U.S. Rep. Lois Capps
supports fair access to health care despite income

Congresswoman Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, has thrown her support behind HR 3986 introduced on Feb. 4 by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, legislation that will give those living in areas with a higher cost of living premium assistance and tax credits for purchasing health insurance through the federal and state exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act.

As it stands, the tax credits given to individuals and families are based on a percentage above the federal poverty level, between 138 percent and 400 percent. This, however, does not take into account the fluctuating cost of living across the nation, and a person living in San Francisco is held to the same standards as a person living in rural Texas.

HR 3986, also known as the Fair Access to Health Care Act, would change that, making the premium assistance offered relate to the area’s cost of living.

“One of my top priorities has always been working to ensure fair and equal access to quality, affordable health care,” Capps said in a statement. “That is why I am proud to co-sponsor the Fair Access to Health Care Act, which would help level the playing field so that all middle-class families, no matter where they live, have access to affordable health insurance.”


U.S. Rep. Julia Brownley
backs the Military Justice Improvement Act


In 2012, a little more than 26,000 cases of rape, sexual assault and coercive sexual contact were estimated to have occurred in the U.S. Military, with only 3,374 actual cases reported. Of those, 880 resulted in sex crime charges. This marked an increase of more than 7,000 estimated cases from the previous year.

Now, Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, is pledging her support for an upcoming act that would take prosecution out of the hands of the military.

The Military Justice Improvement Act would transfer the decision to prosecute away from the military commanders and put it into the hands of an independent party. As the system is currently, the military polices itself and, according to a statement released by Brownley’s office, is insufficient.

“Our military justice system is broken,” said Brownley in an email sent out to supporters. “The reporting of sexual assaults often fails to make its way through the chain of command, and these instances are going unreported to the proper legal authorities.”

The act requires 60 votes to pass, and has the support of Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and several other prominent figures, and is currently under committee review.


State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson
introduces bill to support long-term unemployed


California has one of the highest long-term unemployment rates in the nation, according to Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, who introduced a bill that would give upward of 2,500 financial grants to those who have been unemployed for six months or longer to pursue vocational training.

Senate Bill 1028 would require that at least 2,500 Cal Grant C awards be set aside for those who have not worked for more than six months. The grants would allow the unemployed to take part in two-year programs in health care, engineering or advanced manufacturing, to name a few. The grants range from $3,009 to $5,000 and could be used for books, tuition and fees.

“Our economy is improving, but there continue to be far too many people who have been unemployed for far too long,” said Jackson in a press release. “My hope is that this bill will help give some Californians the jump-start they need to get working again.”

Of the 700,000 long-term unemployed in California, 500,000 have been unemployed for more than a year. SB 1028 is modeled after a successful program in Michigan called No Worker Left Behind, which provided similar benefits.


Assemblyman Das Williams
scores 100 percent rating from Humane Society


After introducing several bills that either protect or limit the damage done to local wildlife, Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, received the highest possible score from California Humane Society on its 2013 California Humane Scorecard.

Williams, a longtime advocate for environmental issues, introduced several bills in 2013 that affected local and area state parks and landscapes. AB 789, which prohibits the use of cruel methods of killing by wildlife trappers, was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last year.

Other bills include AB 265, which promotes the development of dog parks; AB 339, which restricts animal sales at swap meets; AB 711, which requires hunters to use lead-free ammunition; and AB 1213, which prohibits bobcat trapping adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park.

“We have a shared responsibility to care for others, our environment and our pets and animals,” said Williams.