This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.
Cargo plane pilots would have to be sufficiently rested and alert before they fly, under a bill introduced in the Senate on Wednesday by Sen. Barbara Boxer.
Boxer, D-Calif., joined with Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., to introduce the Safe Skies Act, which would require that cargo pilots adhere to the same standards as passenger plane pilots. "We must close this dangerous loophole to ensure that cargo pilots are well-rested before they fly," Boxer said.
After a passenger jet crashed outside Buffalo, N.Y., in 2009, Congress passed a bill by Boxer and Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, directing the Department of Transportation to write new rules addressing pilot fatigue. Those new rules, which will take effect in January, require that passenger plane pilots be limited to flying either eight or nine hours, depending on the start time. Airlines must give pilots a minimum of 10 rest hours, with the opportunity for at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.
But cargo pilots were omitted from the new rules, and still could be on duty for up to 16 hours a day. The Air Line Pilots Association, the Independent Pilots Association and the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations support the Safe Skies Act.
Reps. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., and Timothy Bishop, D-N.Y., had introduced a House version of this bill early this year, but it has sat dormant in a subcommittee ever since. They and retired airline pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger of Danville -- renowned for his emergency landing of a jetliner in the Hudson River in 2009 -- joined Boxer and Klobuchar at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
"When a large plane flies over your house in the middle of the night, it doesn't matter whether it's carrying cargo or passengers, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican," Sullenberger said. "The danger is all the same if the pilots are fatigued."
Local Democrats are mourning the loss of Amy McGonagle, who was the Bay Area's regional field director for the Obama campaign last year and most recently had been a community organizer and scheduling director for Ro Khanna's congressional campaign.
McGonagle, 35, of Fremont, died Monday.
"I was deeply saddened by the news that the life of a key campaign staffer was cut tragically short this week," Khanna said by email Wednesday. "Amy McGonagle was a bright and vibrant young person who regularly inspired and lifted the spirits of the entire Ro for Congress family. She was one of the first people to join my campaign, and we continue to benefit from her contributions first as a community organizer and later as director of scheduling every day. My thoughts and prayers are with Amy's family and friends during this terrible time."
As Obama for America's Bay Area regional field director, McGonagle had supervised two offices, managed and trained dozens of volunteers and directed get-out-the-vote efforts including phone-banking to mobilize voters in seven battleground states.
She blogged in July 2012 about her battles with "a severe nerve disorder -- one known for the constant and unbearable pain it causes" that had necessitated two brain surgeries. "Thanks to our president, I cannot be denied health insurance because of my medical history, unless the Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act," she wrote.