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California Capitol Hill Bulletin

                Volume 8, Bulletin 27 -- September 13, 2001    [or see pdf version]


Delegation Letter Circulating On FEMA Report Language

Delegation Letter Circulating on MTBE

Water and Power Subcommittee Marks UP CALFED Bill

Members of Wine Caucus Forward Letter to ATF Director

State Senate Makes Minor Changes and Approves Redistricting Plan

Our Changing Nation: Population Resource Center Briefing Held

LAEDC Releases 2001-2002 Economic Forecast and Industry Outlook

RAND Hosts Briefing on Welfare Reform in California


To expand communications between Washington and California, the California Institute provides periodic faxed bulletins regarding current activity on Capitol Hill which directly impacts our state. Bulletins are published weekly during sessions of Congress, and occasionally during other periods. The e-mail edition is made possible in part by in kind donations from Sun Microsystems and IBM Corp.
 

 The devastating events of September 11 in New York and Washington were felt by every American, and Californians were no exception. Partly out of respect, partly out of caution, non-essential federal, state and local offices were closed following the tragedy. Many schools and colleges closed, including the entire 23-campus California State University system. The State Legislature, in the throes of its final week for the year, suspended session for Tuesday. Airports froze. Military personnel were placed on alert. Every major studio closed its doors, as did many other business entities. Disneyland shut down for only the second time in history (the other being for the assassination of President Kennedy), as did other theme parks. Sporting and entertainment venues halted. Any inconveniences were minor considering the gravity of the day's events. All four hijacked, doomed flights were bound for California, and many state residents were lost. And California's Congressional Delegation linked arms with colleagues in unified expressions of outrage, condolence and resolve regarding the past and future in these challenging times.

 

Delegation Letter Circulating On FEMA Report Language

Reps. David Dreier (San Dimas) and Sam Farr (Carmel), chairs of the Republican and Democratic California Delegations, are circulating a letter urging conferees on the VA-HUD appropriations bill to accept the language contained in the House report regarding FEMA actions on a public buildings insurance proposal. Over the last year, FEMA has considered a proposal to condition post-disaster assistance for public buildings on the purchase of disaster insurance. Opponents of the measure have strongly argued that such a requirement would not be feasible for California public buildings, where insurance is extremely costly and often unavailable.

The letter urges the conferees to accept the House language in the appropriations bill. According to the letter, "Although the Senate VA-HUD report directs FEMA to conduct a cost-benefit analysis, it nonetheless contemplates a rulemaking. The House version, however, seeks to ensure that any insurance rule is conditioned upon a comprehensive study that indicates that insurance, including earthquake coverage, is both available and affordable. We strongly believe that any insurance rule should be predicated upon such a clear finding."

Members wishing to sign the letter should contact either Melissa or Matt Reynolds at x59191 (Dreier) or Pam Barry at x5-2861 (Farr).

 

Delegation Letter Circulating on MTBE

Reps. Christopher Cox (Newport Beach) and Anna Eshoo (Atherton) are circulating a letter on waiving the federal oxygenate mandate to allow the state to eliminate the use of MTBE. The letter is being sent to Senators Jim Jeffords (VT), Jeff Bingaman (NM), Robert Smith (NH) and Frank Murkowski (AK), the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, respectively.

The letter urges the Senators to include language in the energy policy bills being considered that would allow states to waive the oxygen content provision of the Clean Air Act if such a waiver will not lead to "backsliding" from pollution reductions that have already been achieved. The letter points out that without such a waiver, California and other states will be forced to resort to ethanol to meet the law, which is not available in sufficient quantities to meet even California's anticipated needs. The letter also cites a recent study showing that if MTBE is banned by all states, without a commensurate waiver of the oxygenate requirement, the average price of gasoline would increase seven to eight cents a gallon.

Members wishing to sign the letter should contact Steven Keenan in Rep. Eshoo's office at x-8104.

