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State senator and congressional hopeful Juan Vargas recently saw five bills he authored move out of committee and to the senate floor for a vote, the Imperial Valley Press reports.

Senate Bill 973 would allow local agencies to grant annual fireworks displays an exemption from compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, which environmentalists have used to challenge fireworks shows in the region. The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce identified such an exemption as a major policy goal in February.

SB 978 intends to address regulatory gaps in the hard money lending industry, which has expanded in recent years due to the housing downturn and subsequently tight mortgage market. Hard money lenders solicit large investments from individuals who are often unsophisticated and lured by the promise of large returns without a full understanding of the risks involved in lending to borrowers deemed unworthy by major banks.

SB 979 aims to add transparency to the state’s banking industry by making information about state enforcement actions more easily accessible by consumers.

SB 1264, inspired by the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal at Penn State, would add coaches and assistant coaches at public and private colleges to the list of “mandated reporters” laid out by the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act. These individuals would henceforth be required to report any suspected sexual misconduct that comes to their attention.

SB 1549 is a procedural amendment to allow the San Diego Association of Governments to use alternative project delivery methods for transit projects, with the aim of improving efficiency. It would also require the Association to pay into the State Public Works Enforcement Fund for monitoring of prevailing wage compliance, and further require a progress report to be made available online following a project’s completion.

Vargas is among those vying to fill California’s 51st District congressional seat, covering southern San Diego County and Imperial County, which is being vacated by longtime Rep. Bob Filner as he seeks San Diego’s mayoral seat.

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