Political Watch: July 11, 2024 | Political Watch

Political Watch: July 11, 2024 |  Political Watch

• Amid extreme heat waves in California and across the country, U.S. Senator … Alex Padilla (D-California) applauded the Biden administration‘s proposed rule seeks to establish the first federal safety standard to protect workers from the severe risks of excessive heat, according to a July 2 statement from Padilla’s office. The rule, proposed by the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), would implement key provisions from Padilla’s Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatalities Prevention Act by proposing a federal standard to ensure workers and employers can address the increasing risks of heat stress. Last summer, Padilla and his colleagues, along with 112 members of Congress, called on the Biden administration to implement a federal OSHA heat standard for workplaces as soon as possible. The proposed OSHA rule would implement work practice standards such as required rest breaks, access to shade and adequate hydration, and habituation to high-heat work conditions. It would also require employers to identify potential heat hazards, develop plans to handle heat illness emergencies, and train employees and supervisors on managing the risks of excessive heat. This rule would affect about 36 million workers and aims to reduce heat-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the workplace. “As climate change breaks new heat records each summer, it has become increasingly important to require employers to provide common-sense heat protection measures, such as shade and water breaks,” Padilla said in the statement. “I am very pleased that OSHA is responding to our calls to put the health and safety of our workers first by proposing a federal heat standard that would prevent millions of heat-related illnesses and save lives.”

• US House of Representatives Health Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) is encouraging families on the Central Coast to take advantage of California’s expanded package of federal nutrition programs for children, according to a June 28 statement from Carbajal’s office. The new package of programs from the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers families more choices and more convenient ways to receive summer nutrition assistance for their children and teens with the new SUN Bucks, as well as SUN Meals and the previously launched SUN Meals To-Go program. “Even on the beautiful Central Coast, summer vacation is not always a welcome time for some of our children and families. The end of the school year can leave families struggling to make ends meet in limbo, as many school meal programs are phased out until the fall. That’s why summer nutrition programs like the SUN programs are so important in putting food on the table for thousands of families in our region who don’t have enough to eat,” Carbajal said in the statement. “I was proud to work with my colleagues last semester to develop and fund the SUN Bucks program, and I am excited to see it launch this summer to support children in California and the Central Coast who lack access to nutritious meals between school years.”

• Governor. Gavin Newsom has announced a ballot bill to combat property crimes and the fentanyl crisis, including through targeted reforms to Proposition 47, according to a July 5 statement from Newsom’s office. Passed in 2014, the bill classifies certain crimes as misdemeanors, changes resentencing laws and establishes the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund to support rehabilitation programs and pay for drug and mental health treatment. This year’s ballot bill sets penalties for repeat petty theft or shoplifting, authorizes law enforcement to add the value of multiple thefts to charge a felony, creates tougher penalties for knowingly selling or providing drugs laced with fentanyl without informing the buyer, makes it easier for prosecutors to charge drug dealers who supply fentanyl with murder in the event of a death and expands community-based treatment programs for drug addicts. “With targeted reforms to Prop. 47, this ballot proposal is a critical step forward in our efforts to strengthen California’s public safety laws and provide law enforcement with additional tools to address growing concerns about property crime and the fentanyl crisis,” Newsom said in the statement. “This balanced approach tackles crime and protects our communities – without resorting to ineffective and costly policies of the past.”