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Brown, lawmakers seek disaster declaration

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday requested a presidential major disaster declaration for California, as communities in Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties continue trying to recover from the South Napa earthquake on Aug. 24.

“Economic impacts of this event will be extensive. The earthquake caused significant damage throughout the region,” Brown wrote in a letter sent to the White House on Tuesday. “This incident is of such severity and magnitude that an effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments, and supplemental federal assistance is necessary.”

Such a declaration from the president would trigger the release of federal funds to help communities recover, and an executive order Brown signed Tuesday provides additional financial aid to local agencies and nonprofits so residents can replace important documents and access key services without footing added costs or other burdens.

The region’s voices in Congress, led by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, echoed Brown’s call with their own letter to President Obama. “It is clear to us and local authorities that a major disaster declaration is critical to helping our state recover and rebuild,” Thompson’s letter reads.

Also signing Thompson’s letter were senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; and Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield.

Federal relief funding might include Federal Emergency Management Agency money to help people to rebuild and repair housing, and for local communities to repair public infrastructure; and Small Business Administration loans for businesses to repair or replace disaster-damaged property, inventory, and supplies. Homeowners and renters may also be eligible for SBA loans to repair or replace disaster-related damages to homes or personal property.

FEMA does not provide for assistance if there is another option in place, like insurance. Those affected by the quake should contact their insurance companies first to see what benefits, if any, their plan provides.

Posted on Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
Under: Gov. Jerry Brown, Jared Huffman, Jerry Brown, John Garamendi, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Beer breeds bipartisanship in House

What has the power to make California’s House members work across the aisle? Beer.

Reps. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, and Doug LaMalfa, R-Oroville, sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration earlier this month urging it to reject a proposed regulation that would’ve put a burden on small breweries while contributing to an increase in food waste. The letter was signed by 11 other California House members – six Democrats and five Republicans.

At issue were spent grains: by-products of alcoholic beverage brewing and distilling that are commonly used as animal feed. The FDA had proposed that breweries be forced to dry, package, and inspect all food, including spent grain used for cattle. But the agency announced Thursday it won’t pursue the regulation.

“We’ve heard from trade groups and members of Congress, as well as individual breweries raising concerns that FDA might disrupt or even eliminate this practice by making brewers, distillers, and food manufacturers comply not only with human food safety requirements but also additional, redundant animal feed standards that would impose costs without adding value for food or feed safety,” Michael Taylor, the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, explained in a blog post. “That, of course, would not make common sense, and we’re not going to do it.”

Garamendi issued a news release Friday saying food safety is important, but “the FDA was proposing a burdensome and unnecessary regulation, and I’m glad they’re reversing course.”

“Many small breweries are helmed by people who believe deeply in conservation and sustainable agriculture,” he said. “They like to buy local and stay local, partnering with area farmers to reduce food waste. It’s great news that this practice can continue in California and across the nation.”

Among the small breweries in Garamendi’s district are Berryessa Brewing Company in Winters, Black Dragon Brewery in Woodland, Heretic Brewing Company in Fairfield, Sudwerk Brewery in Davis, and Sutter Buttes Brewing in Yuba City.

Posted on Friday, April 25th, 2014
Under: John Garamendi, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Money matchups: CA3, CA7, CA9, CA10 & CA21

Aside from the Honda-Khanna and perhaps the Swalwell-Corbett Democrat-on-Democrat contests, the Bay Area doesn’t offer much in terms of competitive House races – yet some races elsewhere in Northern and Central California are heating up, according to campaign finance reports filed last week.

3rd Congressional District
(likely Democratic*)

  • Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, raised about $114,000 in 2013’s final quarter, finishing the year with about $216,000 cash on hand and $55 in debts.
  • Dan Logue, the Republican assemblyman from Chico, raised about $88,000 in 2013’s final quarter and finished the year with about $251,000 cash on hand but about $122,000 in debts – the latter, mostly the $115,000 he loaned his own campaign.
  • Republican Ryan Harter of Plumas Lake just entered the race last month and so has not yet reported any fundraising.
  • 7th Congressional District
    (Toss-up*)

  • Freshman Rep. Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova, raised more than $338,000 in 2013’s final quarter, finishing the year with about $1,152,000 cash on hand but about $342,000 in debts.
  • Former Rep. Doug Ose, a Republican from Sacramento, raised about $129,000 in the final quarter, finishing 2013 with about $277,000 cash on hand and $44,000 in debts.
  • Igor Birman, a Republican from Rancho Cordova and former chief of staff to Rep. Tom McClintock, raised about $72,000 in 2013’s final quarter and finished the year with about $124,000 cash on hand and $18,000 in debts.
  • Elizabeth Emken of Fair Oaks, who was U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Republican challenger in 2012, raised about $49,000 in 2013’s final quarter, finishing the year with about $306,000 cash on hand but about $312,000 in debts – the latter, mostly the $285,000 loan she made to her own campaign in June and September.
  • 9th Congressional District
    (likely Democratic*)

  • Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, raised about $130,000 in 2013’s final quarter, finishing the year with about $306,000 cash on hand and $3,000 in debts.
  • Republican Steve Colangelo of Stockton raised about $7,000 in 2013’s final quarter, finishing the year with about $582 cash on hand but almost $23,000 in debts.
  • Republican Karen Davis of Lodi raised no funds but loaned her campaign $12,000, all of which was paid to consultant Chad Condit – the son of former Rep. Gary Condit.
  • 10th Congressional District
    (likely Republican*)

  • Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, raised about $196,000 in 2013’s final quarter, finishing the year with about $1.3 million cash on hand and about $34,000 in debts.
  • Democrat Michael Eggman of Kingsburg – brother of Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stoctkon – raised about $188,000 in 2013’s final quarter, finishing the year with about $287,000 cash on hand and $2,700 in debts.
  • 21st Congressional District
    (lean Republican*)

  • Freshman Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, raised about $232,000 in 2013’s final quarter, finishing the year with about $677,000 cash on hand and $12,000 in debts.
  • Democrat Amanda Renteria of Sanger – a former aide to U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Debbie Stabenow – raised about $338,000 in 2013’s final quarter, finishing the year with about $257,000 cash on hand and $6,500 in debts.
  • (* all ratings courtesy of the Cook Political Report)

    Posted on Monday, February 3rd, 2014
    Under: 2014 primary, Ami Bera, David Valadao, Jeff Denham, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, U.S. House | No Comments »

    House GOP schedules water bill for vote

    House Republican leaders have scheduled a vote next week for an emergency water bill offered by Central Valley Republicans.

    The controversial legislation – H.R. 3964, Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act, introduced by Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford – is being rushed through on account of California’s severe drought. But the bill would be the biggest reform of California water policy in decades, and has met with harsh criticism from the state’s Democrats.

    House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, issued a statement Friday saying Central Valley farmers and families were dealt a blow earlier in the day when the California Department of Water Resources reduced State Water Project allocations from 5 percent to zero; the reduction followed a finding on Thursday that the state’s snowpack is at only 12 percent of normal for this time of year.

    “Today’s action is a stark reminder that California’s drought is real,” Gov. Jerry Brown of the allocation reduction. “We’re taking every possible step to prepare the state for the continuing dry conditions we face.”

    But McCarthy said “the pressure this decision puts on the already dangerously low reservoirs and groundwater banks is unsustainable,” and HR 3964 “is a responsible answer to the hardship the Central Valley is currently facing. I thank Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, and Chairman Hastings for appreciating the urgency of this matter and scheduling a vote on this bill next week.”

    He noted Brown and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., oppose the House bill.

    “Perhaps more disturbing is their failure of leadership in offering a solution of their own to bring Central Valley communities new or additional water,” McCarthy said. “As the House acts on Rep. Valadao’s legislation next week, I urge Governor Brown to use his authority to immediately direct state agencies to relax current state environmental regulations in the delta to ensure any water that does move down the Sacramento River ultimately flows to Kern County and Central California. Absent immediate action, California farmers and communities will continue to be gripped by the damaging effects of the worst drought in a century.”

    Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, on Thursday had blasted the Republcians’ bill as “a political ploy in an election year that does nothing to solve the devastating drought facing the state.

    “If enacted, the bill would overturn six decades of California state water and environmental law, tear up long standing contracts between the state, federal government, and water districts, and ignore the California Constitution’s public trust doctrine. This would create massive confusion and environmental damage to all California’s rivers, the Delta, and San Francisco Bay,” Garamendi charged. “This bill hurts Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike by threatening the livelihoods of farmers, fishermen, and small businesses throughout the state. We cannot throw away years of water management experience for the sake of scoring a few political points.”

