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The following article was posted on December 27th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 43 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 43

Political Watch 12/28/17

• Gov. Jerry Brown (D) sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Dec. 20, requesting a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to help support ongoing recovery efforts in response to Southern California wildfires, including the Thomas Fire. In the letter, Brown pointed to low humidity, Santa Ana winds, and the thousands of evacuees in Santa Barbara County caused by the Thomas Fire as reasons for the escalated support. Brown had declared a state of emergency in Ventura and Los Angeles counties on Dec. 5, and in San Diego and Santa Barbara counties on Dec. 7. President Trump issued a federal emergency declaration for the state on Dec. 8, which offered assistance to help combat the wildfires, but Brown asked for more aid. “As it stands right now, the Thomas Fire is the second largest and seventh most destructive fire in California history,” Brown wrote. “The area of destruction currently spans more than 40 miles by 20 miles. Officials predict this fire will inevitably cause more destruction before it is eventually contained.” On Dec. 21, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Kamala Harris (D-California) sent a letter to the president reiterating Brown’s request. “We appreciate your approval of earlier requests to provide federal assistance, and we ask that you again approve this request for disaster aid,” the letter stated. “We support Gov. Brown’s request and strongly urge you to declare a major disaster.” Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) also called on the president to approve Gov. Brown’s request on Dec. 21.

• Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) challenged Republican leadership on Dec. 21, saying she wouldn’t support the GOP’s funding bill if it didn’t include funding for two programs: the Dream Act and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Dream Act would protect undocumented immigrants formerly protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, whereas the CHIP program provides health insurance to minors whose families can’t otherwise afford insurance. “I call on President Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan to do their job, include the Dream Act in this bill, include long-term funding for CHIP in this bill, include funding to stabilize the Affordable Care Act so millions don’t lose health care,” Feinstein said in a statement. “Republicans so far this year have put on a terrific display in how not to run a government. Please do your job, the country demands it.” Congress did pass the spending bill along party lines with temporary funding for CHIP, which President Donald Trump signed on Dec. 22.

• Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) was among a bipartisan group of senators who introduced legislation to strengthen U.S. election cyber security in response to interference in the 2016 election by Russia. Sens. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico), and Harris introduced the Secure Elections Act on Dec. 21, which would authorize block grants for states to update voting technology, create a program for an independent panel for cybersecurity guidelines, and offer funding so states could implement the recommendations. The legislation would also allow state officials speedier security clearance to review sensitive threat information and allow the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to share information with state officials. “A clear lesson of the 2016 election is that we need to fortify our election systems against foreign attacks,” Harris said in a post on Twitter on Dec. 21. “This isn’t a partisan issue.”

• Four bills authored by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) are set to become law on Jan. 1. The Parent Leave Act will provide 12 weeks of job-protected maternity and paternity leave for California parents who work for smaller companies with 20 to 49 employees; the Coastal Oil Well Clean Up and Remediation Act directs the California State Lands Commission to monitor and plug “orphaned” oil wells in state waters; Campus Domestic Violence Counselor Confidentiality guarantees the confidentiality in communications between domestic violence victims and college campus counselors; and Senate Bill 36 enacts robust reforms to the State Bar of California, including mandating that appointees to the bar’s board of trustees are appointed by the state Supreme Court, the Legislature, and the governor.




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