I just don't know what to write tonight. It's grim my friends. That's about all I can say. Here is Governor Newsom's presser.

Well, hello there again. I watched Gavin's presser. I ate brunch. I showered. I watched The Daily Show from last night. I watched The White House Daily Show from today. And now it's time for Nooner II. I'm actually going to hold the a few issues for tomorrow, including today's presser by Governor Gavin Newsom on Project Roomkey, which has moved 869 COVID-19 positive or high-risk homeless individuals into hotels/motels. 

Here is the video of the press conference where he was joined by Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg and was held in front of a Sacramento motel where 11 individuals have their own rooms tonight (I believe some COVID-19 negative folks may be in double rooms). Governor Newsom said that a total of 869 individuals have been moved in to places leased around the state of a Phase 1 goal of 7,500. After the support structures have absorbed Phase 1, an additional 7,500 will be placed. Many of those already placed were currently sheltered (including COVID-19+ not sick enough to be hospitalized), and much of Phase 1 will consist of those already in shelters as they have already interacted with social services.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) is reimbursing 75% of the cost of the program. 

Here is the governor's press release and I'll have a long form on this tomorrow as I have tons of notes.

COVID-19: (as of 4:30pm) Total California cases: 12,255 confirmed (+23.2% from yesterday); Total California fatalities: 270 confirmed (+26.2%)

THE LEGISLATURE (cont'd): In the Nooner early today, I misstated the Senate Rules change in SR 86, the bill to allow remote voting in the State Senate in a state of emergency. I erred by saying it applied only to committees, which was wrong. It covers floor sessions as well. The issue for large committees (e.g. Appropriations) and floor sessions is finding a way to do it in the construct of the constitutional provisions enacted by Proposition 54 in 2016. 

The problematic provisions are found in Article IV, Section 7 of the state constitution:

(c) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (3), the proceedings of each house and the committees thereof shall be open and public. The right to attend open and public proceedings includes the right of any person to record by audio or video means any and all parts of the proceedings and to broadcast or otherwise transmit them; provided that the Legislature may adopt reasonable rules pursuant to paragraph (5) regulating the placement and use of the equipment for recording or broadcasting the proceedings for the sole purpose of minimizing disruption of the proceedings. Any aggrieved party shall have standing to challenge said rules in an action for declaratory and injunctive relief, and the Legislature shall have the burden of demonstrating that the rule is reasonable.

(2) Commencing on January 1 of the second calendar year following the adoption of this paragraph, the Legislature shall also cause audiovisual recordings to be made of all proceedings subject to paragraph (1) in their entirety, shall make such recordings public through the Internet within 24 hours after the proceedings have been recessed or adjourned for the day, and shall maintain an archive of said recordings, which shall be accessible to the public through the Internet and downloadable for a period of no less than 20 years as specified by statute.

Now, technology (and bandwidth) has advanced significantly since 2016 when Prop. 54 was written and approved. However, I still can't see any technology solution available to meet the above requirements and allow for the Legislature to meet remotely. Zoom for a college or K-12 class is very different than a Legislature of a presiding officer recogning members who wish to speak and for it to be visible among 40 members of the State Senate. Well, I can think of it, but it would require editing, which may more may not be allowable with the "in their entirety." 

The support for Prop. 54 was broad, including the nonpartisan groups like League of California Cities, League of Women Voters, Bay Area Council, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, California Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and more. These groups have a significant interest in seeing legislative business being done over the next 60 days, but also can understand that there are 26 legislators 65 or over. I don't know if any additional members fall into a high risk category and I don't think it's our business to probe. 

If we are under a "Stay at Home" order through the end of May, which is widely expected if not longer, I think these groups and the many others listed in support of the measure would like to figure out a way to get critical business done using the technology many of them use for their own business. Yes, the Legislature can be forced to show up in person as "essential," but that means forcing high-risk legislators to travel, often by plane and put themselves and others at risk.

Nobody saw this situation coming and local governments are already doing this under Governor Newsom's executive order of March 12, which allows local governmental bodies and state government entities to conduct meetings via teleconference, and many have been. The Legislature can't, and shouldn't try to hold a floor session by conference call, but maybe with technology there's a way to get it done in the spirit of Prop. 54 to allow public viewing and a full recording without forcing at-risk individuals (legislators and staff) to appear in person and mingle with other members, staff, the media, and the public to get urgent work, like passing a budget done. Items could be posted 72 hours in advance for public comment.

The public doesn't interact with members during floor sessions anyway, and we already dealt with a similar issue on the very last night of the State Senate floor session last year, which extended us into a very strange Senate floor session in Room 4203 keeping both houses in session until 2am. It was widely expected that it was going to conclude around 9pm at the latest.

Local governments and state boards and commissions are already meeting through video conferencing under the governor's executive order. We need to be prepared for even bigger things in the future. The evening of September 13 last year -- menstrual blood thrown from the gallery onto the Senate Floor (and members) -- could have been worse. It could have been a biological agent requiring the building to be evacuated for a period of time. 

I would suggest that the major organizations that supported Proposition 54 support not only an ability of the Legislature to meet but also an amendment to the language inserted into the constitution to make it clear that the Legislature may meet remotely with audio-video technology when under a state or federal state of emergency affecting its ability to conduct business in Sacramento.

We can get this done in this extraordinary time. 

Interestingly, Politico's Nerd Cast podcast posted today is on this exact topic for Congress.

Talk to you tomorrow,
Scott