Fighting the Hidden Gas Tax
I’m fighting new regulations imposed by the unelected California Air Resources Board (ARB) that could raise our gas prices by as much as 76 cents per gallon beginning January 1, 2015.
Gasoline isn’t a luxury for most Californians, it is a necessity. Communities that I represent in our Valley are already suffering from extreme poverty and some of the highest unemployment rates in the state, as well as the country. Our food banks are already overwhelmed with families waiting in food lines to feed their children. Many businesses are struggling to stay open and keep the precious jobs they created.
Valley legislators from both parties and both houses introduced legislation to address this issue. I introduced Senate Bill 1079, which would have stopped the hidden gas tax. Assemblymember Henry Perea (D-Fresno) introduced Assembly Bill 69 to delay the gas tax for three years.
Unfortunately, the majority party leaders in the Legislature stopped our legislation from moving forward, so I made a last ditch effort asking for a vote on the Senate Floor during the closing days of Session. Unfortunately, members of the majority party refused to allow a vote.
To add insult to injury, the governor plans to use this hidden gas tax to fund his pet High-Speed Rail project.
“Gov. Jerry Brown…counts on hundreds of millions of dollars each year from fees to finance his bullet train. He and his aides are mulling a massive bullet train construction loan, backed by fees, to replace money he had hoped to get from the federal government or outside investors,” Sacramento Bee Columnist Dan Walters recently opined. To read the entire article, click here.
This is an unfair tax that will hurt many vulnerable families and struggling businesses in our Valley. It must be stopped. So when the Legislature reconvenes in December, I plan to again take up the fight to do just that.
Observing Veterans Day
Veterans Day is November 11th. It is the national holiday when we honor and thank all of our nation’s veterans. It’s sometimes confused with Memorial Day, which honors those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and died during their service to our country. Veterans Day, instead, celebrates all veterans and recognizes those still living.
There are nearly 22 million veterans in the United States with two million of those living in California. Many are serving now. They follow in a great tradition. No matter where or how they served, veterans made sacrifices for all of us. They and their families deserve our thanks on this important day.
Please join me in observing Veterans Day. Attend an event in your community. Greet veterans and thank them for their service.
If you are a veteran, tell your fellow citizens what it means to serve. You’ve earned the honor of this special day.
To all our veterans, thank you for serving our great nation. God bless you and God bless America.
A F-35C Joint Strike Fighter
The United States Navy announced in October that F-35C Joint Strike Fighter aircraft will be based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore.
The Hanford Sentinel noted on 10/2/14 that, “According to the environmental study, the new jets will bring 751 military and civilian personnel, plus about 1,569 dependents — a total of around 2,320 people — to the Lemoore area by 2028. The study also projects short-term economic benefits to the area from construction and demolition projects, which would create 661 jobs and $36 million in labor income.”
“This is fantastic news for our Valley,” said Andy. “The ripple effect of the Navy’s decision to base the new F-35C Fleet at NAS Lemoore will be enormously beneficial to our devastated economy. Special thanks to Congressman David Valadao for bird-dogging this project for us in D.C.”
Andy issued the following statement in October, joining Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) in calling for Senate leaders to release to the public a report on an investigation into accusations of nepotism and fear of retaliation in the Senate:
I agree with Senator DeSaulnier’s statement in the Sacramento Bee that the Senate is a public institution and the investigation report on Senate hiring practices should be made public. (“California Senate employees testify on retaliatory workplace culture” - 9/30/14). Surely sensitive portions of the report could be redacted to protect employees’ privacy, as the Fresno Bee newspaper opined (“State Senate should release report on nepotism” - 9/28/14).
Senate President pro-Tempore Darrell Steinberg promised to all Californians that the Senate would be run with transparency. Hiding the results of an investigation into nepotism and retaliation is not transparency. When Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) assumes the office of pro-Tempore on October 16, he should end the cover-up and make the report public.
The Senate this year has already covered and protected two Senators indicted for public corruption and other charges, and did the same for a Senator who was convicted of eight felonies, including perjury. In light of that fact, you’d think Senate leaders would make restoring integrity of this institution a priority. Instead, this cover-up will only further disgrace the Senate.
Click on the photos below to see what Team Vidak’s been up to in the district.
Every two months or so, Susan Godinho, who suffers from dystonia, gets up to nine shots
in her neck and shoulder to paralyze the muscles so that they do not constantly spasm.
Andy recognized September 2014 as ‘Dystonia Awareness Month’ with the following Senate Resolution, which was inspired by Hanford resident Susan Godinho, who suffers from the debilitating disease:
WHEREAS, Dystonia is a complex, highly variable neurological movement disorder characterized by powerful, involuntary muscle contractions or spasms, which are always disabling and often very painful; and
WHEREAS, The cause of dystonia is unknown, and there is no cure; and
WHEREAS, An estimated 500,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed, with an estimated 500,000 people yet to be diagnosed or misdiagnosed, making it the third most common movement disorder behind essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease; and
WHEREAS, Dystonia knows no age, ethnic, religious, sexual, or socioeconomic barriers; and
WHEREAS, Many people react to the physical manifestations of dystonia by avoiding those individuals who have this disorder, causing them to experience isolation and suffer grave psychological harm; and
WHEREAS, The individuals and organizations who have worked diligently to increase awareness of dystonia and to promote cutting-edge medical research to treat and cure this debilitating disorder have greatly enhanced the quality of life for all Americans battling this devastating disease; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED BY SENATOR ANDY VIDAK, That he recognizes the month of September 2014 as Dystonia Awareness Month, and commends all individuals and organizations who endeavor to learn about and support finding a cure for dystonia.
