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BALANCE OF POWER:
Yesterday, I provided the below (filled in) for Nooner Premium subscribers. I don't just offer it as a tease, as you can print it out and use it as a scorecard. There's a lot of commonality among the ratings, but some differences. When I differ, I try to get in much deeper analysis.
If you are Nooner Premium and didn't get my email this morning, there are now HTML, PDF and DOC version in the subscribers section.
Good Tuesday morning to you.
The two-house conference committee on SB 901 (Dodd) that is looking at wildfire preparedness and response met late last night and, with knowledge that the clock is ticking for a deadline of midnight tonight (really, before) for both houses to adopt language, there were many sticking points that made it clear that the casserole isn't cooked just yet.
That said, lawmakers know that they need to deliver something on the enormous disasters that have hit the state over the last year.
Last night, the lawmakers spent over an hour on opening statements that praised elements of the plan but generally avoided getting into the specifics of the 72-page long list of amendments. I don't know what time everyone received the amendments, but they are timestamped 5:49 pm yesterday, and the hearing started around 8:30pm.
Members of the public were each given one minute to express their thoughts but were reminded repeatedly that their time was running out, as was the time to reach a deal on the package. The deal, if there is one, will largely be done behind closed doors. The committee will meet for the opportunity to sign the conference report. A majority of three members of each house must sign the conference report for it to go to both floors. Am
A litany of supporters from civic organizations, particularly minority chambers of commerce, came forward in support of the plan. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) seems to have mobilized many of these groups and is also a generous supporter of their efforts. I am confident that many of those providing testimony supporting the package don't have knowledge of the specifics of the package on the table.
The bill is crafted to be a majority vote bill, with "appropriations" on a going forward basis in future state budgets. However, it still needs a two-thirds votes to make the amendments on the floor of each house, since it is after the standard deadline for doing so. While the very complicated package likely won't see final votes of supermajorities in both houses, I expect that members will "go up on" the motion for amendments tonight, even if they don't plan on voting affirmatively on the resulting bill on Friday.
Even those who vote for it are likely to send out press releases that declare that it's a good start, but more work will be done next year. Meanwhile, while the package is imperfect, preparation for next year and stability for PG&E that benefits those who work for the utility and their customers requires action this year.
Here are some articles on last night's deliberations:
From those headlines, you tell me where we are with 12 hours (11.5 for Nooner Premium) before the midnight deadline to amend bills on the floor (although, as I wrote yesterday, if the governor wants the package, he can send a letter saying that it is part of the emergency declarations he previously signed).
Meanwhile, while PG&E has been heavily criticized for its inaction on wildfire preparedness, there were few jabs against the corporation itself last night.
Rather, blame was largely aimed at shareholders who collected dividends during time that the investor-owned utility should have spent more on strengthening the power grid in preparation for an era of increased wildfire threat. The utility ceased dividends after Q3 of 2017 as the liability of the October 2017 disaster of the Tubbs fire--which destroyed 5,636 structures--became apparent. Although Tubbs was the most destructive in California history, five more in the Top 20 have occurred in the last twelve months in PG&E territory.
Not all were initially started by electrical transmission equipment, as Carr/Redding) was a flat tire. However, the fire could have spread because of equipment, but proving that is the challenge in assessing liability.
Committee members referred to those who are playing the market on both sides of a deal--the shorts and the longs. Short stock buyers bet on a stock dropping, while longs bet on it increasing in value. These can be made into huge bets either way through options.
At 8:45am, PG&E's stock was up over 3% following last night's hearing. It is down 31% over the last year.
#METOO: In the Times, Melanie Mason reports "An Assembly committee has rejected former Assemblyman Matt Dababneh’s appeal of a legislative investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct, upholding the probe’s original findings that he “more likely than not” exposed himself to a lobbyist in a hotel bathroom." The Rules Committee also denied an appeal filed by Dababneh that sought the ability to more completely refute the allegations and introduce character witnesses.
Dababneh previously filed a defamation lawsuit, which accused lobbyist Pamela Lopez of "making false and public accusations against him." The allegations include "Defendant acted maliciously, with knowledge that the statements in the press conference and complaint filed with the California State Assembly were false."
So, now what with the lawsuit, now that a governmental body--not a judicial body--has substantiated the allegation? Time for my friends in tort law to weigh in.
I wasn't in the hotel suite, let alone the bathroom that night. I've previously outlined why I don't think that the defamation case meets the multi-pronged test because there appears to be no way that either party can prove that it did or did not happen. The only relevant truth on Dababneh's side would be a witness that said that he or she had eyes on him the entire night and he never went to the bathroom. I know of no such witness.
