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Senator Newman’s April 2024 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Spring has officially sprung, and April brings a vibrant blooming of cultural, educational, and environmental significance. It's a month of celebration, reflection, and appreciation for the diverse offerings of our community.

Many celebrated Eid al-Fitr this month, a joyous occasion celebrated by our Muslim friends and neighbors. It's a time of communal feasting and gratitude, symbolizing the culmination of Ramadan's spiritual journey.  

Others will embrace the start of Passover, a holiday rich with tradition and its themes of perseverance, resilience, and liberation, values that resonate deeply within Judaism. 

On April 13, our Sikh neighbors commemorated Vaisakhi, a festival imbued with the spirit of renewal and gratitude. It marks the harvest season and holds deep cultural and religious significance, symbolizing the birth of the Khalsa Panth and the values of quality, community service, and compassion.

Amid these celebrations, we paused to observe the Day of Silence on April 12. This day reminds us of the challenges faced, both past and present, by the LGBTQ+ youth community and the importance of standing in solidarity with those who continue to fight for acceptance and equality.

April is also Public Library Month, and studies have shown that well-funded school libraries are linked to higher academic achievement. As Chair of the Senate Education Committee, I'm committed to ensuring that all students have access to a quality education. Strong public schools and well-resourced libraries are essential for fostering a love of learning and equipping students for success.

And as you enjoy the longer, sunny days of spring, April 20 marks the start of National Parks Week, with a special free entry day at National Parks across the country. This is a fantastic chance to explore California's natural wonders. In our area, Joshua Tree National Park, known for its unique desert ecosystems, is just a short drive away.

And, of course, no April calendar would be complete without Earth Day, an annual event held very April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First held on April 22, 1970, Earth Day now includes a wide range of events coordinated globally by, which touch more than 1 billion people in more than 193 countries.

I hope this month provides you with opportunities for reflection, learning, and connecting with both our shared communities and the planet that gives us life.

All the best,


Josh Newman
Senator, 29th District

Capitol Updates

In Sacramento, April marks the beginning of perhaps the busiest phase of the legislative calendar.  My talented, energetic, and committed legislative team is instrumental in helping ensure the bills I’ve introduced are ready to be presented in their first policy committee. This includes working with policy committees and affected stakeholders to explore impacts and, where necessary, make bill amendments. In March, the Senate Committee on Education, which I chair, held its first policy hearing to consider new bills affecting California education, either K-12 or higher ed, to include three of the education bills I introduced.

The first of those bills is SB 897, which expands and makes California’s “District of Choice” program permanent. District of Choice allows students to transfer to participating public school districts without having to secure permission from their home district. The program promotes competition within the public school system and, on average, gives participating students access to between 5-7 new courses. This bill passed out of the Senate Education Committee with bipartisan support, with a vote of 7-0.

The second bill is SB 907, which will improve representation and expand voter access at the Orange County Board of Education by increasing the number of trustees from its current membership of five to seven, and by moving the Board’s elections from the primary ballot, as currently conducted, and onto the general election ballot in November. This bill passed out of the Senate Education Committee with a vote of 5-2.

The third education bill that has been heard is SB 1244, which would give high schools additional options for partnering with nearby community colleges in order to allow their students to participate in college-level courses that count toward their high school and college degrees. In addition to reducing the time and costs associated with obtaining a college degree, dual enrollment courses have also been found to enhance both the educational performance and future attainment of participating students, especially those who may be the first in their families to attend college.

Other of my bills that have already been heard in policy committees include SB 1138, which adds military entrance processing to the list of excused school absences, SB 1164, which aims to incentive accessory dwelling unit (ADU) construction by deferring property tax reassessment, and SB 1416, a part of the Safer California Plan that increases the penalties for the middlemen who sell items stolen from retail businesses as part of an organized theft ring.

Having now all passed out of their first policy hearings, they are now slated for either a second hearing in another policy committee with jurisdiction over their subject matter or to the Senate Appropriations Committee, where the cumulative impacts of all bills in progress are considered prior to possible passage out to the Senate floor.


District Updates

29th Senate District "Women of the Year"

On Saturday, April 30th, I had the honor of recognizing six exceptional women from Senate District 29 for their significant contributions to our communities. The celebratory luncheon at local favorite Madero 1899 was a perfect conclusion to the Legislature’s annual month-long celebration of Women’s History, emphasizing the importance of acknowledging and honoring women’s achievements.

