Awards and Recognitions

July 20, 2015

Updated 7/20/2015

Governor Brown signed the 2015-16 Budget on June 24.  The permanent $5,600,000 Local Assistance funding level for CVSO’s was approved. 

It took 3 years to make the $5.6 million funding level permanent.  Our success is due to the hard work of many organizations and participants.  Twenty six CVSO’s were able to get their Boards of Supervisors to send letters of support to the Legislature in support of AB 171 (and similar bills in the last three years), which was part of the double pronged strategy to push this funding increase through.  In conjunction with AB 171, we lobbied to have the funding increased directly through the budget process.  Both efforts complimented each other and AB 171 built popular support which enhanced the budget process efforts.  In the end, we were able to have the funding inserted into the Legislature’s version of the budget, which the Governor approved.

 

We could not have done this without the following:

Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), who as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Veterans Affairs, carried AB 171 and moved the bill all the way to the Senate.  AB 171 had 43 Senate and Assembly coauthors.  Irwin and her staff were also able to secure 41 signatures on a letter to the Budget committees regarding support for the funding.

 

Speaker of the Assembly Toni Atkins (D-San Diego).  Speaker Atkins understands the vital work the CVSO’s do and has ensured that the Assembly has been in support of the funding increase since her tenure as Speaker.

 

Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) and Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), Chair and Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs respectively, fought hard for us in gaining support in the Senate.  The Senate had always been a hurdle for our past efforts to increase funding.  Nielsen and Hueso went to bat for us by holding an informational hearing on the good works that CVSO’s do.  In the final days of budget deliberations, Nielsen articulated the need for the funding in his role as one of the 6 members of the Legislature’s Conference Committee, while Hueso worked with us to secure the signatures of 25 Senators from both parties on a letter of support for our efforts.

 

Veterans Service Organizations.  The VSO’s provided the grass roots, public support for the funding increase efforts.  This is an extremely important point.  The major Veterans Service Organizations who are active at the Capitol; namely the American Legion, AMVETS, California State Commanders Veterans Council, Military Officers Association of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Vietnam Veterans of America; represent well over a million Californian veterans and their dependents.  Members of these organizations came to the Capitol numerous times to testify in support of our efforts.  AB 171 was lobbied heavily during all of their Capitol Lobby Days.  Thousands of veterans from these groups called, faxed, mailed, or e-mailed the Legislature and Governor at every stage of the process for the last 3 years on this subject.  Widespread grassroots support is mandatory for budgetary allocations such as ours.  Please be sure to thank your Veterans Service Organizations in your counties.

 

CACVSO.  The Association and its leadership were instrumental in providing the technical expertise to the Legislature.  A large part of getting this funding was proving that we needed it, would use it properly, and actually help veterans.  This meant that performance metrics and anecdotal evidence had to be gathered, analyzed, and presented to the Legislature’s budget gurus at all stages of the process.  CACVSO President Chris Bingham and key Association leaders traveled frequently to  Sacramento to cultivate support for our cause.  CACVSO fiscal analyst Jack Kirwan was indispensible in translating this data into a coherent format for the Legislature’s and Governor’s budget staffs.

 

CalVet.  The California Department of Veterans Affairs supported us to the fullest extent possible and Acting Secretary Debbie Endsley and her team worked behind the scenes with the Governor’s office to educate them on the importance of the CVSO’s to California’s veterans.

 

The CVSO funding is in the Main State Budget Bill, AB 93, the Budget Act of 2015.  It reads as follows:

 

“8955-101-0001—For local assistance, Department of Veterans Affairs, for contribution to counties toward compensation and expenses of county veterans ser-vices offices, to be expended in accordance with Section 972 and following of the Military and Veterans Code…..$5,600,000″

 

This can be found on pdf page 667 of the Chaptered bill.

 

STRIKE TEAMS:

The Strike Teams were also funded at the $3 million level in the budget and the appropriation has been made ongoing at that level as well.  This shows that the Legislature and the Governor now fully appreciate the importance of reaching out to veterans in the state and getting them their earned entitlements.

Read more about the name that was added during 25th Anniversary of the CA Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Earns Honorary Membership for Commitment to Quality Water Treatment

Lisle, Illinois USA — The Water Quality Association presented Pete Conaty, Pete Conaty and Associates, Sacramento, California, an Honorary Membership at its annual convention and trade show in Indianapolis, Indiana this month.

WQA has more than 2,500 members consisting of individuals and companies in the water treatment industry. Awards were presented at WQA Aquatech USA, an annual event that attracts thousands of participants from around the world.

The Award of Merit is given for “an individual outside the industry whose research, education, or exemplary service is meritorious.”

In presenting the award, WQA stated:

“A Vietnam War veteran and former military intelligence officer, Pete has been fighting for our industry in California for years. He is our official voice before the state’s government. His knowledge and reputation for integrity are legend in the state’s capital. Pete’s efforts have defended water treatment again and again. Now, he’s working tirelessly to promote all of our industry– helping legislators and special interests understand our value and strength.”

The Water Quality Association is a not-for-profit international trade organization representing the residential, commercial, and industrial water treatment industry. Its membership consists of both manufacturers/suppliers as well as dealers/distributors of equipment and services. WQA is a resource and information source, a voice for the industry, an educator of professionals, a laboratory for product testing, and a communicator to the public.