I hope both parties can move on and heal. It's been a period of learning for the entire Capitol community and hopefully beyond.
More after the jump...
MONEY MATTERS: AB 84 (Mullin), the bill that would allow legislative caucus leaders at the limits applied to political parties, was shelved for the year. Even if Senate Democrats could hold their caucus and woo over one Republican, it became increasing clear that the 54 votes in the Assembly were unlikely. In particular, looking ahead the biggest members being defended (Sabrina Cervantes and Rudy Salas) were tough votes, as were an apparent group on the left who were being heavily lobbied by good government groups.
So, instead, we'll play the county party central committee "doing the laundry" game money so wink-wink, the legislative party leaders limit their direct contact with special interest money. Don't worry, political industry, the money is still there.
Joel Fox offers his take on the bill and the fight within the Democratic Party.
HAMSTERDAM: In the Chron, Melody Gutierrez reports that AB 186 (Eggman) to allow San Francisco to be a pilot for "safe injection sites" for those addicted to intravenous narcotics has gone to the governor. The goal of such "havens" is to ensure clean needles, safe disposal of needles, and available medical personal, while also working to connect those addicted to treatment programs. Critics argue that such programs sanction the continued use of illicit drugs.
The vote was 42 "Ayes," with 41 Dems and Rocky Chávez (R-Oceanside), with 30 "Noes" including 6 Democrats. 8 Democrats took a walk.
NET NEUTRALITY: Senator Scott Wiener's hard-fought SB 822 on net neutrality is item 345 on the Assembly Floor and may be brought up today. The bill is strongly supported by Silicon Valley and consumer groups, while opposed by the big telecom companies that provide Internet access to a large majority of California subscribers. [analysis w/ supp./opp.]
Like the above discussion on support for PG&E on wildfires, a lot of the opposition is from minority chambers of commerce. There's nothing wrong with that, as everyone deserves a voice. Their history of consistent support by big telecom companies probably helped them listen to the opposition arguments. The bill otherwise would be unlikely on their agenda.
Meanwhile, advocates in support exaggerate the immediate impact. Google/YouTube won't be signing a "preferred status" agreement with a carrier as it would be an awful business decision. Your cat videos will continue.
VOTER PROFILES: The team at PPIC led by President/CEO Mark Baldassare has a new publication that profiles California's current voter population.
Of course, these aren't surprise conclusions, but it's PPIC, so they've got the numbers. Good work, team!
CHOO-CHOO: Joe Mathews writes that, to realize a high-speed rail dream, California needs to watch and take lessons from Black Panther.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Crystal Strait and Tim Sullivan!
#CAKEDAYSGONEBY: Belated happy birthday to Senator Tom Berryhill (yesterday)! And, a get well soon to Senator Berryhill.
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TOP HEADLINES ON AROUNDTHECAPITOL.COM AS OF 12:00PM
Four Democratic Candidates Are Turning Against Their Own Party Over California's Gas Tax
Patrick McGreevy @ latimes.com
The defections could bolster Proposition 6, a Republican-led initiative on the November ballot that would repeal a 2017 law that increased the state’s gas tax and vehicle fees to fix roads and improve mass transit. Six Republican congressional candidates helped fund the ballot measure in hopes of boosting conservative voter turnout and changing the outcome in some close races.
Arizona Candidates Suspend Campaigns To Honor Mccain - Politico
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who is running for a second term, will likely appoint McCain's replacement after the senator is laid to rest. Until then, Ducey will stay off the campaign trail. David Garcia, the front runner among Democrats running to unseat Ducey, will also take two days off the campaign trail. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
New Direction For Gates Foundation Aims To Build On Progress In L.A. Schools
Howard Blume @ latimes.com
The L.A. district and others across the country hope to benefit from a foundation effort to build on what already is helping to keep students on track toward graduation.
North Carolina Republicansâ
A federal court questions the North Carolina General Assembly's "commitment to enacting constitutionally compliant, non-discriminatory election laws."
California Lawmakers Want The State To Collect Data On Drivers Under The Influence Of Pot
Patrick McGreevy @ latimes.com
After she was injured in a car accident allegedly caused by a driver impaired by pot, state Controller Betty Yee is backing a bill approved Monday by the Legislature that aims to begin addressing the problem of drugged driving on California roads.
Fcc Watchdog: Kushner Called Agency Chief On Undisclosed Matter - Politico
In 2016, POLITICO reported on Jared Kushner boasting that the president's campaign had struck a deal with Sinclair for better media coverage. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo