Vidak's News & Views: January 2015

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Andy’s Senate Committee Assignments
Andy Co-Authors Anti-DUI Legislation
Valley Children’s Hospital Introduces New Network
Valley Fever Course Offered for Physicians
Accepting Applications: Senate Fellows Program
Financial Aid for College Students
‘Twas the Season
Open Door Policy

Howdy Friends –

This month the governor drove a shovel through the heart of our Central Valley when he “broke ground” on his High-Speed Rail project, which is already destroying families, farms and futures.

Unfortunately, the governor’s High-Speed Rail project is eerily similar to other major projects engulfed by scandals:

The governor’s multi-billion dollar bullet train is being built on the backs of hardworking Californians and will only leave a legacy of debt for future generations. In the unlikely event it ever gets built, most Californians won’t be able to afford to ride it.

To add insult to injury, Californians are already feeling the pain from the governor’s gas tax hike; a tax he plans to use to pay for the construction of High-Speed Rail. Only in California are gas prices going up.

That is why I introduced Senate Bill 5 last month to stop the hidden gas tax that began gouging our wallets on January 1. The measure simply exempts transportation fuels – gasoline, natural gas and diesel – from the state’s cap and trade program, thereby eliminating the tax.

Let’s stop the High-Speed Rail beast and the gas tax hike that is feeding it.


Image of NPR Logo.

To listen to a recent National Public Radio story that highlights Andy’s opposition to High-Speed Rail click here.

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Andy’s Senate Committee Assignments

Image of California State Senate seal.Andy was appointed to the following Senate policy committees:

  • Banking and Financial Institutions (vice chair)
  • Education
  • Governmental Organization
  • Judiciary (vice chair)

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Andy Co-Authors Anti-DUI Legislation

Image California State Capitol building. Andy is a co-author of legislation – Senate Bill 61 – which would require all drivers convicted of driving under the influence to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on their vehicles.

Senate Bill 61, authored by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), is consistent with the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) recent recommendation that all people convicted of drunk driving should have ignition interlock devices installed in their cars. Currently, 24 states have similar laws requiring ignition interlocks for all first-time offenders.

Tulare County is part of a four-county pilot program – along with Alameda, Los Angeles and Sacramento counties – that already requires IIDs for convicted drunk drivers who are allowed limited driving privileges during a portion of their license suspension. SB 61 will expand the pilot statewide.

“SB 61 is an important public safety measure that will save countless lives,” said Vidak.

Each year more than 1,000 Californians are killed by drunk drivers and over 20,000 are injured. In the past 30 years, more than 50,000 people have died in California because of drunk drivers and more than one million have been injured. Repeat DUI offenders account for about a third of annual DUI convictions. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, ignition interlocks are effective in reducing repeat drunk driving offenses by 67 percent.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), a supporter of SB 61, launched A Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving in 2006, which calls for states to require interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers because 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive without a license.

An ignition interlock device is connected to a vehicle’s ignition and requires a breath sample before the engine starts. The device prevents the car’s engine from starting if the device detects a blood alcohol level that exceeds a pre-set limit.

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Valley Children’s Hospital Introduces New Network

Image of a griaffe with the words, Valley Children's Healthcare.

Valley Children’s Hospital announced in a recent news release that it is “making bold moves so we can continue to provide high-quality, comprehensive healthcare services to children for decades to come,” by introducing Valley Children’s Healthcare, a network it says provides a full spectrum of pediatric services inside and outside of its main campus in Madera County.

The new Valley Children’s Healthcare network incorporates the hospital, medical foundation and network of physicians, clinics and satellite facilities around the region – including the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) it owns and operates in Fresno, Hanford and Merced, and it’s outpatient physician offices in Modesto, Merced, and soon, in Bakersfield.

“Our physicians, nurses and healthcare professionals provide the most comprehensive services for children and families throughout the region,” Valley Children’s President and CEO Todd Suntrapak said. “By forming a new health network, we are able to expand our footprint, increase access to care and improve the health and wellbeing of children.” 

The mission of Valley Children’s Hospital “is to provide high-quality, comprehensive healthcare services to children, regardless of their ability to pay, and to continuously improve the health and wellbeing of children.”

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Valley Fever Course Offered for Physicians

Image of medical scale with words Health Officers Association of California.The Health Officers Association of California (HOAC) is holding a half-day session oncoccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever). Topics will include epidemiology, mycology, special populations, clinical features and case review. After attending the conference participants will be able to:

  1. Describe the epidemiology of coccidioidomycosis in California.
  2. Recognize the clinical presentation of primary coccidioidomycosis.
  3. Diagnose and manage coccidioidomycosis.
  4. Describe currently available diagnostic tests for coccidioidomycosis.

