STATE ISSUES: The rising crime and taxes in California are raising the temperatures and tempers of local residents. Over a hundred people filed into the Wildomar VFW Post 508 on Thursday, March 31 to join Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez’s (R-67th District) monthly coffee mixer.
Melendez held a question and answer town hall-style gathering to update residents on pieces of legislation she is working on this year.
Many in the audience were concerned with the state's failing infrastructure and spending habits.
Earlier this week Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democrats publically released their transportation-funding package. It proposes raising $52 billion by creating the largest gas-tax in California’s history, an increase in vehicle license fees and massive hikes in diesel tax.
Under the bill, taxpayers will have no guarantees the billions raised in transportation funds will go towards transportation.
Melendez is working on AB 351-Utilizing Existing Funds for Road Repair and AB 496 Funding Road Repair without Raising Taxes along with Assemblyman Vince Fong.
AB-496 will go before the Transportation Committee in April. It provides $7.8 billion for transportation without raising taxes by reforming state laws to make transportation spending more accountable and efficient by reallocating transportation funds to road repair. It also requires tax revenue meant for road repair only to go for road repair.
“In the last six years California has increased their spending to over $36 billion dollars for transportation,” said Melendez. The crowd booed.
“Plus our $20 a day to drive on the 91,” shouted a resident.
“What is going on with CARB,” asked a resident who is a truck operator. “I cannot operate my truck unless I spent $14,000 to retro-fit.”
CARB is the California Air Resources Board.
“We are the mercy of the EPA and California. The CARB board members are appointed by Gov. Brown,” said Melendez. “I don’t know one republican who doesn’t want to take care of our environment but the democrats are putting the hills, mountains, and bunnies before the people.”
According to the CARB website, the Air Resources Board (Board) consists of 14 members. Twelve are appointed by and serve "at the pleasure" of the Governor along with the consent of the Senate. Two additional members are appointed by the Legislature, one by the Senate, the other by the Assembly.
Menifee resident, Deanna Williams said, “My main concern is why Gov. Brown is allowing felons to vote.
Of course, they will vote for laws like AB 109 and Prop 47.”
There are many bills coming down the pipeline that benefits criminals.
• AB 186 the Meth Den will allow the creation of safe places for individuals to use illegal drugs. It already passed the Health Committee.
• AB 208 allows people guilty of possessing illegal drugs to have their charges wiped off their records if they complete a short drug treatment program.
• AB 811 to allow youth in jail and prison to use social media outlets like Facebook to stay connected with their friends and family.
• AB 878 a bill to prohibit police from arresting youth with handcuffs. Police will be prohibited from arresting a minor with handcuffs, chains, irons, straight jackets, and cloth or leather resistance during transportation outside of a local juvenile facility, camp, or ranch.
Countering the crime-friendly bills others are proposing, Melendez has AB 27 being heard in May. AB 27 would make all forms of rape a felony. Prop 57 currently allows sexual predators to be released early unless her bill is passed.
Melendez is a staunch supporter of second amendments and with the rise in crime; interest is growing in owning a gun for protection. AB 757 is a bill Melendez is trying to push through to clarify self-defense is an acceptable justification to obtain a concealed carry permit.
Wildomar City Councilmember, Bridgette Moore said there were more than 100 people who attended the evening’s event.
“I am grateful for Melissa to come out and speak to our community, said Moore.
According to Melendez’s Field Representative Branden Webb, the coffee talks have doubled since last year. They are now looking for businesses and restaurants that would like to donate their space for future public meetings.
“We need to be able to hold at least 100 people,” said Webb. Anyone interested can contact Melendez’s office at 951-894-1232 to learn more.