Senator Newman’s January 2024 Newsletter

Dear Friend and Neighbor,

The new year is traditionally a time to make resolutions and set goals for the year ahead. Whether or not you’re a practitioner of this optimistic turning-of-the-leaf practice, I think that one resolution we can all set at any time during the year is to become more involved in our communities and with our neighbors. From being engaged in your children’s school, to volunteering for a local charity, or helping out on a local campaign and educating your neighbors, democracy only works when we’re all involved. 

January 15th marks the celebration of the life and legacy of the great Martin Luther King, Jr. I hope you’ll take a moment to reflect upon what it means to be an informed and engaged citizen on this day. Since Reverend King gave his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, America has come a long way towards a more just and equal society, but there is obviously still more work to be done.

In keeping with the legacy of Reverend King, the holiday we celebrate in his name each year is the only federal holiday that is also a designated “National Day of Service.” If you’re moved to participate in a volunteer event geared toward bringing positive, meaningful change to your community, I commend you for doing so, not only on the 15th but on any occasion when you can make your own contribution, however large or small, that adds to a culture of community service that positively transforms lives.

As we move forward into the new year, my overriding priority as a public servant is to continue representing you and your family to the very best of my ability as your member of the California State Senate. With that as our guidepost, my office is always ready and willing to listen to your concerns or assist you in any way we can. Please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff at 714-525-2342 or at

All the best,


Josh Newman
Senator, 29th District

Capitol Updates

The California Legislature returns to Sacramento this month after the annual recess which began at the close of legislative business in the fall. The start of 2024 marks the beginning of the second year of California’s two-year legislative process. Our return to Sacramento also starts the clock on moving any outstanding bills from the 2023 session out of their respective “house of origin” (either the Senate or the Assembly) by the end of January. Concurrently, my team and I are working through concepts and suggestions on new bills, for which the deadline for introduction is mid-February. In the coming month, we’ll send you an update on new legislation bills, both my own bills and others’ which may have an impact on your life, your business, or your community.

The state’s budgeting process also commences in January. On Wednesday the 10th, the Governor presented his initial budget proposal. As you are probably aware, the state’s fiscal outlook for the current year is likely to be challenging, to put it mildly, with the initial budget framework expected to address an impending revenue shortfall of between $36-68 billion dollars. Over the coming months, a series of budget and budget subcommittee hearings will assess the extent of the shortfall and, through the Legislative budget process, synthesize the shared priorities and sacrifices necessary to derive a balanced budget, which generally takes preliminary form in the revised budget proposal to be presented by the Governor in mid-May. As always, I’ll try my best to keep you informed, both through this newsletter and other channels. If you have specific questions or concerns about the budget and its possible impact, please don’t hesitate to contact my office.

District Updates

Buena Terra Elementary School Designated as a “Blue Ribbon School”

On December 15th, I joined Buena Terra Elementary students, parents, and faculty to celebrate their recent designation as a 2023 National Blue Ribbon School. Only 33 of the roughly 5,000 schools across the State of California earned this prestigious designation, and Buena Terra Elementary in Centralia Elementary School District was fittingly recognized for its high-performing students and excellent staff. These past few years have been challenging for our students, with many unfortunately falling behind due to barriers they and their families have faced at home. Buena Terra’s focus on providing an enriching curriculum and empowering families to actively participate in their students’ education has ensured that students have a strong support network, both at school and at home, in order to succeed in their academic careers. Congratulations to the entire Buena Terra educational community for achieving this milestone, and a special thank you to the hardworking teachers and staff who made this possible.

Senator Newman’s Holiday Toy Drive

On the 19th of December, my office proudly hosted a holiday toy drive which, even in the face of a steady December drizzle, was nevertheless full of warmth. As part of a joyous evening of tacos and community, we also collected 177 toys, which were subsequently delivered to the Marine Corps Base in Twentynine Palms, where they hopefully brought joy to the children of some of the thousands of military families serving their country at one of the nation’s most remote miliary installations. It was, as always, uplifting to meet with constituents, dignitaries, and community leaders, and to share stories and laughter, as well as updates about the district and the work of the Legislature.

