Political Watch: November 24, 2022

• U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) joined several other representatives to introduce bipartisan legislation to address pervasive understaffing in federal prisons, according to a Nov. 14 statement from the congressman’s office. The Prison Staffing Reform Act would direct the Bureau of Prisons to conduct a review of understaffing, devise a three-year plan to fill vacancies, and implement the plan as well as submit yearly progress reports to Congress. The proposed legislation would mandate the bureau’s plan to encompass the effects of understaffing on workplace safety, inmate casework processing, and the availability of medical care and educational programs for inmates. “Staffing shortages don’t just put unnecessary burdens on the public safety officers and other [Bureau of Prisons] workers, they actively put the safety of those incarcerated at [bureau] facilities at risk,” Carbajal said in the statement. “At the Lompoc prison on the Central Coast, chronic understaffing and inadequate resources led to one of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks at any [Bureau of Prisons] facility as well as deadly fights that killed both inmates and staff. Our legislation provides the accountability needed to protect facilities like Lompoc by ensuring there is proper staffing in place to provide the security and services that are needed.”

• U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-California) joined Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and immigrant youth leaders for a press conference to call on Republicans in Congress to work with Democrats before the end of the year to pass permanent protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, according to a Nov. 16 statement from the senator’s office. DACA allowed more than 83,000 young people to live and work without an immediate fear of detention and deportation. Dreamers continue to live with the threat of losing their work permits and deportation protections following the 5th Circuit Court’s recent decision on DACA. If Congress doesn’t act this year, the court could end DACA as soon as next year, and an average 1,000 recipients would lose their jobs each week, according to the statement. “For too long, we’ve seen bad faith arguments and partisan politics delay immigration reform,” Padilla said in the statement. “In the 10 years since DACA was first established, Dreamers have become deeply embedded into the fabric of our communities. Dreamers have helped significantly grow our economy through their entrepreneurship and paying taxes, all while being forced to live in limbo. It’s time for my Republican colleagues to come to the table, because failing to act would be to deny them the American Dream. We must pass legislation to provide permanent protections once and for all.”

• The California Air Resources Board released an updated proposal to slash pollution and accelerate the state’s transition to clean energy, according to a Nov. 16 statement from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office. This updated plan follows Newsom’s push to move faster to achieve new ambitious climate goals, setting new targets for renewable energy, clean buildings, carbon removal, and clean fuels in the transportation sector. If adopted by the board, this plan will be a critical component of Newsom’s California Climate Commitment—to build out a 100 percent clean energy grid, achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, ramp up carbon removal and sequestration, protect Californians from harmful oil drilling, and invest $54 billion to forge an oil-free future while building sustainable communities throughout the state. “California is drastically cutting our dependence on fossil fuels and cleaning our air—this plan is a comprehensive road map to achieve a pollution-free future,” Newsom said in the statement. “It’s the most ambitious set of climate goals of any jurisdiction in the world, and if adopted, it’ll spur an economic transformation akin to the industrial revolution. While big polluters focus on increasing their profits at our expense, California is protecting communities, creating jobs and accelerating our transition to clean energy.”

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