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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on July 16th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 20 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 20, Issue 20

Political Watch July 18, 2019

• The state is looking for 14 Californians to serve on its 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission, the group of citizens charged with re-establishing the state’s boundaries of Congressional, state Senate, state Assembly, and state Board of Equalization districts. The redistricting is done every 10 years to reflect new population data and shifting demographics noted in the federal census, and the Voters First Act gave this power to California citizens in an effort to ensure that new and fair political boundaries are drawn without political influence. So far, a little more than 4,400 applications have been submitted, according to the state auditor’s office, including 53 from the Santa Barbara County area and 43 from the San Luis Obispo County area. Nearly 68 percent of applicants identify as white, and 49 percent identify as Democrats. About 61 percent of applicants so far are men. Californians have until Aug. 9 to apply online at shapecaliforniasfuture.auditor.ca.gov/. 

• An anti-vaping bill authored by Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) passed through its first committee in the Assembly on July 10. Assembly Bill 1639 would ban e-cigarette and e-juice marketing toward children and make it illegal for manufacturers to package products in a way that’s appealing to youth. This bill, however, would also ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes at non-vape or tobacco shops, increase penalties for selling or providing minors with tobacco products, require tobacco retailers to use age verification technology, and ban minors from entering tobacco and vaping stores. The bill is an effort to address the growing popularity of e-cigarettes and vaping products among teens, an issue that has garnered national attention. “Our bill is comprehensive and would enact the toughest standards in the nation,” Cunningham wrote in a statement released on his Facebook page. “It’s a positive step towards ending the teen vaping epidemic in California.”

• Two watchdog groups, Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance, submitted a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 10 detailing what they call “outrageous conflicts of interest” at the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources between several senior employees and the oil companies they regulate. In the letter, the groups outline the ways in which a number of the division’s top employees are allegedly involved with the companies they are charged with regulating, largely through past employment and large financial investments. The groups blame these alleged conflicts for “the rapid proliferation of oil wells” in the first five months of Newsom’s time in office. The division’s permit approval rate is now 30 percent faster than it was in 2018, according to the letter. “These conflicts and approvals reveal a biased department where oil well permitting is on automatic pilot,” the letter reads. “We ask that you immediately remove all the conflicted managers in the agency and begin a top-to-bottom ethics review. During this review, you should freeze all new oil and gas well permits until you can guarantee that decisions are made based on public safety, not pecuniary gain.”




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