Supporting business, promoting wildfire, school health bills (Opinion)

Dear Friends, I wanted to share with you a few highlights of the 1st Senate District office and upcoming activities.

Brian Dahle

Legislation I authored this year has been moving through committee hearings, including Senate Bill 592, which recently passed the Committee on Natural Resources & Water. This measure will look at the effects of wildfire on our wildlife and forest health. Every year, catastrophic fires burn too many acres in California, destroying lives and property. What we haven’t analyzed and improved upon is the cost to our wildlife and watersheds. SB 592 will now go to the Senate fiscal committee for consideration.

Other successful measures include SB 217, that would improve transparency in schools by providing sexual health curriculum online. And, SB 229, which offers up to $500 million in funding grants to our schools to provide mental health services to students negatively impacted by COVID-19 school closures. In addition, SB 550, that would subject the Legislature to the same regulations and laws the business community is subject to under their rule, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Recently, we had some terrible economic and public safety news in my district. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced plans to close a prison in Susanville, the second so far on the chopping block in the state. The facility is the second-largest employer in that community and my home county. There was no transparency in this process, or consideration for the devastating effects on the local economy or future safety of the public as more criminals are released. Assemblywoman Dahle and I wrote a letter to the Governor and Department Secretary Allison expressing our concerns and absolute opposition to closing the California Correctional Center in Susanville. Read the letter here.

My office continues to assist those having difficulty navigating government bureaucracies. I know it is so frustrating when folks are just trying, but unable, to access assistance or the services they need and deserve. One of the most requested is help with unemployment insurance. With so many out of work due to the shutdown, EDD has been inundated with calls, and had some shameful breakdowns internally. I am committed to long-term fixes so the department better serves Californians in need. In the short term, please call my office if you need help navigating the system. My staff has helped thousands of constituents steer through the confusing process.

As we know, small businesses have also been hurt by the shutdown. There are several counties that thankfully have offered help through loans and grants. The State has the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program, and the deadline for the last round of applications is Friday, May 7. Apply through one of their local partners.

As businesses seek to reopen and rebuild, one challenge our local chambers are hearing from members is their difficulty in hiring employees. To help in that effort, UCAN (United Chamber Advocacy Network) has developed a survey to learn more from local employers about this challenge in the hopes of developing a solution in partnership with local and state elected officials.

Please take this survey — UCAN Business Survey: Workforce Demand, COVID Reopening — it will take just a few minutes to complete.

Stay well, and God bless.

Brian Dahle represents California’s 1st Senate District which includes El Dorado County