Political Watch: April 22, 2021

• Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on April 16 that he signed Senate Bill 93 into law, which creates a statewide policy for rehiring workers laid off due to the pandemic. “SB 93 requires employers in the hospitality and business services industries, including hotels, airports, and large event centers, to offer new positions to qualified former employees laid off due to COVID-19 within five business days, through 2024,” according to Newsom’s office. The legislation requires employers to give their laid-off workers information about available positions that they qualify for, and to give preference to those employees when filling the position. The bill defines laid off as those who worked for their employer for six or more months in the year preceding Jan. 1, 2020, and who were let go for COVID-19 related reasons. “The bill would require an employer to keep records for three years, including records of communications regarding the offers,” the legislation states. “The bill would require an employer that declines to recall a laid-off employee on the grounds of lack of qualifications and instead hires someone other than a laid-off employee to provide the laid-off employee a written notice within 30 days including specified reasons for the decision, and other information on those hired.” The statewide policy will stay in effect until the end of 2024. This bill also appropriates $6 million from the Labor and Workforce Development Fund to the labor commissioner for “staffing resources to implement and enforce the provisions related to the rehiring and retention of workers displaced due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the governor’s office. 

• On April 15, Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) and Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Monterey) released statements about the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) consideration to use Camp Roberts as a facility to house unaccompanied children who have crossed the border. If HHS decides to use Camp Roberts, the California Army National Guard Post would be used to house the minors, according to Carbajal’s office, but a final decision had not yet been made as of April 15. “Recently, I visited one of the many HHS facilities for unaccompanied minors who crossed the southern border and were awaiting placement and legal processing,” Rep. Panetta said in a statement. “I found the facility, located in Carrizo Springs, Texas, to be clean, spacious, and safe. If HHS decides that Camp Roberts will be used as a location for one of its many facilities to temporarily house unaccompanied minors, Rep. Carbajal and I will ensure that the facility meets those same standards.” According to the statement, both congressmen will stay in contact with the Biden administration and HHS regarding its decision on using Camp Roberts. “Moreover, we will continue our fight for an orderly, efficient, and safe process during the legal determination for those unaccompanied children who came here seeking their family and, ultimately, a better life,” Panetta said. According to Carbajal’s office, unaccompanied children who are brought to HHS sites are soon released to family or a sponsor until the courts can determine their legal status.

• State Sen. Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) shared in an April 16 Facebook post that Cuyama Valley Resource Center is one of 13 organizations in California to receive a recent grant from the No Kid Hungry effort. “Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign will invest $3 million in grants to organizations focused on early childhood, including 13 child care providers and health care centers in California,” according to the Share Our Strength organization. The grants go out to organizations that are specifically combating food insecurity among children under age 6. “With many kids in our area faced with hunger and hardships due to the pandemic, Cuyama Valley Resource Center is working to decrease food insecurity among children,” Limón said in her post.

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