April 18, 2013
LAWT News Service
Washington, DC – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, issued the following statement regarding the announcement by the United States Postal Service that it is canceling a proposal to eliminate mail delivery on Saturdays:
"I strongly advocated against the proposal to eliminate Saturday mail delivery by the United States Postal Service (USPS) and I am pleased that USPS has finally withdrawn its proposal to end Saturday letter mail delivery this summer. The elimination of six-day mail delivery would have resulted in the loss of much needed local jobs. Further, this decision would have disrupted a service upon which thousands of residents in our district utilize to receive important personal, financial, and business correspondence.
"In 2011, the U.S. Postal Service announced plans to close more than 10 percent of its 36,000 post offices throughout the country. I immediately called on USPS to consider alternatives to this plan. Last year, I introduced legislation, the Protecting Post Offices Act, which would not only protect the American postal worker but assist in making the U.S. Postal Service profitable by keeping local post offices open, and increasing their functionality to better serve their communities. I was joined by the National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO and the American Postal Workers Union in support of my bill to stabilize USPS.
"For years, I have supported sound measures that would improve USPS. I will continue to monitor the U.S. Postal Service closely and push for Saturday mail delivery to remain in place permanently, so all Californians can have reliable mail service."
April 11, 2013
By LAWT News Service
Last weekend, Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) spoke out on the need for Congress to enact comprehensive reforms to reduce gun violence in America.
Her remarks came as President Obama traveled back to Connecticut to again urge Congress to adhere to the wishes of 90 percent of Americans who favor tougher gun laws.
Speaking at both a town hall hosted by her Congressional Office as well as a forum with local NAACP leaders on Saturday April 6, Bass reiterated her commitment to fighting for tougher gun laws and doing more to ensure that reform efforts include provisions related to mental health and the impacts of chronic violence in urban communities.
Following the events, Bass said:
“Everywhere I travel across the 37th Congressional District, I am reminded that Americans want and deserve a vote on comprehensive measures to reduce gun violence. When 90 percent of Americans agree on an issue, it’s time for Congress to stop all the political posturing and deliver for our constituents and all those who have lost their lives or the life of a loved one to senseless gun violence. I support President Obama in his calls for Congress to act on this issue and I urge my Republican colleagues to end their threats to filibuster the desires of an overwhelming majority of the American people so that both the House and Senate can enact common sense reforms.”
April 04, 2013
By ALICIA A. CALDWELL Associated Press
The Homeland Security Department expects applications for high-skilled immigration visas to outpace the available supply in a matter of days, one of the fastest runs on the much-sought-after work permits in years and a sign of continued economic recovery amid new hiring by U.S. technology companies.
The urgent race for such visas — highly desired by Microsoft, Apple, Google and other leading technology companies — coincides with congressional plans to increase the number available to tech-savvy foreigners.
The race to secure one of the 85,000 so-called H-1B visas available for the 2014 budget year started Monday and requests will be accepted through at least Friday. If petitions outpace the availability in the first week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — for the first time since 2008 — will use a lottery to pick which companies get visas to award to prospective employees.
“It will be a frenzy, because the cap ... is nowhere near high enough to meet demand,” said Robert Holleyman, president and CEO of the Software Alliance, a trade group for technology companies.
Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman Christopher Bentley said the agency won’t know for certain whether a lottery is necessary until next week.
“We just won’t know until we answer the mail each day,” Bentley said.
The agency warned businesses about the anticipated crush of applications last month.
Each year 65,000 visas are awarded to companies looking to hire high-skilled workers from around the world; 20,000 more visas are available specifically for foreign workers who have earned a master’s or another advanced degree from a U.S. university.
Even if applications don’t exceed the availability this week, immigration attorneys and other experts predicted they would be snatched up faster than in recent years. It took 10 weeks to hit the cap in the 2013 budget year that began last October and more than 33 weeks to dole out all the available visas the year before.
A growing economy is contributing to the rush this year, but the scramble is also a sign that demand for the visas exceeds the available supply. Proposals to increase the number of available visas have been supported by lawmakers and political candidates in recent years and are now considered a key part of immigration reform plans in Congress.
“Our current immigration laws do not prioritize immigrants based on the skills and education they bring to our country,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He said the U.S. selects only about 12 percent of legal immigrants on the basis of their special skills.
Improving the system for foreign workers has been a sticking point among lawmakers. In November, the Republican-controlled House passed a bill to make green cards available to foreign students graduating from U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science and math while eliminating the government’s Diversity Visa Lottery Program. That program randomly awards 55,000 visas to immigrants from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. Democrats have largely supported the diversity lottery, and the bill was blocked in the Senate.
Holleyman of the Software Alliance said immigration reform and improvements to education in science, technology, engineering and math for U.S. students are the best ways to make sure U.S. employers have enough skilled workers.
The rush for these visas will be another signal to Congress that an overhaul of the program is needed as part of a broader immigration plan, said Neil Ruiz, an associate fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.
“Once Congress comes back next week,” Ruiz said, “they will say, ‘Ah-ha, we need this and we need to do this now.’”
