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    California's new congressional districts + Democrat to retire + New bill follows OC oil spill


    December 21, 2021 - Andrew Sheeler, The Sacramento Bee

     

      Dec. 21—Good morning and welcome to the A.M. Alert!

      FIRST UP: We finally have maps for 2022 legislative and congressional elections.

      The California Redistricting Commission late Monday approved maps that appear to cement Democratic power in the Capitol while increasing the number of Latino-majority congressional districts.

      The maps appear to give Democrats an advantage in congressional races, tilting five of the state's 11 Republican-held districts leftward. That puts Republican Rep. Mike Garcia in a tough spot for the Southern California district he narrowly won last year, while opening an opportunity in the San Joaquin Valley for presumably endangered Democratic Rep. Josh Harder.

      Latino advocacy groups celebrated the vote, noting the new districts increase the number of Latino-majority congressional districts to 18 from today's 13. They stressed that rising political power reflect growth in the state's Latino population.

      "I think the Latino community is a winner but that is conventional with our role in the growth in the population of California," said Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

      In the state Capitol, Republican consultant Matt Rexroad sees a difficult path ahead for the GOP.

      "If I had to bet, I would bet Republicans would be in a super-minority for the next decade," he told The Bee's Lara Korte.

      We'll have more on the maps and what's ahead for 2022 today at sacbee.com.

      CALIFORNIA CONGRESSWOMAN ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

      Via Gillian Brassil...

      California Rep. Lucille Royball-Allard will retire from the United States House of Representatives at the end of this term, her office announced on Monday.

      Royball-Allard, D-Los Angeles, was the first Mexican-American woman elected to Congress when she took office in 1993. She has represented largely-Hispanic areas in Southern Los Angeles since.

      In her 30-year tenure, Roybal-Allard championed immigration reform. She was one of the original authors of the DREAM Act of 2001, which aimed to give legal status to immigrants to the U.S. who arrived as children.

      Roybal-Allard was the first Latina to serve on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which oversees government financing. She currently heads the Homeland Security subcommittee that controls funding for immigration agencies.

      "Serving my Constituents in Congress has been the single most distinguished honor of my life," Roybal-Allard said in a statement on Monday. "Over my many years of public service, I have always strived to do that which is best to help improve my community and my country."

      Her announcement comes as California prepares to rejigger its congressional districts. California's redistricting commission will send its final maps of new legislative boundaries to the Secretary of State before Dec. 27, 2021, for certification.

      The state lost a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives due to sluggish population growth over the last decade, particularly near Los Angeles and in the far north, dropping its delegation to 52.

      For the most part, Roybal-Allard's district is expected to merge with the one held by Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach. Lowenthal, 80, announced his intent to retire at the end of his term last week.

      Since Lowenthal's announcement, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said he would run for the House of Representatives in that area. Garcia, a Democrat, is Long Beach's first Hispanic and only openly gay mayor.

      Roybal-Allard, 80, is the 23rd House Democrat to indicate that they would not run for reelection in 2022, when Republicans could take control of the chamber.

      DAVIES VOWS TO CLOSE PIPELINE LOOPHOLES

      Assemblywoman Laurie Davies, R-Laguna Niguel, on Monday announced that she intends to introduce legislation that will close what her office said were loopholes used by merchant and oil company ocean vessels when it comes to notifications of pipelines infrastructure in state waters.

      The proposed legislation comes two months after a vessel anchor damaged an underwater oil pipeline, releasing 25,000 gallons of oil into the waters of Orange County.

      The vessel operators did not notify any state or federal agencies about the possibility of striking and damaging the pipeline, according to Davies' office.

      "What happened in Orange County off our shores recently must never happen again," Davies said in a statement. "While investigations remain ongoing, what we do know is that a vessel in state waters dragged its anchor into a pipeline, damaged it, and simply never told any state or federal authorities. This is unacceptable, but completely permissible under our current system. That is the definition of flawed protocols. We must close this loophole and ensure that companies that do business in our state and use our waters respect our environment plus rule of law."

      Davies' legislation would require a vessel that strikes or thinks that they have struck a pipeline in state waters to notify state and federal agencies, including the California Department of Conservation, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Office of State Fire Marshal, the Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response and the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

      The bill makes failure to notify those agencies a civil infraction punishable by a fine of up to $50,000, with an additional $1,000 fine for every 1,000 gallons of oil spilled.

      COMMISSION ON WOMEN AND GIRLS ADDS NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

      The California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls officially has a new executive director: Holly Martinez.

      Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, swore Martinez in on Dec. 16, following her November appointment.

      "Holly Martinez's appointment to the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls couldn't come at a more pivotal time," said Atkins said in a statement. "Since joining the Commission earlier this year, she has championed innovative new efforts to expand the Commission's reach and support women across the state. Holly's leadership will be indispensable as we build back better in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic."

      Martinez first joined the commission as deputy director in 2020, and in 2021 was made interim executive director.

      In her tenure with the commission, the commission secured $7.9 million to lead a women's recovery response effort and to develop a California blueprint for women's recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement from the commission.

      QUOTE OF THE DAY

      "If you're an elected who is constantly complaining on Twitter about COVID related restrictions to get likes & follows, but you're not sharing the glaring data about the life-saving benefits of getting vaxxed & boosted, you care more about social media than saving lives." — Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park, via Twitter.

      Best of the Bee:

      A federal judge has cleared the way for California public transit agencies to receive billions in federal grants, ruling against the Biden administration in a legal fight over a state pension law, via Wes Venteicher.

      The United States Department of the Treasury has approved California's plan to provide $1 billion in mortgage relief, clearing the way for the California Mortgage Relief Plan to provide help to as many as 40,000 struggling homeowners, according to a statement from Gov. Gavin Newsom's office, via Andrew Sheeler.

      California officials sued Walmart on Monday, accusing the retail giant of illegally dumping hazardous waste at landfills in the Sacramento region and elsewhere in the state for the past six years, via Dale Kasler.

      ___

      (c)2021 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

      Visit The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.) at www.sacbee.com

      Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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