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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on September 12th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 28 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 28

Political Watch 9/14/17

• Senate Democrats including Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) recently introduced the Students Before Profits Act. According to a release from Harris’ office, the introduction of the act came following a move by President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to appoint a former official of DeVry University to head the Department of Education’s unit that combats fraud. The release from Harris’ office described DeVry University as “fraudulent,” which raised concerns over for-profit colleges and the safety of students. The Students Before Profits Act would ensure that students get access to accurate information about colleges, that oversight remains strong, and would hold for-profit schools and executives accountable for violations and poor performance, according to the release. Harris has experience with predatory for-profit colleges. According to the release, she sued Corinthian Colleges as attorney general of California, winning a $1.1 billion judgment for former students. “For-profit colleges like Corinthian engaged in systematic fraud and preyed on students by falsely promising a meaningful education that would lead to a job. Corinthian’s predatory behavior lined its pockets with profit at the expense of shattered dreams and mountains of bad debt for its students,” Sen. Harris said in the release. “That’s why I sued them as attorney general, and then worked with the Department of Education to forgive the loans for those young adults. It’s clear this administration believes a quality education is a privilege, not a right, so we must fight to protect our students from deceptive practices.”

• Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) saw his amendment to the FY18 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations bill that would require updated automatic shutoff valves and leak detection standards for oil and gas pipelines pass the House floor on Sept. 7. The amendment earmarked $1 million of the Department of Transportation’s budget to go toward finalizing and implementing an existing law that requires that the department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration require the use of automatic or remote-control shut-off valves on new transmission pipelines. “This amendment takes important steps to improve the safety of our pipeline infrastructure along the Central Coast and across the country,” Rep. Carbajal said in a statement. “Updated pipeline leak standards and automatic shut-off valves are essential to mitigate damage caused by oil spills on our communities. The Central Coast saw this firsthand when it took over two hours to detect the source of the Plains’ Line 901 spill, where thousands of gallons of oil spilled onto Regufio Beach and into the ocean. Pipeline failures such as this directly threaten the public’s health and safety, the local economy, and our environment.”

• State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) saw two coastal protection bills that she authored pass the state Assembly floor on Sept. 7. Senate Bill 44, the Coastal Oil Well Clean Up and Remediation Act, which would require that the California State Lands Commission plug old “orphaned” oil wells in California waters when the oil company that originally operated the well cannot be held responsible, passed with a 76-0 vote in the Assembly. “It is of utmost importance that we locate and cap these old and abandoned wells in order to prevent potential oil leaks and fumes that ruin our water, sand, and ocean and affect our children, out-of-town visitors, birds, fish, and other marine life,” Jackson said in a statement. Senate Bill 290, which would create an emergency grant program for authorized organizations that respond to stranded marine mammals or wildlife that have been entangled in fishing gear, passed with a 60-15 vote. “The whale entanglement issue has been a grave concern the last few years, and it is time we support our network of volunteers that dedicates their personal funds and effort to protect our precious marine life.” Both bills now move to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

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