Stone Sentinel: March 2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Welcome to the March 2017 edition of the Stone Sentinel.

We’ve got a lot going on this month both in Sacramento and across the 28th District.

Committee hearings are starting up in Sacramento on several thousand bills authored by members of the State Assembly and State Senate.

This is what we in Sacramento call “Sausage making.” It isn’t always pretty, but it is how legislation gets done – or doesn’t get done.

As a State Senator, I am allowed to submit 20 bills. You can find details and track my bills with the links provided in the Stone Sentinel.

If you have questions on my bills, or any of the bills being debated, don’t hesitate to contact my office.

In the 28th District, thanks to all who came to my monthly “Coffee with the Senator” held at The Shamrock in Murrieta. It’s always great to get away from Sacramento and hear from the hard-working people of Riverside County.

Senator Jeff Stone coffee meet event in Murrieta

I am looking forward to my next “Coffee with the Senator” set for April in Indio.

Senator Stone's coffee meetup - April 7 - 9:00 am to 10:30 am

Finally, a couple of reminders.

The April 17 deadline to nominate a worthy individual for my annual Veterans Service Award is coming up. Information on how to nominate a veteran can be found in the newsletter, and on my website. Last year we honored a dozen great veterans from across Riverside County.

And, I don’t need to remind you that it’s tax time. And, while nobody likes filling out tax forms, this year, thanks to my bill that was passed last year, you can make a voluntary donation to help “Revive the Salton Sea” on your State of California tax form. 

Link to California State Tax From 540:


Senator Stone’s 2017 Legislative Package

Senators are allowed to submit 20 bills each year and, after listening to the business owners, veterans, and the hard-working people of the 28th District, my legislative package covers a wide variety of issues.

Senator Stone on the floor introducing a bill

Here are just a few of the bills I have introduced.

First, I am happy to announce the winner of my annual “There Ought to be a Law” competition.

Senate Bill 583 – the California Financial Literacy Act – was inspired by Roberto Ortega, a senior at Shadow Hills High School in Indio.

Since last fall, high school students from across the 28th Senate District have submitted their ideas for legislation.

While there were many good suggestions, the one bill that stood out to me came from Roberto and will require high school students to be taught needed financial skills before they graduate.

So many of our young people enter the job market or head off to college without the necessary financial tools they need. As a result, many run almost immediately into massive debt and credit card problems that force them to begin their adult lives with bad credit scores and huge bills.

On April 7th, I will visit Shadow Hills High School to meet with Roberto, his teacher Shauna Perrance, and school Principal Dr. Marcus Wood.

Senate Bill 404 – the Veterans Tax Relief Bill – would cap property taxes on the primary residence of all honorably discharged Veterans over the age of 65 and exempt the property tax of disabled veterans living in their primary residence.

A military veteran is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America for an amount of up to and including their life. As these men and women become senior citizens the least we can do is offer them the financial stability this legislation provides.

Senate Bill 644 calls for the forfeiture of a boat if the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs and causes the death of another.

This legislation is the result of the efforts of the Breslin Family of Murrieta whose daughter Tiffany, and a family friend, were killed on the Colorado River in 2008 when they were hit by a drinking boater.

The Breslin family formed Tiffany’s Gift, a non-profit organization, to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and boating.

A complete listing of all my bills is included with this edition of the Stone Sentinel.

You can also go to my website – www.Senate.Ca.Gov/Stone – and click on the link to follow these bills as they go through the committee process.

Senator Stone's Legislation


Senator Stone opposes SB1 which will raise the gas tax and registration fees

California’s already among the highest gas taxes in the nation

Senator Jeff Stone

In Sacramento, Democrats in the Legislature never met a new tax they didn’t like.

Recently my offices have received many phone calls about Senate Bill 1, the latest effort to take money out of the wallets of hard working Californians to pay for something we are already paying for.

Watch the video here:

SB 1 will increase California’s gas tax and vehicle registration fees to raise $5.5 billion each year to maintain and build our state highways and local roads.

SB 1 will increase California's gas tax and vehicle license fees to raise $5.5 billion a year.

One thing we can all agree on, California’s roads and bridges are in terrible shape.

According to TRIP, a national non-profit research, driving on rough roads costs all California motorists a total of $18.3 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Those costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

That’s almost $900 each year per motorist.

Californians have known this for decades.

In 2002 voters passed Proposition 42 -0 with 69 percent of the vote – because it promised that taxes and fees paid by drivers would be used for maintaining and expanding California’s roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure.

However, since then lawmakers have found loopholes in the laws that have diverted billions of dollars from transportation projects to pay for other programs and to balance the budget.