 

Water and Power Subcommittee Marks UP CALFED Bill

The House Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power marked up H.R. 1985 on Thursday, September 13 and reported the bill to the full Committee by voice vote. The bill, known as the Western Water Enhancement Security Act, reauthorizes the California Bay-Delta restoration project. It was introduced by Rep. Ken Calvert (Corona), chair of the Subcommittee, and co-sponsored by many other California members. The bill authorizes a wide range of environmental and water projects to protect and restore endangered habitats and ecosystems; reauthorizes the CALFED federal-state partnership and establishes a Governance Board to manage its operation; and creates additional water storage to meet California's water needs.

The bill also establishes a competitive grants program to assist in developing water supplies and enhancing water quality in the state, and provided Federal assistance for small water projects throughout the Western United States by reauthorizing the Small Reclamation Projects Act. During the markup an amendment by Rep. Hilda Solis was also accepted that will allow for waiving or reducing the matching funds requirement for low-income communities. Other amendments were withdrawn, including one by Rep. George Radanovich (Mariposa) which would have given agricultural and urban water uses priority over environmental uses during a water shortage. Rep. Radanovich indicated he will probably offer the amendment again at the full committee's markup.

Full committee markup of the bill is hoped to be scheduled in a few weeks.

 

Members of Wine Caucus Forward Letter to ATF Director

On September 7, 16 members of the Congressional Wine Caucus, which includes several California members, sent a letter to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Director, Bradley Buckles opposing a proposal to change the location and size of the health warning statement on alcoholic beverages. Among the 16 members signing the letter were California Reps. Mike Thompson (St. Helena) and George Radanovich (Mariposa) who serve as co-chairs of the Wine Caucus, as well as Reps. Richard Pombo (Tracy), Cal Dooley (Visalia), Darrell Issa (Vista), Sam Farr (Carmel), Gary Condit (Ceres), Ken Calvert (Corona), Ellen Tauscher (Alamo) and Lynn Woolsey (Petaluma).

The group opposes proposed changes to the warning label regulation on alcohol containers as outlined in ATF Notice No.917, which requires the health warning statement to appear "in a prominent place on the front of the container." In the letter, the members argue that the current warning is effective and that the ATF has authority to take action against producers who violate existing law. The letter also states that opposition has also been expressed by diverse industry groups, including the Wine Institute and the American Vintners Association.

 

State Senate Makes Minor Changes and Approves Redistricting Plan

By a 38-2 vote on Wednesday, September 12, the California State Senate approved a plan for redistricting California's Congressional and State Legislative seats. It was forwarded to the State Assembly, which is expected to approve it before the Friday night deadline for sending the plan to Governor Davis.

Several changes have been made to the proposal, which was initially unveiled at the beginning of the month. For details on the initial plan, the vast majority of which remains unchanged after this week's activity, see Bulletin, Vol 8, No. 26 (9/6/2001).

The 10th Congressional District, currently represented by Rep. Ellen Tauscher, was altered to include Orinda and Moraga, linking them once again with Lafayette, Walnut Creek and other towns to the east. To offset the population shifts, the communities of Discovery Bay and Brentwood along the Contra Costa County - San Joaquin County border will be shifted from the 10th to the 11th District, now represented by Rep. Richard Pombo. In addition, the change will shift more territory to the south and east of Livermore (south to the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct) to the from the 11th to the 10th.

In the Central Valley, the 18th Congressional District was altered to add a strip of western Madera County which had been removed by the initial remap plan, as well as a small portion of Fresno County to the west of the City of Fresno. The territory would be acquired from the initially proposed 19th and 20th Congressional Districts.

In San Diego, the State Senate altered the plan to place Imperial County into the district currently represented by Rep. Bob Filner ( now numbered 50, to be numbered 51), rather than extending the district further west to adjoin the 49th District (to be renumbered 53) the preponderance of which is currently represented by Rep. Susan Davis. To compensate for the change, the new Davis district will acquire from the Filner district some territory to the east of downtown San Diego in the vicinity of National City, as well as areas bordering Duncan Hunter's 52nd District near Lemon Grove.

