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Dear Neighbors and Friends,
The 2012 California State legislative session is underway and all the bills were introduced on or before the February 24th deadline. Both houses of the legislature will review and vote on each bill and also work through the proposed 2012-2013 budget. I encourage you to continue to stay engaged and to contact my office with your throughts and suggestions.
In this issue, I will be providing you with information on the legislative process and how you can become advocates for your communities. By knowing each step of the process, you’ll be able to effectively voice your ideas and make real change for Californians across the state.
I hope that you will find this information useful. As always, please feel free to contact my district office if you ever have any questions or concerns at (619) 409-7690 or at (760) 335-3442.
Senator Vargas Recognizes Students of Ocean Discovery Institute For Contributions to the San Diego Region
On February 23rd, Senator Vargas presented Ocean Discovery Institute with a Senate Resolution for their great contributions to the San Diego region. The White House had recently awarded Ocean Discovery Institute with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. The Presidential Award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government for efforts that advance the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering. Ocean Discovery Institute is one of only three organizations in the U.S. to receive the award and the only organization in San Diego to have received this honor.
Founded in 1999 as "Aquatic Adventures Science Education Foundation", Ocean Discovery Institute was created to leverage San Diego's vibrant coastal resources as a tool for teaching young people about science and conservation. In 2001, the organization started providing classroom-based educational programs and by 2004 was serving over 4,500 young people per year, through partnerships with schools and community groups throughout San Diego.
Taken together, their accomplishments over the past decade include:
- 40,000+ students benefited from more than 400,000 hours of science education;
- 550 teachers trained through professional development workshops;
- 15,500+ volunteers mobilized to restore wildlife habitat, clean up pollution and learn about San Diego's valuable ecosystems; and
- 14,000+ native plants have been planted in the San Diego region by our volunteers
"San Diego is very fortunate to have been represented at the White House with such honor and distinction," states Senator Vargas. "Ocean Discovery Institute plays a very pivotal role in ensuring that the future science leaders come from all backgrounds."
For more information on Ocean Discovery Institute, please visit: http://www.oceandiscoveryinstitute.org/
Senator Vargas Welcomes New Imperial County
District Representative Gina Rodriguez Vargas
Senator Juan Vargas is pleased to welcome new District Representative, Gina Rodriguez Vargas, to his team. Gina will represent Senator Vargas at community and civic meetings and events taking place in the Imperial County portion of the 40th Senate District. She will also be available to assist Imperial County constituents requesting assistance from State of California agencies.
Gina joins Senator Vargas' office following three years of working for the City of Brawley as a Grants Coordinator. Prior to working at the City of Brawley, Gina spent nearly 20 years working for the Center for Family Solutions in El Centro as Deputy and Assistant Executive Director.
"I am proud to have Gina join our team of District staff, dedicated to serving the needs of constituents in the 40th Senate District," stated Senator Juan Vargas. "Her experience working in local government, and for non-profits, makes her an asset to our team, and to the residents and community leaders in the Imperial Valley."
Gina is an Imperial County native who currently resides in the City of Imperial with her two children. Community involvement is an integral part of her life. She currently serves as a Director of Soroptimist International of El Centro and is a Chaplin for the Elks Lodge. Additionally, she formerly served on the Board of the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence and was the Secretary of the Homeless Task Force for Imperial County.
Gina will be based in the El Centro Office located at 1224 State Street and can be reached at Gina.Vargas@sen.ca.gov.
Free Income Tax Preparation For Qualified Individuals
Through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program with
State Controller John Chiang
For Families and Individuals with Household Incomes of $50,000 or less
Saturday, March 31, 2012
10 am - 3 pm
Chula Vista Civic Library
365 F Street
Chula Vista, CA 91910
Any information, materials, or services provided at this event are the sole responsibility of the provider of the information, materials, or services and do not constitute legal services or tax advice for the State of California.
The Asian Citrus Psyllid- A Threat to California's Citrus
California has a $1.88 billion citrus industry, ranking 1st in the U.S. in terms of value and second in agricultural production. Overall, California is by far the leading agricultural state in the U.S. The California Legislature works closely with the Department of Food and Agriculture, the University of California, your local county agricultural commissioner, and other state and local agencies to protect the state's agricultural economy from disease and invasive pests. According to a University of California study, a new exotic pest enters California every 60 days. The establishment of any of these pests can result in huge economic damage to the state. The Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) is one such pest.
Although the ACP pest is a harmless looking, brownish insect, a mere 3-4 mm long, and is not a threat by itself, it has the capacity to carry the citrus greening disease, also known as huanglongbing (HLB). This harmful bacterial disease attacks citrus and closely-related plants, eventually killing them. ACP insects were first detected in California in 2008. If the ACP insects begin to transmit HLB disease in California, the citrus industry could be at risk.
HLB disease does not pose a risk to humans or animals, but infected trees cannot be cured and must be removed and destroyed to prevent further spread of the disease. In order to minimize the potential loss to the agricultural community, the State of California has initiated several precautionary measures including restrictions on the movement of citrus plants in some parts of the state, placement and monitoring of sticky traps in vulnerable regions to detect the ACP insect, the use of ground treatments, and the release of predatory insect species, which are harmless to humans, where warranted. As a last resort, the removal and destruction of infected citrus trees is necessary if and when HLB is detected. HLB has not yet been detected in California, however several other states do have HLB.
To learn more about the ACP insect and HLB disease, visit the California Department of Food and Agriculture's (CDFA) website at www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/acp. If you suspect you have seen this insect or symptoms of the disease please call the CDFA at 1-800-491-1899.
To find out about efforts in your area to detect and control ACP insects and HLB disease, locate your county agricultural commissioner at: www.cdfa.ca.gov/exec/county/county_contacts.html.
California Joins National Mortgage Settlement Agreement
In mid-February, California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced the state's $18 billion settlement with five of the largest mortgage lenders who engaged in financial misconduct over foreclosure documents and mortgage services. The firms reaching settlement are Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial (formerly GMAC).
The settlement means that some homeowners who are facing foreclosure or who are underwater on their mortgages are potentially eligible for a variety of benefits including refinancing and principal reduction. Additionally, homeowners who were foreclosed upon may receive payments estimated at $1,500 to $2,000 each.
The agreement came after California departed from multistate negotiations between the banks and State Attorney Generals last September. At that time, the estimated relief to California was only $4 billion, far short of what Attorney General Harris believed homeowners were entitled to. She insisted on more relief for the most distressed homeowners, meaningful enforcement, and the ability of California and other states to pursue investigations into misconduct.
The settlement is just the first step in holding banks who engaged in predatory lending practices accountable, as it does not apply to Californians who have loans serviced by the participating banks but owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (approximately 60 percent of the state's mortgages). The settlement does not apply to homeowners who are current on their payments and owe less than their homes are worth, but who have nevertheless seen their home's value plummet as a result of the housing crisis.
Homeowners should contact their mortgage servicer (http://www.nationalmortgagesettlement.com/) to see if they are eligible for relief through this settlement. To help answer additional questions, or if a homeowner believes that he or she may have been defrauded, the Attorney General's office has set up the following site (http://oag.ca.gov/consumers/loan-modification), with information in both English and Spanish.
How A Bill Becomes A Law
It is important to know the steps in the legislative process to understand how an idea or issue becomes a bill, and how a bill then becomes law.
- California has a bicameral (two house) legislature. The Assembly has 80 members who serve no more than three two-year terms, and the Senate has 40 members who serve no more than two four-year terms.
- The bill process begins with an idea which often comes from an individual or group who brings the issue to a legislator and asks the legislator to author a bill. The individual or group becomes the bill's sponsor.
- The proposed legislation goes to Legislative Counsel. They draft the actual bill text. After the author reviews the bill, along with the sponsor, it is then introduced, given a number, and read the first time in the house of origin.
- In both houses, the bills are assigned to policy committees by the Rules
Committee. If the bill has any fiscal impact, it must also go to a fiscal committee after it is heard in the policy committee.
- A bill goes through the house of origin first, then repeats the process in the second house. If both houses cannot concur, it goes to Conference Committee.
