Vidak's News and Views: December 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Senate District 14 Boundaries
Andy to UC Regents -- Don't Raise Student Tuition
Team Vidak in the Community
Busting Bureaucratic Red Tape to Keep Kids Safe
Welcome Baby Savannah!
Gabriela Castaneda-Vivanco Joins Team Vidak in Bakersfield
Andy Welcomes Senate Fellow Carolina Garcia
Serve on the Invasive Species Advisory Committee

Howdy Friends –

I am honored and humbled to serve the great folks in Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties in Senate District 14 for the next four years. Thank you for placing your trust and faith in me to represent you. This is a responsibility I take very seriously, and I will continue to be a loud and proud voice for our Valley in Sacramento.

Voters Approve the Water Bond

I am very happy that the bipartisan water bond was approved by over two–thirds of California’s voters and in 46 out of 58 counties.

The voice of the voters is loud and clear — No more delays.

It’s time to roll up our sleeves and build facilities to store water for dry years and prevent floods in wet years.

Trust that I will be bird–dogging this process to make sure we get clean and reliable water for our Valley.

Stop the Hidden Gas Tax

Immediately following taking the Oath of Office, I introduced Senate Bill 5, which would stop the hidden gas tax, which is going into effect on January 1, 2015. To read the bill, click here. Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R–Fresno) introduced a companion measure, Assembly Bill 23, as well.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) devised this sneaky tax, which is the same board that has already required many of us to pay for unnecessary overhauls or retrofits to our trucks, farming equipment and pumps. This tax will directly hit our pocketbooks at a cost of $101 to $485 a year per vehicle, or between $2 and $10 billion statewide.

This hidden tax — and let’s be clear, this is a tax even though state bureaucrats are calling it a “fee”– was secretly developed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to make us pay for various government programs and subsidies supported by radical environmentalists, such as Governor Brown’s High–Speed Rail (HSR) project.

I’m especially worried about the folks who live and work in our Valley. We’re still trying to recover from the effects of the recession. Unemployment and poverty rates in some of our communities are double or triple the statewide rate and there’s real human suffering being caused by the drought. The last thing that people in the Valley need is another hit to their pocketbook.

SB 5 will prevent a non–elected board of government bureaucrats from gouging us at the gas pump. I hope to get bipartisan support to pass this important measure, because common sense has no party lines.


Click the photo below to watch my statement regarding the gas tax hike at a joint press conference with Assemblymember Patterson at the State Capitol on December 1.

Image of Senator Andy Vidak with Assemblymember Patterson at the State Capitol on December 1.

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Senate District 14 Boundaries

Image of Andy being sworn in, with other new members of the Senate, to represent the 14th Senate District.
Click on the photo to watch Andy get sworn in to represent Senate District 14.

Senate District 16 was redrawn and renumbered as Senate District 14 by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission during the 2011 reapportionment. The new Senate District 14 took effect on December 1, 2014.

Senate District 14 includes all of Kings County and portions of Fresno, Kern, and Tulare Counties. Cities and communities represented include all or portions of Arvin, Avenal, Bakersfield, Corcoran, Delano, Dinuba, East Porterville, Farmersville, Fresno, Hanford, Lemoore, McFarland, Orange Cove, Parlier, Porterville, Reedley, Sanger, Selma, Shafter, Strathmore, Wasco, Woodlake and more.

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Andy to UC Regents -- Don't Raise Student Tuition

Image of University of California.

Andy sent the following letter to the University of California (UC) Board of Regents and the UC president voicing his opposition to the board’s proposal to raise student tuition, particularly after the UC recently approved yet higher compensation for Chancellors and administrators:

November 13, 2014
The Honorable Bruce D. Varner, Chairman
University of California Board of Regents
1111 Franklin St.,12th floor
Oakland, CA 94607

The Honorable Janet Napolitano, President
University of California
1111 Franklin Street
Oakland, CA 94607

RE: Proposed Plan to Increase Tuition

Dear Chairman Varner, President Napolitano, and Regents:

I write to you today regarding the tuition increase proposal that will be discussed during the two day University of California Regents meeting on November 19th and 20th. I appreciate you allowing me to submit this letter and request that it be entered into the formal record for the meeting.

With college affordability and student debt being discussed at the state and national level I believe that it is unreasonable for the University to raise tuition levels. While I agree that state funding to all segments of higher education have not returned to their pre-recession level, we still have a commitment to students and Californians to ensure access and affordability in higher education.

