Saturday, January 28, 2023     Volume: 23, Issue: 48

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on January 18th, 2023, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 23, Issue 47 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 23, Issue 47

Political Watch: January 19, 2023

• Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to further bolster the emergency response to severe winter storms and support impacted communities across the state, according to a Jan. 16 statement from the governor’s office. In the past week, California secured a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration and a Presidential Emergency Declaration to assist response and recovery efforts to the storms, which have resulted in at least 20 fatalities and evacuated tens of thousands of residents. With lingering storms expected, the state continues to work with local and federal partners to prepare for and respond to flooding, debris flows, and other storm-related emergencies. Newsom’s executive order includes provisions that help ensure adequate staffing for the emergency response by waiving work hour limitations; support impacted residents by waiving fees to replace records like marriage and birth certificates; and provide flexibility to help health care facilities in impacted areas remain open. In recent weeks, Gov. Newsom has met with evacuated residents in Merced County, assisted storm preparedness work in Santa Barbara County, and surveyed storm damage in Santa Cruz County and Sacramento County with state and local officials. Newsom also activated the State Operations Center to its highest level and proclaimed a state of emergency statewide.

• U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-California) joined several of his colleagues in a letter to Southwest Airlines CEO Robert E. Jordan, seeking answers for its mass flight cancellations in the final week of December, according to a Jan. 13 statement from the senator’s office. Southwest canceled more than 7,500 flights between December 27 and 29 in the wake of winter storm Elliott as all other major airlines canceled 1,077 flights combined during that period. The senators asked Jordan to explain the causes of this holiday debacle, including specific questions around its outdated scheduling software, personnel decisions, ticket refund policies, passenger baggage decisions, and shareholder compensation. “The mass flight cancellations at Southwest Airlines (‘Southwest’) during the last week of December ruined the holidays for tens of thousands of travelers, stranding them at gates without their bags and forcing them to miss celebrations with families and friends,” the letter stated. “Although winter storm Elliott disrupted flights across the country, every other airline operating in the United States managed to return to a regular flight schedule shortly thereafter—except Southwest. Southwest must take all necessary steps to ensure that this debacle never happens again.”

• In coordination with local, state, and federal partners, Santa Barbara County made local recovery and assistance resources available online through, according to a Jan. 16 statement from the county. Resources can be found in both Spanish and English, and this online location serves as a single point of access for essential resources and services available for community members beginning the process of rebuilding and recovery following the storm impact. In addition to online resources, a physical one-stop shop local assistance center opened for a third consecutive day on Jan. 16 in Guadalupe and Orcutt. Cleanup kits for those impacted by the January storms were also available at the Local Assistance Centers (LAC) on Jan. 16. Resources from various local, state, and federal agencies are available through the LAC, which aimed to provide answers to commonly asked questions and give important information as well as links to counseling and emotional support, resource assistance, and other information available to aid in rebuilding, permitting, hazardous materials cleanup, housing assistance, navigating loss of business or employment, basic health and human services, and many other topics. Visit for online resources and more information in both English and Spanish. Direct questions to (833) 688-5551.

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