- Once the bill has been introduced, the next step is to figure out who on the committee is sympathetic to your viewpoint and which members need to be persuaded. To evaluate the members' views, look at their interests, voting records and constituencies, as well as their media coverage.
TOOLS OF EFFECTIVE CITIZEN ADVOCACY
Find Out About Issues or Legislation Important to You
The best source is probably the media. Newspapers, radio and TV all report on legislation of concern to Californians. Most organizations and interest groups publish newsletters. Many of these public interest groups have advocates in the Capitol who have access to the most up-to-date information.
In addition, your legislator's district office staff can help you track down legislation of interest to you. To receive copies of bills, you can also write directly to the Legislative Bill Room, State Capitol, Sacramento 95814. They will provide you with one copy of up to 100 bills free of charge.
Stay Current - Bills Are Often Amended
Newsletters and the media are very helpful. There are also official legislative publications in public libraries and on the Internet at senate.ca.gov. On this site, you will find the:
- Senate (Assembly) Daily File – printed each day with the agenda and bills set for hearing.
- Senate (Assembly) Weekly History – indicates the status of each bill.
- Senate (Assembly) Daily Journal – the official record of each day's proceedings.
- Legislative Index – the complete listing by subject matter of all bills introduced.
- Call your legislator's district office to get an update on the status of legislation. Also, feel free to visit the office at any time to use the resources available.
Types of Legislation
SB – Senate Bill (AB – Assembly Bill) – bills require a majority vote.
If there is a fiscal impact, they require a two-thirds vote.
SCA (ACA) – Senate (Assembly) Constitutional Amendment – requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature and a vote by the people.
SCR (ACR) – Senate (Assembly) Concurrent Resolution – relates to general matters of concern to the Legislature.
SJR (AJR) – Senate (Assembly) Joint Resolution – conveys to the federal government views of the Legislature.
House Resolutions – matters of concern to one house.
Communicate With Your Legislator
Letters are extremely effective. Give your legislator the specifics the reasons why you support or oppose a particular piece of legislation. Be sure to include your name and address. Send it to either the State Capitol office or to the district office. Telegrams, postcards, petitions, phone calls and personal letters all help.
The California State Senate is on the Internet. By accessing the Senate website at senate.ca.gov you can:
- Find the full text of bills, resolutions and constitutional amendments, bill status, history, votes, analyses and veto messages;
- Access links to other state agencies and media websites;
- Get answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs);
- Listen to and watch live Senate hearings, floor sessions and press conferences;
- Find out about the day's scheduled events, agendas of upcoming hearings, floor session schedules, the Legislative calendar and deadlines;
- Look at a glossary of legislative terms;
- Visit senators' web pages;
- Find a roster of addresses and phone numbers;
- Find out who is your senator;
- View district maps; and
- Get information about Senate and Assembly committees.
California State Budget Timeline
Creating the California budget can be a long process but being familiar with each step is very important for all Californians to know. Below is a timeline and the role each branch of government plays in developing the budget.
|July 9 - Mid September||State Departments develop budget proposals for their programs in the next fiscal year. These are then sent to the Department of Finance for review.||October - January 10th||The Governor evaluates these proposals and sends a proposed budget to the Legislature. On or before January 10, the Governor delivers a state-of-the-state speech and proposes a budget. Legislative review of the budget begins in early January and typically runs through June.
||January - February||The chairs of the budget committee in the Senate and the Assembly introduce the Governor's budget proposal in bill form on January 10. The Legislative Analyst prepares an extensive review of the budget bill.
||March - May||Each house refers its budget bill to their respective budget committees. The bills are broken down and assigned to subcommittees by subject areas. Before each hearing, the subcommittee staff prepares extensive agendas detailing the Governor's proposals and alternatives. The agendas are available on the committees' websites. The subcommittee hearings present the best opportunity to have your voice heard. Subcommittee meetings are open to the public and often televised on the California Channel. After completion of the hearings, each subcommittee votes and then sends its report to the full budget committee.
TIMING IS CRITICAL: Make sure that any communication is accomplished as early in the budget process as possible. If you are concerned about budget issues, let your legislator know.
