Around The Capitol

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AroundTheCapitol Headlines | California Legislative Directory | Premium Subscribers | SacTown Talks by The Nooner podcast




  • SD36 (S. Orange/N. San Diego counties): added Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett (R) - 2022 (Likely Rep)


Welcome back, Noonerific people! I'm a happy camper as I finally replaced my broken laptop. She was a dear for four years of constant beating, but neither the "e" key nor the dead ports were ever going to come back. The new kid in town is doing okay, but I had just also gotten used to the external keyboard format, which was slightly different. For the writers out there, you know what a challenge small changes can be.

Scott at the Capitol

What we covered in this space the last few days:

  • Saturday, February 16: my PoliTech background; Paul Mitchell on 2020, Cali-style; KDH's co-chairs and generational politics; Eric Swalwell
  • Sunday, February 17: Lovett or Leave it on the choo-choo; water "tax"; pot pourri
  • Monday, February 18: charter schools (hearing after 2pm floor session today); water wars; the felony murder rule

As the Senate Education Committee talks charters this afternoon on a bill that may have been assured passage to help end the Los Angeles teachers strike, Oakland teachers seems destined to walk off the job on Thursday.

It looks like a beautiful day for the state's ski resorts for some make-up days after the problem of too much snow closed many lifts at over the weekend. The snow is good news for resorts and mountain communities that can look for full slopes throughout the week. 

Boreal, the resort off I-80 north of Lake Tahoe reports a whopping 91" of snow over the last 7 days and has a base of 325". Heavenly, which is above the casino-hotels of South Lake Tahoe, reports 108" over the last 7 days and a base of 135". SoCal's resorts in the San Bernardino mountains report another foot overnight.

I hear there is a nasty "flu bug" going around...

I'm not a skier, but rather look at economic issues and water. And after a brutal climate-related year for The Golden State, this has been a welcome good week. While last week was disastrous in many areas because of valley and North Coast flooding (low-lying Highway 37 westbound in Marin County is still closed this morning due to flooding and debris after a levee gave way), the colder weekend kept the snow where it should be for now. We want snow pack, but we also want to it to stay up there as long as possible to keep the reservoirs full as the spring and summer agriculture seasons get underway.

Shasta Lake is now at 1,023 feet, which is only 45 feet below dam crest/full capacity. Most storage is near capacity, a big difference from years of seeing barren lakeshores that previously had been covered by water and stranded boat docks.   

The good snow news led Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congressmember Jim Costa, and Congressmember TJ Cox to send a letter to the US Bureau of Reclamation requesting that the water allocations to farmers served by the Central Valley Project be updated to reflect the very wet couple of weeks since the February 1st allocations were reported:

“Water is the lifeblood of our Valley. Farmers need early and accurate allocations in order to plan their operations,” said Rep. Costa (CA-16). “The recent rain and snow should be incorporated into the initial water allocations so our farmers, ranchers, and farm communities can continue to use water wisely and maximize the benefits. I am hopeful that the Bureau will listen to our message and allocate water to Central Valley Project water contractors based on the amount of water in California now, rather than on how much was available on February 1st.” 

Obviously, more water is a good thing for California. However, that doesn't necessarily make the politics easier. With full reservoirs and a deep snowpack, if the snow melts too fast, that means more releases into the rivers necessary to manage lake levels. Many rivers are already running at high levels, as you may have noticed if you drove across any of the Sacramento bridges this weekend.

Sites ReservoirReleases are good for wildlife--fish and migratory birds. The Delta can use a good "flush" to push the brackish water back. Of course, while that is good news environmentally, it raises the political argument that California "is sending water out to sea." From an environmental standpoint, that's a "Duh" argument, as it is as natural as the golden hills that arrive in the summer dry season that gave The Golden State its moniker.

Of course, Central Valley farmers want greater allocations and Southern California has an insatiable quench. With more water "sent to sea" this season, it increases the demand for the water tunnel(s) meant to circumvent a greater amount of water than currently provided to the aqueduct by the pumps of the State Water Project. It also fuels those who want more offstream storage, most often as reservoirs. 