Legislators have shown their commitment to higher education over the past couple of years by providing substantial investments in the state budget. Additionally, I was proud to support Assembly Bill 1476 by Speaker Atkins that passed with bipartisan support to provide an additional $50 million to the University. While this budgetary augmentation was vetoed by Governor Brown, I do believe that the Governor and the Legislature are open to talking about ways to reasonably find alternatives to potential tuition increases over the next couple of years.

There is nothing fair about this proposed plan of using students and parents as pawns in high stakes budgetary games. Instead, I call on the Regents to look internally at areas of their current budget that can be reformed. I find it troubling to see the University call for tuition increases a few months after approving yet higher compensation for Chancellors and administrators.

This is a time when we should stand together unified in finding ways to expanding access and affordability to our University system. Legislative leaders and the Governor have already expressed their dissatisfaction with the current proposal, and I stand committed to working with the Regents, Governor Brown, and fellow Legislators to solve this issue.


Senator, 16th District

University of California Regents
Edmond G. Brown, Jr., Governor of California
Kevin de León, Senate President pro Tempore
Toni Atkins, Assembly Speaker

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Team Vidak in the Community

Click on the photos below to see what Team Vidak’s been up to in the district.

Man of the Year
Image of Andy Presenting Award
MS Walk
Image of Andy and Chanel Prince
Water Rally
Image of Andy and a bipartisan coalition of leaders, farmers and farmworkers
Honorable Service
Image of Team Vidak’s Ana Orozco (left) and Assemblymember Rudy Salas’ District Rep Dameane Douglas (right) and Sergeant Pat Mundy (middle)
Victory Rally
Image of the California Latino Water Coalition news conference
Veterans Day Parade
Image of Andy at Veterans Day Parade in Porterville
FFA Turns 85
Image of Team Vidak’s presentation to the Lemoore High School Future Farmers of America (FFA)
Appetite for Sight
Image of Andy at Appetite for Sight Benefit Dinner
Thanksgiving Dinner
Image of Team Vidak representatives Nathan Alonzo (left) and Brittney Watson

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Busting Bureaucratic Red Tape to Keep Kids Safe

Image of Speed Limit 25 mph Image of Speed Limit 40 mph

A community project to protect school children at Buttonwillow Union Elementary School from speeding vehicles is finally complete, following several months of bureaucratic red tape.

Flashing beacon and radar feedback signs, alerting drivers to slow down, were recently installed near the school on Highway 58. Many of the young students must cross the busy highway to get to school, often with cars and semi-trucks reaching speeds of 60 to 70 miles per hour.

When the Buttonwillow Chamber of Commerce, which initiated the school safety sign project, had trouble getting the signs installed on the state highway, they engaged the offices of Kern County Supervisor David Couch and Senator Andy Vidak (R–Hanford).

“David and Andy teamed up and did wonders for us by expediting the process,” said Chamber Community Projects Chairperson Louie Andreotti. “I’m so tickled the signs are up and the school is so happy.”

Buttonwillow Community Foundation, at the request of the Chamber, provided the funding for the signs 17 months ago, according to Andreotti.

“The signs add another level of school safety in our community,” said Couch. “We appreciate Senator Vidak helping us work with Caltrans to allow the county to install the signs on a state highway.”

“It’s great when the community, the county and the state can come together to make a positive difference,” said Vidak. “Bureaucratic red tape should never get in the way of our school children's safety.”

There are four safety signs installed on Highway 58 — two east bound and two west bound — at the intersection at Wasco Way in Buttonwillow.

“The signs are working. People are really slowing down,“ said Andreotti. “Andy’s the man.”

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Welcome Baby Savannah!

Image of Baby Savannah

Team Vidak’s Tomeka Powell gave birth to Savannah Anjolee Frye on November 19 at 4:27 p.m. The little beauty weighed 7 lbs. 15 oz. and was 19 inches long. Mother and baby are doing great! “Her nights are days and vice versa. It’s taking a lot of getting used to, but it’s exciting,” said Tomeka.

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Gabriela Castaneda-Vivanco Joins Team Vidak in Bakersfield

Image of Gabriela Castaneda–Vivanco

Gabriela “Gaby” Castaneda–Vivanco has been hired as a district representative in Andy’s district office in Bakersfield.

Gaby most recently served as a field representative for Congressman David Valadao, where she worked with community leaders in Kern County and helped constituents with issues pending with federal agencies.

Active in the community, Gaby volunteers with several non–profit organizations that help strengthen Kern County. She graduated from West High School in Bakersfield and attended California State University, Bakersfield. She is currently attending Bakersfield College.

“Gaby’s strong community engagement and extensive knowledge of Kern County’s issues enriches Team Vidak’s ability to serve the people,” said Andy.

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Andy Welcomes Senate Fellow Carolina Garcia

Image of Senate Fellow Carolina Garcia

Andy is pleased to announce that Senate Fellow Carolina Garcia has joined Team Vidak in the Capitol Office. The Senate Fellows program provides college graduates an opportunity to become full–time Senate staff members in Sacramento for 11 months.

“Carolina’s enthusiasm to learn and her passion for public service are inspiring. She is an exciting addition to Team Vidak,” said Vidak.

Born in Guatemala and raised in Ontario, Garcia is a first–generation university graduate. She earned two Bachelor of Arts Degrees, one in Sociology and the other in Spanish, from the University of California, Riverside. It was during her undergraduate studies that she became especially passionate about politics. This passion for public service led Garcia to actively engage in community activities while holding various leadership positions in campus organizations such as Latino Union and the StressBusters Peer Mentor program. As an intern for then–Assemblymember, now–Senator Mike Morrell, she engaged in community outreach and informed constituents about legislation directly affecting their communities.

“As a Senate Fellow, I hope to serve communities in the 14th Senate District through my achievements and hard work,” said Garcia. “It is an honor to work for Senator Vidak, and I am thankful to the Senate Fellows Program for granting me this opportunity.”

Senate Fellows are assigned to the personal or committee staff of a senator and also participate in academic seminars with senators, senior staff, journalists, lobbyists and state government officials. Fellows experience a broad range of activities including researching public policy issues, developing legislative proposals, analyzing and staffing legislation, assisting with constituent services and participating in meetings as the senator’s representative.

Fellows are paid a stipend of $2,550 per month, plus health, vision and dental benefits. They also earn six units of graduate credit from Sacramento State for the academic portion of the program. For more information and to apply for 2015–2016 California Senate Fellows program, visit The deadline to apply is Feb. 9, 2015.

“Former Senate Fellows include current members of Congress and the California Legislature, judges and numerous other elected officials and community leaders,” said Vidak. “If you have a passion to make a difference and give back to our Valley, like Carolina, I encourage you to apply for the upcoming program.”

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Serve on the Invasive Species Advisory Committee

Image of cdfa logo

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), on behalf of the Invasive Species Council of California (ISCC), is seeking to appoint eight members to the California Invasive Species Advisory Committee (CISAC). CDFA is requesting nominations for qualified persons to serve on CISAC. The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, December 12, 2014.

According to CDFA, “the purpose and role of the California Invasive Species Advisory Committee is to provide advice to the Invasive Species Council of California on a broad array of issues related to preventing the introduction of invasive species and providing for their control and/or eradication, as well as minimizing the economic, ecological, and human health impacts that invasive species cause.”

What is an Invasive Species? According to the ISCC website:

The ISCC Bylaws define invasive species as “non–native organisms which cause economic or environmental harm.” The bylaws clarify that invasive species within the scope of the council do not include humans, domestic livestock or non’harmful exotic organisms.

This matches the definition established at the federal level by Executive Order 13112 in 1999, which established the National Invasive Species Council. It defines invasive species as “alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” The order clarifies that alien species are those introduced to an area, whether intentionally or unintentionally, as a result of human activity.

California Food and Agricultural Code (Section 5260.5) defines “invasive pests” as “animals, plants, insects, and plant and animal diseases, or groups of those animals, plants, insects, and plant and animal diseases, including seeds, eggs, spores, or other matter capable of propagation for which introduction into California would or likely would cause economic or environmental harm.”

Invasive species come in all shapes and sizes, and their impacts range from clogging water pipes to killing wildlife, from ruining crops to posing a human health hazard. Many organizations are involved in addressing invasive species in California. The ISCC and CISAC formed to coordinate and strengthen the efforts of these organizations.

For a list of invasive species, click here.
For more information on nominee qualifications and how to submit a nomination, click here.
For additional information about the Invasive Species Council of California’s visit

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Like Andy!

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

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