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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on May 18th, 2022, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 23, Issue 12 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 23, Issue 12

Political Watch: May 19, 2022

• The U.S. House of Representatives voted 288-131 to approve and advance the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act—a bipartisan measure authored by U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) that ensures federal firefighters receive the same access to job-related disability and retirement benefits as state, county, and municipal firefighters, according to Carbajal’s office. This measure would presume that federal firefighters who become disabled by serious diseases like heart disease, lung disease, and certain cancers contracted those illnesses while on the job; this distinction will benefit more than 20,000 firefighters. Current laws require federal firefighters to identify specific exposures that may have caused their illness, and this burden of proof makes it difficult for them to qualify for workers’ compensation and disability benefits, according to Carbajal’s office. “I’m pleased to see my measure to give our brave federal firefighters the health care benefits they have earned receive strong bipartisan backing on the House floor today as we send the measure over to the U.S. Senate,” Carbajal said in a statement. “Federal firefighters have been on the front lines in California fighting wildfires as we experience longer and more extreme fire seasons, but their threshold to prove work-related illness is much higher than their state or local counterparts.”

• Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an $18.1 billion inflation relief package for California residents. “We enacted the most comprehensive economic stimulus program in the nation last year, getting billions in immediate relief to millions of Californians. But many folks are still struggling, especially with high costs due to inflation, so we’re leveraging this historic surplus to get money back into the pockets of Californians,” Newsom said. “This inflation relief package will help offset the higher costs that Californians are facing right now and provide support to those still recovering from the pandemic.” This inflation package includes $11.5 billion in tax refunds to help address inflation, $2.7 billion for emergency rental assistance, and $1.4 billion to help pay past-due utility bills, among other relief funds, according to the governor’s office. Additionally, California’s minimum wage is projected to increase to $15.50 per hour for all workers on Jan. 1, 2023. The accelerated increase is required by a provision in the state’s existing minimum wage law that is activated when inflation exceeds 7 percent, according to Newsom’s office. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in persistent supply-chain disruptions, and the labor market frictions have driven inflation to its highest rate in 40 years.

• U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-California) joined Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) and 29 of their Democratic Senate colleagues in a letter to Mardi Mountford, president of the Infant Nutrition Council of America, calling on infant manufacturers to get families the baby formula they need to feed their kids, according to a May 13 statement. Over the past several months—particularly in light of the massive recall following contaminated formula from major supplier Abbott Nutrition—it has become increasingly difficult for families to access infant formula. In the letter to the infant nutrition council, senators stressed how dire the situation is for families and urged formula manufactures to take action to increase infant formula production and distribution, and prevent future supply-chain disruptions. “This shortage has placed an unacceptable burden on parents and caregivers and has put the health of babies and infants at risk. For many families, infant formula is critical for ensuring their children receive the nutrition they need to grow healthy and well-nourished,” the letter stated. “This shortage has been especially challenging for some of the most vulnerable infants, with particularly acute shortages of specialty formulas to address health needs such as allergies, gastrointestinal issues, or metabolic disorders. There is no easy substitute for infant formula, and this shortage has left families across the nation scrambling to figure out how they will safely care for their children.”

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