POLITICAL LANDSCAPE: Krekorian genocide bill advances

A bill that would require California-based companies to certify that they do not “wrongfully hold” assets that belonged to victims of genocide advanced to the state Assembly's Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

AB 961, submitted by Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, would also prohibit companies from contracting with the state if they can't prove their compliance. The so-called Justice for Genocide Victims bill unanimously passed the Business and Professions Committee on Tuesday during the main week of genocide remembrance events throughout the world.

Krekorian, in a statement released after the vote, cited a range of massacres — from the Armenian Genocide that started in 1915, to the ongoing conflict in Darfur — in calling for a continued legislative crackdown on “homicidal tyrannies.”

“This legislation will send an important message by ensuring that California will not do business with companies that have enriched themselves at the expense of genocide victims,” he said.

The bill is scheduled to go to the Judiciary Committee for review next week.


School district bill clears Senate hurdle

Legislation that would make permanent a 17-year-old law allowing parents to send their children to schools outside their home district unanimously passed the Senate on Monday.

The bill, jointly written by Sen. Bob Huff, whose district includes portions of La Crescenta, would make the District of Choice program permanent before it is scheduled to sunset on July 1. Under the current rules, parents can send their children to outside districts participating in the program without first getting permission from their home district.

Typically, families must receive permission to transfer their students to outside districts since federal and state funding allotments are based in large part on school attendance, but the current law was established to allow districts to participate in the transfer program if they chose.

Huff has pushed the law as “a tool that rewards schools doing a great job, and motivates other schools to do a better job with our limited education dollars.”

The Assembly Education Committee is due to take up the bill in coming weeks.


Dreier supports a Reagan statue in D.C.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution to bring a statue of former President Ronald Reagan to the nation's capital this summer.

Set up to promote the 40th president's legacy on the 20th anniversary of the end of his term, was hailed as an appropriate move considering the parallel economic circumstances now faced by the current president, Barack Obama.

Speaking from the House floor, Rep. David Dreier said that at the time, “it was Reagan's belief in the power of free markets and free peoples that saw us through the crisis. Today, I remain hopeful that the Reagan example will be looked to as an inspiration for how to navigate difficult times.”

Dreier voted along mostly party lines against the federal budget this month, arguing it was too heavy on taxes and promoted out-of-control government spending.


Antonovich calls for investigation into deaths

Los Angeles County Sup. Michael Antonovich called for an investigation into the deaths of 14 children who were under the scrutiny of county child welfare officials last year.

Antonovich's call came in light of a report in the Los Angeles Times that the children had died while foster care, even though complaints had been lodged against their families.

The county Department of Child and Family Services told The Times that it had opened investigations into 10 of the 14 cases, and that the child welfare workers involved had been assigned to desk jobs.


Congressional proposal targets truck safety

Truckers, like the one who smashed through a La Cañada Flintridge bookstore and killed two on April 1, may have an incentive to add safety devices to their vehicles if a new congressional proposal gains approval.

Republican Rep. David Dreier has cosponsored a resolution that would give trucking companies a tax credit for purchasing technologies that aim to improve safety in truck operations, he said in a statement.

The plan would encourage companies to equip their trucks with brake stroke monitoring, lane departure warning, collision warning and vehicle stability systems.

It will also push for more research for truck-specific satellite navigation systems that might help drivers find the best routes for their big rigs, Dreier said. Improved technology for trucks could prevent future accidents, he said.

“The recent accidents in La Cañada Flintridge have brought to the forefront the gaps in the dissemination of information on road conditions and safe routes, especially for the trucking industry,” he said. “We must take steps to prevent these tragic circumstances from causing any more fatalities in Southern California or anywhere else in the country.”

If passed, the government would offer a 50% tax credit for truck safety purchases, worth up to $1,500 per individual system. The credits would be capped at $3,500 per truck and $350,000 per company.

Navigation systems could be an important addition to the list of products that the incentives would apply to, but more study on the subject is needed, Dreier said.


— Jason Wells and Zain Shauk

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