Friday, March 27, 2015

• Coffee With Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez March 2015

I got the assemblywoman to pose for
a picture after the event was over.

Usually Wildomar Rap concentrates on things directly in the city, and today's Coffee with Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez was held in Menifee, she still is our elected representative and I thought it worthwhile going to and reporting back on what she had to say.

It was held at Menifee's The Beer Hunter sports bar at Haun and Newport Rd off the 215 before regular business hours. I'm lousy at guessing crowd sizes, but that's never stopped me before... so I'm guesstimating there were more than 25 and less than 45. We took a handout labeled Legislative Update that had about 15 items on it.
• • •

Key items on the list that she spoke about included:
  • AB 150—Gun Theft
  • AB 289—Whistle Blower Protection-Legislative Employees
  • AB 585—Drought-Friendly Landscaping State Income Tax Credit
  • AB 46  —Date Rape Drugs
  • AB 209—529 College Savings Plan Contribution
  • SB 3    —Minimum Wage Increase
  • SB 8    —Sales Tax on Services

Going down the line:

AB 150
This deals with a loophole that prop 47 created in regards to gun thefts. If the firearm has a value of less than $950 it's only considered a misdemeanor now. This legislation is aimed at making gun theft a felony once again.

Can you imagine it? Whoever put together prop 47 thought it no big whoop to steal a gun... because hey, it's not like they ever end up in the wrong hands or lead to horrendous crimes... right?

AB 289
This is to protect the employees of the California Legislature who report ethics violations from being subject to retaliation.

Melendez then spoke of three state senators that were off into naughty territory [my phrasing] last year. One guy lived outside of his district and another was a gun runner in the Philippines and the third was dealing with basic corruption like bribes (thank goodness for old fashioned graft compared to the modern version) errr...

I liked how she used selling rocket launchers from the trunk of your car as an example of possible wrongdoing. She then engaged me in conversation —sort of— by looking at me and saying, "I guarantee that if you were selling rocket launchers, you'd be in a lot of trouble. Right? You wouldn't still have your job and you wouldn't still have all those perks... it shouldn't be any different for legislators."

[Note to self, just like you don't sit in the front row at a comedy club, back up a row at these community coffees] ☺

AB 585
She mentioned how last year the film industry was given tax incentives to keep production here and how she'd like to see something that would be aimed at "normal Californians" not from the select Hollywood sliver of society. 

This Bill would give a tax credit to those that would uproot their water guzzling yards and put in water-wise/drought tolerant landscaping.

AB 46
This is a bill that Melendez has co-authored along with Tom Lackey (36th District).

Stunningly, the passage of Prop 47 made possession of Date Rape drugs only a misdemeanor.

To paraphrase Melendez, "These aren't just recreational drugs... well, I guess they are for the rapist... but these drugs have only one purpose; to assist in the commission of a violent crime."

There was more than one bill dealing with this issue, but her's is the last one standing at this point.

AB 209
This is a bill that Melendez has co-authored. The legislation will lower a person's taxable amount of income by the amount contributed to a ScholarShare 529 college savings account, up to $3k for an individual and $6k for a joint filer.

"The difficulty we face [on this bill] is that whenever a piece of legislation, that they decide costs money, and [whether that's new spending or causes less revenue to the state] they assign a financial cost to that and that goes to the appropriation committee. Then they prioritize where they can afford to spend money or lose money. Very, very often —unless you're in the right party (the blue team no doubt)— if they say your bill costs money, they just won't let it out [of committee]."

She's hopeful since this isn't (or shouldn't be) a partisan issue... kids going to college and parents saving for it, but it hasn't started moving through the committees yet.

SB 3
There was discussion about a push to raise the minimum wage in the state. This bill would increase it to $11 an hour in January of 2016 and $13 per hour in 2017. This bill would also require an annual adjustment. 

A word on minimum wage. Yes, most thinking people are in favor of people earning (key word here: EARNING) what is known as a livable wage. The best pathway to a livable wage is to learn a skill that is in demand, not expect the government to force businesses to pay you more than you're worth.

I suggest aiming higher than a minimum wage job from the get go. 

SB 8
This bill would create a sales tax on services. That would mean all sorts of things that currently aren't taxed. 
Melendez said, "When you take your dog to the veterinarian, when you take your car in to get the oil changed, when you go get your hair or nails done, they want to tax it."

I asked, "does that include domestic things like house cleaning?"
Melendez answered, "Oh that would be taxed."

Nothing like a back-lit photograph. 
Imagine if haircuts, labor on car repairs, handyman services, pool service, yard service, and countless other things we currently aren't taxed on, came into play for the taxman?

From her flyer it states that this bill is "still evolving" and it is not yet stated what the percentage will be. It also states that "Healthcare and educational services, and small businesses with under $100,000 would be exempt.