The Health Officers Association of California (HOAC) is accredited by the Institute for Medical Quality/California Medical Association (IMQ/CMA) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.


Saturday, January 24, from 8:00 a.m. to Noon.


Bakersfield Memorial Hospital – Founders Hall, 420 34th Street, Bakersfield

This activity is intended for all physicians. There are no course prerequisites.

HOAC designates this live activity for a maximum of 3.75 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. This credit may also be applied to the CMA Certification in Continuing Medical Education.

For more information and to register, visit

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Accepting Applications: Senate Fellows Program

Image of the seal of the California State Senate with the words California Senate Fellows Program

Established in 1973, the California Senate Fellows (CSF) program is one of the oldest and most distinguished service learning programs in the country. The CSF program grew out of a desire to provide people with insight into the legislative process through experiential learning. It offers college graduates a paid, full-time legislative staff position in the State Capitol for 11 months. The fellowship program’s primary goals include exposing people with diverse life experiences and backgrounds to the legislative process by providing research and other professional staff assistance to the Senate. The CSF program is jointly sponsored by the California State Senate and the Center for California Studies at California State University, Sacramento.

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 deadline to apply is Feb. 9, 2015.

Image of Rogelio CaudilloRogelio Caudillo served in Team Vidak’s Capitol Office as a Senate Fellow as part of the Class of 2013-2014. Rogelio was as an integral part of the Capitol team, staffing several pieces of legislation and Senate policy committees on which Andy served, among other duties as a legislative aide.

“We are very proud to have had Rogelio, who is from our district, as part of our team,” said Andy. “Rogelio has been a powerful addition to our efforts to serve the people of Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties.”

Born in Delano and raised in Earlimart, Caudillo is a first-generation university graduate from a rural community. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from California State University, Bakersfield. It was during his undergraduate studies that he became especially passionate about politics. His passion led to leadership positions in various campus organizations, attending an academic seminar from The Washington Center at our nation’s capital, and receiving an award of recognition from the Center for Kern Political Education.

To watch Andy present Rogelio with a Senate Resolution in recognition of his service as a Fellow, click here.

Image of Senate Fellow Carolina GarciaCarolina Garcia is currently serving in the Andy’s Capitol office as a Senate Fellow, Class of 2014-2015.

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.

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

Like Rogelio, Carolina is a full member of the Capitol team, staffing legislation and policy committees.

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Financial Aid for College Students

Image of Baby Savannah

Deadlines for applying for financial aid for students attending college next year are approaching. You can learn more about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), CalGrant, Cash for College, Middle Class Scholarship and more by visiting the California Student Aid Commission’s website at

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‘Twas the Season

Click on the photos below to see Team Vidak in the community and at the Capitol during the holiday season.

Food for Families Toys for Tots McFarland Parade
Image of Andy unload food baskets Image of Team Vidak’s Ana Orozco, Santa Claus and Hanford Chamber of Commerce CEO Mike Bertaina Image of Team Vidak’s Gaby Castaneda presenting a Senate Certificate of Recognition to Grand Marshal Earl Bowman
Santa in Orange Cove Cowboy Christmas Int’l Hmong New Year
Image of Andy and Santa at OC's annual holiday event. Image of Reedley Major Bob Beckand Team Vidak’s Nathan Alonzo Image of Andy with Hmong International New Year Executive Director Charlie Vang and Hmong International New Year Board Chair Chong Zang Her.

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Open Door Policy

Image of Andy’s Capitol Office Assistant Nancy Stewart

As Reported in the Capitol Morning Report on December 9, 2014

While doors at office buildings throughout downtown are being decorated for the holidays for the enjoyment of passersby, Nancy Stewart, who works in Sen. Andy Vidak’s Capitol office, does one better: She keeps the door open.

This is because Stewart, Vidak’s executive assistant, wants visitors to Rm. 3082, and to the Capitol, to feel welcome. Once inside they are greeted by seasonal decorations, which currently include a red, white and blue themed Christmas tree with lights synchronized to holiday music, and Stewart’s home-baked goodies.

Often that means something cherry-based in honor of her boss’ career as a cherry farmer, such as her cherry dump cake. She keeps the candy jars full and the coffee fresh.

“We have regular visitors in the morning and snackers looking for a quick pick-me-up stop by in afternoons,” said Vidak’s communications director, Jann Taber. “She makes everyone feel welcomed.” But beyond the open door, the decorations and the goodies, the real draw, Taber said, is “Nancy’s amazing smile.”

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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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