|TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- HELPING THE ECONOMY, MIDDLE CLASS, AND SENIORS
- PROVIDING TRANSPARENT ELECTIONS
- SUPPORTING ALTERNATIVE AND RENEWABLE ENERGY
- PROTECTING ANIMAL WELFARE
- SMALL BUSINESS VISITS IN FEBRUARY
- HEALTH CARE REFORM WORKING IN YOUR COMMUNITY
- NORTH PARK PLANNING COMMITTEE
- SUMMER INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
- TELEPHONE TOWN HALL RECAP
- CONGRESSIONAL ART COMPETITION
- FREE TAX PREPARATION INFORMATION
- COMMUNITY SNAPSHOTS
I. HELPING THE ECONOMY, MIDDLE CLASS, AND SENIORS
I was pleased to support the bipartisan Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act (H.R. 3630) which was signed into law on February 22, 2012. The bill extends the payroll tax cut, unemployment benefits, and prevents cuts to doctors caring for Medicare patients.
This vote shows that Congress has the ability to compromise even in a partisan climate. This agreement will prevent taxes from going up on the middle class, ensure that seniors in the 53rd district will not lose access to the doctor of their choice, and help those struggling to find employment.
II. PROVIDING TRANSPARENT ELECTIONS
I believe that Congress needs to restore accountability in our political process because the American people have the right to know who is influencing their elections. It is for this reason that I signed on as a co-sponsor to the DISCLOSE Act. This bill was introduced in response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allows corporations to spend as much money as they want to influence elections. The DISCLOSE Act will bring transparency by requiring corporations and other outside groups to stand by their campaign ads -- with their leader and top financial contributors disclosed in the ads.
III. SUPPORTING ALTERNATIVE AND RENEWABLE ENERGY
The debate on energy is a clash of ideas with the past versus the future. We have a choice to keep pushing the policies of the past in oil drilling and the environmental risks that go along with it. Or we can move forward into the future and pursue a 21st century policy of innovation by developing alternative and renewable forms of energy. I voted to move forward by opposing an attempt to expand oil drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR). Oil drilling in America has increased and yet the price of gasoline still goes up. Doing more of what does not work doesn't make sense. It’s time to take our energy policy to the next level.
IV. PROTECTING ANIMAL WELFARE
On March 7, I was honored to receive the Humane Advocate Award presented by the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund. I received a perfect score on their 2011 Humane Scorecard, which included votes on the Endangered Species Act and co-sponsorship of bills on puppy mills, horse slaughter, animal fighting, and chimpanzees warehoused in laboratories.
V. SMALL BUSINESS VISITS IN FEBRUARY
Last month, I visited four communities in the district to see how small businesses are doing in San Diego County and to take the information back to Washington. A recap of these small business walkabouts is below.
Since 95% of businesses in San Diego County are small businesses, I work to keep apprised of the challenges they face. I recently met with the Duggan family at Duggan’s Collision Center in Spring Valley. Employing approximately 10 people and in business since 1989, the Duggans and I discussed ways to improve the business climate and the overall quality of life in Spring Valley.
During a walk in the Mission Hills Business Improvement District (BID), I met with the owners of Red Door Restaurant, Tops Salon, the Moonlight Theater, and Brooklyn Girl which is an eatery currently being constructed. I also had a chance to sit down with members of the Mission Hills BID. Congress has passed numerous small business related measures since 2008, but these business owners indicated a need for more tax code reform that supports more small business hiring.
I recently checked in with business owners at Blind Lady Ale House, Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga and Adams Avenue Bicycles. What I heard from all three establishments is that focusing on the needs of the community is a recipe for success. The economy might not be as strong as we’d like, but these local small businesses show that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well on Adams Avenue!
Last month, I dropped by the Grove Pastry Shop and Mario’s Family Clothing Center in Lemon Grove. Small businesses need more customers to grow and hire and I think the best way to make that happen is to strengthen the middle class. A stronger middle class means a stronger economy, which is why I voted in favor of extending the payroll tax cut and putting $1,000 back in the average taxpayer’s pockets.