“Susan’s courage to help increase the community’s awareness of dystonia is very inspiring,” said Andy “We hope that this Senate Resolution will further her valiant efforts to find a cure for this debilitating disease.”
There is a major misperception out there that the recent Appellate Court ruling on High-Speed Rail (HSR) “clears the decks” and allows the HSR Authority to start construction, according to John Tos with Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA). As journalist Kathy Hamilton writes, the authority still has many hurdles for the High-Speed Rail Authority to jump over before the project can begin. To read her recent article on the issue, click here.
CCHSRA Co-Chair Frank Oliveira provided the following public comment for the Oct. 14 board meeting of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, blasting the Authority for covering up knowledge that the train can’t make it over the Techachapis:
On September 28th, John Cox from the Bakersfield Californian reported that your staff has known since 2013 that your Tehachapi Mountain route will not work. Suppressed Authority documents confirm this.
You will have to start over or abandon the project. The length at steep grade simply exceeds the maximum tolerances allowed by your Technical Design Requirements.
This is a national transportation infrastructure catastrophe like the Bay Bridge that will unfold after you spend the appropriated $6-Billion dollars pretending to build something in the Central Valley that will not connect to Southern California.
Your Chief Program Manager’s sworn court statement reflects the train must make an almost 3,000-foot elevation drop down the mountains and through the entire Central Valley maintaining 220-mph, in order to meet the legally mandated time requirement of less than 2-hours and 40-minutes.
Not a problem for a garbage in, garbage out, computer model but there is no steel wheel, on steel rail trains available that can maintain a 220-mph climb up the Tehachapi’s. There is no braking system that would make it safe to go down the Tehachapi’s at 220.
Prop-1A requires your Funding Plan certify completed EIR’s for the entire operating segment before asking for an appropriation in order to protect the public’s investment from problems like this after the fact. Complying with that requirement would have revealed the problem and forced appropriate mitigations in routing that obviously affect EIR’s north and south of the mountains.
You failed to tell the Legislature that you knew your plan would not work when you requested the Prop-1A billions but they would not have appropriated the money for you if you had. We believe the Supreme Court will see this.
Why was the contract for the consultant that prepared these suppressed documents not renewed? Were they canned for not pretending for you? Why did your staff delay releasing these documents for months after they were requested?
This looks like a cover-up, smells like a cover-up and is a cover-up.
Will the state Attorney General investigate this cover up?
Does Governor Brown realize that you have known at the latest 2013 that his legacy project will not work and will make him an international fool?
Billions of ARRA dollars are being used on this pretend project. Will the US Attorney General investigate this cover-up?
Have you told the US Department of Transportation about this?
What will Congress say?
We challenge you here today: point us to the braking system that will slow your pretend train down as it falls off the mountains at 220.
We demand a full public presentation on all of these issues at your next Board meeting.
Click the picture below to watch a point of history when a Democrat senator, who was once an advocate of High-Speed Rail, warned members of the Senate that the project was not ready to move forward.
Following is a highlight of community events that Andy participated in during the month of October:
California Rural Indian Health Board
On Oct. 16, at Tachi Palace in Lemoore, Andy discussed the drought and listened to issues that affect Tribal communities.
ACWA Water Forum
On Oct. 17 at the Visalia Holiday Inn, Andy spoke out against the state’s new, controversial groundwater regulations at the Association of California Water Agency’s Water Forum in Visalia. He participated on a panel “Perspectives from the Capitol.” Panel participants included:
Wendy Ridderbusch, Director, State Relations, ACWA
Senator Jean Fuller
Senator Andy Vidak
Assemblymember Jim Patterson
Assemblymember Henry Perea
Assemblymember Rudy Salas
Kern County Farm Bureau’s Centennial Celebration
On Oct. 18, at the Kern County Fairgrounds in Bakersfield, Andy Vidak led the Pledge of Allegiance and presented a Senate Resolution to kick off the Kern County Farm Bureau’s 100th Anniversary.
2014 West Coast Industry Summit – – Oil & Gas Awards
On Oct. 21, at the Marriott at the Convention Center in Bakersfield, Andy participated in a panel discussion on oil and gas policy issues.
Kern County Farm Bureau Groundwater Forum
On Oct. 21, at the Kern County Ag Pavilion in Bakersfield, Andy served on a panel discussion on the state’s new controversial groundwater policy.
MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Walk
On Oct. 25, at the Park at River Walk in Bakersfield, Vidak greeted the crowd during the opening ceremonies to help kick off the walk.