In addition, beginning in 2010 the legislature began taking $1 billion each year in weight fees paid by truckers that should be going to transportation and diverted it to the general fund to help pay for programs favored by special interest groups and raises for state workers.

Instead of using these taxes and fees for their original intent, now Legislative Democrats want more of your hard-earned money.

Californians already pay one the highest state gas taxes in the nation. Those of you who live in the eastern portion of Riverside County know how much cheaper gasoline is on the others side of the Colorado River, where the gas tax in Arizona is one of the lowest in the country.

However most people don’t have the option of driving to Arizona to fill up.

In Riverside County about half of our working adults get up every morning and drive to San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties for work. Raising California’s already high gas tax every higher will put an added burden on many, some of whom are already choosing between gas and food or gas and medicine.

Meanwhile, the roads are crumbling, the state has found the money to support Governor Brown’s high-speed “train to nowhere” that will cost hundreds of billions to construct and provides no assistance in addressing critical transportation problems.

I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address the critical needs of our broken transportation system.

However, before one more dime is added to one of the highest tax burdens in the nation, we should make sure that the money we already pay for good roads and safe bridges is going where California voters said it should go.


Lake Oroville Dam should be a wake-up call

Lake Oroville dam

Recently, Senator Stone took an aerial tour of the Lake Oroville Dam and the surrounding community.

California’s water delivery system is a relic from a different time. 

For more than 40 years, money that could have—and should have—been used to modernize the way water is moved around the state has gone elsewhere.

Senator Stone flying over Lake Oroville Dam
The Senator flying over Lake Oroville

For example, while our dams are failing and our roads are crumbling, Governor Jerry Brown continues to push his multi-billion dollar fantasy of building a high speed bullet train that people won’t use and probably won’t be built in any of our lifetimes.

Watch Senator Stone’s Weekly Capitol Update here:

More than a decade ago, state and federal officials were warned that the Lake Oroville dam and its spillways, which were built by the State of California in the 1960s, did not meet modern standards.

However the State Department of Water Resources, along with the water agencies that would have to foot the bill for the upgrades—including the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California—called the improvements unnecessary.

And so nothing was done.

A couple of weeks ago, nearly 200,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes because Lake Oroville’s spillway failed.

This was a preventable disaster.

If our state had invested in infrastructure improvements, the spillway failure that displaced hundreds of thousands of people might never have happened.

California got lucky last month. Lake Oroville could have been a major disaster. 

I’m hopeful what happened at Oroville will serve as a wake-up call to our Governor and our legislature.


Senator Stone honors Murrieta Firefighters for heroic swift water rescue

Senator Jeff Stone presented “Certificates of Recognition” to three Murrieta Firefighters whose brave actions and extensive training led to the rescue of a family of four, including two small children, who were trapped in their vehicle as flood waters rose in a Murrieta creek.

Senator Stone with Murrieta Fire Department

The certificates read:

As your State Senator, I want to thank you and the members of the Murrieta Fire Department for your heroic actions of January 22, 2017.

Your department’s extensive swift water rescue training paid off that day when a family of four, including two young children, became trapped in their pick-up truck as rushing water in Yoder Wash in Murrieta rose to dangerous levels. Working as a team, you were able to rescue the family from their truck and bring them safely to shore.

Extensive media coverage of the rescue, including video that was seen around the world, showed the Murrieta Fire Department performing in the finest tradition of firefighters everywhere and brought great pride to the community, your State Senator and all Californians.

Your recent effort is another shining example of the exemplary service the men and women of the Murrieta Fire Department have provided the citizens of Murrieta since 1947.

The video of the heroic rescue has been seen by millions of people around the world and has brought great honor and distinction to the Murrieta Fire Department. 

Video link:


Veterans Service Award Nominations Deadline is April 17th

Nominations are still being accepted from individuals and groups for the 2017 Veterans Service Awards presented by State Senator Jeff Stone.

Veterans Service Award winners
Coachella Valley Veterans received awards in 2016

The awards are given annually to 10 military veterans from the 28th Senate District who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help their fellow veterans and members of the community.

Senator Stone will present the awards at separate ceremonies held in Southwest Riverside County and the Coachella Valley in late May. 

“We owe our veterans a debt that can never be repaid,” said Senator Stone. “This award is just a small token of our thanks and appreciation for what they have done, not only during their time in uniform, but after they returned home.”

To nominate a veteran click on the tab on the Senator’s website:

Image of the button to click to nominate a vet

Veterans groups, such as American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts, are encouraged to nominate a member of their organization for the award and individuals can also nominate worthy veterans.

The deadline to submit applications is April 17, 2017.

Award recipients must be residents of the 28th District, which is entirely in Riverside County and includes the cities of Blythe, Canyon Lake, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, Lake Elsinore, La Quinta, Murrieta, Temecula, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and Wildomar.

