District Report - June 2017
It has been just over a year since I had the honor of becoming the Assembly Member for the 31st District.
Since then, I have had the pleasure of meeting with and hearing from many of you. I look forward to continuing to hear about your concerns and your dreams for our communities.
I hope that you will consider me and my office a resource that is ready to assist you. And, I hope that you will enjoy my first newsletter!
Dr. Joaquin Arambula
Assemblymember, 31st District
In this Issue:
Assembly Bill 207
In the Emergency Room, I saw firsthand the wide-range of problems that affect my community and the health of our people, including a lack of access to health care and the difficulties of retaining and recruiting doctors to practice in the Valley. Ensuring access to health care is not only an issue of proximity and availability of resources to patients; it is also an issue of ensuring that we adequately train the professional workforce to meet the healthcare needs of Valley residents.
This is why I introduced AB 207, a bill to bring a medical school to the Valley. The longer we wait, the worse the shortage of medical professionals becomes and the less likely we are to improve the medical outcomes for the entire region. The time to invest in a new medical school in the Valley is now, before our already-acute shortage of physicians increases.
It is an undeniable fact that California is falling short of meeting the needs of a primary care physician workforce. A 2015 Latino Physicians of California survey highlighted that the state currently imports 78 percent of its total physician workforce.
Of the physicians in the state, there are wide disparities by region. The Central Valley, for example, has approximately half the doctors per 100,000 people compared to other parts of the state, like the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Compared to the state average, the San Joaquin Valley has approximately 50 percent fewer doctors than the rest of California.
Bringing a medical school to the Valley will bring economic investments to some of our most disadvantaged communities through direct institutional and workforce spending, as well as out-of-area visitors, construction, and other infrastructure development spending.
AB 207 is currently in the Assembly Education Committee awaiting a hearing.
AB 242 (Veterans Suicide)
A report published by the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA) in 2016, estimated that nearly 20 Veterans commit suicide each day in the United States. According to the VA, "Veterans accounted for 18% of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults, while Veterans constituted 8.5% of the US population. In 2010, Veterans accounted for 22% of all deaths from suicide and 9.7% of the population."
One of the first bills I introduced was AB 242, which requires the Department of Public Health to compile already existing data about the number of veterans who commit suicide. As a physician, I know accurate data will help us better understand the full scope of the problem of veteran suicides in California. This information will help us provide better support to our veterans. I'm pleased that Assemblymember Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) joined me in introducing this bipartisan measure. AB 242 has passed through the Assembly and will now be heard in the Senate.
Teen suicide is not an easy subject to discuss. Difficult subjects like this require vigilance, understanding, and preparedness. That's why I introduced AB 917, a bill that requires state colleges to adopt a suicide prevention plan.
According to a 2012 National Survey of Counseling Center Directors report, suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, resulting in nearly 200 public college student deaths annually in California alone. In addition, the Center for Collegiate Mental Health 2016 Report found that 33 percent of undergraduate college students have seriously considered committing suicide.
It is my hope that this legislation will help identify mental health resources for students across California.
Boys and Girls Club of Fresno County Youth of the Year
Congratulations to Nancy Reyes, winner of the 2016 Youth of the Year Award presented by the Boys and Girls Club of Fresno County! For more than 68 years, the Boys and Girls Club of Fresno has helped shape our future leaders by providing community service and activities in a safe, fun environment.
Nation's First Electric Vehicle Charging Stations In Rural Cities
The Fresno County Regional Transit Agency (FCRTA) approved a plan to bring Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations to Fresno County's rural incorporated cities. Fresno County will be the first in the nation to have EV charging stations in every one of its rural incorporated cities, bringing with them clean energy and help in reducing pollution. The thirteen self-sufficient charging stations are made possible by funding and assistance from CALSTART and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.
Last month, the US Bureau of Reclamation announced a 100 percent allocation to Central Valley Project contractors south of the Delta. The Bureau's decision marked the first full allocation since 2006 and is reflective of the estimated 198 percent above-average snowpack and above-average rainfalls this winter.
Our recent winter storms may have temporarily addressed short-term water needs, but years of drought, decades of neglected infrastructure, and lack of investment in new systems continue to threaten our water delivery system statewide—systems that continue to age dangerously and become more expensive to fix the longer we wait.
Earlier this year, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) released a report that presented another piece of evidence regarding the serious state of neglect of California's water infrastructure.
The report, conducted by NASA for DWR, found "that land continues to sink rapidly in certain areas of the San Joaquin Valley, putting state and federal aqueducts and flood control structures at risk of damage." The report called this sinking, or subsidence, "troubling" and "unsustainable."
Subsidence has caused the California Aqueduct to drop more than two feet in some places. Why is this concerning? A part of the State Water Project, the California Aqueduct supplies water to 25 million Californians and nearly one million acres of farmland.
NASA's analysis also found subsidence of up to 22 inches along the Delta-Mendota Canal, a major artery of the Central Valley Project (CVP), operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that supplies water to approximately three million acres of farmland and more than two million Californians.
DWR concludes that groundwater over-drafting has created this problem and is considering curtailments as a possible solution. Placing limits on the use of well water will create significant hardships on farmers, families, and communities all around the Valley, at a time when they struggle to recover from a drought, recession, decreased water deliveries, and prepare for the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
These problems will persist without a comprehensive investment in the water system in the Central Valley. California has not built additional water storage facilities for decades and has not invested in new water delivery systems that meet the growing demand throughout California, particularly in the Central Valley.
To illustrate this demand, California's 1970 population of almost 20 million is roughly half of what it is today. With an estimated population growth rate of 340,000 additional people every year until 2030, the pressures on our water delivery system will only increase.
The California Water Commission is currently accepting applications for funding for new water storage projects under Prop. 1. The decision about which projects will be funded will be made early next year after the Commission reviews and scores the applications based on a number of factors, including the public benefit of the project.
Temperance Flat Reservoir, just east of Fresno on the San Joaquin River, has been studied and reviewed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and is the only major project that would create water storage south-of-the Delta.
We cannot wait any longer to invest in water infrastructure. We cannot wait another 50 years to increase our water storage by another nominal amount.
This is why I am committed to continuing to work with our San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority – the Joint Powers Authority putting together the application on Temperance Flat – and other stakeholders such as the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce, our rural school districts, our rural health providers, and our community members to ensure that we act now.
I urge you to join me and sign our petition to support the building of Temperance Flat Dam.
Good News in the District
03/07/17 – Reedley College's 90th Birthday Celebration
- Reedley College's 90th Birthday Celebration recognizing individuals who have had a transformational impact on Reedley College.
03/ 16/ 17- Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) Graduation
- PIQE, in partnership with Firebaugh High School, graduated 28 parents who participated in workshops intended to present them with knowledge and skills to better participate in their child's education.
04/13/17 – City of Selma's first Safe Place site dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony
- City of Selma's ribbon cutting ceremony in dedication of its first Safe Place site located at the Boys & Girls Club of Selma. Safe Place is an outreach program in partnership with the National Safe Place Network and Fresno EOC Sanctuary and Youth Services to ensure that youth in crisis will receive help, support, and strength from the community.