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SPORTS PAGE: Dodgers (Ryu) @ Giants (Bumgarner) - 6:45pm; close call for the Warriors last night, who are now up 2-0 in the Western Conference semifinals
Happy humpday! Well, those Los Doyers gave a smackdown to Los Gigantes last night and the series closes out tonight. Yesterday, I wrote about the absence of police or "yellow jacket" guides on Kay Street. Well, I walked down yesterday after I wrote that and there were three Sac PD officers standing around near 10th Street. They were talking among themselves, but their presence created a notable difference. I had nothing to do with that but the presence was welcome.
May 1 means celebration of labor to some and Law Day to others. While some of us celebrate both, something else is on our place--first quarter lobbying, major donor, and general purpose committee reports. The latter will dominate today's Nooner, and I've only gotten through a couple of layers of the onion harvested at midnight. Journalists and quasi-journalists are literally poring over hundreds of filings. While the election season is mostly down to the SD01 race, this is a critical policy time where bills live or die and it's as political as ever.
It appears overnight update to LegInfo fixed the problem with dozens of bills yesterday. The amendments to SB 230 (Caballero) on police use of deadly force is in print this morning, as are those to SB 276 (Pan) on immunizations. The amendments to SB 50 (Wiener) on housing density are not yet in print. Lots of other bills have amendments newly in print this morning following last week's frenetic hearings.
Assembly Appropriations is playing parking attendant today, directing most if not all of the 182 bills on its agenda to their Suspense File parking spaces. Meanwhile, plenty of policy committees continue work on non-fiscal bills, including the prohibition on animal dissection in K-12 schools.
Of course, lots of Capitol TVs and those surrounding the Capitol are tuned in to the Barr hearing before Senate Judiciary to see how Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar perform. It's a big moment for both of them, given the polling following the Biden announcement.
As many as 80% of California's voters will have ballots in their mailboxes in 279 days, the day after the Iowa Caucuses.
RED TO GREEN: Well, the daily tracking of personal income tax revenues for the critical month of April is nearly complete (final update today) and the $2.2 billion deficit entering this month has been been erased and then some. We'll know the overall picture of all revenues for the month in a few weeks, but it appears that corporation tax revenue will come in above projections as well. Here's where it appears we ended up:
As I've written before, this isn't a huge windfall for the state as it just changes the current year cash flow from being $2.2 billion below projections to $700 million above projections. We still have the second largest month (behind January, April is third) for state revenues ahead in June. Of all the criticism of the late budgets of the past with now are behind us with a pesonal financial penalty (loss of salary) for legislators, there was a legitimate reason during tough budget years to wait until after those June revenues are known. But, under Proposition 25 (2010), that won't be done anymore.
The April change in revenue trends is likely to do with what some might call faulty withholding tables, and while it meant that taxpayers got to keep more in their accounts through the tax year, it meant that more taxpayers than usual owed money in April or received refunds smaller than expected.
What it does mean is good news for Governor Gavin Newsom, as he can make tweaks to his January proposed budget following legislative feedback and make additional expenditures, such as the announced $15 million for grants to community nonprofits and religious organizations for increased security given the mosque burning and synagogue shooting in San Diego County that have occurred since January. Governor Newsom was looking at having to pare back January's budget proposal by nearly $5 billion if the revenue trends continued.
More news after the jump!
THE SOUND OF SILENCE: For CALmatters, Laurel Rosenhall looks at how a change an Assembly Rules this year is allowing Assembly committee chairs to kill bills by not setting them for a hearing. While the rules change was opposed by Republicans who feared the Democratic chairs would simply kill their bills, the change has backfired on several Democrats on bills relating to gun control, climate change, and schools serving low-income students. Rosenhall writes:
"Refusing to set a hearing for a bill isn’t the only way Dems are quietly killing Democratic legislation. Several progressive bills stalled this month because their authors knew they would fail in committee and so opted not to bring them up for a vote. They included measures to expand rent control, broaden data privacy protections and ban super-sized servings of soda."
This relates to an issue I wrote about on Monday relating to the flavored tobacco ban. Let's revisit that discussion in the context of Laurel's great writing today:
Two flavored tobacco bans were introduced this year, the aforementioned SB 38 (Hill) and AB 739 (McCarty). Both authors were co-authors on the respective bills, but AB 739 was double-referred to Assembly Health and Assembly Governmental Organization. SB 38 was only referred to Health and not G.O.
Assembly G.O. is chaired by Adam Gray (D-Merced). Gray's "Valley Solutions Ballot Measure Committee" received $25,000 from Juul Labs last year, plus another $8,800 to his candidate committee. Juul is the leading seller of vaping devices. All in the game, yo'.
Assuming SB 38 gets out of the Senate, it'll be an interesting test of Assembly Rules as to whether it is double-referred to Gray's G.O. committee.