    Posted on Friday, January 31st, 2014
    Under: David Valadao, Dianne Feinstein, John Garamendi, Kevin McCarthy, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, water | No Comments »

    CD11: DeSaulnier secures Tauscher support

    Under Secretary for International Security and Arms Control Ellen Tauscher. Photo by Karl Mondon/2011/Bay Area News Group

    Former East Bay Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher will endorse today State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, to succeed the retiring Democratic Rep. George Miller in the 11th Congressional District.

    Tauscher represented the neighboring District 10 for seven terms until the Obama administration appointed her in 2009 as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs.

    DeSaulnier ran for Tauscher’s seat in 2009 and she support him. But the state senator subsequently lost to then-Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who now represents District 3 after the state’s political boundaries were redrawn in 2011.

    Miller is retiring at the end of the year after serving 40 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Here’s what the DeSaulnier campaign will release later this morning:

    MARK DESAULNIER SECURES BACKING OF FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN ELLEN TAUSCHER

    Former Congresswoman Represented Large Portion of 11th District

    CONCORD, CA— On the heels of his entrance into the race last week to fill Congressman George Miller’s soon to-be vacated 11th Congressional district seat, today State Senator Mark DeSaulnier picked up a highly coveted endorsement from former Congresswoman and former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, the Honorable Ellen O. Tauscher.

    Prior to the 2012 redistricting, Tauscher represented California’s old 10th Congressional district. Roughly 50% of the communities in Tauscher’s old district are now included in the new 11th Congressional district.

     

    Mark DeSaulnier

    “Mark DeSaulnier has always been a brave, forward-thinking, and passionate fighter for the people he represents,” said former Congresswoman Tauscher. “Mark is deeply connected to the communities in the 11th district, and I’m confident he’ll be a bold and progressive voice for them in Washington.  Not only does he have enormous experience and the necessary qualifications for this office, but also Mark has a real vision for a better California that must be heard in the halls of Congress. I’m proud to endorse Mark for Congress.”  Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Monday, January 20th, 2014
    Under: 2014 primary | 4 Comments »

    CA11: The who-will-and-who-won’t roundup

    Two days after Rep. George Miller announced he’ll retire at the end of 2014 after 40 years in the House, here’s the shakeout so far on who will and won’t try to succeed him in the 11th Congressional District:

    State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord: At almost the same instant Miller started his news conference in Richmond, DeSaulnier was telling a reporter in Sacramento that he would run; he issued his news release less than four hours later.

    Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson: She’s “seriously considering” it.

    Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo: “She’s still looking at what the options are,” spoklesman Michelle Henry said Wednesday.

    Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord: She is “is focused on her upcoming re-election for state assembly and not considering a run for Congress,” spokesman Luis Quinonez said Wednesday.

    State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson: Endorsed DeSaulnier on Tuesday.

    Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia: Endorsed DeSaulnier on Wednesday.

    Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield: Won’t run for the seat next to his.

    Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin: Won’t run.

    Former airline pilot and “Hero on the Hudson” Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger of Danville: Won’t run.

    Watch for Lisa Vorderbrueggen’s story this weekend reviewing the whole scrum in much more detail; stay tuned, as the landscape continues to shift.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15th, 2014
    Under: 2014 primary, George Miller, Joan Buchanan, Mark DeSaulnier, Susan Bonilla, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

    Three NorCal House Dems vote for Upton bill

    Reps. Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi and Ami Bera were among 39 House Democrats who joined with most Republicans to pass a controversial bill Friday that would let insurers keep selling policies which fall short of the new healthcare law’s standards and consumer protections.

    H.R. 3350 by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., would not only let people with insurance that doesn’t meet the new law’s standards keep it through 2014, but it would also let new customers buy such policies too. The House approved the bill 261-157, but the bill faces a tougher time in the Democrat-led Senate and President Obama has vowed to veto it.

    Most Democrats say the Upton bill basically guts the new law, disrupting the risk pools that make individual insurance sold on the new health benefit exchanges affordable for most Americans.