In California, nearly 356,000 young people have gained health insurance through their parents' plan and seniors in the state have saved $171 million on prescription drugs. I am so pleased that so many people in this country are benefitting from health care reform.
VI. HEALTH CARE REFORM WORKING IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Statistics compiled by the Department of Health and Human Services were recently released by the White House on how health care reform is working across the country. You can view a complete breakdown of how health reform is benefiting California here. The data includes information on Medicare prescription drug savings, preventative services, and other important information, all in one place.
VII. NORTH PARK PLANNING COMMITTEE
On Tuesday, February 21, I attended the North Park Planning Committee meeting to provide a brief update from Washington and take questions from the audience. My staff and I regularly attend neighborhood meetings to stay up-to-date on communities’ needs.
During the meeting, I addressed the recently passed payroll tax extension, the STOCK Act, the DISCLOSE Act, and absentee voting. Topics of discussion with the audience included renewable energy, the closure of the North Park Post Office and the availability of prescription drugs for cancer patients.
In 2011, the community of North Park sent me 3,070 pieces of mail and emails - the most out of any community in San Diego! I am proud to represent such an engaged community and look forward to attending more community planning and town council meetings around the district throughout the year.
VIII. SUMMER INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
Both my San Diego and Washington offices are currently accepting internship applications for summer 2012. Interns assist with fielding constituent inquiries, public events, casework, and other special projects. For internships in my San Diego office, please contact Gavin Deeb at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in interning in my Washington, DC office, please contact Mike McLaughlin at email@example.com. Applicants should send in a cover letter, resume, and three references.
On February 29, I hosted a Telephone Town Hall meeting to discuss issues such as jobs, the economy, how to strengthen the middle class, and education. During the Telephone Town Hall, I provided an update from Washington and asked a few survey questions. A sample of the questions asked, and the callers’ responses, is below:
IX. TELEPHONE TOWN HALL RECAP
How high do you think the corporate tax rate should be?
Higher – 55%
Stay the same – 14%
Lower – 20%
Not sure – 11%
Do you think corporations should be able to spend unlimited amounts on campaigns?
Yes – 6%
No – 92%
Not sure – 2%
Should Congress repeal the health care reform law?
Yes – 29%
No – 65%
Not sure – 6%
X. CONGRESSIONAL ART COMPETITION
My San Diego office is currently accepting entries for the 2012 Congressional Art Competition. Each year, members of Congress hold a contest to select a work of art by a high school student in their district to be displayed in the Cannon Tunnel of the U.S. Capitol Building. The theme for this year’s art competition is “United We Stand,” so students are encouraged to be creative with their entries. The deadline to submit artwork to my San Diego office is 5:00pm on Friday, April 27, 2012. Please visit the Art Competition section of my website here or call (619) 280-5353 for more information.
XI. FREE TAX PREPARATION INFORMATION
The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs offer free tax help for taxpayers who qualify.
The VITA Program generally offers free tax help to people who make $50,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax return. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation to qualified individuals in local communities. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, and other convenient locations, and most locations offer free electronic filing. To find a VITA site near you, call 1-800-906-9887.
The TCE Program offers free tax help for all, with priority assistance to people who are 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement issues unique to seniors. IRS-certified volunteers who provide tax counseling are often retired individuals associated with non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS. To find a TCE site near you, call 1-888-227-7669.
For more information on free IRS tax preparation services, please visit http://www.irs.gov or call my office at (619) 280-5353.
XII. COMMUNITY SNAPSHOTS
OASIS "CATCH" Program
I visited with students at the “CATCH” Healthy Habits program at the Clairemont Boys & Girls Club. This program, sponsored by the OASIS Institute, brings together seniors and young people to learn and practice healthy eating habits.
Lemon Grove Senior Center
During a visit to the Lemon Grove Senior Center, I met with seniors and discussed Medicare, Social Security, veterans’ benefits, and education.
University Heights Coffee with the Cops
I recently attended the University Heights Community Association's “Coffee with the Cops” neighborhood event and discussed public safety issues with Greg and Marcia Sorini.
On Saturday, March 3, I had a chance to visit the Frances Parker Robotics team at the San Diego Regional Competition. It was so energizing to be around so many students who are enthusiastic about science and engineering!