California Latino Water Coalition Press Conference and Rally
On Oct. 25 in Fresno, Andy joined a bipartisan coalition of elected officials and leaders, farmers and farmworkers at a press conference and rally which emphasized the importance of securing a reliable water supply for the Valley.
Filipino Awards Banquet
On Oct. 25, at the Filipino Community Hall in Delano, Andy presented a Senate Resolution to “Man of the Year” Jay Tamsi.
Young Men’s Workshop
On Oct. 29, at the Lindsay Wellness Center, Andy served as the Master of Ceremonies for a workshop for 150 college-bound men who grew up without a father figure.
The City of Delano has received a Creative California Communities grant from the California Arts Council for the Delano Downtown Breezeway Murals Project. The City is looking for Kern County artists to apply to design, create and paint one of two murals in time for Delano’s centennial celebration in 2015. The murals should depict “the community“s centennial anniversary, history, and heritage,” according to the City.
In April, Andy wrote a letter to the California Arts Council supporting the project and the city’s request for a grant to fund it.
In the letter, Andy wrote that the mural project “provides a unique and valuable opportunity for local artists to be engaged and contribute to the enrichment of the community… This project will also encourage greater activity amongst the local youth by providing a venue in which the Delano High School Arts Club students can display their artwork. Furthermore, the project will beautify downtown and revitalize economic development in the area. I believe this project is a critical piece of the City of Delano’s Centennial Celebration and a dynamic way to engage its youth in art that reflects the community’s cultural history.”
The deadline to apply is November 14, 2014. For more information on the Creative California Communities grant click here.
Andy has been named the “Most Fascinating Person of 2014” by the Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI) and Advanced Center for Eyecare (ACE).
“This year CBVI and ACE are proud to honor Senator Andy Vidak as the ‘Most Fascinating Person of 2014’ for his commitment to eye care for the underserved population in Kern County and our state,” said CBVI/ACE Executive Director Justin L. Cave. “In August, Andy’s commitment to eye care for the underserved was demonstrated through his passion to bring two mobile vision van clinics named ‘Mobile Eyes to the Valley’ to the Kern and Fresno county areas through a partnership with Vision Service Plan (VSP).”
The “Mobile Eyes” clinics resulted in 57 people receiving a free comprehensive eye exam and, if needed, glasses. The fifty-two people who needed glasses were able to select from a top quality assortment of frames. Most patients received their new glasses immediately after their eye exam. Another 80 people who couldn’t be served on the days of the clinics (because of time limitations) received vouchers to get a free eye exam and a pair of glasses from local optometrists at a later date.
“Many of the communities that Andy represents suffer from extreme poverty and some of the highest unemployment in the state and country. Most of these individuals have never seen an eye doctor before, nor have the ability to purchase glasses for their children or themselves to see clearly in the world in which they live,” said Cave. “Andy understands that a simple pair of glasses can change a child’s or adult’s life to succeed in school or the workplace.”
CBVI and ACE will honor Vidak as the ‘Most Fascinating Person of 2014’ at the annual Appetite for Sight benefit dinner on Nov. 20, at the Seven Oaks Country Club in Bakersfield. Proceeds from Appetite for Sight help provide vision care for the underprivileged and the blind in Kern County.
“It is a deep honor to be recognized by CBVI and ACE — these organizations are superheroes in our community for helping so many people live independent, fulfilling lives,” said Andy. “I want to thank VSP and my district team for making this important service available to so many. For many of the adults and children served in the McFarland and Fresno areas, this was the first time they had glasses and could see clearly. What a difference was made in their lives.”
In addition to being named the Most Fascinating Person of 2014, Andy was named the “2014 Senate Small Business Legislator of the Year” by the California Small Business Roundtable; earned 100 percent on his voting record for local control by the League of California Cities; and is the recipient of the first-ever “Kenneth L. Maddy Award for Legislative Excellence” from the Maddy Institute.
A member of the Team Vidak staff will hold Mobile District Office hours in the following communities in November:
Mon., Nov. 3
11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Bakersfield Senior Center Cafeteria
530 4th St.
Fri., Nov. 7
12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Pixley Branch Library
300 N. School St.
Fri., Nov. 7
12:30 p.m. to 3:30
p.m. Woodlake City Hall Council Chambers
350 N. Valencia Blvd.
Tues., Nov. 11
3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Mosqueda Branch Library
4670 E. Butler Ave.
Thurs., Nov. 13
1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Orange Cove City Hall, Council Chambers
633 Sixth St.
Tues., Nov. 18
3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Lemoore Branch Library
457 “C” St.
Tues., Nov. 18
9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Shafter Police Department Meeting Room
201 Central Valley Hwy.
Thurs., Nov. 20
9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Wasco City Hall, Meeting Room
746 8th St.
For more information, please contact Christine Caprelian in our district office at (559) 585-7161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Andy’s Senate page on Facebook to see photos and to get updates of Andy’s activities. For the latest news, visit Andy’s Senate Website at senate.ca.gov/vidak.