Janet's Journal: May 2015

Wednesday, May 6, 2015
IN THIS ISSUE:
Dear Friends
Around the 34th Senate District
Around the Capitol
In the Community
Legislative Round Up
Community Events

Dear Friends:

April was a momentous month throughout the Thirty-Fourth District. Together, we marked the 40th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, known in the Vietnamese-American community as Black April. It was a chance for deep reflection, and a time to honor those who sacrificed everything in the name of freedom and democracy. I want to thank our Veterans and the entire community for coming together to commemorate this solemn occasion.

As we make our way through May and toward Memorial Day weekend, the Thirty-Fourth District will be as busy as ever. Garden Grove will be hosting their Annual Strawberry Festival and Parade, and several cities will be holding their own Memorial Day services in honor of our Veterans. To find out how you can participate in these events, please scroll down to the Community Events section for all the details.

Thanks for reading, and as always I am proud to present the latest news from around the 34th Senate District and Sacramento!

Sincerely,
Janet

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AROUND THE 34th SENATE DISTRICT

40th Anniversary of Black April Remembered throughout the 34th District

In commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of Saigon's fall to Communist forces on April 30, 1975, known in the Vietnamese community as “Black April,” ceremonies were held across the 34th District. Vigils remembered the struggle and sacrifice of those who fought and fled in the midst of the Communist invasion of South Vietnam.

Ceremonies were held at the Vietnam War Memorial, The Boat People's Monument in the Westminster Ceremony, and in Temples across the district.

Image of Senator Nguyen presenting resolution
Senator Nguyen presents a resolution at the Vietnam War Memorial in Westminster declaring April 2015 Black April Memorial Month in California.

Image of Senator Nguyen at the Bao Quang Temple
Vietnam Veteran and Pastor Frank Orzio meets with Senator Nguyen at the Black April Service at the Vietnam War Memorial.

Image of Senator Nguyen with Pastor Orzio

Senator Nguyen speaks at the Bao Quang Temple in Santa Ana in honor of the 40th Anniversary of Black April.


Santa Ana holds annual Community festival celebrating Día de Los Niños

On Saturday, April 11th, Senator Nguyen's office assisted with the organization of the Annual Día de los Niños (Day of the Child) Street Festival in Santa Ana. Organized by Kidworks, the Día de los Niños Street Festival provides children and families from low-income neighborhoods a safe environment in which to enjoy the festivities. Several local government agencies and non-profits were also in attendance, hosting free carnival games and distributing educational material. The day’s festivities were a huge success thanks to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved.

To find out how you can help Kidworks provide the services Children and Families need in at-risk neighborhoods, you can visit their site here.

Image of Senator Nguyen at Street Festival
Senator Nguyen assists with this years Día de los Niños
Street Festival in Santa Ana.


Senator Nguyen calls on the federal government to allow the display of the South Vietnam Flag on U.S. government property

Following a recent decision by Camp Pendleton officials to prevent the display of the South Vietnam Flag on base property, Senator Janet Nguyen has begun working with Congresswoman Mimi Walters to explore options that would allow private organizations and individuals to display the South Vietnam Flag on base property for future events and commemorations.

News of the decision came with only two-weeks left for organizers who had planned a memorial service on the base to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, also known as “Black April.” Over 5,000 Vietnamese-Americans and Veterans from across the country were expected to be in attendance.

For many refugees who fled the Communist regime, the South Vietnam flag is much more than just a national flag. It symbolized their constant struggle for Vietnam's liberty and freedom.

In addition to being concerned over the symbolism of the South Vietnamese Flag, Senator Nguyen believes that the United States should support countries that were former allies, such as the Republic of Vietnam. Consequently, she feels strongly that the Department of Defense needs to revisit the policy that prohibits the display of flags from former ally nations.

