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Trade agreement causes split

Robert Chacon

A recently approved trade agreement that divided Congress almost

evenly down partisan lines, also split local legislators down the

middle.

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The House on Wednesday voted to ratify the Dominican

Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement, which would open up

new markets for, and reduce tariffs on, U.S. goods.

The pact was approved by the Senate last month.

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Rep. David Dreier came out as strongly in favor of the agreement

as Rep. Adam Schiff was opposed.

The agreement helps address serious cross-border security

concerns, Dreier said on the floor of the House Wednesday. The

economy of foreign countries and U.S. security are becoming

increasingly intertwined, he said.

“We can not afford to pretend that poor political and economic

conditions outside our borders do not affect our security as a

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nation,” he said.

The agreement addresses the issue of illegal immigration by

providing more economic opportunity to countries immigrants flee for

the U.S., Dreier said.

“If we want to address illegal immigration, we must address its

root causes,” he said.

All California Republicans in Congress voted to support the bill,

and all of the state’s Democrats voted against it.

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The trade agreement will hurt U.S. jobs, businesses and the

environment, Schiff said.

“I hope that the administration lives up to its commitment to

enforce intellectual property protection, labor standards and

environmental protections,” Schiff said. “I have been concerned with

the administration’s record in the past.”

While the U.S. government continues to open its border to foreign

markets, it has not done enough to make sure that American companies

can break into overseas markets, Schiff said.

“The playing field has to be leveled,” he said. “We have been

content to open up our markets without insisting that other countries

open up theirs.”

Schiff seeks lifetime monitoring for sex offenders

Sexual predators would be required to wear lifetime electronic

monitoring devices under an amendment proposed by Rep. Adam Schiff,

which passed a key committee Thursday.

If approved by Congress, Schiff’s amendment would be attached to

his larger Childrens Safety Act -- a comprehensive bill aimed to

combat sex offenders who prey on children.

States that meet requirements of the bill within three years of

the bill’s enactment would receive a 10% bonus in law enforcement

grants.

States would be required to provide lifetime electronic monitoring

for a released sex offender if the victim was younger than 12 or

where the offender had a prior sex offense conviction.

The offender would be required to wear a GPS tracking unit,

probably an ankle bracelet during probation, parole or supervised

release.

Schiff’s impetus for the most recent amendment to his bill was a

visit with Mark Lunsford, the father of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford,

who was allegedly molested and murdered by a sexual predator in

Florida.

“It had a very strong impact on me,” Schiff said. “What he is

enduring is every parents’ nightmare.”

Not even rehabilitated offenders would be spared from the

monitoring, Schiff said.

“People who molest children are a very poor prospect for

rehabilitation,” he said. “They are a continuing danger, and they

should be locked up and to the degree they are released, they should

be continually monitored.”

Most states have laws requiring sexual offenders to register and

update their place of residence when they move, but the requirement

is flawed, he said.

A means of keeping nurses local

To address the severe shortage in critical care nurses in trauma

care facilities and emergency rooms in Los Angeles County, the Board

of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a scholarship program for

nurses who commit to serving four years at Los Angeles Country’s

hospitals or clinics.

The motion, put forth by Supervisor Mike Antonovich’s, also

proposed similar scholarships to current nurses who successfully

complete advanced coursework in specialty nursing services including

critical and emergency care.

The Health Services Department will report back to the board in 30

days with an evaluation of the proposals and current county nurse

scholarship programs.


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