District News Wrap-Up 9/5/19

New detections of West Nile Virus in California horses

The California Department of Food and Agriculture reported that seven horses have tested positive in recent weeks for Equine West Nile Virus — six of which were in the #CentralValley, including Stanislaus County. Read the release linked to below and familiar yourself with the signs, symptoms, and prevention methods. The diseases can be transmitted to humans, horses, birds, and other animals.

Click Here to Read More https://bit.ly/2kvofug

California Wine Month

September is #CaliforniaWineMonth! California is America’s number one wine state and the fourth largest producer in the world. California’s wineries and vineyards provide quality jobs and are anchors for our local, state, and national economies. Our community and the greater Central Valley are lucky enough to high-quality wines and wineries.

Algal Blooms At San Luis Reservior

If you were planning on relaxing outdoors and enjoying water at the San Luis Reservoir, you may want to think again! San Luis Reservoir is still experiencing a harmful algal bloom. Please protect yourself, children, pets, and livestock. You can look for an alternative spot to visit and cool down here: https://mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/data_viewer/

Golden Valley Health Centers Visit Capital

Representatives from the Golden Valley Health Centers visited Sacramento. They were advocating for both improving the quality of and lowering the cost of healthcare in our community.

Community Workshop For Real ID

On September 17, at the Los Banos Community Center, stop by to get more information about the REAL ID. Department of Motor Vehicles officials will be there to speak about REAL ID driver licenses and identification cards and the necessary documents to apply — mandatory to board a flight in the United States after October 1, 2020. Assembleymember Adam Gray’s team will also be hosting mobile office hours, should you need assistance with any state or local agency.

At UC Merced, a pipeline for more diverse faculty

Cognitive Science major Alejandra Santoyo outside of the Kolligan Library at UC Merced on August 2, 2019. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

“As universities around the country struggle to diversify their faculty, the youngest University of California campus is racking up an impressive record of preparing its students — many of them low-income, first-generation students of color — for academic careers. Its undergraduates are more likely to assist faculty with original research—a boon to graduate school applications—than those at any other UC campus, according to university surveys.”

Read more of the CalMatters article written by Felicia Mello here: https://bit.ly/2kkWfto

Flows proposals: Sacramento River water agencies aim for certainty

August 21, 2019 – from AgAlert by Christine Souza

As negotiations continue, representatives of Sacramento Valley water agencies say they’re hopeful voluntary agreements will serve as an alternative to state-mandated “unimpaired flows” plans being drafted by the State Water Resources Control Board.

A proposal affecting Sacramento Valley tributaries would be the second phase of the water board’s Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan. The board adopted the first phase of the plan late last year, requiring water users in San Joaquin River tributaries to leave 30% to 50% of unimpaired flows in the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers to help fish populations, unless voluntary agreements on the three tributaries can be reached and adopted instead.

The plan affecting Sacramento River tributaries has not been released, but water-resource managers in the region said they have been collaborating with government agencies and environmental groups to develop voluntary agreements that would accomplish the goals of the state board’s flows-only methodology.

With the aim of improving conditions for native fish and wildlife through a combination of targeted river flows and various habitat-enhancing projects, participating water managers said discussions focus on policy, science and asset management.

“There’s going to be impacts and there’s going to be a cost to this. There’s no way around it,” Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District General Manager Thaddeus Bettner said, adding that if the state water board were to pursue a flows-only approach, “the costs and impacts would be much more severe.”

Bettner said GCID and other Sacramento Valley water agencies working on a voluntary settlement agreement see it as “managing risks and creating certainty for the next 15 years for our users, which include farmers and the environment.”

In addition to developing system-wide solutions, he said, “More importantly, we think we can make a difference. We believe we have a better toolkit and process to improve the fishery and have the monitoring that goes with that, and make some of the broader landscape changes. We think that is the right approach and also believe the agreements create a template for moving forward after the 15-year period.”

Bettner said Sacramento Valley water agencies are collaborating with other stakeholders to increase instream flows into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by about 250,000 to 300,000 acre-feet annually, and to implement many enhancement projects in the first two years of the agreement.