Camp Pendleton had been chosen for the location of this year's “Black April” ceremony for the base's significance to the Vietnamese-American community. Camp Pendleton became the entry point for thousands of Vietnamese refugees fleeing the Communist government in the 1970s and 1980s. Thousands of refugees lived on base in hastily constructed tents before finding permanent residency, and establishing vibrant local communities in Orange County and across the United States.

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AROUND THE CAPITOL

Families of Forty-Three Missing Mexican College Students meet with Senator Nguyen

Senator Janet Nguyen was humbled to meet the families of the forty-three missing Mexican college students who disappeared on their way to a protest last September. The families traveled to California as part of the “Caravana 43” project, which aims to provide an international forum to inform the American public and news media about the tragic events that led to the disappearance of the 43 students.

Image of Senator Nguyen with families
Senator Nguyen meets with the families of the 43 missing
Mexican college students.

According to reports, on September 26, 2014 students from the rural Ayotzinapan Normal School were on their way to protest a conference in the City of Iguala, Mexico. The students were seeking to draw attention to the Mexican government's alleged discriminatory hiring and funding practices for rural colleges. It is reported that the students were intercepted by local police and kidnapped at the request of Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca, who wanted to prevent the students from demonstrating at the conference, which was hosted by his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda. After an extensive investigation and protests throughout the country, Mexico's Attorney general reported that the students had been murdered.

Senator Nguyen has previously expressed her solidarity with the families by supporting Senate Resolution 7, which draws attention to the many disappearances in Mexico and condemns the human rights violations occurring in Mexico.


Senator Nguyen successfully advocates for Counties to be reimbursed for State mandated services for public safety and elections

As member of the Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, Senator Janet Nguyen successfully led efforts to encourage her colleagues to support reimbursing counties for mandates that the State is currently failing to pay for. Funding these mandates will help enhance public safety and ensure fair and uniform elections.

On the public safety front, Senator Nguyen led the effort to secure $22.6 million in funding for two public safety mandates that are intended to protect victims of domestic violence. As a result, counties would now be reimbursed for the costs incurred to report the presence of firearms or deadly weapons at the scene of a domestic violence incident and domestic violence-related calls for assistance and take custody of firearms or deadly weapons under certain circumstances. Counties would also be reimbursed to perform database searches of people who are charged with domestic violence or when considering domestic violation restraining orders.

In order to ensure fair and uniform elections, Senator Nguyen also took the lead in pushing to reimburse counties for eight previously suspended election mandates. The mandates cover areas such as primary elections, absentee ballots and voter registration and verification. In the past, concerns have been raised regarding the lack of incentive for counties to review late absentee and provisional ballots due to the costs associated with these processes. This appropriation would provide counties with a $77.4 million General Fund appropriation to pay for these costs.

The reimbursements still need to be approved by the Conference Committee on Budget before being implemented.


6th Annual Essentials for Young Lives® Donation Drive begins at State Capitol

The 6th Annual Essentials for Young Lives® donation drive kicked-off May 1st at the State Capitol and will run till May 8th. Baby items will be collected throughout the week and then distributed in honor of the Mother's Day holiday. Members of the Legislature joined representatives from HomeAid and the First 5/Children and Families Commissions to announce the Capitol drive.

The Essentials program is a joint effort between HomeAid and First 5/Children and Families Commissions to collect “essential” items, such as diapers, baby food, and baby hygiene products. These items are then donated to qualified programs that serve homeless women and children through shelters.


Senator Nguyen Appointed Vice-Chair of the Joint Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus

On Wednesday afternoon, Senator Janet Nguyen was named Vice Chair of the Joint Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus. The caucus, founded in 2001, serves to represent and advocate for the interests of the Asian and Pacific Islander community. With this appointment, Senator Nguyen becomes the first Republican Legislator to hold this position.

Among its many goals, the Joint Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus seeks to increase Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) representation in all levels of government and to ensure access to education, social services, health, mental health and other programs. The caucus also seeks to promote language access and culturally competent services, as well as greater civic participation and knowledge about major policy issues among API communities.

Asian and Pacific Islander Americans constitute about sixteen percent of California's population, accounting for about one-third of the country's APIA population.

