Joy And Unease As Rose Parade Returns

The bloom is back,’ event organizers say, but surging cases are cause for concern.

New Year’s Day 2021 started with a pang of sadness for Aida Bueno.

Her beloved Rose Parade had been canceled for the first time since World War II. And for the first time in more than a decade, she didn’t get to spend a few joyous days decorating floats with volunteers from across the country, her “family from everywhere.”

“I didn’t know what to do with myself,” said Bueno, a nurse from Pico Rivera.

The Rose Parade will return Saturday. And this week, Bueno was back in her element: flitting around a Pasadena warehouse with other decorators, slicing leaves,gluing dried fruit and seeds, blasting Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” from her phone and belting out the chorus.

“Coming back here every year is [about] trying to make people happy,” Bueno said. “To give people something to smile about. Especially nowadays, when there’s not a lot to smile about.”

For many, the return of the Rose Parade will be seen as a cheerful respite from two painful pandemic years. But the parade — and its enormous crowd from across the country — is coming at a fraught time. Coronavirus infections and hospitalizations are soaring again because of the highly contagious Omicron variant. Disruptions abound.

Photo courtesy of Dave Proffer, flickr

Hundreds of flights have been canceled this week because of airline staffing shortages tied to the virus. The Holiday Bowl in San Diego was canceled five hours before kickoff on Tuesday because of COVID-19 issues with the UCLA Bruins. A performance of “Hamilton”at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre was scrapped on Christmas Eve — with the audience already seated — because of breakthrough infections backstage.

The famed New Year’s Eve celebration in New York City’s Times Square has been scaled back, with fewer revelers allowed. The New Year’s Eve event in Los Angeles’ Grand Park will be streamed, with no live audience.

But the Rose Parade will go on, with organizers expecting hundreds of thousands of spectators along Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard.

“All the planning that we have done has positioned us well to be able to host the Rose Parade in a safe and healthy way,” said David Eads, executive director of the Tournament of Roses.

“The overall sense of renewal and rebirth of the Rose Parade is forefront with everybody. We’ve come up with a couple of terms for it: ‘One parade, two years in the making,’ and ‘The bloom is back.’ ”

The Tournament of Roses is requiring the 6,000-plus parade participants, including people on floats, marching bands and equestrians, to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the event.

As of Monday, just over 90% had given proof of vaccination, Eads said.

Parade spectators ages 12 and up in ticketed areas, like grandstands, will also have to provide proof of vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours. Ticket holders ages 18 and up will have to provide photo identification, and all attendees ages 2 and up in those areas will be required to wear a mask.

Along the rest of the 5.5-mile route, where people can just walk up and watch, vaccination and negative test results will not be checked.

“What we’re asking is they take personal responsibility,” staying in family pods, social distancing as much as possible, wearing masks and being vaccinated and boosted, Eads said.

There is some comfort, Eads said, in both the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl game between the Utah Utes and Ohio State Buckeyes — which also will require vaccination or a negative test from attendees — being outdoor events, which health officials say are safer than indoor gatherings.

The parade comes as California is battling a significant new spike in infections and hospitalizations. California recorded 4,378 coronavirus-positive patients in hospitals Monday. The number of Californians hospitalized with COVID-19 has swelled by nearly 25% since Dec. 20, according to data compiled by The Times.

About 67% of all Californians are fully vaccinated. In Pasadena, which has its own health department, 89% of residents ages 5 and up are fully vaccinated.

Eads said the Tournament of Roses partnered with public health specialists at USC Keck School of Medicine this year and last year to conduct reports on the feasibility of hosting the parade.

This year, the report concluded that vaccinations would be “a game changer,” Eads said, but that planning should be flexible in case new variants emerged.

Last year, before vaccines were available, the parade was called off in July and replaced with a television special.

Click here to read the full article at LA Times

Burglars Hit At Least A Dozen Sacramento Lobbyists And Nonprofits In Downtown Break-In

Lobbying firms, nonprofits and a union were among the tenants affected by a burglary at the Forum Building on Thursday.