    A spokeswoman for McNerney, D-Stockton, didn’t reply to an e-mail and a phone call Friday.

    Matthew Kravitz, a spokesman for Garamendi, D-Fairfield, said Obama and House members on both sides of the aisle “all agree that the fact that so many plans are being dropped is an issue of concern.”

    “Congressman Garamendi has always said that every law, including the Affordable Care Act, can be improved,” Kravitz said. “Congressman Garamendi voted for the Democratic plan to fix this problem, and he also voted for the Republican plan. The Upton bill has flaws, but by bringing the issue to the Senate, Garamendi hopes the Senate will take up their own legislation and both chambers, in a bicameral bipartisan fashion, can hash out a compromise during a conference committee.”

    Bera, D-Rancho Cordova, issued this statement:

    “I voted for the Keep Your Plan Act today so that all Sacramento County families have the individual choice to keep their insurance if it is working for them.

    “That being said, I encourage Californians to explore their options on California’s new health insurance marketplace, Covered California, where families are likely to find plans that offer better coverage, for less money. California’s website is working, and health plans in the marketplace offer more patient protections and assistance to help pay for insurance, which isn’t available under existing plans.

    “The bipartisan passage of today’s bill, and the President’s new proposal to let Americans keep their current coverage through 2014, are important steps in the right direction. As a doctor and the former Chief Medical Officer of Sacramento County, I am committed to bringing down the cost of health care and will keep working to fix parts of the Affordable Care Act that aren’t working for the American people.”

    All three Democrats hold what could be described as swing districts. The Cook Political Report, a renowned prognosticator of elections, rates McNerney’s 9th Congressional District and Garamendi’s 3rd Congressional District as “likely Democrat,” meaning they’re not considered competitive at this point but have the potential to become engaged. But Cook rates Bera’s 7th Congressional District as a toss-up in which either party has a good chance of winning.

    Elizabeth Emken, one of three Republicans seeking to unseat Bera next year, issued a statement saying Bera is trying to mask his support of an unpopular law.

    “Regardless of his vote today, Ami Bera has continually defended Obamacare and all the problems it has caused while voting to keep it the law of the land,” she said. “Bera’s votes have put over 1 million Californians in danger of losing their health care. He can claim he was ‘concerned’ all he wants, but his voting record tells the painful truth – Ami Bera approved of Obamacare, and now he is trying to distance himself from its disastrous effects.”

    Health insurers are discontinuing individual-market policies that don’t meet the standards set forth in the nation’s new law. Those receiving such notices are being offered new policies by their insurers, but also can go to the Covered California website to shop around for the best deal and to determine whether they’re eligible for subsidies.

    Posted on Friday, November 15th, 2013
    Under: Ami Bera, healthcare reform, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, U.S. House | 12 Comments »

    Lawmakers demand Obama consult them on Syria

    Three Northern California House Democrats have signed onto a bipartisan letter urging President Obama to seek Congressional authorization for any military strike against Syria.

    Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; and Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz, are among 18 Democrats and 98 Republicans who’ve signed onto the letter drafted and circulated by Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va.

    “While the Founders wisely gave the Office of the President the authority to act in emergencies, they foresaw the need to ensure public debate – and the active engagement of Congress – prior to committing U.S. military assets,” the letter says. “Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.”

    Other California members who’ve signed Rigell’s letter include Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay; Doug LaMalfa, R-Oroville; and John Campbell, R-Irvine.

    Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, and Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., sent their own letter to the president today urging that he consult Congress.

    And House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, sent a letter to Obama today urging the president to “personally make the case to the American people and Congress for how potential military action will secure American national security interests, preserve America’s credibility, deter the future use of chemical weapons, and, critically, be a part of our broader policy and strategy.”

    UPDATE @ 11:54 A.M. THURSDAY: More Bay Area House members have signed onto Rep. Barbara Lee’s similar letter.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
    Under: Anna Eshoo, John Boehner, John Garamendi, Obama presidency, Sam Farr, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 17 Comments »

    Which House member has most campaign cash?

    Which of Northern California’s House members has the most money in their campaign war chests? You might be surprised.

    While some incumbents are likely to face significant challenges from across the aisle (like Garamendi, Bera, McNerney and Denham) and others from within their own party (like Honda and maybe Swalwell), neither of the two House members with the most cash on hand as of June 30 are expected to have much to worry about next year.