PDF on wqa.org

On Monday, December 3rd, the state Legislature convened for one day to be sworn in for the 2013-14 (2 year) legislative session and then departed to their districts.

This year saw a doubling of new members. In all there were thirty-nine new members sworn in. There were thirty-eight new members in the Assembly and one new member in the Senate (who was not previously an Assemblymember). The new Senator is Senator Richard Roth from Riverside County. He is a retired Air Force General who served in the JAG Corps.

California Senate's newest member, Richard Roth of Riverside County

All brand new members can serve up to twelve years in the Legislature. This can be twelve years in either the Senate or the Assembly or a combination of both Houses. This should bring some relief from the previous constant turnover of only six years in the Assembly.

Additionally, all district lines have been redrawn based upon 2010 census data and renumbered by an Independent Commission.

The legislators have returned to their districts until January 7th when they reconvene at the Capitol.

Between now and then, they will be setting up their Capitol and District offices, hiring staff and attending events they are invited to.

Two year sessions always get off to a slow start because of the many new members and because the two chambers need to organize the committees.

While Assembly Committee Chairs have been selected, the Senate has not selected all its Committee Chairs. Committee members have not been selected in either House.

I will be updating this information as I receive it. (see http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2012/12/new-california-legislative-session-brings-new-leadership-posts.html)

If your organization has a Legislative Day at the Capitol, I recommend that you concentrate on the new members first before going to see other members, unless they are in key positions.

I will shortly be sending out more information on how to find out who your new legislators are.

Pete Conaty, the Governmental Advocate for many Veterans Service Organizations issued the following statement today: “On behalf of my clients, they wish to thank Governor Brown for signing 18 veterans and military bills today. All these bills were either sponsored or supported by my clients.”

Pete Conaty and Associates represents the following veterans organizations:

  • American Legion, Department of California
  • AMVETS, Department of California
  • California Association of County Veterans Service Officers
  • California State Commanders Veterans Council
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of California
  • Vietnam Veterans of America, California State Council

“This is the most productive year for veterans legislation since the tragedy of 9-11 occurred and America went to war”.

“Veterans groups have really come together this year to push legislation to help all veterans, especially those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“California is already home to over 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and many more are expected to return to California in the next two years.”

“I especially want to thank all the legislators who authored these measures.”

“These bills will make meaningful improvement in the lives of California veterans, especially those who may become entangled in the criminal justice system because of mental health issues, such as PTSD and TBI, caused by their military service.”

“AB 2371 by Assemblywoman Butler will help veterans get treatment instead of prison time so that they can lead productive lives as good citizens.”

Pete Conaty is a retired U.S. Army officer who served and was wounded in Vietnam. He worked in the State Assembly for ten years after he retired from the military. After leaving the Legislature, he established his lobbying firm in 1996. He has worked on veterans issues in California for the past 26 years.

Pete Conaty on CBS

CBS Sacramento’s Call Kurtis investigates cases of the VA accidentally declaring veteran’s dead. Pete Conaty was asked to comment. Click the image for the video.

Pete Conaty CA Veterans Advocate

Pete Conaty spoke on behalf of California veterans alongside Assemblymember Blumenfield at the budget subcommittee oversight hearing to improve veterans services in the state of California.

They discussed ways to improve services to veterans with a panel of other veteran advocates and stakeholders. See more photos from the hearing at Assemblymember Blumenfield’s website.

Governmental advocate Pete Conaty of Pete Conaty and Associates announced that he has received two awards for his advocacy on water issues for 2011.

The Pacific Water Quality Association (PWQA) presented him with the Sidney C. Solomon Award for 2011 at its annual Fall Conference this fall. The Sidney Solomon Award, established in 1970, is given for outstanding service in the area of governmental affairs.

The Pacific Water Quality Association (PWQA) is a non-profit organization representing the water quality improvement industry. The goal of the PWQA is to provide all consumers equal access to quality water options for home, business and commercial water treatment applications.

The California Groundwater Association (CGA) recognized Pete for his efforts by presenting him with the CGA 2011 Advocacy Award. The CGA bestows this award in recognition of his outstanding efforts to promote effective legislation for the public and the groundwater industry.

The CGA is a non-profit organization that has promoted protection of groundwater since 1948. Their members include water well drilling and pump contractors, suppliers and manufacturers, geologists, engineers, hydrologists, government employees and others working in the groundwater field. The CGA represents groundwater professionals working with water well owners throughout California.

Mr. Conaty is a governmental advocate in Sacramento whose firm, Pete Conaty and Associates, represents the interests of numerous clients before the State Legislature, state agencies, boards, and commissions.

Read more

Global War on Terrorism Wall of Honor

On Wednesday, July 20th, 5th District (Sacramento) Assemblymember Dr. Richard Pan, Vice-Chair of the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee paid a visit to the California State Military Museum (on of our clients). Dr. Pan and staff received a tour of the museum as well as a thorough briefing on the museum and the state’s military history and museum programs.

Left to right: Mr. Pete Conaty, Sgt. Maj. Dan Sebby, Assemblymember Richard Pan, Lt.Col. Tony Palumbo at the California’s Global War on Terrorism Wall of Honor