Last year, the Brown Administration tentatively approved funding for four new reservoirs and four below-ground storage projects using Proposition 1 bond funds. Collectively, they would increase storage by 4.3 million acre-feet. The process of bringing these projects online is not fast. The largest, the Sites Project, wouldn't be operational until 2030, and that's if everything goes well on the funding, legal, and construction fronts.

Sites, 80 miles northwest of Sacramento shown to the left, in particular is big money. For the Sacramento Valley water agencies, they hold the downstream water rights, which can be sold if the water can be parceled out according to the seasons rather than flushed through the Delta faster than it can be used. It's also 1.5-2 hours closer from Sacramento and San Francisco than the popular summer recreation spot of Shasta Lake.

That alone creates a divide, as Shasta County folks fear that their boating business--including the shopping in small towns--will dry up as visitors choose a closer locale. Consider it similar to the booming Thunder Valley casino in Lincoln or Cache Creek in Rumsey that draw visitors who used to go to Reno. 

We frequently talk about the "northern Sacramento Valley" for the areas north of the state Capitol, although that itself can be divided between northern and southern segments and they in this case have competing interests.

This is an over-simplification of issues and I'm sure I'll hear from readers. Nobody in this state can write about water without drawing different perspectives on their writing. 

The point is that even while major projects are underway, all of these projects will take a long time. Sites was first discussed in the 1980s, now has funding, but won't be complete until another decade or, more likely, longer. Whether one or two water tunnels are built to divert water under the Delta, that will take 13 years one construction begins. 

In short, demands for water will continue to be a hot political and big money issue for agriculture and urban users, and environmental groups will continue to fight most of the big projects. And, most players on both sides of the fight will be retired before hoped-for or fought-against changes to the state's infrastructure are brought online.

For now, enjoy a great, wet winter. 

TRUMPTWEETS: Gavin and Attorney General Xavier Becerra are giving Congressmember Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) a run for the money in responses to the President's twitterific fingers.

This morning, Trump tweeted:

The President's war seems to be as much against the Ninth Circuit as it is for the wall. Becerra responded:


HOUSING: In the Bee, Bryan Anderson and Madeline Ashmun write that the Newsom Administration's lawsuit alleging Huntington Beach is not complying with state law in planning for affordable housing puts 47 other cities on notice.

"The roster of out-of-compliance cities includes fairly wealthy ones on the coast. It also has dozens of communities in the Central Valley, Sierra Nevada, Mojave Desert and eastern Los Angeles County that generally are known as affordable places to live in California.


For years, California cities have failed to build affordable housing units, with the vast majority not hitting production targets outlined in their city plans. Newsom in his campaign for governor pledged to speed up construction, aiming for the state to build 3.5 million new housing units by 2025.

In his State of the State Address on Tuesday, Newsom acknowledged “other factors beyond city planning that have limited our ability to provide housing.” While he doesn’t intend to sue all of the cities for their failures to meet their housing obligations, he vowed to hold them all accountable.

“I’m not going to preside over neglect and denial,” Newsom said. “These cities need to summon the political courage to build their fair share of housing.”

The shocking thing to me about the list of cities included in the story is that only two are in Orange County--Huntington Beach and San Clemente.

USE-OF-FORCE: As expected, police unions have filed an appeal in the First District challenging the Contra Costa trial court's ruling that the new law on police records includes records of action prior to January 1, the date that the law took effect. Thomas Peele, Alex Emslie and Nate Gartrell report for KQED:

"The appeals filed Friday requested an immediate stay of Judge Charles Treat's Feb. 8 ruling, which would have unsealed Tuesday any records held by six law enforcement agencies in the county: Walnut Creek, Martinez, Concord, Antioch, Richmond and the county sheriff.

The appeals court granted the stay, meaning those agencies remain barred from releasing any of the records at issue. Briefs opposing the unions' arguments are due by March 1."

