend the Encinitas’ Chamber of Commerce’s Ribbon Cutting Event welcoming Nature Unplugged as one of the newest member of the chamber.
- Memorial Day: I joined the American Legion Post 281 members and community leaders at the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Sea Country Senior & Community Center on Monday, May 30th. The ceremony honored all those who served to protect our liberty and defend our freedom.
- Congratulations to Saddleback Community College! Saddleback received an Excellence in Placement Awards from the Campaign for College Opportunity. The awards honor California Community Colleges supporting student success by implementing equitable course placement practices that give community college students the opportunity to take college-level courses with the support they need to pass them. I am thrilled for Saddleback to be honored as a 2022 Champion for Excelling in Equitable Course Placement in Campuswide English Throughpuy
REMINDER: Are you registered to vote? The June 7th primary election is quickly approaching! Check the status of your voter registration or register to vote in advance of the deadline, here My Voter Status - California Secretary of State