At Reclamation District 108 in Grimes, General Manager Lewis Bair said his district and others have been engaged in discussions on “floodplain re-engagement that the biologists are pointing to as a foundational change for the fishery.”

“Our flood system has really isolated our fishery from their old juvenile rearing grounds and without that, a lot of folks believe it will be really tough to recover the fishery,” Bair said. “The exciting part (of the floodplain plan) is it is complementary in season to agriculture; it could work for all.”

Related to dedicating flows for the system, Bair said a voluntary agreement for the Sacramento Valley could involve fallowing of some acreage to provide new water for instream flows in a way that offers flexibility, as opposed to the state water board’s approach he described as, “‘We will regulate and get it from somewhere.'”

“We’re suggesting that we’ve put a significant amount on the table, and let’s have a significant, well-funded science program, learn from it, then at the end of 15 years, we’ll have another conversation about additional assets,” Bair said. “That’s really where the negotiations are at this point.”

He said the team leading voluntary-agreement negotiations for the state “is really trying to figure out a path forward, and I think we’re getting there.”

Though the Sacramento Valley districts say they have a portfolio of solutions that should address the needs of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, they also continue to advocate for construction of Sites Reservoir as an additional source of dedicated environmental water, in addition to water for cities and farms.

“We’re making sure that all of those pieces will work together,” Bettner said.

In a July 1 memo, the secretaries of the California Environmental Protection Agency and Natural Resources Agency said the group of stakeholders should be ready by mid-October to have their plan’s viability tested against the water board unimpaired-flows plan.

Water districts that depend on supplies from the San Joaquin River tributaries have filed a series of lawsuits against the state water board plan.

On the Tuolumne River, Modesto Irrigation District spokeswoman Melissa Williams said, “We continue to stay actively engaged in the ongoing voluntary agreement discussions.” On the Merced River, the Merced Irrigation District, which also has a pending lawsuit, noted there is nothing new to report.

The California Farm Bureau Federation filed its own suit, challenging the environmental review for the unimpaired-flows plan for the San Joaquin River tributaries.

Regarding ongoing negotiations for voluntary settlements on those rivers, CFBF Senior Counsel Chris Scheuring said, “The water users are best positioned to determine what is achievable as a voluntary settlement in lieu of litigation, and we encourage them in their efforts.

“CFBF is going to continue in its lawsuit challenging the environmental review process for the flows that have been adopted for the San Joaquin River tributaries until and unless an alternative pathway is reached,” Scheuring said. “We continue to believe that nonflow measures should be an essential part of any solution, rather than the state water board’s flows-only approach.”

Article written by Christine Souza. Christine Souza is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. She may be contacted at csouza@cfbf.com

Article reprinted from California Farm Bureau Federation http://agalert.com/story/?id=13230

Photo Credit: Orbit Productions, LLC

In The District 8/23/19

Ceres PD Promotions

Three officers of the Ceres Police Department were promoted and formally recognized for their hard work, and one was sworn in. Assemblymember Adam Gray congratulated them for all their dedication and commitment to keeping the community safe.

Keeping California Safe

Assemblymember Adam Gray met with Mark Pazin, former Sheriff of the Merced County Sheriff’s Office who is now Cal OES Law Enforcement Chief, along with Director Mark Ghilarducci to discuss strategies for keeping California safe.

Update on Youth Vaping Epidemic

Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham wrote a piece in CalMatters about the bi-partisan joint-effort alongside Assemblymember Adam Gray, Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager-Dove and Assemblymember Robert Rivas to combat the youth vaping epidemic. READ HERE: https://calmatters.org/commentary/youth-vaping/

In The District 8/16/19

$5 Million Dollars Awarded to Build Los Banos Fire Station

The Los Banos community celebrated a milestone in their effort to build a much-needed, third fire station for the Los Banos Fire Department. The $5 million award that Assemblymember Adam Gray secured in this year’s state budget will not only support the rapidly-growing Los Banos community by improving response times and integrating resources, but it will also serve as a regional training facility and emergency operations center during critical events. Mayor Villalta, Mayor Nagy, Scott Silveira Merced County Supervisor District 5, Los Banos City Manager Alex Terrazas, Fire Chief Hurley, and Senator Anna Caballero have been providing the support and expertise to bring this funding to fruition.

