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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on May 23rd, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 12 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 19, Issue 12

Political Watch 5/24/18

• Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order on May 10 designed to address forest recovery and wildfire prevention, and support forest management. The order includes doubling land actively managed through vegetation thinning, launching new training and certification programs for controlled burns, boosting education and outreach to landowners about fire safety and prevention, streamlining permitting for projects to reduce vegetation and other fuel sources, and expanding grants, training, and other incentives to improve watersheds. “Devastating forest fires are a profound challenge to California,” Brown said in a statement. “I intend to mobilize the resources of the state to protect our forests and ensure they absorb carbon to the maximum degree.”

• Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) questioned Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing regarding reports that federal agents forcibly removed children from their parents when apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border. “Secretary Nielsen, as I sit here today I’m extremely concerned about the administration’s repeated attacks on some of the most vulnerable communities, and in particular children and pregnant women as it relates to the work of DHS,” Harris said. “[DHS] has separated 700 children from their parents at the border since October of 2017, including more than 100 children who are under the age of 4. What purpose have you been given for separating parents from their children?” Harris continued, later asking if Nielsen had been ordered to separate parents from children at the border as a method to deter illegal immigration. “I have not been directed to do that for purposes of deterrence, no,” Nielsen said. “What purpose have you been given for separating parents from their children?” “So my decision has been that anyone who breaks the law will be prosecuted,” Nielsen said “If you’re a parent or you’re a single person or you happen to have a family, if you cross between the ports of entry we will refer you for prosecution. You have broken U.S. law.”

• On May 17, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) sent a letter to the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), requesting an explanation for why several gas and hazardous liquid pipeline safety improvements had yet to be enacted. Their letter cited a Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Inspector General report that found that 20 of 81 directives to the PHMSA had not been implemented. “It is unacceptable that seven years after these measures were signed into law, a number of critical overdue pipeline safety rules remain unenforced,” the letter said. “We know that oil spills will continue to happen as long as we continue to rely on fossil fuels for our energy security. PHMSA has an obligation to initiate rulemaking to implement these common-sense safety standards to mitigate these risks. We cannot continue to wait for another catastrophe to occur for PHMSA to take action.”

• A bill authored by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) to help Montecito and other California homeowners whose homes were damaged or destroyed by mudslides caused by fires passed the state Senate floor on May 17. According to a release from Jackson’s office, Senate Bill 917 would clarify current law that “an insurance policy covers loss or damage resulting from a landslide if that landslide was attributable to a condition already covered by the policy, such as wildfires.” That was the case with the Montecito mudslide, according to the release, which happened after “significant rains fell upon a burn scar left by the Thomas Fire.” “Following a traumatic event like the Montecito debris flow, homeowners deserve accurate, fair, and timely resolution of their claims,” Jackson said in the release.




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