In Other News

EARTH DAY AND ENVIRONMENTAL INEQUALITY:  Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a time to honor our planet and advocate for environmental justice. This year – and this day – will be much different than past years, because of COVID-19.

Mobilization efforts for climate movement groups won’t be meeting in-person in masses as in years past to advocate for action against climate change. Rather, groups plan for what they hope is the largest online mass mobilization in history.

Earth Day Live, which begins today, is a three-day livestream “focused on climate action and participation in our democracy,” according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Performances, training sessions and an array of engaging and informative events are planned. If interested, you can RSVP here to the main livestream.

There are hundreds of localized livestreams planned as well, including at CSU, Dominguez Hills. Students and faculty at CSUDH organized a virtual fair for Wednesday afternoon, which included labor and environment speakers, labor and social justice education speakers and a look inside prisons and detention camps.

STUDENT LOAN DEBT REMINDER, GROUP ASKS FOR LONGER DEADLINE: Last month, Congress passed and the President signed the massive $2 trillion legislative package – the CARES Act – which was the third stimulus since the coronavirus crisis.

Part of that bill dealt with student loan relief. It’s an issue that affects a number of our members, so we wanted to remind you of some key points for how that could affect you:

  • The bill allows most borrowers to defer monthly payments through September 30 with zero financial penalties. Interest will be suspended, freezing the borrower’s balance.
  • There will be no garnishment of wages, Social Security, or tax refunds for student loan debt collection.
  • For those of you in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, these months will count as though you made a payment, moving you closer to loan forgiveness.
  • The Department of Education is required to notify borrowers within 15 days of their payments being suspended.

The deadline, though months away, will come quicker than most realize. Higher education groups are calling on Congress to extend student loan relief.  

“In a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, [American Council on Education] requested that Congress extend the benefits of the CARES Act through at least June 30, 2021, or until unemployment falls below eight percent for three consecutive months,” according to Forbes.

CENSUS DELAY REQUEST DRAWS PRAISE FROM FORMER DIRECTORS, SKEPTICISM FROM SOME LAWMAKERS: Late last week, another push to delay the release of the Census: in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – conceding counting the nation’s population was being harmed by the virus – the Census Bureau said it would ask Congress to pass a law to change major deadlines to distribute the numbers to Congress. 

According to a press release from the Census Bureau, the agency requested lawmakers to extend the legal deadline to deliver the president new state population counts by April 30, 2021 – four months after the current legal deadline.

According to NPR, the Bureau also requested Congress to allow it an additional four months to provide census data to them, moving that deadline “from March 31, 2021 to July 31, 2021.”

According to Science Magazine, “the pandemic has forced the Census Bureau to delay sending out enumerators to track down anyone who hasn’t already completed the 10-question census form that became available last month. It expects those field operations to continue until the end of October, which makes it impossible to meet the current statutory deadlines.”

Four former Census Bureau directors, including two who served in the Obama administration, released a letter last week supporting the move, while Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), who leads the House oversight and reform committee that oversees the Census Bureau, was more cautious than the former directors.