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Feb 11th
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Assemblymember Mark Stone

Mark Stone newLooking back on your first year in office, what were the highlights, and, looking ahead, what are your plans for next year?

I worked hard during my first year in office to serve my constituents, and I look forward to another year of helping vulnerable Californians and leading the fight to protect our environment.

I’m pleased that the legislature passed an on-time, balanced budget last year, and for the first time in many years, the state did not have to make drastic cuts to programs that help foster youth, the elderly, and the disabled. While this is good news, these Californians continue to suffer as billions of dollars in budget cuts from previous years decimated essential services they need. As a member of the Assembly Budget Committee, this year I will continue to advocate for critical programs on which so many Californians rely.

Additionally, this year I served as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Human Services, which I will continue to lead in 2014. In this capacity, I had the opportunity to review and support legislation that promotes educational attainment, employment, and self-sufficiency for families. The committee also considers legislation that affects the developmentally disabled, the elderly, foster youth, and, this year, I will pay special attention to how federal cuts to CalFresh, formerly known as food stamps, could affect California families. And along with my colleagues in the Senate, I will also encourage changes to the standards in residential care facilities for the elderly to help keep residents safe.

I am happy to report that I wrote several new laws, helping California youth, set to take effect in 2014. I wrote a new law that helps protect kids who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless by ensuring that emergency shelters serving these youth are safe and properly staffed. And, working with one of my Republican colleagues, I co-wrote a bipartisan law that helps foster youth achieve their educational goals, whether that is a high school diploma or admission to a four-year college, by streamlining high school transfer credit requirements. And finally, I wrote a law that helps public schools better serve foster youth by ensuring that the many services a foster youth receives are better coordinated between child welfare agencies and school staff.

I was disappointed that several environmental causes fell short of passage through the Legislature this past year, particularly those related to plastic waste. These include proposals that would have created a statewide plastic bag ban, as well as a bill I wrote to require plastic waste producers to help pay for the cost of cleaning up the waste from their products. In my role as Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Coastal Protection, I convened several hearings on these and other subjects related to keeping our coastline and ocean environments pristine. Clearly, it will be difficult to pass comprehensive legislation that will reduce harmful plastic pollution at the state level; nevertheless, this year I will continue to fight for such policies here and investigate potential solutions.

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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