The event highlighted the invaluable roles these women play in shaping our district’s history and future.  It was a privilege to celebrate these remarkable women.  You can read their full biographies and learn about their achievements

A big thank you to my staffer, Christiane Salamat, who spearheaded this remarkable day!


Cal State Fullerton Campus Visit

Since assuming the chair position in the Senate Committee on Education, I’ve had a series of meetings and visits geared to securing a deep understanding the broad range of issues facing California students from primary school to higher education. Last month, I sat down with CSU Fullerton campus leaders, including President Sylvia Alva, Vice President for Student Affairs Tonantzin Oseguera, and members of the student government executive officers to learn more about some of the issues they’re addressing at CSUF.

The conversation covered a number of important topics, including the lingering challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, staff shortages, facility improvements, and the need for initiatives supporting students of color. You can read more about our meeting in this article from the Daily Titan.


OC Superintendents Legislative Day

On March 15th, I participated in a legislative roundtable at the OC Department of Education with school district superintendents from across Orange County, alongside Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris and Assemblymember Blanca Pacheco. The event was an engaging and far-raging discussion of some of the issues and concerns superintendents are facing, with particular emphasis on current legislation and the prospective impact of the impending state budget deficit on their districts and programs. Some of the key issues we discussed included the penalties Garden Grove Unified School District faced for early implementation of Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK) and the need for budget stability in the upcoming school year.


27th Annual Foothill Transit Bus “Roadeo”

In March, I had the privilege of participating in the annual bus “roadeo” hosted by Foothill Transit.  This year’s event featured the usual mix of fierce but friendly competition among drivers and mechanics.  Beyond the entertainment, it’s important to recognize the vital role played by our bus operators, mechanics, and customer service representatives in keeping our communities on the move.

I extend my sincere admiration and gratitude for all their hard work in ensuring safe and reliable public transit in our community, with a special thank you to the staff and volunteers who make this fun annual event possible.


South Fullerton Community Recognition

On Saturday, March 16th, I joined a group of local, state, and community leaders to celebrate the advocacy and leadership of community members in South Fullerton who were instrumental in securing approval and funding for desperately needed recreational resources in that part of town.

Along with Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva, Senator Tom Umberg, Fullerton School District Trustee Ruthi Hanchett, Fullerton Councilmember Ahmad Zara, and representatives from Supervisor Doug Chafee’s office, we celebrated the successful advocacy for the Union Pacific Trail project. The trail will transform the former railroad right-of-way into a multi-use path for pedestrians and cyclists. While the project isn’t complete, it will increase connectivity, provide green space, support transit-oriented development, and create safer routes for active transportation within Fullerton and neighboring communities.


Anaheim Family YMCA Gala

On March 9th, I attended the Anaheim Family YMCA Gala, joined by Representative Lou Correa and the Anaheim City Council members. This year’s gala had a special focus as the group honored Paul Kott for his exceptional dedication. A member of the YMCA Board of Directors, Paul has devoted over 60 years(!) of his time and energy to serving the City of Anaheim and the Anaheim Family Y. His tireless commitment inspires all and makes him a very worthy honoree.


Cypress College Foundation Americana Awards

On March 16th, I had the privilege of attending the Cypress College Foundation’s 49th Annual Americana Awards on May 16. These annual awards recognize outstanding individuals for their community services and raise funds for Cypress College Students.

As always, it was a treat to join Anaheim Mayor Ashleigh Aitken, City Councilmembers, and other officials in recognizing Bobbie Stovall as the Person of the Year as well as all of Citizens of the Year from the various cities with Cypress College’s territory. Congratulations to all of the honorees, and thank you for your dedication to our communities!


Senate District 29’s Restaurant of the Month: Blue Scoop Creamery

I’m pleased to recognize Blue Scoop Creamery as Senate District 29’s Restaurant of the Month. Located in both Yorba Linda and Brea, Blue Scoop Creamery offers Southern-inspired ice cream treats, evoking co-owner Kim Rhodes’s childhood memories spent at Kentucky ice cream parlors.

Blue Scoop Creamery was established in the summer of 2018 by Chris and Kim Rhodes, building on Kim’s childhood dream of one day opening her own ice cream shop. In the years since, it’s become a fixture of the community and expanded to a second location in Brea in January 2023.

Known for their rotating selections of small-batch, handcrafted ice cream flavors, Blue Scoop Creamery serves as a vibrant hub for community gatherings.  They also have a number of partnerships with local nonprofits that serve and support foster care youth, as well as other youth-focused organizations across the region.