AB 739 (McCarty) was dual-referred to Assembly Government Organization (G.O.) and Assembly Health. I don't know if Assemblymember McCarty requested the bill to not be heard or if Gray didn't set it for a hearing. It was referred by Assembly Rules on April 1. Yesterday, we say major donor reports for the January 1-March 31, so it's a good opportunity to take a moment to look at which G.O. members received tobacco money. There's nothing illegal about taking tobacco, horse racing, alcohol, gaming, or money from interests with matters before the committee but if a committee won't even provide a public hearing for a bill, it is highly relevant.
But, wait, there's more! Altria/Philip Morris doesn't report any contributions over $1,000 after January 1, but that doesn't mean they haven't weighed in, they just did it last year. Here's a look at late contributions after July 1. None of these G.O. committee members had a competitive November election.
Source report: Philip Morris USA, subsidiary of Altria
There was also significant lobbying by the three major tobacco entities:
That may not sound like a lot of money compared to the large unions or state associations, but these three are focused basically one or two committees and report activity on eight bills.
There are 21 members of Assembly G.O. ten of whom have received tobacco money over the last eight months. The chair of the committee has received $43,500, $25,000 above candidate limits in a ballot measure committee that mostly pays consultants. As long as there is a possible ballot measure they are working on, that's completely legal, and I have nothing against Adam Gray.
Altogether, committee members have received $160,700 from the three biggest players in the last eight months, $113,100 of which was after the Legislature returned for the new session and started looking at the new bills. And, this is only looking at direct tobacco money, and not the channels of delivery and retailers that are part of supply chain. For example, Gray's "Valley Solutions" ballot measure committee received $10,000 from Walmart on February 8. Walmart also gave $5,000 to Daly's ballot measure committee on January 22. Daly's committee basically hasn't been spending money except for compliance and fundraising.
The huge retailer is currently under FDA scrutiny for selling tobacco products to minors. The rationale behind the flavored tobacco products, traditional and vape, is that they are particularly popular among teenagers.
What about the eleven members of G.O. who didn't receive tobacco money? It doesn't matter. The chair sets the agenda, and several of them don't want to have to cast a vote on this (and several do).
Back to SB 38, the bill banning flavored tobacco products. It will pass the Senate. Senate Rules chose to bypass its Assembly Governmental Organization Committee and identified the bill as a health issue rather than a traditional tobacco issue. Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins chairs Senate Rules, whereas in the Assembly, Rules is chaired by Assemblymember Ken Cooley, who is an ally of Speaker Anthony Rendon.
Cooley is also a member of Assembly G.O. and didn't receive, or perhaps did not accept, tobacco money. Rendon and Cooley know that the bill is dead if assigned to Assembly G.O. with Gray as chair with the facts laid out above. AB 739 (McCarty) never got a hearing, whether by the author's choice or not. McCarty is a fighter and not known to back down from difficult issues. Coincidentally, he, along with Cooley and Gray, is a former staffer.
Assuming SB 38 gets out of the Senate, Speaker Rendon and Rules Chair Cooley really are the ones deciding whether or not it gets a fair hearing in the Assembly. Either Gray is told he will have a hearing on it or it gets sent only to Health, like in the Senate. I am not opining on the bill, but like the authors of bills cited in Laurel's article feel, proponents and opponents of a ban on flavored tobacco deserve a public hearing. It is part of a national discussion and it is very unlike California to suppress a public hearing on an issue like this.
Folks, we're just in spring training for the drama that lies ahead. Maybe I'll look at the charter moratorium next. I don't want people to think I'm just putting G.O. under the 'scope.
Thank you Laurel for your story that paved the way for a deeper look at this issue.
More and #CAKEDAY after the jump...
JUICE FOR DA JUICE: The state's three major utilities spent $1.3 million on lobbying in the first three months of the year, reports the AP's Kathleen Ronayne. She reports:
"Edison International, Southern California Edison’s parent company, spent the most at nearly $679,000, while Sempra, which includes San Diego Gas & Electric, spent about $396,000. PG&E, in the midst of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, spent $277,000. Nearly a third of the spending by PG&E went toward lobbying the CPUC, which oversees utilities’ wildfire safety plans and voted in January to let the utility access credit and loans during the bankruptcy."
LIVIN' DAVITA LOCA: I mentioned the $445,500 total that DaVita, the dialysis clinic operator, contributed in the first quarter of the year. I didn't link to the itemized and it's too long to list in this space, but here's the link. The corporation spent $119,000 on lobbying among three firms and $109,185 on public affairs aimed and influencing legislation. [report]
Close your office door, turn up the volume and sing and dance with me as we wrap this one up...
Upside, inside out she's living la vida loca
Ella que será
Don't you feel much better? I definitely do after five hours of crazy report reading, so I needed that!
Have a great day!
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Jenny Bach, former Assemblywoman Catherine Baker, Nate Ballard, Kit Cole, Derek Humphrey, and Craig Wilson!
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