    Here’s the list, showing how much they raised in the second quarter (April 1 through June 30) and their cash on hand at mid-year:

      CA5 – Mike Thompson, D-Napa: $257,579.45 raised, $1,470,170.24 COH
      CA14 – Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough: $221,762 raised, $1,086,141.98 COH
      CA10 – Jeff Denham, R-Modesto: $506,491.26 raised, $834,836.30 COH
      CA19 – Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose: $149,546.50 raised, $658,386 COH
      CA7 – Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova: $264,318.49 raised, $505,044 COH
      CA12 – Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco: $315,769.05 raised, $422,059.25 COH
      CA15 – Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton: $237,314.38 raised, $405,182.23 COH
      CA4 – Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay: $132,668.99 raised, $384,717.76 COH
      CA17 – Mike Honda, D-San Jose: $344,894.86 raised, $374,646.94 COH
      CA6: Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento: $240,826.01 raised, $371,894.30 COH
      CA18 – Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto: $193,225 raised, $363,855.25 COH
      CA11 – George Miller, D-Martinez: $233,328.87 raised, $354,655.16 COH
      CA2 – Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael: $141,648.93 raised, $266,847.38 COH
      CA16 – Jim Costa, D-Merced: $131,765 raised, $243,693.64 COH
      CA9 – Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton: $169,311.47 raised, $187,041.28 COH
      CA20 – Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz: $187,242.31 raised, $136,571.50 COH
      CA1 – Doug LaMalfa, R-Oroville: $87,200 raised, $130,603.76 COH
      CA3 – John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove: $179,832.73 raised, $124,197.06 COH
      CA13 – Barbara Lee, D-Oakland: $178,425.82 raised, $97,975.47 COH

    Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
    Under: 2014 primary, Ami Bera, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, campaign finance, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Jeff Denham, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 5 Comments »

    House members blast Brown’s Delta water plan

    Five members of Congress held a news conference in Sacramento this morning to renew their staunch opposition to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

    Reps. Mike Thompson, D-Napa; Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; John Garamendi, D-Fairfield; Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova; and Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, all believe the plan would devastate the Delta and ignores concerns repeatedly raised by local stakeholders. Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, concurs but wasn’t at today’s news conference.

    The state has released a 20,000-page Administrative Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement for the BDCP. Chapters 1-7 were released in the last few months and Chapters 8-12, including the financing mechanism, were released yesterday.

    The lawmakers released statements after their news conference. From McNerney:

    Jerry McNerney“The Governor recently released additional information on his deeply-flawed plan for the Delta region, which further proves he is intent on forcing this plan forward without any regard for the farmers, families and small business owners who rely upon a healthy Delta for their livelihoods, or for the incredible environmental damage that will result. As it stands, the plan will cost billions of dollars, devastate the most valuable water resource we have in California, and ultimately create no new water. There is a better way forward, and it must include the input of the people who stand to lose the most if the Delta is destroyed.”

    From Thompson:

    Mike Thompson“The proposed BDCP is not a workable solution. It puts the interests of South-of-Delta water contractors ahead of the Delta’s and North-of-Delta’s farmers, fishers and small business owners. Livelihoods are at stake. Until we have a plan that is transparent, based on sound science and developed with all stake-holders at the table, then any process that moves us closer to building these tunnels will recklessly risk billions of California tax dollars and thousands of jobs. Let’s take the time to get this right.”

    From Miller:

    George Miller“Governor Brown and his administration officials have failed to demonstrate that they are taking into account the real physical and financial harm that can come to Bay-Delta communities if a BDCP plan is pushed through without the proper cost benefit analysis of alternatives, an adequate finance plan, or without acknowledging the best available science — science that has pointed to the real possibility that this plan could overtax our water resources and devastate the Bay-Delta region. Without doing so the BDCP is further than ever from a sustainable policy. It is time to seriously reevaluate this plan to ensure it fulfills the co-equal goals that it is mandated to adhere to, and takes into consideration the concerns of the businesses, families and communities that rely on a viable, healthy Bay-Delta region for their livelihoods.”

    Posted on Thursday, May 30th, 2013
    Under: Ami Bera, George Miller, Jerry Brown, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Mike Thompson, U.S. House, water | 3 Comments »