1.10.21 Virus, housing issues await returning lawmakers

Excerpted from AP via Antelope Valley Press

By DON THOMPSON and ADAM BEAM

A bill by Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting would require public schools to reopen within two weeks of their county leaving the state’s most restrictive shutdown tier. The California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers oppose the idea, which they said would substitute political pressure for science in deciding when it’s safe to reopen.

A bill by Republican Sen. Andreas Borgeas, plus Caballero and Democratic Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, would spend $2.6 billion on small business grants.

Lawmakers from both parties are eager to revamp the state’s beleaguered Employment Development Department, which at one point had a backlog of 1.6 million initial and continuing claims from workers who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

The department has resolved more than 91% of those claims, but the backlog has been growing again as California imposed new lockdown orders last month to try to stem an unprecedented surge in Coronavirus cases that threatens to overwhelm the medical system.