For more information contact District Director Glenn Miller at 760-398-6442 or Communications Director John Hunneman at 951-894-3530.


Senator Stone to be honored by Easterseals California

Champion Award given for the Senator’s support of the disabled community.

Easterseals California will honor State Senator Jeff Stone with a 2017 Senate Champion Award during their upcoming Annual Easterseals California Awards Dinner scheduled for March 28 in Sacramento.

Easterseals California (a grouping of all Easterseals affiliates in the state) created its Senate Champion Award to honor public officials, both elected and appointed, for their work to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, and for all. 

“It is such an honor to be recognized by Easterseals California,” said Senator Stone. “Working on behalf of the disabled residents of California is one of my passions. Too often the voices of this community are not heard. I will continue to champion their causes.”

Senator Stone with the Easter Seals
Senator Stone at a visit to a group home for the Developmentally Disabled in the Coachella Valley

Senator Stone has led the charge in California on disability issues. He has fought hard for the stabilization of services for individuals with a developmental disability, and he has taken an active role in moving forward the plan to transition residents of the state developmental centers into community services.

“Senator Stone’s receptivity and understanding of the complex issues surrounding changes of this magnitude has been helpful, especially for those with complex needs transitioning to community services,” said Carlene Holden, executive vice president of Easterseals Southern California. “He has also been a champion by co-authoring bills that have since been signed into law, such as the ‘Right to Try’ statute, that allows terminally ill patients to use experimental drugs or procedures not yet approved for general use, and the prescription drug take back bill that allows anyone to drop unused or expired pharmaceuticals into special storage containers at participating pharmacies, keeping them away from children and preventing misuse.”


Busy days in Sacramento

With the Legislature in session, Senator Stone’s days and nights in Sacramento are filled with committee meetings, floor sessions and meetings with business leaders, volunteer organizations and other groups from across California.

If you are traveling to Sacramento, the Senator invites you to stop by his office and say hello. Please call ahead first – (961) 651-4028 – to check to see if he is available to meet with you.

Here are just a few of the people who have come to visit Senator Stone in the State Capitol.

Senator Stone with members of CalPACE

Senator Stone was recently selected Legislator of the Year by CalPACE, a 501(c)(6) association dedicated to the expansion of comprehensive health care services to the frail elderly through the Program of All-inclusive Care for Elderly (PACE). Members of the association visited the Senator’s office in Sacramento to present the award.

Senator Stone welcomed officials from Habitat for Humanity

Senator Stone welcomed officials from Habitat for Humanity for the Inland Valley and San Diego to his Sacramento office. Habitat does excellent work advocating for affordable housing opportunities for families with limited incomes. Thanks for all you do.

Senator Stone meeting with advocates of California Disability Services

Senator Stone met with advocates of California Disability Services in his Sacramento office. These folks do a great job on behalf of disabled Californians.

Senator Stone recently welcomed Joseph Tejada to his Sacramento office staff where he will work as an intern

Senator Stone recently welcomed Joseph Tejada to his Sacramento office staff where he will work as an intern. Joseph is a native of the Coachella Valley. He was born in Indio and spent most of his life in Desert Hot Springs. He is equally fluent in Spanish and English. Joseph has an extensive knowledge of the Coachella Valley and enjoys exploring the desert. Joseph is a graduate of Desert Hot Springs High School and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from UC Davis.

Senator Stone recently met with a delegation of distinguished alumni from the University of California Riverside.

Senator Stone recently met with a delegation of distinguished alumni from the University of California Riverside.

Senator Stone was happy to welcome Murrieta Valley High School teacher Bruce Erickson to the floor of the State Senate

Senator Stone was happy to welcome Murrieta Valley High School teacher Bruce Erickson to the floor of the State Senate.


Jeff in the District

Senator Stone speaking at his 'Coffee with the Senator' event in Murrieta

More than 100 people packed the Shamrock Irish Pub in Murrieta for our monthly “Coffee with the Senator.” Senator Stone gave an update on what’s been happening in Sacramento and then answered many questions from the audience. April’s “Coffee with the Senator” is set for April 7 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at the Sip Coffee House & Juice Bar in Indio.

(Photo courtesy of TVCC)

Senator Stone was honored to take part in the 51st Annual Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce Gala at the Pechanga Resort & Casino. The Senator helped recognize many of the people who do such great things in business and in the Southwest Riverside County community. (Photo courtesy of TVCC)

Senator Stone was honored to meet with US Marine Corps Lt. Jeremy Spray

Senator Stone was honored to meet with US Marine Corps Lt. Jeremy Spray in his Murrieta office. This American hero served two tours in Iraq and received the Purple Heart for his combat wounds.

