Sadly, in so much of the west, including California, devastating fires continue to impact communities and our way of life. In the middle of fire season, records are being set for acres burned and poor air quality. That’s why as your Member of Congress, I have been working over the last month on legislation and fire disaster relief through FEMA to provide financial support to those areas that have been devastated by these wildfires.
There is some good news to report this week from our district work week, including helping schools get the necessary waivers they need to supply nutritious meals to students through the school lunch program. I’m also working to support our local transportation services. Here are the highlights:
Wildfire efforts and resources
As the Creek Fire continues to threaten lives and property in Madera, Mariposa, and Fresno counties, I’ve been involved in efforts to ensure both firefighters and affected communities have the resources they need to stay safe and ultimately recover from these devastating losses.
Free school meal programs are critical to ensuring students continue to have access to nutritious daily meals, especially during a pandemic. I’m pleased to report an extension of waivers to make free school meals available through the end of the year. I’ve been working hard to secure these meals for our Valley students, most recently leading a bipartisan letter to Secretary Perdue pushing for this change. Over the past few months, I’ve signed on to three additional letters supporting school meal waiver extensions.
Supporting local transportation services
The transportation industry has been hit hard by COVID-19, resulting in thousands of furloughed workers, declines in revenue and reduction of services. I recently cosponsored the bipartisan Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act, which would provide $10 billion in emergency economic relief funding to motorcoach operators and other transportation industries, including the Yosemite Area Regional Transit System (YARTS), which supports our local schools.
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Money Magazine also named UC Merced one of the country’s top 100 schools, and Washington Monthly ranked the university at no. 19 nationally for creating social mobility for our students.
Go Bulldogs! Go Bobcats!
Bringing home federal dollars
One of my top priorities is ensuring your tax dollars come back to the district. I’m pleased to report that Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT) received over $1 million in federal grant funding for noise mitigation measures for nearby residences. I participated in the groundbreaking event recently for the new Fresno Airport terminal.
As wildfires continue to rage across our state, farmer’s fields are being affected. If you’ve been impacted by wildfires, there are federal resources that can help. The Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP) provides assistance to producers for losses due to disease, certain adverse weather events or loss conditions, including blizzards and wildfires.
Organic producers and handlers can apply for federal funding to assist with keeping and receiving organic certification through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP), a farm bill program I advocated for.