Political Watch: May 9, 2024

• U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) and Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse joined Santa Barbara Harbor officials to survey the semiannual dredging at Santa Barbara Harbor and discuss how more than $3 million secured in the 2024 federal funding deal will help ensure safe navigation for Santa Barbara’s maritime industry, recreational boaters, and maintain its public beaches, according to an April 24 statement from Carbajal’s office. The funding signed into law in March by President Joe Biden contained more than $26 million specifically for upkeep of Central Coast harbors and ports. “Santa Barbara Harbor is a cornerstone of not only our slice of paradise but also the economy that sustains our community. Whether it’s families enjoying a weekend on the water or local fishermen bringing in their catches, maintaining navigable channels and a functioning waterfront is vital for our region,” Carbajal said in the statement. “I’m proud to have secured these critical funds for the Central Coast during this year’s budget negotiations, and I remain committed to working closely with Santa Barbara and Army Corps officials to address challenges posed by climate change and other threats, ensuring our harbors and ports thrive despite evolving conditions.”

• U.S. Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-California) introduced the Next Step Home Act, a piece of legislation aimed at restoring voting rights for individuals with felony convictions who have been released under the First Step Act and successfully reentered society, according to an April 30 statement from Butler’s office. “The Next Step Home Act will complete the process of returning home by restoring the right most fundamental to our citizenry—the right to vote,” Butler said. “With this bill, I seek to stop perpetuating destructive cycles of exclusion and marginalization and instead embrace justice and the belief that every person is worth redemption.” Under the First Step Act, recidivism rates among its beneficiaries is 12.4 percent, and the legislation has helped reduce the population in overcrowded prisons by at least 30,000 people, the statement said, adding that more needs to be done to enact humane reforms to the nation’s criminal justice system. Currently, 4.6 million Americans don’t get to vote in federal elections due to felony convictions. By extending the power of the vote to individuals who have demonstrated a genuine commitment to reentry and including them in our political process, Laphonza said, we advance our nation’s democratic principles of a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” 

• Two national monument expansions announced by President Joe Biden on May 2 are supporting California’s work to conserve more lands and coastal waters, according to a May 2 statement from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office. The Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument near Napa and the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument in Los Angeles will both increase in size, protecting more of California’s unique biodiversity and culturally significant Native American tribal lands, Newsom said. The expansions also help provide greater access to the outdoors to underserved communities. Biden’s announcement expands protected lands in California by 130,000 acres. This federal expansion gets California closer to its 30-by-30 goal—conserving 30 percent of the state’s lands and coastal waters by 2030. The state now stands at 24.5 percent of lands conserved.

Comments (0)
Add a Comment