I'll have to ask her about that at her next coffee. Is that yearly gross? If so, sounds like a sure disincentive for business expansion and to maintain sales under that amount so your customers don't look elsewhere trying to save that additional charge.

To me it looks like a whole slew of businesses will start to work from the other side of the table... for at least some transactions. Remember, all taxes do is force people to find ways around them.

She did say that she didn't see this actually getting out of committee. "If it happened to make it to the governor's desk (long pause) I don't know that he'd sign it."

Other topics included
  • Right to die/Right to try
  • Mandatory Vaccinations
  • Education Costs
  • UC Tutition
  • Bill to Limit Bills
Right to Die/Right to Try
For some reason these two issues got mixed together. At one point I had to raise my hand and ask for some clarification. 

"Are these two bills tied together?" 
The answer was no. 
They are two different bills with two different authors.

Right to Die is where a terminally ill patient can seek medical assistance in ending their own lives on their terms. I'm sure this can be one of those hot button issues for some, but many would agree that being forced to languish in a hospital bed isn't desirable, especially if you've come to terms and want to skip the last few dying days or weeks.

Thing is, I kept hearing "Right to Die" but then the discussion would jump to "experimental drugs" or "unscrupulous companies" with drugs that don't offer any real hope to dying patients.

Right to Die is an easy pick for a person like me with Libertarian leanings. Same for Right to Try, though I can see the point about unscrupulous companies, looking to play upon the hopes of those in such a situation. To me, those decisions need to be left up to the individuals, not the government.

She asked for a show of hands for those that were in support of Mandatory Vaccinations. I'd say that it was at least 75-25, maybe even 80-20 in favor of mandatory vaccinations if you want to attend public school.

Melendez mentioned that this bill is coming. So if this is important to you, you may want to speak up about it. For me, I really don't care if you choose to put your kids at risk for deadly diseases by pigheadedly going against science and thinking your kids'll be just fine. Have at it... I'll just read about it if your kid loses the backward lottery someday.

UC Tuition
"I'm sure you all saw this in the news where UC wants to raise tuition 25% over five years. 5% a year for each of the next five years," the Assemblywoman said.

Honestly, I hadn't heard that. I'm glad my kids are past that stage, and I really feel for you parents that have kids that are NOT good students, you know they will NOT do well on the next level, yet you'll feel compelled to send them to college just the same.

Bill to Limit Bills
It seems that the current limit on bills introduced by individual assemblymembers is 40 per year. Imagine it —do the math. If they worked 365 days a year, which we know they DON'T, that's one bill every nine days. If they work 200 days a year, that's one every five days.

"If you can't do your job, if you can't help your district in twenty pieces of legislation, then you don't belong in office," she said. Followed up with, "They don't like my bill... surprise, surprise." Which brought some chuckles from the audience with it.

The last question of the day had one guy ask: Is there any way that there could be legislation introduced that will limit the amount of administrators so we can have more teachers in the schools?

I loved Melendez's answer:  "I don't know that we can legislate something like that. That's something we expect our school superintendents to handle; that's their job. You don't want me trying to do that from Sacramento. You don't want me trying to run your school district from Sacramento. That's your job."

Seriously, we DON'T want Sac-to trying to take charge of us at the local level anymore than we want DC dictating to us about local things.
• • •

It was an interesting morning and had to love the one guy that kept trying to take over the meeting. Not sure if he's a regular or just showed up because the event was in Menifee, but he tried to weigh in on everything, and at times would speak over our elected representative.

Also had to love the old guy that took a call while the Assemblywoman was answering someone's question. 

Hey old guy, please NEVER complain about how the younger generation has no respect for others... they learned it from people like you.

The next Community Coffee with Assemblywoman Melendez is supposed to be in Murrieta. I'll post info on it at the Wildomar Rap facebook page when it comes out.

Hey, we also got a gift from the assemblywoman... one of those cloth grocery bags. Thanks Melissa!

Here is the Assemblywoman's contact info:
Local (951) 894-1232
Sacramento (916) 319-2067

•      •      • 

If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.
 —Abraham Lincoln


  1. Did our local "expert" Kenny Maye's attend? Or was he doing his typical avoidance of any gathering where his inaccuracies and ridiculous misstatements could be challenged by knowledgeable people? Easier to stand up in front of city meetings and blather or write inane blogs...

    1. I like Kenny, but no... he didn't attend. I was told that the event was open to everyone, but they only send out notices to those in the zip codes closest to the venue. Next month's is in Murrieta and I'm guessing that those of us in Wildomar, that are on her mailing list, will be notified... but not certain about that.

    2. Its funny where one finds themselves talked about. I did not attend the Coffee in Menifee as I preferred to attend with other Wildomarian's at the one held last April in Wildomar.
      Kenny Mayes

    3. Kenny,
      Apparently you are living rent free in many people's heads.

  2. The cost is tax dollars. Maybe not as much as bridges and the Ape's but the positive contribution is minimal, with the excuses plentiful.


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