Here is a rundown of some of my top priorities for the 2015 legislative session:
Birddogging the Water Bond
We need to make sure that bond funds go to build Temperance and Sites Reservoirs and that funds get clean drinking water to our Valley’s disadvantaged communities.
Keeping a Watchful Eye on Groundwater Regulations
Unlike the water bond, which was a bipartisan/bicameral effort, the groundwater regulation legislation was jammed through at the 11th hour without bipartisan support or public input.
Pressing the Feds for Common-Sense Immigration Reform
Recently, I introduced SJR 2, which urges Congress and the president to work together to create a comprehensive and workable approach to reform the nation’s immigration system.
Preventing the UC Tuition Hike
I sent a letter to the UC Regents and President Napolitano urging them to NOT support a tuition hike. They need to cut administrative costs, not raise tuition. I am reviewing legislation from a few of my colleagues, and will likely sign on as a co-author to bills intended to stop the tuition hike.
Stopping the Hidden Gas Tax – SB 5
In December I introduced legislation that would simply exempt transportation fuels — gasoline, natural gas, propane and diesel — from the state’s Cap-and-Trade program. The last thing folks in the Valley need is another hit to their wallets.
Derailing the Bullet Train
Continue to be a strong and vocal opponent of the High-Speed Rail project. Although I’m not yet planning to re-introduce legislation, I will be closely watching the pending court cases.
Helping Reduce Transportation Costs
I am considering introducing legislation that would require the state to pay at least 50 percent of home to school transportation. This is especially important for rural schools whose transportation costs are high because of the distance of travel to get students to and from school.
Being a Loud and Proud Voice for the Valley
I will continue to tell stories and help educate other members of the Legislature about issues facing the Valley, and will work in a bipartisan fashion to come to consensus whenever possible, on tough policies, because common-sense has no party lines.
It is an honor to serve you.
“It was pretty cool to be able to swear in my dad, Jim Vidak, (left) as Tulare County Superintendent of Schools, Rita Woodard (middle) as Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector and Roland Hill (right) as Assessor-Clerk Recorder at the court house in Visalia,” said Andy.
Andy was honored to attend the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Breakfast at the Clovis Veterans Memorial Building, one of many events around the Valley, the state and the country celebrating a life dedicated to public community service.
“Dr. King demonstrated service leadership and what it means to step up and make a difference in our communities,” said Andy.
To read more about several of the events Team Vidak attended to honor the late Dr. King, click on the photos below.
Fresno area representative from the California Youth Crisis Line (CYCL) recently visited Andy’s Capitol office to share information about an important service to homeless youths and young people at risk.
CYCL is a free, 24/7 confidential phone counseling and resource referral service available to youth ages 12-24 and/or any adults supporting youth. The crisis line is a program of the California Coalition for Youth (CCY).
Calls are anonymous and safe, and no one needs to know the reason for the call. It’s the job of hotline volunteers to listen and to help youth in crisis clarify their situation and explore options. CCY has a database of over 5000 resources to connect youth with local services and help them take the next step.
Youth calls can be patched through to a family member or a youth services provider to facilitate communications. Runaway and homeless youth are invited to use this service to help them reconnect with their home or community.
For more information, please visit www.youthcrisisline.org and www.calyouth.org.
Pictured are Team Vidak District Director Paula Vinzant (left) and District Representative Ana Orozco (right).
Congratulations to Team Vidak District Representative Ana Orozco, who has been selected to participate in the UCLA Law Fellows Program – Central Valley. The program prepares high-potential Central Valley individuals from diverse backgrounds with information and resources aimed to increase their competitiveness for admission to law school. Ana will have access to law school-level instruction, law school admission workshops, and a visit to the UCLA Campus.
“I am very happy to have been chosen to participate in the UCLA Law Fellows Program/Central Valley. This program will help me get one step closer to my dream of becoming an attorney. Also, I want to encourage the youth in the Valley to continue their education and accomplish great things, but to always remember that there is a lot of work left to do in the Valley. In other words, to eventually come back and help our community,” said Ana.
“We are very proud of Ana for being selected for this prestigious program,” said Andy.
Deadlines for college financial aid are coming up fast. Families with students either entering or continuing college are advised to complete their income tax returns as soon as possible in order to have the information needed for financial aid forms. Some financial aid is “first-come, first-served,” so early submission can be a key factor in getting financial aid from federal or state programs as well as private financial aid from a college or university.
Many students and their families believe they will not qualify for financial aid. However, that is not necessarily true. Many sources of financial assistance do not rely on a family’s income. The following publication answers many of the questions that families have about paying for college and dispels myths about both applicable qualifications and the process– –Myths about Financial Aid.
The first step is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is availableonline. For information about the kinds of aid available and how to fill out the online form, click on the following link: FAFSA on the Web Worksheet 2015-16.
The Cal Grant Award filing deadline is March 2, 2015. To be considered for a 2015-16 Cal Grant award, both of the items listed below must be completed and submitted by March 2, 2015:
- A 2015-16 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or a 2015-16 California Dream Act Application
- A certified Grade Point Average (GPA) to the California Student Aid Commission.
Cal Grants are income based. Income and asset limits can be found here. The Student Aid Commission will not process any GPA forms submitted in prior years. In order for a student to be considered for a 2015-2016 Cal Grant Award, a new GPA form must be received by the Commission by the stated deadline.
A new financial aid program, the Middle Class Scholarship, can provide students with reduced tuition. Students whose families earn up to $100,000 per year may be eligible for a scholarship of up to 40 percent of the mandatory systemwide tuition and fees. The maximum award amount is a percentage of mandatory systemwide tuition and fees for each academic year beginning in 2014-15 at 14%. Students whose families earn between $100,001 and $150,000 per year may be eligible for a reduced scholarship of no less than 10 percent of the mandatory systemwide tuition and fees.
Special scholarship programs also are available for foster children and the dependents of police officers and fire fighters killed in the line of duty.
The Senate Fellowship Program is a one-year, full-time internship that pays $2,550 per month and provides benefits as well as graduate credit from the Center for California Studies at CSU Sacramento. Applicants must be 20 years of age by the beginning of the fellowship, have completed their undergraduate degree by September of the fellowship year, and be prepared for full-time employment.
Senate Fellows work directly with a state senator or a Senate policy committee, researching and analyzing legislation, responding to constituent concerns, and writing news releases and speeches.
Fellows are selected based on their interest in public policy and politics along with personal characteristics such as leadership, maturity, flexibility, and the ability to look at issues from a bi-partisan perspective. Even people looking to start second careers are encouraged to apply.
Fellows get the opportunity to see first-hand how California laws are made — important information for everyone from teachers to health care professionals to engineers and business majors. For more information and to apply, visit the Capital Fellows Program website.
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer. One in 3 women dies of heart disease and stroke every year. That’s approximately one woman every minute! Celebrate National Wear Red Day with Go Red For Women on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015 to help save women’s lives.
Here’s what it means to GO RED:
G: GET YOUR NUMBERS
Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure and cholesterol.
O: OWN YOUR LIFESTYLE
Stop smoking, lose weight, exercise and eat healthy.
It’s up to you. No one can do it for you.
R: REALIZE YOUR RISK
We think it won’t happen to us, but heart disease kills one out of three women.
E: EDUCATE YOUR FAMILY
Make healthy food choices for you and your family. Teach your kids the importance of staying active.
D: DON’T BE SILENT
Tell every woman you know that heart disease is our No. 1 killer.
To watch a video on what it means to GO Red click here.
For more information on heart disease, click here.
Black History Month is a time where we as a nation honor the contributions of our African-American heroes, leaders, artists, educators, and athletes to American life.
The precursor to Black History month was created in 1926 in the United States when Carter G. Woodson and the Association for Study of Negro Life deemed the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.” Woodson is often cited as the “Father of Black History.”
The second week of February was chosen to coincide with abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass’ and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. The first celebration took place on February 12, 1926. The week was expanded to Black History Month in 1976 as part of the nation’s bicentennial.
The stories of hard-fought progress of African-Americans to ensure our nation lives up to its founding ideals of liberty, justice, and equality for everyone are inspiring.
2/2 Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
2/4 Meeting with the Director of the Dept. of Conservation – Capitol Office
2/5 Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
2/6 Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce Legislative Reception – Fresno
2/7 Kern County Hispanic Chamber’s 30th Annual Installation and Awards Dinner – Bakersfieldl
2/9 Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
2/9 Receiving an Award at CA Thoroughbred Breeders Association’s Annual Meeting – Pasadena
2/10 International Agri-Center World AG Expo – Tulare
2/11 International Agri-Center World AG Expo – Tulare
2/12 International Agri-Center World AG Expo – Tulare
2/13 Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
2/15 City of McFarland Playground Raising – McFarland
2/17 Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
2/17 CA Teachers Association Welcome Reception – Sacramento
2/19 Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
2/23 Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
2/26 Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
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.