Chancellor of UC Merced Retires

This summer marked the end of a phenomenal chapter for UC Merced and the Central Valley community. Chancellor Leland has done a lot over the past eight years to grow the campus, develop world-class research programs, guide students, and foster a greater sense of community.

Around The District

First Annual Kids Connect Community Celebration

Assemblymember Adam Gray sponsors the first annual Merced County “Kids Connect Community Celebration,” which will take place Saturday, August 10, 2019. A fun-filled, free event that will offer parents and families an opportunity to meet with various community agencies, clubs, and organizations that offer services to children and families. There will be games, music, entertainment, and tons of giveaways — including backpacks filled with all the necessary school supplies.

National Night Out

Assemblymember Adam Gray visited the #NationalNightOut in Los Banos and Newman. National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign which began thirty-six years ago to promote police-community partnerships and in an effort to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live.

The Newman Police Department, Los Banos Police Department and many other community groups played a part in the event. The Newman Police Department honored the legacy of Corporal Ronil Singh who was killed last year while on duty.

National Health Center Week

Golden Valley Health Centers invited Adam Gray to speak this morning to kick off #NationalHealthCenterWeek about the importance of CHCs in the Central Valley.

Since I was first elected, I have had the privilege to work with incredible #HealthCare advocates. Some of the most engaged and dedicated health care champions that I interact with on a daily basis come from the Community Health Centers. You have provided access to quality care for more than 50 years, and I am very thankful for all that you do. #CHCMatter

Adam Gray

Assembly-member Adam Gray And His Team

Discussing Health Issues

Adam Gray and his team had the pleasure of meeting with Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN), California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), Mi Familia Vota, and the Having Our Say Coalition. They had a discussion on the health issues affecting communities of color and need for healthcare in the Central Valley.

Throwing The First Pitch

The Modesto Nuts Professional Baseball Club invited Adam Gray to throw the first pitch at this evening’s game.

Speaking With California Citrus Mutual

Adam Gray was invited to speak with California Citrus Mutual about issues affecting agriculture, the rural economy, and efforts to create more transparency and accountability at the State Water Resources Control Board.

Lunch Meeting With De Jager Dairy

Adam Gray had a lunch meeting at the De Jager Dairy, where he discussed improving roads and infrastructure in our community with Supervisor Lloyd Pareira and Scott Silveira Merced County Supervisor District 5.

Honored Fallen CHP Officers

Senator Anna Caballero and Assembly-Member Adam Gray participated in a tribute to the fallen CHP Officers involved in the Newhall Incident, two of whom have family roots in Merced County. Caballero and Gray spent time with their families and Commissioner Warren Stanley. The ceremony was a dedication of signage that will soon be visible on Highway 99.

Speaking At Western Growers Board Meeting

The Western Growers invited Adam Gray to speak at their Board Meeting. The discussion focusing on the rising costs of water and of energy in the Central Valley, and working together to combat rate increases.

9th Annual Youth Leadership Conference

Assembly-member Adam Gray and his team attended The 9th Annual Youth Leadership Conference. It was organized by the LULAC Los Banos Chapter, hosted at Pacheco High. Gray said, “It is important we continue to empower our youth so that they can reach their educational goals and return home to serve the communities in which they were raised. “

The program is also supported by Los Banos Unified School District, Merced County Office of Education, IBEW Local 684, and the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council.

Assembly Governmental Organization Committee Introduces Comprehensive E-Cigarette Legislative Package To Combat Youth Consumption Of These Nicotine Delivery Devices.

Citing an unprecedented rise in electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use among middle school and high school students, Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced), Chair of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo), and Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) today announced the introduction of a comprehensive legislative package to combat youth consumption of these nicotine delivery devices. The three-bill package includes AB 1639 (Gray, Cunningham, Rivas), SB 39 (Hill), and SB 538 (Rubio).

