We’re going on summer vacation!
With Congress gridlocked due to MAGA Republicans’ ideological pursuits and partisan intransigence, our Federal Working Group doesn’t have a whole lot of legislative activity to work on. There’s the Farm Bill coming up later this year and then the annual budget and not much else.
So we’re taking a break and going on light duty for a couple of months. In July and August, there will be one Federal Working Group meeting on the first Thursday and one newsletter the following Wednesday.
We’ll be back to our regular schedule in September. Look for reporting on CA StateStrong-supported bills signed or vetoed by the Governor (and possible CTAs advocating for one or the other), along with the return of our regular federal-level coverage and lists of upcoming events.
Until then, enjoy the summer, stay safe, and keep doing what you’re doing to help strengthen our democracy.
Student loan payments resume in just a couple of months. Are you ready?
In March of 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 emergency in the United States, the Biden Administration began a pause on collecting repayments of federal student loans. That pause was extended six times in the three-plus years since then. Now, following the end of various other measures the Biden Administration deployed to relieve the pain of the pandemic, the student loan repayment pause is ending as well.
The recent debt-ceiling agreement includes a provision that sets a hard date on the end of this pause. The notice on StudentAid.gov says that interest will resume accruing on September 1, and payments will resume coming due in October. The legislation also prohibits the Secretary of Education from extending the pause further, so this really is the end—it will not be extended again.
Don’t wait. The Department of Education has the steps you should take to prepare before your student loan payments resume, and you should start now.
Apply to Join the EPA Youth Advisory Council
Last Thursday, June 22, EPA Director Michael Regan invited young people nationwide to join the EPA’s new National Environmental Youth Advisory Council (NEYAC). According to Director Regan, “We’re looking for youth from across the country who are passionate about the environment and invested in being leaders of the climate movement.”
NEYAC will have sixteen members, appointed for two-year terms, to provide advice and recommendations on environmental issues directly to Director Regan.
- You must be between 16–29 years of age as of August 22, 2023.
- You must demonstrate notable commitment to environmental issues, such as a focus on environmental issues in school, or involvement in a meaningful community project or club, or another kind of environmental interest.
- You’ll need to be able to contribute at least 10 to 15 hours per month to NEYAC’s activities (which includes attending meetings and developing recommendations and reports to the EPA).
Applications are due by 8:59 AM Pacific time on August 22, 2023.
If you’re interested, sign up for one of the two upcoming webinars:
- Register to attend the Friday, June 30th webinar via Zoom, noon–1 PM PT
- Register to attend the Monday, August 7th webinar via Zoom, 9–10 AM PT
Or if you’re already sure, then apply here: https://www.epa.gov/education/national-environmental-youth-advisory-council-neyac
Bonus: There are openings for full time jobs at the EPA’s San Francisco office right now.
Golden Gate Bridge tolls going up this Saturday
This Saturday, July 1, the tolls to come back to the City over the Golden Gate Bridge are going up. Single cars and motorcycles with one driver with a FasTrak will pay $8.75, while carpools will pay $6.75; these are an increase of 35¢ over the current tolls. Read the Golden Gate Bridge District’s press release for full details.
This is the fifth in a series of five annual increases begun in 2019. That year’s announcement said these toll increases would fund maintenance of the Bridge, as well as public transit including Golden Gate Transit (which now has full intra-City service along those routes—you’re no longer limited to going to the Bridge!) and Golden Gate Ferry.
The other bridges, including the Bay Bridge, don’t have an increase this year; their tolls last went up last year, and will go up for the third and final time under Regional Measure 3 in 2025. Those increases similarly are funding transit line extensions (including BART to San Jose), service expansions (including Muni), and highway improvements.
Transit funding in state budget
In other good news for transit funding, Sen. Scott Wiener recently announced that the state budget passed by the Senate includes “over $1 billion to help keep buses and trains running over the next 3 years” and “fully restores $4 billion transit infrastructure projects”. While this doesn’t completely relieve the financial pressure our public transit agencies are under, it’s a key portion of the revenue these agencies need to maintain service.
We thank everyone who’s been pushing for public transit to be kept alive and healthy for their advocacy. Transit is how our City moves, and we need more of it, not less.
Prepare now for the next round of wildfire smoke
Dealing with smoke is never behind us in any permanent sense. Sooner or later, there will be another wildfire, and we will have smoke again. And this is true for everyone, everywhere.
The knowledge that we in California have gained from our encounters with wildfire smoke is knowledge that we can share with others. As we learned in 2018, 2020, and 2021, and folks on the East Coast learned this year, folks in cities are not exempt—wildfire smoke can blow into your area wherever you are.
Wherever you live, you will have smoke in your area in your future. Prepare now, and stay prepared, so that when it happens, you and your family have the best chance of making it through unharmed.
Read about preparing for wildfire smoke on our blog.
If you’re interested in participating in activities like drafting letters to our Members of Congress and developing our strategy for influencing them, the Indivisible SF Federal Working Group is where it happens.
Indivisible SF Federal Working Group: Thursday, July 6, 7:30–9 PM. Planning meeting where we discuss strategy to influence our Members of Congress and the Biden administration to enact a progressive agenda. Meeting starts promptly at 7:30 PM. All are welcome. Register here!
NERT full training: Six sessions starting Wednesday, July 26. San Francisco’s Neighborhood Emergency Response Team is a team of volunteers trained to respond to fires, earthquakes, and other disasters. This is a six-week course; please only apply if you can do all six sessions. Register here.
About this week’s photo
If you’ve seen our newsletter posts on Twitter and Facebook, you might have noticed that we include a photo or graphic with each issue.
This week’s image is a graphic promoting applications to the EPA Youth Advisory Council, courtesy of epa.gov.
Keep Fighting, The Indivisible SF Team
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