August 2014 E-Newsletter
In the aftermath of the significant earthquake that recently struck Napa, Californians are appropriately focused on the ever-present risk facing our state. This past June, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released new earthquake hazard maps for the nation which expanded the seismic risk areas along the East Coast and in California. The national seismic hazard maps have been updated to account for new methods, models and data that have been obtained since the last release of seismic hazard maps in 2008.
The national seismic hazard maps provide the basis for many public and private policies regarding earthquakes, including seismic-design regulations for buildings, bridges, highways, railroads and other structures. The maps are used in building codes to identify areas where structures are likely to experience large seismic loads. In addition, the maps help planners to build structures in a way that will enable critical infrastructure and resources, such as electrical power, transportation corridors and medical care, to continue with minimal disruptions following an earthquake.
As with past estimates, the threat of earthquakes is highest along the West Coast, the Intermountain West -- that region between the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Range -- and specific areas in the central and eastern United States. The 16 states with the highest risk include Alaska, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, according to the report.
In California, the discovery of new faults increased hazard estimates for the Cities of San Jose, Vallejo and San Diego. However, due to a new understanding of earthquake fault processes, researchers downgraded threat estimates for the Cities of Irvine, Santa Barbara and Oakland.
Additionally, as Chair of the Senate Committee on Insurance, I will continue to scrutinize the issue of earthquake underinsurance faced by California residents and businesses. Unfortunately, the Napa earthquake may highlight that residential and commercial earthquake policies provide insufficient coverage and will not assist those with the greatest need.
For information on how to tell if your business or home is near a fault line and how you can prepare for the possibility of an earthquake, visit the Governor's Office of Emergency Services website.
Office of Patient Advocate Refocused
Effective with the enactment of the 2014-15 State Budget, the Office of Patient Advocate (OPA) was restructured and duplicative responsibilities were eliminated in order for OPA to work in tandem with existing state agencies in an effort to help consumers navigate the state's complicated health care system and aggregate consumer complaint data.
In 2011, I authored Assembly Bill 922, which refocused OPA to provide consumers with assistance when they sign up for new health care coverage under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The enactment of the current year budget included the redirecting of annual funds to the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) from OPA for the sole purpose of contracting with community based organizations in order to provide assistance to consumers in navigating private and public health care coverage offerings. While consumers can still contact OPA, individual health related concerns should be directed to the DMHC Help Center. For more information on these recent changes visit the OPA website.
Water Bond Heading to the November Ballot
On August 13th, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed a revised and refined water bond that will appear on the November 2014 ballot. The $7.12 billion water bond will address water issues that are unique to the Central Coast, Santa Clara County, and the State of California as a whole. Specific to the Central Coast, the bond funding will benefit projects that address groundwater management, water recycling, contaminated water cleanup, and additional ocean and land stewardship. A detailed outline of the water bond can be found here.
State Mental Health Resources
A few weeks ago, the Senate adjourned in memory of Robin Williams, a gifted actor and comic genius who, while bringing joy to many, also talked openly about his life-long struggle with depression. In the national conversation about his passing, many have talked about a continuing need to better address mental health issues in society.
Through Each Mind Matters: California's Mental Health Movement, a program funded by Proposition 63, the Mental health Services Act, California's county mental health organizations and mental health advocates are working to eliminate the stigma around mental illness and empower Californians with the knowledge to recognize the warning signs of suicide and to intervene to save a life.
This year's budget includes $206.2 million of investment in mental health programs that maximize federal funding opportunities, local realignment dollars, Proposition 63 Mental Health Services Act Funds (MHSA), foundation grant funds, and State General Fund monies.
Every California county has resources to support people experiencing thoughts of suicide. Visit www.suicideispreventable.org to learn how you can support others who may be experiencing thoughts of suicide, and find local resources such as crisis hotlines and support groups that can provide care.
Monterey County Veteran Stand Down
Stand Downs are events held across the country to provide services to homeless veterans, such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, Veterans Administration and Social Security Benefits counseling, and referrals to a variety of locally managed programs. This year, I had the honor of attending the kick-off ceremony for the Monterey County Stand Down in Seaside, sponsored by the Veterans Transition Center and the United Veterans Council of Monterey County. Thank you to the hundreds of volunteers and non-profit organizations that donated goods and services to make this event a huge success. It was wonderful to take part in an event where the community joins together to assist the men and women who have selflessly served our country.
Castro Adobe State Park
I had the privilege to tour the newest member of the State Park family in Santa Cruz, the Castro Adobe, nestled in the hills of the City of Watsonville. This historic monument was built from 1848 through 1849 by Juan Jose Castro and is currently undergoing a multi-year restoration effort led by Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. The Castro Adobe holds generations of fascinating history and the commitment to bring it back to its initial splendor is indeed commendable. The park is not yet open to the public but you can read more about its captivating history here.
Monterey District Office Artwork
If you have visited my Monterey District Office recently, you have probably noticed the wonderful photography by local photographer, Steve Zmak, on display throughout the office. Mr. Zmak's work captures the essence of California and the West through black and white photography, and takes viewers through some of the Central Coast's most breathtaking scenes.
In addition to preserving California's natural beauty on film, Mr. Zmak works to protect the environment by donating 10 percent of the proceeds from every photograph sold to environmentally focused nonprofits. I applaud Mr. Zmak's commitment to preserving California's landscape through his donations to nonprofit organizations seeking to preserve the environment for future generations, and it is an honor to have his stunning photography displayed in my Monterey District Office. Thank you Steve!
Fort Ord Hills by, Steve Zmak
Thank you for taking the time to read my newsletter.
William W. Monning
Senator, 17th District