The bills include provisions designed to:

  • Restrict the packaging and marketing of e-cigarettes
  • Mandate decoy sting operations
  • Establish reasonable penalties for youth in possession of tobacco products
  • Ramp up enforcement efforts and penalties against retailers who sell to kids
  • Restrict the availability of flavored e-cigarettes
  • Mandate age verification technology at the point of sale and delivery

“The number of youth using e-cigarettes is 2.5 times the number smoking traditional tobacco,” said Gray. “We must do more to protect kids from these addictive products by restricting youth access points, limiting marketing exposure to kids, and establishing sufficient penalties for underage sales and possession. There are three times as many children in this country using e-cigarettes than there are electric cars on our roads. This is a serious crisis which calls for a serious response. This legislative package is a model other states should look to emulate.”

“As a father of four, including two teenagers, I have heard firsthand stories about the spread of vaping products,” said Cunningham. “Since 2017, vaping has increased by 50 percent among middle school students, and 80 percent among high school students. These statistics are hard to believe, until you hear stories from your teenage kids about their classmates using these products. The Federal Food & Drug Administration has called the rise in teen vaping an epidemic. Like epidemics of the past, this one deserves a robust and focused public policy response. I believe this bill will help curb the rise of teenage vaping and be positive for public health.”

“This bill is about the health and well-being of kids,” said Rivas. “AB 1639 utilizes proven tools to help ensure these addictive products don’t end up in the hands of our young people. This is an important step and is the start, not the conclusion of our efforts as a legislature to tackle this important issue.”

All three bills are scheduled for a vote in the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee on July 10th.

Assemblymember Gray Proposes Constitutional Amendment to Regulate Sports Betting in California

Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced), Chair of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, today announced the introduction of ACA 16, a constitutional amendment to authorize sports wagering in California. ACA 16 is a response to the May 2018 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a 1992 federal law prohibiting sports betting in all states outside Nevada.  

The decision did not legalize sports wagering nationwide, but permitted the activity to be regulated on a state-by-state basis. Currently, eight states allow legal sports wagering, and more than 35 are considering legislation.  

“The U.S. Supreme Court has shouldered the burden of bringing legal clarity to the issue of sports wagering and the rights of states under the Constitution,” said Gray. “Now it is the responsibility of the Legislature to determine the most prudent way forward.”  

Despite legal restrictions at the federal and state level, gambling on sports is approaching new heights of popularity in America. While it is difficult to track the popularity of illegal sports betting in the United States, reports have estimated that nearly $150 billion is illegally wagered on sports annually.  

“Whether we like it or not, Californians are already betting on sports through illegal and often unscrupulous websites in foreign countries,” continued Gray.  

ACA 16 would require any legalization effort in California to achieve a 2/3rds approval in the state legislature before being placed on the ballot for majority approval by voters.  

“It is time to shine a light on this multibillion-dollar industry,” said Gray. “We need to crack down on illegal and unregulated online gaming and replace it with a safe and responsible option which includes safeguards against compulsive and underage gambling, money laundering, and fraud. All other gaming activities in California are subject to regulations that ensure the safety of consumers. Sports wagering should be treated no differently.”  

Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa), Chair of the Senate Government Organization Committee, introduced a complementary amendment in the Senate.  

“I look forward to working with stakeholders in a collaborative effort to help bring this out of the shadows,” Sen. Dodd said. “By legalizing sports wagering we can avoid some of the problems associated with an underground market such as fraud and tax evasion while investing in problem gambling education.”  

The Assembly and Senate Governmental Organization Committees will conduct a series of Joint Informational Hearings on the future of sports wagering throughout California. The hearings and public comment process will provide opportunities for committee members to listen to interested persons and outside experts representing a broad and diverse range of viewpoints.  

If approved by the Legislature, the legalization of sports wagering would be put the voters on the November 2020 ballot.

AD 21 – News And Events Around the District

Hilmar Dairy and Farm Festival

The annual Hilmar Dairy and Farm Festival is Saturday, June 22. Join Assemblymember Adam Gray, the Hilmar Chamber of Commerce, and more than twenty local community partners for a summer evening, generously hosted at Hilmar High School — fireworks, food, and fun for the entire family!


