Political Watch: March 14, 2023

• U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal and several colleagues introduced legislation to designate spaceports including Vandenberg Space Force Base, as eligible for tax-exempt municipal revenue bonds to incentivize investment in spaceport infrastructure, according to a March 8 statement from Carbajal’s office. Projects such as airports and docks currently qualify for tax-exempt municipal revenue bonds, which attract private investment for infrastructure projects. The Secure U.S. Leadership in Space Act allows spaceports the same options to garner needed investments for a rapidly evolving industry. The lawmakers cite U.S. adversaries’ heavy investment in space infrastructure, notably China, and the projected exponential growth of U.S. launches as critical reasons for their new bipartisan legislation. The number of space launches from the U.S. doubled in just the last seven years, according to the congressman’s office. “As the representative for Vandenberg Space Force Base, our nation’s West Coast range, my communities and I are seeing the firsthand reality of the exponential increase in commercial space launches year after year,” Carbajal said in the statement. “Opening public-private revenue sources like municipal bonds, which were a foundational tool to meeting our nation’s needs when our new frontiers were the ocean or the air, will help us meet this important moment in the development of our space economy.”

• U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-California) announced that he secured more than $18.4 million in federal funding for 15 projects along the Central Coast in the first package of fiscal year 2024-25 appropriations bills, according to a March 5 statement from Padilla’s office. The package includes the Agriculture; Energy and Water; Military Construction-VA; Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development; Commerce, Justice, and Science; and Interior appropriations bills. “I am proud to have secured millions in funding for projects that will improve the quality of life along the Central Coast,” Padilla said in a statement. “These investments will support local governments and nonprofits working on the ground in our communities to protect against flooding and improve the reliability and quality of our water,” Padilla said in the statement. “As water rates continue to climb and climate change causes devastating atmospheric-river floods, these investments in local infrastructure are critical for improving sanitation, water affordability, and agricultural production throughout the region.” Padilla secured $959,752 for Santa Maria to support the city’s storm drainage improvement project meant to protect communities during heavy rainfall and $2 million for San Luis Obispo County to replace the SLO County Sheriff’s Office dispatch system—which is reaching the end of its life and handles law enforcement dispatch and medical dispatch countywide. 

• Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new state council focused on creating jobs and awarding $182 million in grants to jumpstart the governor’s Regional Investment Initiative to accelerate economic and workforce projects throughout the state, according to a March 8 statement from Newsom’s office. The California Jobs First Council and its operational plan focuse on streamlining the state’s economic and workforce development programs to create more jobs. The council and operational plan will guide the state’s investments in economic and workforce development to create more family-supporting jobs and prioritize industry sectors for future growth. “California has created more opportunities, more jobs, and more businesses than any other state, but we need to ensure that we’re all moving forward together,” Newsom said in the statement. “Through this new council and these investments, we’re aligning all of our economic resources to create more jobs, faster for Californians in every community.”

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