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Political Watch 1/19/17
• California 24th District Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.) announced his appointment to the House Committee on Budget on Jan. 13. Carbajal proposed an amendment that day to the budget resolution that would allow states to opt out of the Republican majority's proposed Affordable Care Act repeal. "I look forward to utilizing my prior budgetary experience as Santa Barbara County Supervisor to make strategic investments that support and strengthen working families on the Central Coast," Rep. Carbajal said in a statement. "I will work diligently to ensure our federal budget protects Medicare and Social Security, invests in rebuilding our inrastructure, and expands access to affordable education."
• California Sen. Diane Feinstein, who's a senior member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, quizzed Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill for U.S. attorney general Jan. 9. Feinstein asked questions ranging from whether Sessions would use the Hyde Amendment—a legislative provision that bars certain federal funds to pay for abortions except in cases like rape or when the woman's life is in danger—to deny abortions for victims of human sex trafficking who became pregnant from rape. She also asked if he'd uphold the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court's decision on same-sex marriage. Sessions replied that he'd uphold laws on a woman's right to choose and marriage equality. Sessions faced Senate confirmation to be a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama before the same committee in 1986, but was rejected.
• While her U.S. Senate cohorts breezed through the questioning of retired Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly during his secretary of Homeland Security confirmation hearing at Capitol Hill on Jan. 10, newly-elected California Sen. Kamala Harris grilled the general with her own set of questions. Specifically, Harris asked Kelly whether he'd use outgoing President Barack Obama's Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy to target undocumented immigrants who submitted personal information to the federal government in order to receive the deferrment. Kelly said that he didn't have a plan "other than enforcement of the law," but promised to keep an open mind and take a "very long and hard" look at the issue.
• California Gov. Jerry Brown released the state's proposed 2017-18 budget on Jan. 10. Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-Templeton) responded to the proposed budget, which totals $179.5 billion and includes an increased gas tax paid by drivers, saying that it "gets us to the 50-yard line" with a robust rainy-day fund, but criticized it because it failed to prioritize transportation infrastructure. "We can fund our roads and infrastructure without raising taxes," Cunningham said in a press release issued on Jan. 10. "I will be pushing to make our roads a higher priority in the budget." Assemblywoman Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) had a different take on Brown's new budget. While she was disappointed in seeing promised increases to child care rates, affordable housing, and middle-class college scholarships, she praised allocations for sustainable groundwater and conservation. "I am confident our natural resources will remain a priorty for the state even with the unclear approach of the incoming federal administration," Limon stated in a press release issued on Jan. 10.
• The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors began its 2017 session on Jan. 10 with the swearing-in of two new supervisors—Das Williams and Joan Hartmann, who represent the county's 1st and 3rd Districts, respectively.
• Santa Barbara County 1st District Supervisor Das Williams announced staff hirings on Jan. 9. Williams appointed Darcel Elliot as chief of staff and Ashley Kruzel and Cameron Schunk as district representatives. Both Kruzel and Schunk worked for Williams in his Assembly office for the last two years.
• On Dec. 21, California Senate President Tempore Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) appointed state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), who represents California's 19th Senate District, to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee reviews and votes on bills amending California's Civil Code, Code of Procedures, as well as debates and votes on bills related to a variety of issues, including courts, judges, personal privacy, and consumer protection.
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