Senator Stone at the Fundraising Mixer for the Carreon Foundation

Senator Stone was honored to be part of recent Fundraising Mixer for the Carreon Foundation held at the Palms Golf Club in La Quinta.

Senator Stone at the 1st Annual Unforgettable Hearts Awards

Senator Stone was honored to be the keynote speaker at the 1st Annual “Unforgettable Hearts Awards” which recognized the “biggest hearts” of the Coachella Valley.


Team Stone on the Move

Every month Team Stone travels across Riverside County attending events, meeting with constituents and listening to business owners, local officials and the hard working people of the 28th Senate District.

Here are just a few of the places Senator Stone’s staff visited recently:

Team Stone with the Domiguez family

Team Stone was honored to take part in the ribbon cutting ceremony held by Sullivan Solar Power at the Temecula home of Juan Dominguez. Sullivan Solar donated a complete home solar system to the Dominguez Family. Juan lost both legs and his right arm while serving in Afghanistan. Communications Director John Hunneman presented the company a framed certificate from Senator Stone thanking them for their support of a true American hero.

Team Stone was happy to take part in Read Across America events

Team Stone was happy to take part in Read Across America events across the 28th District. Glenn Miller, Senator Stone’s District Director, read to students at John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Indio.

Team Stone reading Dr. Seuss to students

District Representative Monica Idnani read Dr. Seuss to students at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Coachella.

Team Stone at the La Quinta State of the City address

District Director Glenn Miller represented Senator Stone at the La Quinta State of the City address given by Mayor Linda Evans. Senator Stone is proud to represent the great people of La Quinta in Sacramento.

Team Stone at the the ribbon cutting ceremony for FreeVolt Desert

Team Stone joined with the Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce for the ribbon cutting ceremony for FreeVolt Desert. District Director Glenn Miller presented a certificate on behalf of Senator Stone.

Team Stone at the opening of the William F. Cody architecture exhibit

Team Stone visited the Palm Springs Public Library for the opening of the special exhibit – “Fast Forward –The Architecture of William F. Cody (1916-1978).” District Representative Monica Idnani represented Senator Stone.

Team Stone at the 10 year anniversary of Craig and Christy Puma’s ownership of The Bank restaurant in Old Town Temecula

Team Stone was happy to join in the 10 year anniversary of Craig and Christy Puma’s ownership of The Bank restaurant in Old Town Temecula. The popular eatery is located in the former First National Bank of Temecula building that was built over a century ago. District Representative Debbie Herrera presented a certificate from Senator Stone to Craig and Christy.

Team Stone at the ribbon cutting ceremony for Westside Cafe & Grill on Los Alamos Road

It’s always great to welcome a new restaurant to Murrieta. Team Stone joined the Murrieta Valley Chamber of Commerce at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Westside Cafe & Grill on Los Alamos Road. District Representative Debbie Herrera welcomed the business on behalf of Senator Stone.

Team Stone at the Lake Elsinore Student of the Month Awards luncheon

District Representative Darrell Connerton always enjoys attending the Lake Elsinore Student of the Month Awards luncheon at Lakeside High School. Each student’s story is inspiring.

Team Stone at the Palm Desert High School Student of the Month ceremony

District Representative Monica Idnani represented Senator Stone at Palm Desert High School Student of the Month ceremony and presented certificates to these deserving students.

Team Stone at he ribbon cutting ceremony for Lovely Little Ladies Salon and Boutique

Team Stone joined with the Murrieta Chamber of Commerce for the ribbon cutting ceremony for Lovely Little Ladies Salon & Boutique on Murrieta Hot Springs Road. District Representative Debbie Herrera presented a certificate from Senator Stone.

Team Stone at the at the dedication of the new mural by local artist Keith Blum at the Harry S Truman Elementary School.

Team Stone enjoyed spending time with the students and staff at Harry S Truman Elementary School in La Quinta at the dedication of the new mural by local artist Keith Blum. District Representative Monica Idnani presented a certificate on behalf of Senator Stone.

Team Stone at the student of the month breakfast ceremony in Murrieta

The best start to any day for Team Stone is when it begins at a Student of the Month breakfast. District Director Glenn Miller and District Representative Debbie Herrera recently attended the ceremony for students from Murrieta.

Team Stone at the ribbon cutting of the Inland Wharf Brewing Company

Whenever there is a ribbon cutting for a new microbrewery Communications Director John Hunneman always volunteers to represent Senator Stone. The Murrieta Chamber of Commerce recently welcomed Inland Wharf Brewing Company. Co-Owner Robert Durant recently retired after 23 years in Navy and the tasting room has a nautical theme.