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IN THE COMMUNITY

Senator Nguyen with American Legion

American Legion Post 291 invited Senator Nguyen to speak and share her thoughts on her Amendment to protect the American Flag on California publicly funded campuses.

Senator Nguyen meets Veterans

Senator Nguyen meets with California Veterans of Foreign Wars during their Legislative Day Reception.

Senator Nguyen with Cambodian Community

As Vice-Chair of the Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, Senator Nguyen addresses the members of the Cambodian Community on SCR-21, the resolution to declare April 13-17 “Cambodian Genocide Memorial Week”.

Senator Nguyen holding portrait

Senator Nguyen takes part in a bipartisan ceremony to rededicate the Capitol’s Rose Ann Vuich Hearing Room. The portraits of 42 women Senators who have served or are currently serving in the California Senate were unveiled.

Senator Nguyen with National Asian American Coalition

Senator Nguyen meets with the National Asian American Coalition and the National Diversity Coalition. Both have pledged their support for the Senator's bill to place a 5-year tuition freeze and cap out-of-state students to 10% at the UC System.

Senator Nguyen at Annual Victims’ Rights March

Senator Nguyen was humbled to speak and march in the 7th Annual Victims‘ Rights March & Rally in Santa Ana.

Senator Nguyen with constituents

Senator Nguyen meets with constituents regarding legislative issues.

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LEGISLATIVE ROUND UP

Governor's Office

Governor's April 1st Executive Order on Drought Legislation and Mandatory Water Reductions
The governor's new drought legislation and mandatory water reductions contain steps to get California through the 4 year drought. His proposal mandates a 25% reduction in water use to cities and towns, but does not apply to agricultural water suppliers. The order calls on local water agencies to adjust rate structures that will help residents realize water reductions and discourage water waste.

Health Committee

Senator Nguyen Supports Restoring Medi-Cal Reimbursement Provider Rates
Senator Nguyen voted for SB 243 (Hernandez) which restores Medi-Cal provider rate cuts and raises provider rates to the level of the federal Medicare program. This will bill will provide critical stability to health care providers within the Medi-Cal program, improving access for Medi-Cal beneficiaries including children and low-income seniors.

Mental Health — Vulnerable Communities
Senator Nguyen voted for SB 291 (Lara) which would include individuals who have experienced trauma related to genocide in the definition of vulnerable communities. This would help in assessing the needs and services available to serve the mental health needs of all Californians, especially those in vulnerable communities.

Electronic Cigarettes
Senator Nguyen voted for SB 24 (Hill) that would classify electronic cigarettes under a distinct set of restrictions that are in place to prevent California's youth from gaining access to nicotine-linked vapor products. The bill would prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes indoors and in non-smoking designated areas, require childproof packaging, and order any establishment selling the product to be licensed to sell e-cigarettes.

Automated External Defibrillators (AED)
Senator Nguyen voted for SB 287 (Hueso) which would require privately owned buildings that have a capacity of 200 or more people to have an AED in the building in case of emergencies. AED's are important life'saving devices that can help save people who experience sudden cardiac arrest.

Budget

Budget-Mainframe Workload Growth:
Senator Nguyen voted in favor of an increase in funds to help the Franchise Tax Board update the computer software to improve the memory and storage space that holds taxpayer information. This system update will help the Franchise Tax Board operate more efficiently.

Budget-State Leadership Accountability Act:
Senator Nguyen voted in favor of an update to the oversight and internal control activities in accounting and administrative systems of state agencies. This update has been long overdue, and will allow the appropriate government agencies to receive reports that keep them running efficiently and not only allow them to save money, but keep state agencies accountable in the laws they implement. The update will also keep the state in compliance with federal guidelines in administering oversight and internal control activity for state agencies.

