November Newsletter -- Back To Work
Congress is back in session, so I wanted to update you on what I've been working on as the 113th Congress enters its final weeks.
Great news for Trinity County:
Last Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed my bill to help Trinity County's economy: the Trinity County Land Exchange Act. This is the second of my bills to pass the House, and is an extremely important bill for Trinity County's economy and public land management.
H.R. 3326 grants Trinity a much-needed 100-acre parcel from the Shasta-Trinity National Forest accessible by the highway, adjacent to the Weaverville Airport and uniquely suited for economic development. In exchange, the county's Public Utilities District will convey a 47-acre parcel west of Weaverville that will improve public access to the Trinity River, which is designated as a Wild and Scenic River.
This land swap is a great example of bipartisan legislation that furthers our shared priorities of economic development and environmental protection in our nation's rural communities—proving that we can boost our local economies while protecting our environment.
Celebrating and remembering our nation's veterans:
I spent Veterans Day in Marin and Petaluma with many of Northern California's brave men and women who served in uniform. I am proud to represent approximately 48,550 veterans in Congress. I recently had the pleasure of meeting with veterans who shared their histories with a student volunteer from Marin as part of the Veterans History Project. It was a meaningful experience for this young man, who was lucky enough to record interviews with six veterans—from World War II, the Vietnam War, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Their stories will be saved in the Library of Congress in perpetuity so that future generations can learn from their experiences.
Throughout our nation's history, men and women in uniform have served our nation both in conflict and in peacetime with unwavering courage. From the moment our soldiers took an oath to protect and defend our nation, America affirmed a commitment to them that is everlasting.
That means we must ensure our veterans have access to the timely, quality healthcare they have earned and deserve. With that in mind, I recently discussed the allegations of misconduct and inexcusable delays in care with the new Secretary of Veteran Affairs, Robert McDonald, and will continue to work to change the way VA does business. To that end, I'm glad that the President recently signed the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act into law, a strong bipartisan bill that I was pleased to support. This new law makes critical reforms to keep the VA accountable and allows them to hire more doctors, nurses, and medical personnel to give our veterans the care they deserve.
I know that that our work is not done and we need to keep working to ensure our nation meets the solemn commitments it made with its veterans.
Cracking down on environmental polluters:
After more than a year of our hard work, the U.S. Sentencing Commission has finalized guidelines to increase the criminal penalties for environmental damage caused by trespass marijuana grow operations. These sentencing guidelines are the result of my bipartisan PLANT Act and a letter I led with California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer asking that the federal agency provide new legal tools to counter the environmental damages of illegal drug production.
The damage done to the environment and public safety by these trespass marijuana grow operations is staggering to witness in person. I recently toured the French Creek trespass marijuana grow, one of seven sites cleaned up by federal, state and local authorities in October. Cleanup of the sites restored 67.5 million gallons of water diversions and removed a total of:
- 8,188 pounds of fertilizer,
- 104 pounds of rodenticide,
- 560 gallons of insecticide,
- 205 bags (50 gal.) of garbage, and
- 8.5 miles of irrigation line.
While we move towards a more rational marijuana policy—which I believe should include the decriminalization of marijuana for adults—we need to ensure that where it is legal to grow marijuana, it is done responsibly and lawfully.
We have a lot of unfinished business that Congress will hopefully address before the end of the year, including the bipartisan immigration reform bill that passed the Senate last year and still awaits action in the House. I'll be working my hardest in the days ahead to get things done.
As always, you can contact me via Twitter, Facebook, email, or you can call one of my district offices and we will continue to help to the best of our ability.
Congressman Jared Huffman