Inching closer to final approval from the U.S. Congress, the St. Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial Act has been rolled into a lands package, S. 47, introduced in the Senate on Tuesday by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
The original bill, HR 2156 was introduced in the House of Representatives in April 2017 by then-Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale. It would establish the 353-acre St. Francis Dam Disaster National Monument to commemorate the more than 400 people killed after the dam collapsed on March 12, 1928, and encompass the site of the St. Francis Dam National Memorial in San Francisquito Canyon.
HR 2156 passed the House on July 31, 2017. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, then introduced a companion bill in the U.S. Senate, S. 1926, which was co-signed by her colleague Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California.
In October 2018, the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources adopted S. 1926/HR 2156 by unanimous consent.
However, joint staff amendments by the committee reduced the site’s acreage from the originally proposed 440 acres to 353 acres to exempt a small piece of property on which mineral rights are privately owned and to preserve maintenance access for public utility personnel.
The legislation then headed to the desk of Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. But it stalled there because the Senate Majority Leader did not bring the bill to a floor vote before the 115th Congressional session ended.
With the 116th Congress now in session, the effort to win final approval continues with Murkowski’s introduction of S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act in the Senate.
On Wednesday, Murkowski’s bill was read a second time and placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders, Calendar No. 7, but no specific date has been set.
“Now (the Natural Resources Management Act) needs to go back to the House of Representatives before anything else can happen,” said Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel, president of the Community Hiking Club, one of the nonprofit proponents of the legislation. She and Alan Pollack, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, worked to draft the proposed bill.
“Once the House passes it, the bill will come back to the Senate for a floor vote,” she said.
“I spoke last week with our new Congresswoman, Katie Hill, and she is aware of (the legislation), as are her Legislative Director and District Director,” Erskine-Hellrigel said. “Hill’s offices are being set up as we speak, so there may be a little delay, but I anticipate the introduction will take place in the House in short order.”
Erskine-Hellrigel believes once that happens, “We’ll be on our way, and things will move forward in the Senate. Sen. Murkowski has the incentive to get the lands package out because there are many lands bills in there that affect Alaska. So, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that after all this, the president will sign it.”
The St. Francis Dam failure was the second-deadliest disaster in California history and the nation’s worst civil engineering failure of the 20th Century. The ensuing flood killed an estimated 411 people along the Santa Clara River floodplain as the water rushed to the ocean, causing millions of dollars in damage to the communities in the SCV as well as downriver in Rancho Camulos, Piru, Fillmore, Bardsdale, Santa Paula, Saticoy and Montalvo.
William Mulholland, head of the Los Angeles Bureau of Water Works and Water Supply, now known as the LADWP, oversaw construction of the dam. He resigned as a result of its failure.
Erskine-Hellrigel noted the effort to get a St. Francis Dam bill passed is now in its sixth year.
“Such a headache this has been for such a non-controversial bill with no appropriations attached,” she said. “And we cannot move ahead with fundraising (to build the monument and a vistor’s center) until it’s passed.”
Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, announced the introduction of Senate Joint Resolution 5, urging the federal government to immediately pass a correction to the Social Security formula to protect benefits for millions of Americans who turned 60 during the pandemic.
The Santa Clarita City Council will consider allocating a little over $3.5 million in federal funding intended to support low- and moderate-income residents with decent and affordable housing and economic opportunities.
After publicly expressing their support for hosting live graduations earlier this year, William S. Hart Union High School District officials outlined their proposed plans for the Class of 2021 ceremonies during their Wednesday night governing board meeting.
After plans fell through for a $100 million mall expansion that would have brought a second Costco to the Santa Clarita Valley, representatives from the big box retailer reached out to city officials to see if they could still make a second location a reality.
Nurses Week is underway and the Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN) is calling on registered nurse volunteers to assist with Covid-19 vaccinations at the Kedren Community Health Center in partnership with International Medical Corps.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced it will begin a phased reopening of jail visitations at the Century Regional Detention Facility starting on Mother’s Day weekend, with all other locations predicted to reopen in June.
The L.A. County Financial Navigators program, operated by the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs’ Center for Financial Empowerment in partnership with Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, announced it is currently providing L.A. residents with free assistance to help them deal with the financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city of Santa Clarita Human Relations Roundtable voiced strong support for the removal of the race-based “Indians” mascot at Hart High School in an open letter to the William S. Hart District School Board in alignment with the recently released statement of the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians.
The California Interscholastic Federation has renewed a multi-year agreement with GoFan as the official digital ticketing partner to provide touchless, digital ticketing solutions to high schools and state-wide post season play across California.
The County of Los Angeles announced Thursday that it has distributed 23 million units of free PPE through its joint effort with PPE Unite to protect 433,000 employees at small businesses across the County.
The Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) has launched its annual CalFresh Awareness Month campaign to publicize the CalFresh Nutrition Program and acknowledge community partners throughout the month of May for helping to raise public awareness year-round.