Thank you once again to our partners in organizing and hosting the event, especially Lee and Amy Mao, the Making Spirits Bright Toy Drive Committee, and the wonderful team at the Fullerton Museum. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to everyone who donated toys and joined us in celebrating the holiday season.

29th Senate District’s December 2023 Restaurant of the Month

When you think of the holiday season, several images may come to mind: snowy landscapes, crackling fireplaces, and Fraser firs decorated with shiny ornaments and tinsel garlands. How fitting, then, that I had the pleasure of recognizing Green Green Trees in West Covina as Senate District 29’s December Restaurant of the Month (that's not a typo--there really are two greens in the name). The “green trees” here, however, are not a reference to Christmas trees, but an evocation of the restaurant’s fully vegan menu, which includes a wide selection of pan-Asian cuisine and other plant-based fare.

Though Green Green Trees first opened its doors in 2021, its story actually dates back to owner Carol Tsang’s childhood in Taiwan, where she first discovered her love of food and cooking. After immigrating to this country, it became Carol’s dream to open and operate a restaurant serving traditional Taiwanese dishes uniquely reimagined as clean, vegan meals. Despite a series of challenges and hardships, Carol’s husband Charles continually urged her to pursue her ambition, and together they spent six years laying the foundation for their future restaurant.

Sadly, Charles passed away in 2020. Carol then decided to put everything into finally opening the restaurant she and Charles had dreamed of as a way to promote a healthy vegan lifestyle and to spread joy and love in his honor. The restaurant, which Carol calls Charles’ “last gift to our family,” offers a diverse menu of quality offerings, from vegan Taiwanese porridge to chicken-less “fried chicken.” This bounty of healthy offerings is a testament to Carol’s lifelong passion for brightening people’s days through food. It’s my great honor to be able to convey my appreciation for her efforts, as well as Green Green Trees’ contributions to the culinary offerings of Senate District 29.

29th Senate District’s December 2023 Citizen of the Month

Over the course of a distinguished career of four decades, Audrey Lujan has become an expert of library sciences and has risen to the chief position in Anaheim’s library system. Under her inspired leadership, the Anaheim Public Library has continually expanded and evolved to provide a multitude of community services far beyond the scope of a typical municipal library. I’m very proud to recognize Audrey as the 29th Senate District’s “Citizen of the Month” for December 2023.

After earning a master’s degree in library sciences from the State University of New York at Buffalo, Audrey embarked upon a diversified career that would ultimately give her valuable experience across a range of libraries, including those serving medical, academic and other specialized institutions. In her current role as the Anaheim City Librarian, Audrey ably applies her extensive knowledge and experience toward the public good. While she’s no doubt a bibliophile herself, Audrey has focused her skills as a leader and administrator to amplify the impact of her creative and talented staff to expand the Anaheim Public Library well beyond a standard repository and circulator of popular texts and into a cherished local institution tailored to the needs and desires of the community.

Crediting library staff and the community itself for their “out-of-the-box thinking” and tireless support, Audrey shared with me an impressive list of the library’s recent accomplishments and its ten branch locations throughout Anaheim. To name just a few, the library has instituted a regional initiative for foster youths; organized year-round cultural heritage festivals; implemented extensive recreation and academic programming for residents of all ages; and facilitated the expansion of weekend services at multiple locations. Local residents can also look forward to the creation of a new “Maker Space” at the Haskett Branch Library in West Anaheim. Funded through a combination of state resources and community donations, this exciting new digitally enabled resource will allow for free access to professional-grade audio and video production equipment, commercial workshop appliances, and other cutting-edge technology.

I’m immensely grateful for Audrey’s commitment to making the Anaheim Public Library so great, and I hope you can join me in congratulating her on this well-deserved honor. 

Staff Highlights

From Erica Lucia, District Director:

“On December 3rd, I had the pleasure of attending the Eagle Scout promotion ceremony for our constituent Dean Koos. Dean successfully completed all requirements to advance to the rank of Eagle Scout, a feat only 5% of Scouts achieve. Dean was awarded a commendatory legislative resolution from Senator Newman and Assemblymember Philip Chen (pictured below). 