The 10-story building, located a block from the Capitol at the intersection of 9th and K Streets, houses a swath of government relations firms and other organizations that do business with the state. On the morning of Dec. 23, tenants were informed that the building had been broken into the night before.

Rubicon Property Management, which manages the Forum Building, declined to comment on the robbery. In an email to tenants obtained by The Sacramento Bee, management said more than a dozen offices had been compromised by forced entry.

The affected tenants included the California Federation of Teachers, California Strategic Advisors, Reeb, EdVoice, California Association for Adult Day Services, the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association, the California Association of Councils of Governments, the California Solar and Storage Association, Hispanic League of Colleges and Universities, Corbin & Kaiser, the Planning and Conservation League and Houston Magnani and Associates.

Sacramento Police told The Bee that officers responded about 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning, where they saw signs of forced entry and discovered multiple businesses within the building had been burglarized. The investigation is ongoing, police said.

Rubicon on Monday told tenants in an email that law enforcement was able to collect finger prints from the offices. Management will also install additional cameras in elevator lobbies and install security guards 24/7, the email said.

Samantha Corbin, CEO of the firm Corbin & Kaiser, said thieves entered office suits by breaking door handles, locks and door frames. She speculated they might have had a key card.

Corbin said the burglars took brand new computer equipment, banking and routing information, and employee payroll information like Social Security numbers from the filing cabinets in her office suite.

Corbin said she and other tenants have become increasingly wary of working downtown, and say the empty storefronts and rundown streets contribute to crime and theft.

“It’s been so bad on K Street in general,” Corbin said. “I don’t think this is a building owner issue. This is a Sacramento city government issue.”

Ron Kingston, a lobbyist and president of California Strategic Advisors, said things were “strewn everywhere” in his office. His door was busted open and documents from like invoices and billing statements with bank account and routing information, were taken. Kingston said he’s concerned the area isn’t safe.

Click here to read the full article at the Sacramento Bee

Lack Of Money Isn’t California’s Problem

California’s rate of education spending continues its rapid escalation but expected increases in performance remain lagging. While taxpayers are doing their job, politicians, education bureaucrats, and teacher unions aren’t doing theirs.

The 40-year-old myth that Proposition 13 gutted education spending was never true to begin with, despite the progressive narrative, but now it has been exposed as utter fantasy. According to the federal government’s National Center for Education Statistics, in inflation-adjusted constant dollars, per-pupil spending in California for public elementary and secondary schools rose from $5,675 in 1969-70, to $7,377 in 1979-80, to $9,121 in 1989-90. For 2017-18, the most recent year for which statistics are available, per-pupil spending for K-12 public schools was $13,129, the highest ever.

As Reason Foundation’s Christian Barnard highlighted recently in these pages, “inflation-adjusted education spending in California grew by a massive 44.03% between 2013 and 2019 — the fastest growth among any state in the nation including the District of Columbia during that period.” That’s made us 17th in the nation in per-pupil K-12 spending.

So no, California’s schools aren’t hurting for cash as the foes of Prop. 13 would like you to believe. What California’s schools are hurting for is accountability. And as two recent news items show, it starts at the top.

One example is a story reported by POLITICO about the questionable hiring of Daniel Lee, California’s first superintendent of equity. The state job, which pays a salary of up to $179,832, originated as a foundation-funded position paid for by a $700,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. In July 2020, following the protests over the death of George Floyd, Lee went on the state payroll as a deputy superintendent for the California Department of Education. The purpose of the hire was to ensure the success of children of color in California.

The only problem was that Lee lives and works in Pennsylvania. Politico reported that he “owns a Pennsylvania-based psychology firm and is president of the New Jersey Psychological Association’s executive board,” but his resume shows “no prior experience in California or relationships with school districts in the state.”

Click here to read the full article

What New California Laws Mean For The Workplace In 2022, From Warehouses To Pay Disputes

A first-in-the-nation law to regulate quotas in warehouses. A ban on nondisclosure agreements in workplace harassment and discrimination lawsuits. An easier pathway to becoming barbers and hairstylists.

California workers and businesses will have those laws and more to abide by as the new year rolls around.

Last year was “kind of a down year” when it comes to the number of significant labor laws getting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature, said Ben Ebbink, a Sacramento-baed partner at a law firm Fisher Phillips representing employers.

Still, Ebbink noted several significant bills will affect employers and employees alike starting Jan. 1. Here’s what to know about the new laws:

WAGE THEFT

The government will be able to issue a felony charge against employers who intentionally steal workers’ wages of more than $950 for one employee or $2,350 for two or more employees. Such a charge could lead to up to three years in jail.

“We’re not talking about an inadvertent, clerical mistake but situations where employers know what they’re doing and are not intending to pay workers by the law,” Ebbink said. “I don’t see a lot of risk for the prosecutors running around hitting mom-and-pop stores for inadvertent violations.”

WORKPLACE SAFETY

California will also spike the amount of fines it could levy on the employers who don’t provide safe workplaces. Under Senate Bill 606, Cal-OSHA can impose a penalty for each employee affected by the violation of the state’s health and safety regulations if it is willful and “egregious.”

Cal-OSHA will also be able to issue an “enterprise-wide” citation, hitting all of the employer’s worksites, if the agency has evidence of a pattern of the same violation involving more than one of the facilities.

NONDISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS

Meanwhile, the state will ban the use of nondisclosure settlement agreements on workplace harassment and discrimination cases. The law also prevents, with few exceptions, employers from offering severance agreements that block the displaced workers from talking about unlawful acts in the workplace.

MINIMUM WAGE

Under Senate Bill 639, no new employers may be permitted to pay workers with disabilities less than the state’s minimum wage, a practice that had been allowed in some circumstances to encourage employment. Existing employers paying subminimum wages have until Jan. 1, 2025, to increase the pay for their workers.

Speaking of the minimum wage, employers with 26 or more employees soon must pay their workers at least $15 an hour. Smaller employers will be required to pay their workers at least $14 an hour. Some cities and counties may have an even higher minimum wage.

WAREHOUSE, GARMENT, COSMETIC AND FOOD INDUSTRIES

Some laws will target specific industries.

Under Assembly Bill 701, companies must tell their warehouse workers of their quotas. Companies can’t use quotas to prevent workers from taking legally required meal, rest or bathroom breaks.

Companies must notify workers of their quota within 30 days of hiring, as well as of any discipline they may face from failing to meet the target. Workers who believe their quotas are unsafe can request 90 days of their work speed metrics and can sue employers to stop them from imposing the requirement.

Garment workers in the state must also now be paid hourly, instead of per piece produced, except in worksites covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Fashion brands would be held liable for labor law violations of their contractors.

Meanwhile, two new laws will affect the agriculture and food industry. Farmworkers are now designated as “essential workers,” giving them access to the state’s stockpile of N95 masks and other personal protective equipment. Food delivery platforms can’t retain any part of the tips given to their drivers.

Another new law will ease the requirement for Californians to be barbers or cosmetologists. Barbers and cosmetologists will only have to get 1,000 hours of training to get their license, compared to up to 1,600 hours beforehand.

Click here to read the full article at SacBee

America’s Divisions May Have Passed the Tipping Point

If we can’t learn to leave each other alone, the country may have a violent meltdown.

Have America’s much-discussed political tensions reached a point of no return? Political tribalists who sort their lives along partisan lines and despise opponents have become regular features of national life. But now researchers say polarization can reach a “tipping point” at which external threats, such as pandemics, no longer drive people together but instead become further sources of strife that spiral out of control. Their warning comes as Americans seem poised to further escalate disagreements into open violence.

“We see this very disturbing pattern in which a shock brings people a little bit closer initially, but if polarization is too extreme, eventually the effects of a shared fate are swamped by the existing divisions and people become divided even on the shock issue,” Boleslaw Szymanski of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute told Cornell University interviewers. Szymanski is a co-author of “Polarization and Tipping Points,” published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He added: “If we reach that point, we cannot unite even in the face of war, climate change, pandemics, or other challenges to the survival of our society.”

The authors of the paper wanted to know why the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than pushing Americans to cooperate on a common threat, instead became yet another reason for disagreement. They created a model to study the effects of party identity and political intolerance.

“We found that polarization increases incrementally only up to a point,” according to Cornell’s Michael Macy, who led the study. “Above this point, there is a sudden change in the very fabric of the institution, like the change from water to steam when the temperature exceeds the boiling point.”

The result, according to the study, is “a hard-to-predict critical point beyond which polarization becomes unlikely to reverse.”

Models aren’t real life, of course. But the researchers were inspired by real-life developments—developments so concerning that the issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in which the paper was published was devoted to the dynamics of political polarization. After all, we live in a country in which people sort lifestyles, recreational preferences, and careers by partisan affiliation.

“Consider, also, the growing segregation in our places of work. The academy increasingly skews to the left, especially so in liberal arts departments and among staff. Cattle ranchers, loggers, dentists, and surgeons skew right,” points out the University of Michigan’s Scott Page in the same publication.

Such political sorting applies to the military, too, severely limiting its utility in the country’s domestic disputes, no matter that some officeholders think that B-52s are the solution to political disagreements. Just two weeks ago, three anti-Trump retired Army generals warned that Americans shouldn’t look to troops to suppress escalating political strife.

“The potential for a total breakdown of the chain of command along partisan lines — from the top of the chain to squad level — is significant should another insurrection occur,” Paul Eaton, Antonio Taguba, and Steven Anderson wrote in the Washington Post. “Under such a scenario, it is not outlandish to say a military breakdown could lead to civil war.”

“Civil war” sounds like an unlikely fate for an established democracy where the population’s image of the concept is tied up in images of field armies in blue and gray uniforms. But no country is any more stable than the moment allows, and internal conflicts can be far messier than even the war that marked the mid-19th century.

“We actually know now that the two best predictors of whether violence is likely to happen are, whether a country is an anocracy, and that’s a fancy term for a partial democracy, and whether ethnic entrepreneurs have emerged in a country that are using racial, religious, or ethnic divisions to try to gain political power,” Professor Barbara Walter of the University of California at San Diego told CNN last week. “And the amazing thing about the United States is that both of these factors currently exist, and they have emerged at a surprisingly fast rate.”

Walter serves on the CIA’s Political Instability Task Force, which assesses the health of countries around the world. The task force isn’t allowed to turn its gaze on its home country, but Walter did so on her own (she has a book on the topic coming out in January).

“The United States is pretty close to being at high risk of civil war,” she concluded.

That said, and on a more positive note, just as the stability of a country isn’t written in stone, neither is its descent into chaos. The authors of “Polarization and Tipping Points” emphasize that they “make no claims about the model’s predictive accuracy.” Likewise, retired generals Eaton, Taguba, and Anderson, as well as Walter can’t know what is to come, they can only point to warning signs that have them concerned. We don’t have to live up to the worst expectations.

While America’s dominant political factions seem determined, like two kids in the back of a car, to poke and prod each other until they come to blows, the solution, as in that road trip to hell, might be to separate the parties without allowing either one the upper hand. Both the thuggish nationalism of Republicans and the elitist presumption of Democrats are authoritarian prescriptions best reserved for true believers, with the rest of us left to run our own lives as we please.

The election of Joe Biden to the presidency on promises of normalcy after the Trump years, promises which were promptly broken, indicates that Americans have some appetite for a less extreme and intrusive brand of governance. Unfortunately, 2020 was a lost opportunity to separate the feuding factions, and instead we traded one brand of overreach for another. Pushback against progressive excess in 2021’s off-year elections looked like another attempt by the public to achieve a little balance, or at least to escape the ambitions of a faction that wants to transform society to suit its vision, other people’s preferences be damned. The question is whether that pushback will be enough to avert a collapse into conflict.

“The process resembles a meltdown in a nuclear reactor,” Cornell’s Macy said of his tipping point research. “If the temperature goes critical, there is a runaway reaction that cannot be stopped. Our study shows that something very similar can happen in a ‘political reactor.'”

If we’re smart, the U.S. won’t be the test case for that hypothesis. Assuming that Americans can learn to leave each other alone, we won’t have to discover what it means to pass a national point of no return.

This article was originally published on Reason.com

GOP Holds Double-Digit Lead Among Independent Voters Ahead of 2022 Midterms: Poll

A new poll indicates that self-described independent voters would prefer, by an 18 percentage-point margin, that Republicans regain control of Congress in next year’s midterm elections.

The poll by John Zogby Strategies, released last week, found that 45 percent of independents want the GOP in charge of the House and Senate, compared to 27 percent who want Democrats to keep their majority. The remaining 28 percent said they were undecided.

The same survey found that Republicans held a three-point advantage, 46 percent to 43 percent, on the generic congressional ballot.

“In my four decades of polling, Democrats need about a five percentage-point advantage [in] nationwide congressional preference in order to maintain a majority of Congress,” pollster John Zogby said in a statement. “With a three-point Republican lead, and a substantial lead among independents, signs are pointing today to the possibility of a big Republican advantage going into 2022.”

A new poll indicates that self-described independent voters would prefer, by an 18 percentage-point margin, that Republicans regain control of Congress in next year’s midterm elections.

The poll by John Zogby Strategies, released last week, found that 45 percent of independents want the GOP in charge of the House and Senate, compared to 27 percent who want Democrats to keep their majority. The remaining 28 percent said they were undecided.

The same survey found that Republicans held a three-point advantage, 46 percent to 43 percent, on the generic congressional ballot.

“In my four decades of polling, Democrats need about a five percentage-point advantage [in] nationwide congressional preference in order to maintain a majority of Congress,” pollster John Zogby said in a statement. “With a three-point Republican lead, and a substantial lead among independents, signs are pointing today to the possibility of a big Republican advantage going into 2022.”

The same poll put President Biden’s approval rate at 46 percent, with 52 percent of respondents disapproving of his performance. While Biden’s approval number is higher than in some other recent polls, Zogby noted that 40 percent of respondents said they “strongly” disapproved of the president’s work.

Click here to read the full article at NYPost

Time to Cut Gas Taxes?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced earlier this month that energy prices in the U.S. rose 33 percent for the 12 months ending November.  In many regions of California, prices rose even higher.

In the L.A.-Long Beach-Anaheim region, energy prices jumped 35 percent. In the Inland Empire, prices shot up 36 percent.  And in the San Francisco area, prices climbed 25 percent for the 12-months ending October (the latest available data).  Analysts attribute much of the increase to the price of gas.

Californians now pay $4.67 per gallon at the pump, compared to an average of $3.32 for the rest of America. But what most Californians don’t realize is that their dollars aren’t all going to local gas station owners or far-flung oil companies. A whopping 67 cents of every gallon goes to state taxes and 18 cents to Federal taxes.  This prompted one California lawmaker to title his op-ed: “I’m a Democrat and it’s time for our government to stop making gas more expensive.”

Congressman Josh Harder (CA-10) from the Central Valley reminded his colleagues in Sacramento that the massive infrastructure bill passed last month was already going toward fixing roads and bridges.  The “kicker,” Harder wrote, is that “our families are getting taxed twice at the pump for a service — rebuilding our infrastructure — they’re only getting back once.”

He pointed out that state governments, soon to receive billions in federal infrastructure money, “shouldn’t fleece drivers to pay for roads and bridges the federal government is already paying to fix, especially as businesses are recovering from the pandemic. Instead, state lawmakers across the country should freeze and lower these gas taxes to put money back in the pockets of working families.”

Refreshing the memories of Sacramento lawmakers, the gas tax, Harder wrote, was expected to raise $5 billion annually when it was implemented in 2017. But along came a $31 billion budget surplus for 2022 and another $30 billion in federal dollars from the new bipartisan infrastructure law.  Awash in cash, you would think that lawmakers could afford a little generosity and offer some much-needed tax relief to Californians.

Click here to read the full article at the Pacific Research Institute

What You Need To Know About California’s New Composting Law — A Game Changer For Food Waste

Californians will ring in the new year with the unfurling of a groundbreaking law that will change how they dispose of their organic waste, particularly leftover food and kitchen scraps.

Senate Bill 1383 requires all residents and businesses to separate such “green” waste from other trash, but the program will be rolled out gradually for homes and businesses in the coming months, with the actual startup date varying, depending on the location of your home or business.

Fines can be levied for failing to separate organic refuse from other trash. But those charges aren’t scheduled to begin until 2024. CalRecycle, the state agency overseeing the change, has lots of information about the new requirements on its website.

Others offering composting solutions include LA Compost — which gives instructions on home composting and also offers community hubs where organic material can be dropped — and CompostableLA, which provides a home pickup service in some neighborhoods, for a fee.

Residents and businesspeople should check with their local governments, and with waste haulers, to find out the specific rules for their communities. Here are some frequently asked questions about the new requirements, with answers from Los Angeles County Public Works and the Los Angeles City Bureau of Sanitation.

Isn’t garbage just garbage? Why are California lawmakers requiring us to separate organic waste from the rest of our trash?

Scientists have found that organic waste dumped into traditional landfills decomposes and creates methane, a super-pollutant with as much as 80 times the Earth-warming potency of carbon dioxide.

To slow the advance of global warming, the state wants to redirect the material to composting centers or anaerobic digestion facilities, where it can help sink carbon back into the Earth or capture natural gas to — for instance — power trash trucks.

When do I need to begin separating my kitchen waste from other trash?

The opening date for organics diversion varies, depending on where you live. San Francisco, Berkeley, Costa Mesa and other communities have been recycling kitchen waste via curbside green bins for years. Those bins also accommodate yard trimmings.

Los Angeles County Public Works officials say homes in unincorporated communities will get notices over the first half of 2022 telling them when, and how, to segregate their food waste. Some businesses in L.A. County already have voluntary recycling of food waste, a program that will become mandatory over the course of the new year.

Click here to read the full article at LA Times

Many Californians Will Likely Be Infected During Omicron Surge. How Bad Will It Get?

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus is now spreading rapidly across California, fueling big upticks in infections across the state. 

At least three California health systems have reported that Omicron appears to account for 50% to 70% of new cases, state health officials said Thursday, and clinical and wastewater data suggest Omicron is now spreading in most parts of California.

However, the full scope of this latest wave remains to be seen. 

Cases are expected to spike, perhaps to unprecedented levels. Some hospitals are likely to again come under stress from a renewed influx of COVID-19 patients.

But for now, officials say they can contend with the surge by doubling down on common-sense safety practices and promoting vaccinations and booster shots, rather than resorting to new lockdown orders.

Los Angeles County provided a glimpse of what may be to come. A day after reporting 6,509 new coronavirus cases — which was more than twice the figure from the day before — county health officials reported an even higher infection total Thursday: 8,633.

“These numbers make it crystal clear that we’re headed into a very challenging time over the holiday,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “If our case numbers continue to increase at a rapid pace over this week and next, we could be looking at case numbers we have never seen before.”

What will the next few weeks look like?

As Omicron is still a relatively new arrival — its presence was first confirmed in California just three weeks ago — there are many unanswered questions as to what its impact will be. 

One thing that seems certain, though, is that the variant can spread rapidly. Already, Omicron now constitutes 73% of the nation’s coronavirus cases, up from 13% the week before, according to federal estimates.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say early forecasts suggest a large surge of infections could be reached by early January, and “the peak daily number of new infections could exceed previous peaks.”

“This rapid increase in the proportion of Omicron circulating around the country is similar to what we’ve seen around the world,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a briefing. “Although this is a reminder of [the] continued threat of COVID-19 variants, this increase in Omicron proportion is what we anticipated and what we have been preparing for.”

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

Report Card: What Did Congress Members From Orange County Accomplish In 2021?

Register looks at voting records, legislation, constituent response and attendance for seven House members.

Of the seven U.S. House members who represent portions of Orange County, Rep. Mike Levin had the best attendance record in 2021, as the only local lawmaker not to miss a single vote this year. Reps. Katie Porter and Lou Correa weren’t far behind, missing just one vote each.

Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, also helped recover the most money for constituents from federal agencies, while Rep. Young Kim, R-La Habra, grabbed headlines for breaking with her party in votes on a few high-profile bills. And every local lawmaker communicated with residents through town halls, detailed websites, newsletters and social media.

With this year’s legislative session closed, the Register took a look at what Congress members who represent portions of Orange County got done in 2021.

It’s not a ranking, per se. Simple bills are much easier to get passed, for example, but often don’t create real change in people’s lives. Also, legislation — particularly in the House of Representatives — also often gets wrapped up into other bills, as lawmakers cosponsor or add amendments to colleague’s bills. And there are, at times, legitimate reasons why members miss votes.

But voters should be able to expect attendance, advocacy and communication from the people they pay to represent them in Washington, D.C. So here’s a report card of sorts for how each local House member put your taxpayer dollars to work in 2021.

Keep in mind that most of these lawmakers plan to stand for reelection in 2022. Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, already has announced he’s retiring after this term. And for the others, the number and geography of their districts will change at the end of next year, when new political district maps take effect.

Rep. Linda Sánchez, D-Whitter, of CA-38

Sánchez, 52, is in her 10th term representing the 38th District, which includes La Palma and a slice of Cypress, plus southern Los Angeles County cities. She serves on the powerful Ways and Means Committee and on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. She also belongs to the Hispanic, Labor and Working Families, LGBTQ+ Equality and Progressive caucuses.

Legislation: Sánchez sponsored 18 bills and three resolutions this year. So far, none have been signed into law, though figure to be discussed in the second year of the session and others have been incorporated into new legislation. For example, Sanchez was asked by President Joe Biden to author the now-stalled U.S. Citizenship Act, which would reform immigration and create a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented residents. That idea is being debated in the budget reconciliation package. Sánchez also is still pushing bills she reintroduced this year to let family caregivers get a tax credit of up to $5,000 for expenses and to let service members dispute negative credit information that appeared while they were in a combat zone or aboard a U.S. vessel.

Reaching and helping constituents: Sánchez held more than 40 town halls, “Coffees with the Congresswoman” and other events to engage directly with constituents in person or virtually. Her office returned over $1 million to constituents in veterans’ benefits, tax returns, Social Security checks and other federal benefits. They also resolved more than 1,000 cases involving passports, small businesses and immigration-related issues.

Vote record: Sanchez missed 1.1% or five out of 449 votes this year, according to GovTrack. (For context, the median is 2.1% among the lifetime records of representatives currently serving.) Here’s how she voted on seven high-profile bills that passed the House this year:

-Yes on the Build Back Better Act, Biden’s nearly $2 trillion signature social spending bill that would taxes very wealthy individuals and corporations to address climate change, offer universal preschool, expand Medicare and extend the Child Tax Credit. The package is still being debated in the Senate.

-Yes on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will funnel $1 trillion to states and local governments to upgrade outdated roads, bridges, transit systems and more. The bill became law in November.

-Yes on impeaching President Donald Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The Senate voted Trump not guilty.

Click here to read the full article at OC Register