I extend my heartfelt appreciation to Blue Scoop Creamery and the Rhodes family for their many contributions to the culinary and economic landscape of Senate District 29.  I hope you’ll join me in celebrating them as our Restaurant of the Month.



Staff Highlights

From Scott Do, District Director:

In March, our chief of staff, Brendan Hughes, made a visit to the district, which included several meetings focused on key projects and issues our office is involved in or monitoring.

One noteworthy meeting was with the OC Realtors, where we gained valuable insight into the pressing issues impacting their industry. Hearing directly from professionals in the field provided us with a wealth of knowledge. It also reinforced in me the significance of advocacy in equipping legislative offices with essential information to enact meaningful change. I’m looking forward to the knowledge that April will bring with it!


From Nathan Bass, serving the cities of Fullerton, Placentia, and Rowland Heights:

Beginning in 2021, the City of Placentia began a citywide initiative to renovate its recreation facilities, including every public playground in the city. Since its inception, this initiative has seen numerous parks throughout the city undergo extensive renovations, featuring upgraded equipment and amenities tailored to the diverse recreational needs of the community, including emerging sports trends.

I joined Placentia in late March to celebrate the grand re-opening of the city's historic Parque del Arroyo Verde as the most recent location to be renovated under the parks initiative. Complete with activities for patrons of all ages and a custom adventure theme, the park will be a top destination for residents for many years to come. With efforts like these, Placentia is undoubtedly living up to its motto of being a "pleasant place to live."


From Christiane Salamat, serving the cities of Chino Hills, Diamond Bar, Walnut, and Industry:

Last month, I attended the dedication ceremony of “Ray McMullen Way” in Walnut, a well-deserved recognition of Ray McMullen’s genuinely outstanding service to the Walnut Valley Unified School District.

Mr. McMullen joined WVUSD in 1954 after being recruited during his final year at Whittier College, and his dedication to fostering academic success and personal development has impacted generations of students. Over his nearly seven-decade career, he watched as WVUSD grew from a small student body of 23 to an award-winning district serving over 13,000 students. Even at 91 years old, he continues to faithfully serve the district as a Personnel Commissioner.

It was a great honor to attend this ceremony and celebrate Ray McMullen’s invaluable contributions to the Walnut Valley community.


From Sheen Sidhu, serving the cities of Buena Park, Yorba Linda, and Brea:

In celebration of Women’s History Month, I had the pleasure of joining the Soroptimist International of Brea and La Habra to recognize recipients of this year’s “Live Your Dream Award.”

Every year, Soroptimist International Chapters across the country support and empower women in their communities by providing cash awards to help offset any costs and support their pursuit of higher education. These remarkable women have overcome many challenges to advance their careers and achieve their dreams. Many of these women juggle busy schedules, balancing motherhood and full-time jobs, all while attending school.

Each woman’s journey deeply moved me, and witnessing the determination and strength demonstrated by this year’s award recipients was incredibly inspiring. I wholeheartedly wish all these women the best as they continue pursuing their dreams! 


From Christopher Kent, serving the cities of West Covina, La Habra, and Cypress:

I recently attended the ribbon-cutting and grand opening of The Cajun Crab in La Habra! Alongside Mayor Daren Nigsarian and La Habra Councilmember James Gomez, we celebrated the hard work and dedication of Chef Melody Shin and her team in launching their second Cajon-fusion restaurant.

Chef Melody Shin originally established The Cajun Crab in Long Beach back in June 2020, where she curated a unique menu that blends Cajun and Southeast Asian cuisine. Now, with the opening of their second location, we commend The Cajun Crab on this milestone and extend our best wishes for their continued success.

sd29_240415_13From Kimberly Rangel, serving the cities of Anaheim, Stanton, and La Palma:

In March, I had the pleasure of attending the Boys & Girls Clubs of Anaheim-Cypress Gala Reception alongside my fellow district representative, Christopher. As the newest additions to the team, it was a fantastic opportunity for us to attend an event together and connect with other district representatives in the area.

During the reception, we honored the Youth Awardees for 2024, who were chosen for their outstanding personal and academic achievements. The evening was a celebration dedicated to our community's next generation of leaders. Adding to the atmosphere, the event DJs were kids from the Boys and Girls Club’s music program! Congratulations to this year’s honorees for their outstanding achievements, and my best wishes for their future endeavors.