In other news, after nearly four years of working for Senator Newman, I am embarking on a new journey in public service. It has been an absolute honor to serve the constituents of the 29th District, alongside the very best team in the Legislature. I will cherish the incredible memories accumulated over my years of service and time as a district representative and district director for this office, and I look forward to seeing familiar faces from SD-29 at future community events. Wishing you a safe and wonderful new year!”

From Nathan Bass, serving the cities of Anaheim, Chino Hills, Placentia, and West Covina:

“I never had much direction as a high school student, and without a history of higher education in my family, the first couple of years of college were a challenge for me. At times, I wished there were more resources for students like myself who weren’t necessarily interested in academe and wanted to break into the workforce with early career and technical training. In December, I joined Senator Newman for a close look at the North Orange County Regional Occupational Program, which provides those exact services to students at 30 schools across our region. It was inspiring to meet students who, unlike myself at their age, had found direction and were already engaged in specialized training in fields including health care, education and marketing. The North OC ROP has brought an impressive array of resources to bear in their curriculum, and students will be prepared to enter the working world or specialized higher education on “Day 1” after high school.”

From Scott Do, serving the cities of Fullerton, La Habra, La Palma, and Stanton:

“In December I had the honor of attending the grand opening of the Stanton Battery Energy Storage facility, an impressive project spearheaded by W Power and Wellhead Electric Company to improve the battery storage capability of our region. At this occasion I also had the distinct privilege of presenting a Senate Resolution recognizing the incredible work that Wellhead Electric Company has done for our community. I’m excited to see what 2024 will bring the 29th Senate District!”

From Christiane Salamat, serving the cities of Diamond Bar, Industry, Rowland Heights, and Walnut:

“To many, the advent of the new year is an annual symbol of change, and the time in which many individuals may seek career transitions, set resolutions for themselves, and perhaps even invest in a fresh pack of socks to replace the mismatched, hole-laden ones tucked away at the bottom of their drawer. At the local government level, this time of year is generally also when city councils undergo their annual reorganization. In the city of Diamond Bar, I was honored to attend the reorganization on December 5th and present certificates to outgoing Mayor Andrew Chou and Mayor Pro Tem Stan Liu (now in his first mayoral term) in appreciation of their invaluable contributions to the Diamond Bar community. Congratulations to Mayor Liu and Mayor Pro Tem Chia Yu Teng on their new roles as they continue to serve and represent the residents of Diamond Bar!”

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

“Last month, I had the opportunity to join Foothill Transit for their 35th anniversary celebration. For more than 35 years, Foothill Transit has been providing reliable, affordable, and accessible transportation for residents of Downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena, and the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys. Making an appearance at the celebration was a hydrogen fuel cell bus, signifying Foothill Transit’s goal to achieve a 100% zero-emission bus fleet. It was truly inspiring to learn about Foothill Transit’s efforts to reduce their carbon footprint while ensuring residents can continue to rely on them for affordable transportation services.”


OC Free Tax Prep

The IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free basic tax return preparation to qualified individuals.

The VITA program has operated for over 50 years. VITA sites offer free tax help to people who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns, including:

•    People who generally make $60,000 or less
•    Persons with disabilities; and
•    Limited English-speaking taxpayers

While the IRS manages the VITA and TCE programs, the VITA/TCE sites are operated by IRS partners and staffed by volunteers who want to make a difference in their communities. The IRS-certified volunteers who provide tax counseling are often retired individuals associated with non-profit organizations that receive IRS grants.

VITA/TCE services are not only free, but a reliable and trusted source for preparing tax returns. All VITA/TCE volunteers who prepare returns must take and pass tax law training that meets or exceeds IRS standards. This training includes maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of all taxpayer information. In addition to requiring volunteers to certify their knowledge of the tax laws, the IRS requires a quality review check for every return prepared at a VITA/TCA site prior to filing. Each filing season, tens of thousands of dedicated VITA/TCE volunteers prepare millions of federal and state returns. There are also assisted taxpayers Facilitated Self-Assistance returns.

For a location near you, visit: