Happy New Year!
It is a high honor and great privilege to represent our 5th Congressional District in Congress. With 2013 now behind us, this is a perfect time to reflect on our past year and to also focus on the year ahead. To keep up with news from our district and Washington, D.C. in 2014, “like” me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter and sign up for my e-newsletters.
If you look back on the national headlines of 2013, you will see 12 months marked with partisan fighting and gridlock. The government shutdown, the debt ceiling was almost breached, and the Affordable Care Act had a bumpy role out.
But while issues like the shutdown and health care reform dominated the news, they also overshadowed some great things we achieved for our community.
- My bipartisan legislation improving treatment options for our servicemembers with Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress was signed into law.
- I continue to lead the push for comprehensive and enforceable criminal background checks for all commercial gun sales. My bill to expand background checks will save lives while respecting the Second Amendment.
- I co-authored multiple pieces of legislation that will help create jobs in the renewable energy sector.
- I introduced legislation to prevented student loan interest rates from skyrocketing.
- I wrote legislation that helps get our veterans back to work and reduces the benefit claims backlog at the Oakland VA.
- I founded the Invasive Species Caucus and introduced legislation adding quagga mussels to the national list of invasive species. In the counties that make up the 5th Congressional district, Clear Lake, Lake Sonoma, and Lake Berryessa are all rated at the highest possible risk for quagga invasion.
- I wrote legislation that will help preserve the Berryessa Snow Mountain Region, expand recreation opportunities, and make sure the region is managed efficiently and responsibly.
- I wrote bipartisan legislation to help preserve our district’s beautiful, undeveloped land, and introduced legislation cracking down on electronic waste.
- I co-authored comprehensive immigration reform legislation, and introduced a bipartisan bill to ensure all military personnel and their families can quickly become naturalized U.S. citizens.
- I co-authored legislation raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour within two years.
In Sonoma County, we secured nearly $40 million for the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport. The funds are a huge economic win for our region.
We passed legislation to help speed up habitat restoration work along the Russian River, protect endangered coho salmon, Chinook salmon and steelhead trout, and saved Sonoma County from having to spend $300 million on an unnecessary pipeline.
And, we secured nearly $240,000 to provide Sonoma County veterans with job training, job placement, housing and other services.
In Solano County, we secured more than $1 million for the City of Vallejo to hire or rehire law enforcement officers.
We secured more than $521,000 for emergency response equipment so that the Mare Island Ship Yard would be positioned as the go-to emergency responder for marine vessels in the San Francisco Bay Area.
And, I introduced bipartition legislation that authorizes up to $100 million per year in tax credits for communities dealing with closed or realigned military installations like the one on Mare Island.
In Napa County, we secured $12.6 million to complete the Napa Flood Project’s Downtown Bypass Channel. The project will improve water quality, create urban wetlands, and enhance wildlife habitats, while also providing flood protection to 2,700 homes, 350 businesses, and more than 50 public properties. Already, this project has provided tremendous economic benefit, sparking almost $900 million in local public and private economic activity since it was begun. This project will be a lynchpin of economic development and job creation in our community for decades to come.
We secured $126,000 for Clinic Ole to hire additional employees to help residents with enrollment into the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act.
And, after securing $1.5 million for the glideslope at the Napa County Airport, I am proud to announce that it is up and running. This public safety project has been many years in the making and I am thrilled that we have finally crossed the finish line. The glideslope will enhance the safety of folks flying in and out. It will boost the use of our airport which will help local businesses and improve tourism. And, it will relieve pressure on other area airports.
In Contra Costa County, I worked with Congressman George Miller to pass legislation removing unnecessary bureaucratic barriers at Walnut Creek so that our local partners can complete the necessary work to prevent localized flooding and to restore habitat.
We also secured more than $111,000 for the Contra Costa County Health Center in Martinez to hire additional workers who will assist local residents with enrollment into the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act.
In Lake County, we were able to secure nearly $4 million to improve Lakeport’s drinking water system.
And, I once again led the bipartisan fight to protect local geothermal energy royalties from harmful budget cuts. Geothermal development comes at a cost so if a community invests in developing geothermal energy they deserve to get their fair share in returns. Last year, Lake County received more than $760,000 a year in geothermal royalties. Those royalties are used to pay for governmental services, such as road maintenance, public safety and law enforcement, and conservation.
Throughout the year, in all the counties that make up our district, we have helped people address issues with their Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans benefits and immigration. We have helped people get in touch with federal agencies, and assisted people with grant applications. If you ever need assistance, a list of constituent services provided through my office can be seen here on my website.
2013 was a good year for our district, but there is still more we must do for our communities and our country. It’s no secret that our nation faces big challenges. They won’t be solved through partisan gamesmanship. The government shutdown of 2013 proved that.
In 2014, we must move forward – not as Democrats and Republicans, but united as Americans – with the common goal of building a stronger nation. That means working together to grow our economy, create good jobs, and strengthen our middle class.
If we work together, our district and country will be better off – it will be a place where hard work is rewarded, where everybody gets a fair shot, and everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
Happy New Year. I look forward to working with you in 2014 to make our district an even better place to live, work, raise a family and start a business.
Member of Congress