Capitol Alert

Wildfires prompt congressional push for better disaster prevention in California

Digging through the ashes near Coffey Park

Chris Bipes, his wife, Kim, and his neighbor, Craig Lowry, dig through the ashes of his home near Coffey Park in hopes of finding valuables such as his coin collection and other items on Monday in Santa Rosa.
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Chris Bipes, his wife, Kim, and his neighbor, Craig Lowry, dig through the ashes of his home near Coffey Park in hopes of finding valuables such as his coin collection and other items on Monday in Santa Rosa.

California Sens. Dianne Feinstein an Kamala Harris continue to press for a bill to help the state better prepare for wildfires.

The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act would provide emergency funding for wildfires, much the same way the federal government handles other natural disasters like tornadoes and floods, without draining resources for forestry management and other long-term fire suppression work that seeks to help prevent the rapid spread of future fires.

The height of wildfire season in California is underway. Feinstein and Harris are urging Congress to reach a bipartisan agreement.

“With temperatures soaring into the triple digits and dry winds continuing to blow, this fire season is far from over,” Feinstein said in a statement. “We must take action now to help those who need it and to prepare for the future.”

Harris said on the Senate floor Tuesday that the bill is urgent, noting the devastation in Sonoma and Napa counties is a grim reminder that wildfires are becoming more common in California.

“This has to be a long-term commitment,” Harris said. “California is leading the way and preparing for increasing wildfires, but the federal government needs to do its part.”

The bill aims to allow the U.S. Forest Service to use emergency funds for firefighting and protects money for brush clearing and other work that could help prevent future fires.

WORTH REPEATING: “As we work to overcome these challenges, our two states are united by America’s pastime.” – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, on World Series bet with Gov. Jerry Brown. Each wagered goods from area in their home state hit by disaster.

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LEGISLATIVE HEARINGS: The Assembly convenes for a series of hearings today.

The Assembly’s Aging and Long-Term Care committee will tackle services available for seniors at home with a hearing at 4422 Euclid Ave., San Diego. A hearing in Salinas at Hartnell College will feature a discussion about technology in agriculture, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Veterans employment is the topic of a hearing at Norco College in Norco from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

BY THE NUMBERS: Wealthy Americans and corporations would benefit most from the Republican tax proposal, according to a new analysis from the California Budget & Policy Center.

It concludes that in California, nearly 82 percent of tax cuts under President Donald Trump’s plan would benefit the top 1 percent of income earners, with another 16.6 percent of the tax cuts helping the next 4 percent of income earners.

Californians who earn more than $864,900 per year would receive an average annual tax cut of $90,160, the analysis found. Middle-income households that make between $47,200 and $75,500 per year would receive an average tax cut of $470, while people who make less than $27,300 per year would receive a $120 tax cut.

“For many of these low- and middle-income households, the benefits of these marginal tax cuts would likely be offset by significant cuts to federal programs and services including health care, housing, food assistance and job training assistance, among others,” the analysis found.

MUST READ: California Republicans walking ‘tough tightrope’ on Trump headed into 2018

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