- Write a letter
- Meet with your legislator, or a member of his/her staff
- Call the district office
- Send an E-mail
|Late May - June 15||The budget committee of each house considers the subcommittees' reports and may send a revised budget bill to the floor for vote by the full body. Each house may discuss and vote on its version of the budget bill. The differences between the Assembly and Senate versions of the budget bill are worked out in a conference committee made up of three members from each house. Your legislator will have an opportunity to submit information on items of importance to the conferees.
LEADERSHIP MEETINGS: In some instances, the most difficult budget disagreements are worked out in meetings between the Governor, Senate President pro Tempore, Assembly Speaker, Senate and Assembly Minority Leaders. When the leadership develops a compromise, they request the conference committee to conclude its deliberations and include the compromise.
Upon completion of its review, the conference committee submits a single version of the budget bill to both houses. The Senate and Assembly each vote on this final version before it is sent to the Governor. The houses also vote on trailer bills if statutory changes are necessary to implement provisions of the budget bill. Votes on trailer bills may occur after the June 15 deadline.
|June 15 - July 1||The budget becomes law as soon as it is signed by the Governor due to its status as an urgency measure.
How To Read A Bill
Senator Vargas speaks out in support at the Justice for Janitors rally in Downtown San Diego.
Senator Vargas presents the American Legion Post 434 a Certificate of Recognition at their Annual Pancakes in the Park Community Service Event.
Senator Vargas introduces Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (seated center) at their joint town hall at Gompers Preparatory Academy.
At Your Service
As your State Senator, I am committed to providing the highest quality of public service possible. I want to do everything I can to improve the quality and safety of our community. I am here to respond to your questions and concerns, to make decisions fairly and to put the public’s interest first.
When you call, my office will respond promptly, whether it's assistance with a state agency, information on current or previous legislation, or help in filling out government forms. My office is here to serve your needs. I appreciate the opportunity you have given me to represent you in this community and Sacramento. I look forward to working with you to better our neighborhoods, schools and businesses. If I can be of any assistance, please call or click here to submit an on-line form that goes directly to my district office.
I can assist you if you are having problems in any of these areas:
- Auto insurance
- Consumer complaints
- Unemployment insurance
- Child support and child care
- Disability insurance
- Department of Motor Vehicles
- Workers' compensation
- Franchise Tax Board
- Government forms and applications
- Complaints about state departments
- Small business assistance
I want to know how you feel about issues that I may vote on. Also, if you need information about existing or proposed state laws, please contact my office. I can send you:
- Copies of legislation and laws
- Status of legislation
- Bill summaries by issue area
- Analyses of legislation
- Legislative Counsel opinions on state laws and legal issues
- Legislative Committee rosters
- Information on other legislators and the legislative process
If you have an idea for a local project, a problem with a state or local agency that is not getting solved, I can help in these ways:
Public Service Information
Various state agencies print handbooks and brochures on subjects which may be of interest to you. Here are a few examples:
- Mediate between you and government agencies or offices
- Assist you in obtaining funding for local projects, such as bikeways, parks, schools, or senior citizen programs
- Bring state experts into your community for technical assistance or advice on local issues
- Help communicate your concerns to local, state and federal officials
- Bring state administrators into your community so they hear first-hand about local needs
- Visit your neighborhood or group to discuss state legislation or programs
- Consumer protection
- Small business assistance
- Tax relief programs for seniors, renters and homeowners
- Women's rights
- Landlord-tenant rights
- Scholarship opportunities
- Credit discrimination
- Seniors issues
- Child care and child support
|California State Senator Juan Vargas - District 40|
Web site: http://www.senate.ca.gov/Vargas|
State Capitol, Room 3092
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4040
Fax: (916) 327-3522
Chula Vista Office:
333 H Street, Suite 2030
Chula Vista, CA 91910
Phone: (619) 409-7690
Fax: (619) 409-7688
El Centro Office:
1224 State St., Suite D
El Centro, CA 92243
Phone: (760) 335-3442
Fax: (760) 335-3444
45-125 Smurr St., Suite B
Indio, CA 92201
Phone: (760) 398-6442
Fax: (760) 398-6507
||(c) 2013 California State Senate|