Many Southern California Congressional Districts are being renumbered, as the State Constitution requires that districts are numbered consecutively from North to South. With the creation of a new 21st District in and around Tulare County, most Members of Congress south of there are expected to run in districts numbered one higher than that of their current district. For district-by-district details and maps, see http://www.assembly.ca.gov/committee/c7/cngplan3/newtextdocument.html .

 

Our Changing Nation: Population Resource Center Briefing Held

On Friday, September 7, the Population Resource Center held a briefing entitled Our Changing Nation: Implications for Policymakers in the 21st Century. The briefing, which focused on the policy implications for our nation of a rapidly increasing, diverse population, featured the following speakers: William Frey, Ph.D., Demographer from the University of Michigan and the Milken Institute; Carol Swain, Ph.D., Professor of Law and Political Science at Vanderbilt University; and Sonia Perez, Deputy Vice President for Research for the National Council of La Raza.

With the April 2000 census recording a population of 281,421,906, an increase of 32.7 million Americans, the Population Resource Center examined who these Americans are, how old they are, and where they live, work and go to school. Demographers point out that states in the South and West grew twice as fast as states in the North and Midwest during the 1990s with now almost 60% of Americans living in the South and West. The racial composition of America is also changing with the Hispanic population increasing by 58%, gaining 13 million people since 1990. The U.S. population is also growing increasingly older with the median age in 2000 being 35.3, the highest ever.

The Population Resource Center also examined family structure, health and mortality, education, the labor force and socioeconomic factors of our changing nation. For more information on the briefing please visit the Center's website at http://www.prcdc.org .

 

LAEDC Releases 2001-2002 Economic Forecast and Industry Outlook

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation recently released the Mid Year Update for its 2001-2002 Economic Forecast and Industry Outlook For California and the Los Angeles Five County Area. According to forecasters, California's economy will narrowly avert a recession in 2001 with nonfarm employment growing by just 2.2%. In the Los Angeles five county region, the Riverside-San Bernardino area will lead with a 3.7% gain in jobs with Orange County, Ventura County and Los Angeles County seeing increases of 2.6%, 2.4% and 1.4%, respectively.

Forecasters in the report also examine issues that will shape the State's economy over the rest of the year and into 2002. The energy crisis will remain a major issue for the state, according to forecasters, although by the end of 2002 more generating capacity will have come on line. They also caution that the State budget could slip into a deficit situation in fiscal 2002 which could have ominous implications for counties and cities. The report goes on to give an in depth analysis of the economic outlook of the five counties in the Southern California area as well as an outlook for the construction and retail industries and other major industries.

For more information on the Economic Forecast report please visit the LAEDC website at http://www.laedc.org .

 

RAND Hosts Briefing on Welfare Reform in California

On Monday, September 10, RAND hosted a briefing on Welfare Reform in California which featured presenter Jacob Alex Klerman discussing State and County Implementation of CalWORKs in the second and third years of welfare reform. A report on the second year has been released and a report on the third year of implementation was pending at the time of the briefing. Klerman's presentation focused on the following four topics: What policies did California choose; How has CalWORKs been implemented; How many recipients are participating; and What has happened to the caseload.

In general, Klerman indicated that California made policy choices different than most other states and has had outcomes different from most other states. California's policies, according to Klerman, emphasized providing a safety net for recipients and setting up a program that encourages people to work. He indicated that almost half of welfare recipients are working and that participation rates are up. California's caseload decline has been about 41% from its peak in March 1995, with the rest of the nation showing about a 50% decline.

After discussing the state's and the counties' implementation of welfare reform and the effects, Klerman went on to discuss issues for reauthorization of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). Some of the issues he outlined for consideration in the reauthorization of TANF include: the vision of TANF funding; equity between leavers and those who never entered the welfare program; participation and time limits; and funding mechanisms, including the level of allocation of TANF block grants and the distribution of block grants to states.

For more information on the RAND Statewide CalWORKs evaluation and the pending report on the third year of implementation visit the RAND website at http://www.rand.org .

 

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