THE NEW GREEN DEAL (NO, THE OTHER ONE): In the Times, Patrick McGreevy reports on Governor Newsom's action to redeploy California National Guard troops to crack down on illegal cannibis grows in California:

"The governor proposed that at least 150 California National Guard troops would be redeployed from the U.S.-Mexico border to join a federally funded Counterdrug Task Force. The new forces would focus on illicit cannabis activity in Northern California."

The governor's move was part of his redeployment of troops assigned to the border for immigration-related activities to focus instead on drug enforcement and wildfire prevention and response.

However, it's possibly also in response to a frustration heard by the legal cannabis industry. Governor Newsom's January budget proposal included a new $2.9 million for the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration targeted at tax compliance by the legal industry. They are unhappy that they are being focused on amidst the cloud of banking regulations while illegal activity not going through licensed businesses increases. 

Let's face it, if I smoked (which I don't) and was sitting on my balcony, the police don't have the authority to investigate the source of my pot. I'm sure I can find some within a few blocks if I sought it out and it would be cheaper than from a licensed facility, albeit of questionable quality and safety. With the governor's budget proposal, those playing by the rules feel like they are being targeted while little is being done against those who are not.

I have no problem with the legal industry but there are some really interesting legal, regulatory, and enforcement issues in play.

2020 and #CAKEDAY after the jump...



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BERNIE'S BACK: Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders jumped into the crowded Democratic Party presidential primary swimming pool this morning.

KAMALA'S NOT-SO-SMOOTH MOMENT: During a strong visit to New Hampshire yesterday, Kamala Harris had a bit of a stumble when asked about the assault of Empire actor Jussie Smollett yesterday. KDH, like several other candidates had issued previous statements denouncing the alleged hate crime that is now a bit more than suspicious.

WHERE'S KAMALA? KDH spoke this morning at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics "politics and eggs breakfast," which is a standard stop on the stump in The Granite State. I'm guessing you can't ask for Tapatío for your eggs there. 

GET OUT THE GRANITE PACIFIER: Some in New Hampshire are unhappy that Harris hasn't spent more time there, reports Christopher Cadelago in Politico:

“We’re glad you’re here,” the reporter told Harris. Then he asked whether her absence helped feed the perception that New Hampshire isn’t a high priority.

Another interviewer — this one on ABC affiliate WMUR — was more direct: “We haven’t seen much of you in the previous two years. Why was that?” he asked. “The narrative is out there, I guess, that ‘Sen. Harris is focusing elsewhere.’”

That is from reporters and not just an angry voter who could be supporting another candidate.

Seriously, folks. You represent 0.41% of the United States population. I get the food-safety taster role you have. Together with Iowa (0.95%), you weed out the poisoned apples before the other 98.41% of voters take a bite. But, that doesn't entitle you to get three years of special attention before your primary. Hopefully, governors and senators of all parties actually spend that time doing their jobs and not only hanging out in your state.

If you haven't noticed, we have big issues in California. We have 47 lawsuits against the Trump Administration. We had the deadliest and most damaging wildfires in California history last year. We have housing and infrastructure crises. Harris is multi-tasking and one thing is sure--her California voters don't want to see her eat breakfast every morning in your state.

In 2016, California had 475 Democratic delegates. New Hampshire had 24. It may be news to you, but Californians will have been voting for a full week before your March 11 primary next year. 

How 'bout them apples?

Just to be clear, this is a rant about New Hampshire's feeling of entitlement. I do not endorse any candidate in the presidential race but give special attention to ties and news relating to California.

WHERE'S SCHULTZ? Howard Schultz, who is considering an independent bid for President, is at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco for lunch today.


Probolsky Research

#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Jason Teramoto!

#DEPT OF CORRECTIONS: I proofread carefully every time I wrote about SD22 to make sure I didn't make the frequently seen mistake of typing Blanca Rubio when referring to now-Senator Susan Rubio. I was proud to catch my own errors and laughed at those of others. 

Of course, yesterday, in the midst of writing about charter schools, I did it. Of course, Blanca is in the Assembly and Susan is in the Senate.



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