Public Works—State Building Construction:
Senator Nguyen voted to make technical changes and provide clarification and updating to different provisions of the laws that sets requirements for public building projects. Providing clarification for the administration of public projects will help produce better outcomes.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 29
Senator Janet Nguyen’s Senate Concurrent Resolution 29 was passed by the Senate on March 26th and will now be heard by the State Legislature and chaptered by the Secretary of State. This resolution establishes April 2015 as Black April Memorial Month. April 30, 2015 marks the 40th year since the Fall of Saigon. SCR 29 memorializes the lives lost during the Vietnam War era and educates all Californians about the deteriorating situation in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, in which human rights and basic freedom are not protected.

Veterans Affairs

Increasing sick leave for Veterans with service-related disabilities:
SB 221 as heard in the Veterans Affairs committee permits military veterans with service-connected disabilities entering state employment to receive additional sick leave dedicated to health care treatment of those disabilities. Veterans with a 30% or greater disability entering employment with a state agency will be granted an additional 96 hours of sick leave during their first 12 months of employment to be used for medical care for their disabilities, in an effort to allow these veterans to receive treatment while being able to continue employment.

Increased Veterans housing for underserved Veterans:
Senator Nguyen approved SB 384 (Leyva) which sets aside monies from Prop 41 funds for projects dedicated to underserved veterans. For all multifamily housing units acquired, constructed, rehabilitated, or preserved for the purpose of housing veterans, a percentage of these funds are to be reserved for projects housing underserved veterans. The distribution of these funds will be according to the independent needs of each community.

Mental health care services included in Veteran housing projects:
Similar to Senator Leyva's bill on veteran housing, Senator Huff introduced SB 689. As supported by Senator Nguyen, this bill prioritizes veteran housing projects from Prop 41 funds that hire or contract with mental health professional for veterans. In addition to providing housing for veterans to help solve the issue of homelessness among veterans, veterans must be provided with mental health care services to assist them in rehabilitating into our communities.

Governance and Finance

State Responsibility Areas: Fire prevention fees extension:
Senator Nguyen voted in favor of SB 250 (Gaines) which extends the due date from 30 to 60 days for the fire prevention tax placed on residents in state responsibility areas serviced by Cal Fire. This ensures that taxpayers who do not receive their fire tax bill in a timely manner, primarily due to the rural location of their home, would be given a reasonable deadline to make their payment and file a redetermination petition to the Board of Equalization, if necessary.

Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act:
The Senate Governance and Finance committee and Senator Nguyen approved SB 324 (Pavley) which puts California in compliance with federal law. The ABLE Act establishes a tax-deferred savings account that allows individuals and families of persons with disabilities to set aside funds similar to 529 college accounts to pay for qualified “disabled-related” expenses of their family members. Families of disabled persons can set aside up to $14,000 per person annually, and pay no taxes on that money's growth as long as it is used for qualified expenses.

Exemption from Sales and Use Taxes for Volunteer Fire Departments:
SB 598 (Hill) passed from the Governance and Finance committee on April 8th with the support of Senator Nguyen. This bill exempts all volunteer fire departments and brigades from sales and use taxes by reclassifying these departments as a consumer and not a retailer when they sell tangible personal property and when the profits are solely and exclusively used in furtherance of the purposes of the department. To prevent potential abuse, amendments to this bill were taken during committee to place a cap on $100,000 annually on the tax-free funds raised by volunteer fire departments during fundraisers.

Improved property tax exemption for veterans’ organizations:
Under current statute, veterans’ organizations can only remain exempt from property tax if it is used solely for organizational uses. SB 2 (Anderson) passed unanimously from the Veterans Affairs committee and allows veterans’ organizations to maintain their property tax exemption even if it is used for fraternal, lodge, or social club purposes, excluding the bar area where alcohol is prepared and served.

Seaport infrastructure financing districts:
Senator Nguyen and the Governance and Finance committee voted in favor of SB 63 (Hall) to include port or harbor infrastructure among the projects that may be financed by an enhanced infrastructure financing district. Current statute is subject to interpretation on whether ports and harbors are eligible for establishing enhanced infrastructure financing districts. This bill explicitly states seaports’ eligibility, such as that for the Port of Long Beach, for the creation of these districts that provide necessary opportunities to reinvest in vital infrastructure projects that spur economic growth.

Local ordinances for sexual offenders:
SB 267 (Leyva) supplements existing law by authorizing local municipalities to enact and enforce ordinances restricting registered sex offenders from residing or being present near locations where children regularly gather. In order to protect our communities and children, Senator Nguyen supported this bill to authorize local agencies to determine the appropriate methods for limiting convicted sexual offenders’ access to locations not reached by the current broad statewide policies.

Improving efficiencies in the customer refund process for sales and use taxes:
SB 640 (Beall) cuts out the administrative middleman currently in place by authorizing the state Board of Equalization to make a direct refund of overpaid sales and use taxes to a customer who is owed $50,000 or more when the retailer makes an irrevocable assignment. This bill streamlines the current process in which the BOE refunds the overpayment to the retailer and the retailer makes the refund, creating unnecessary paperwork for business owners.

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COMMUNITY EVENTS

LogoFountain Valley

Fountain Valley to Host Special Olympics Host Town Charity Boot Camp

As a part of Fountain Valley's role as a host town for the Netherlands in the upcoming Los Angeles Special Olympics, the city will be holding a Host Town Charity Boot Camp on May 11th. Residents are invited to work out at the Fountain Valley Fit Body Boot Camp for $10, with 100% of the proceeds going to support an athlete in this year's Special Olympics.

For more information about you can help, visit the Fountain Valley Chamber of Commerce website here.


Image of StrawberryGarden Grove

Garden Grove Prepares to host the 57th Annual Strawberry Festival

This year the city of Garden Grove will host their 57th Annual Strawberry Festival from May 22nd — 25th. A long and storied tradition in Orange County, the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival hosts over 100 booths and 44 carnival rides. This year's theme for the Festival will be “Honoring Our Returning Veterans.” Veterans and their families from Garden Grove and surrounding communities will ride in the Saturday parade and be treated to food and a day of free carnival rides.

For a full schedule of Festivities and events at this year's Strawberry Festival, you can visit their homepage here.


Seal over CaliforniaLos Alamitos

Hire a Patriot Job Fair to be Held at Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos

Hire a Patriot, a Veterans non-profit organization founded and operated by U.S. military Veterans and their families, will be holding their next job fair at the Join Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos. The job fair will be focused on assisting active duty military, military spouses, Wounded Warriors, caregivers, and Veterans by offering employment opportunities based upon skills they have acquired while serving in the military.

The job fair will be held on May 8th, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. If you meet the qualifications and want to register for this event, you can visit the website here.

If you would like to know more about the Hire a Patriot non-profit and find out how you can help out, you can visit their website here.


LogoHuntington Beach

Huntington Beach and American Legion to Hold Annual Memorial Day Service

The City of Huntington Beach and American Legion Post 133 will hold the Annual Memorial Day Service next to the pier. The service will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

For further details, you can visit their website here.


LogoSanta Ana

Santa Ana Cemetery to Hold Annual Memorial Day Program

The Santa Ana Cemetery will hold the annual Memorial Day Service on Monday, May 25th at 10:00 a.m. The service will feature speakers from our Armed Services and elected officials.

The address for the Santa Ana Cemetery is 1919 E. Santa Clara Ave., Santa Ana. For more information you can visit the Santa Ana Cemetery website here.


Fairhaven Memorial Cemetery to Hold 23rd Annual Memorial Day Service

The Fairhaven Memorial Cemetery will hold their 23rd Annual Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday, May 25th at 10:30 a.m. This year's ceremony will feature military guest speakers, the Blue Eagles Honor Guard and an Aerial Fly Over by Memorial Flights. The musical entertainment will include The Orange County Concert Band and the Tustin Community Choir.

For more information on this year's service you can call (714) 633-1442 or visit the Fairhaven Memorial Cemetery's website here.

 

 

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