By TERRY COLLINS
(AP) — The last call for drinks is 2 a.m. in California, but one lawmaker believes that’s just too early to set down the shot glasses and beer steins.
State Sen. Mark Leno’s proposal to let the liquor flow until 4 a.m. as a way to draw more tourists — and with them more revenue and jobs — is already spawning a sharp debate from Sacramento to watering holes in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Leno said the measure would make the state more competitive with other hotspots like New York, Las Vegas and Miami that serve alcohol later into the wee hours of the morning or 24 hours a day.
Night-spot owners say a later last call will be good for business, but law enforcement officials argue that it increases the chances that cities will see more public drunkenness, violence, drunken driving and possibly fatalities.
Leno’s proposal, however, wouldn’t set a uniform standard across the state. Instead, it would give each municipality the option to push their last call back to 4 a.m.
“It will be up to the cities whether they want to participate or not,” said the San Francisco Democrat, whose district encompasses clubs in the trendy South of Market district. His bill is expected to get its first public committee hearing on April 23.
At Steff’s, a sports bar near the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park, patron Armand Gaerlan liked the idea of a 4 a.m. last call. “I’ve lived in New York City. If it’s working there, it can definitely happen here,” said Gaerlan, who thinks the move would allow for making later dinner reservations.
At nearby Nova Bar and Restaurant, customer Kendra Chrysler said it was a bad idea. “I’ll pass. I feel like nothing good happens after 2 a.m.,” she said.
In Los Angeles, there is a buzz about a later last call, said Barbara Jacobs, chief operating officer at a 1920’s-themed downtown nightspot, The Edison. She said the bar is making plans for a midnight breakfast and cocktail menu in case the proposal passes.
“We’re creatively driven and so we’re going to take advantage of it,” she said.
Industry groups such as the California Restaurant Association and the Hollywood Hospitality Coalition are endorsing the 4 a.m. last call.
Los Angeles hosted a record 41.4 million visitors last year, one million more than in 2011. And, the city said, guests spent more than $16 billion in 2012. The San Francisco Travel Association said the city drew 16.5 million tourists who spent nearly $9 billion in 2012, up from the previous year.
Jim Lazarus, a senior vice president for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, said he believes it will be especially appealing to businesses already with after-hours permits to stay open past 2 a.m. — without serving alcohol.
“There’s clearly a demand,” he said. “I think the younger population, especially the young tech workers — they’re working hours that are different from the traditional 9 to 5. They work later, so they party later.”
However, law enforcement officials argue that establishments serving alcohol past 2 a.m. will produce significant problems.
John Lovell, a lobbyist for the Sacramento-based California Police Chiefs Association, said an extended last call will further stretch many depleted law enforcement agencies that will be forced to monitor inebriated patrons when the bars close.
“That will be a whole new dynamic with those leaving a bar at 4 a.m. hitting the road when the early commute is in progress,” Lovell said. “That brings a whole new danger.”
Although San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said he thinks the extended hours are a bad idea, Leno’s bill has the support of Mayor Ed Lee, who said that if the bill becomes law he would seek input from police, local bar owners and neighborhood leaders before the city opts for a late last call.
Leno said he authored a last call bill geared for San Francisco in 2004, which was rejected by the state Assembly. But he expects this one to fare better because it leaves the ultimate decisions with the cities.
Ludwig Chincarini, an associate economics professor at the University of San Francisco, said recent studies in the U.S. and abroad do not provide very clear links between longer last calls and impacts on crime and local economies.
Extended drinking hours may add more tax revenue, particularly from tourists, Chincarini said, but they are unlikely to bring a windfall to major California cities.
“The tourists who already come here could take advantage of possibly drinking for an extra couple of hours, that’s all,” he said. “I don’t think people are going to be traveling to San Francisco and Los Angeles to get the ... Las Vegas experience in terms of extensive drinking and partying.”
March 28, 2013
San Pedro, CA – Congresswoman Janice Hahn recognized the third anniversary of the Affordable Care Act that has already helped millions of Californians, citing a new report by the Department of Health and Human Service. President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010.
“Three years ago, Congress made history by passing a health care law that the American people have been demanding for decades. Now the Affordable Care Act is working for America by holding insurance companies accountable, bringing down health care costs, and helping more families get the peace of mind of affordable health insurance, including millions of Californians,” said Congresswoman Hahn.
The new report shows that the ACA has already ensured that millions of Californians are receiving the critical health care services they would not have otherwise had. In California alone: 12 million people, including 4.4 million women and 3.2 million children, are free from worrying about lifetime coverage limits; 15,000 previously uninsured people with pre-existing conditions are now covered; and those who use Medicare saved over $453.8 million on prescription drugs through closing the “donut hole.”
“Three years into the legislation’s implementation, there is much progress to celebrate and more victories to look forward to. The Affordable Care Act has already saved American consumers $2.1 billion. Millions of young people have been able to stay on their parent’s health care plans. Millions of seniors are able to afford the prescription drugs they need. And beginning in 2014 being a woman will no longer be considered a pre-existing condition. I will continue to advocate for a healthier America and fight any effort to repeal this critical law,” Hahn added.
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