AD 21 Small Business of the Year

Blaker Brewing was awarded the AD 21 Small Business of the Year in Sacramento! They were also honored as the Ceres Chamber of Commerce Business of The Year in 2018. Blaker Brewing is “a destination brewery off the beaten path. Sourcing the freshest ingredients from our neighboring farmers in the Central Valley, while discovering the most exotic flavors across the globe.” They are a family-owned small business in the community that produces a high-quality product that they believe in.

Assemblymember Adam Gray Releases Statement on the Passage of 2019-20 State Budget

Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) praised the passage of the 2019-20 California State Budget and highlighted a number of investments vital to the success of working families in the San Joaquin Valley.   “The budget is always a product of compromise,” said Gray. “This year, we got a lot more right than wrong with investments in our schools, health care, and efforts to combat homelessness. There are still some loose ends and details to be worked out in trailer bills, but this budget shows that we are asking the right questions. Now we just need to find the right answers.”

Healthy Savings Account

“This budget sets aside more than $19 billion dollars in reserves to prepare the state for the next recession,” said Gray. “In the past, we had a habit of spending every penny during good times, only to turn around and make painful cuts during bad times. Our savings account is healthy enough to blunt the effects of a mild recession, but we must remain fiscally prudent.”

San Joaquin Valley Medical School

“The budget authorizes the University of California to issue bonds to fund the construction of the San Joaquin Valley medical school,” said Gray. “Importantly, it puts the state’s commitment to funding the medical school into law. More detail will follow as we advance additional trailer bills in the coming weeks.”

News story on the Valley Medical School: https://abc30.tv/2IeEkh6

Bay-Delta Plan Agreements

“The budget makes $70 million available for projects to support voluntary agreements with the state on Bay-Delta Plan flows,” said Gray. “Our irrigation districts continue to seek reasonable and fair terms which fully recognize the impacts any plan will have on our local economy and communities. Under the prior administration, trust was difficult to come by. It has taken many months, but I am cautiously optimistic about the direction we are headed.”

News Story on the Voluntary Agreements: https://bit.ly/2Hjhxkf

State Fair Funding

“The Great Recession forced significant cuts to state spending, and one of those casualties was the state’s historic funding commitment to California fairs,” said Gray. “That is why I authored AB 1499 to restore a portion of that funding through the dedication of sales tax revenues generated at the fairs themselves. That bill was signed into law, and this year the fairs will receive more than $20 million from the state to upgrade aging infrastructure and support operations.”

Los Banos Fire Station

“The west side has a longstanding need for additional public safety infrastructure,” said Gray. “With an increasingly intense fire season and significant population growth in Los Banos and surrounding communities, the need for additional fire facilities is clear. Working with Supervisor Silveira, Mayor Villalta, and Mayor Nagy, we were able to secure $5 million in the budget to support the construction of a multipurpose fire station, emergency operations center, and regional training facility in Los Banos. This facility will help to improve response times in the city and better integrate local and regional emergency services to assist neighboring counties and react to statewide disasters.”

Merced College Agriculture Technology Building

“As announced earlier this year, the budget fulfills the promise of funding the construction of a new agriculture technology building at Merced College,” said Gray. “Governor Newsom toured Merced College last year and included funding for the building in his original budget proposal. Today I am happy to say the Governor came through for us.”

More on Merced College Ag Technology Building: https://bit.ly/2ZmVMFM

Modesto Junior College VOLT Institute

“Building on the state’s investment last year, the budget includes an additional $1 million for the VOLT Institute and Modesto Junior College to gives students the training they need to take on highly skilled manufacturing jobs at local employers like Gallo Winery, Del Monte Foods, and Crystal Creamery,” said Gray. “The push to send every kid to a four-year university has created a lack of qualified blue-collar workers at a time when they are in high demand. These are good-paying jobs you can raise a family on without racking up thousands of dollars in student debt.”

Learn more at the Volt Institute website: https://voltinstitute.com/

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