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RECENT AURAL PLEASURE:
Happy Friday! Jury duty is certainly interesting and wildly tiring from just sitting and listening all day. Fortunately, the trial doesn't continue until Monday. Gibran and I are back behind the mics at 1:30pm for What a Week so send us any issues. It's been a cray-cray week!
Sixty-five years ago today, Brown v. Board of Education was decided in a unanimous opinion by Chief Justice and former California Governor Earl Warren.
ARAMBULA: Dr. Joaquin Arambula was cleared yesterday by a Fresno County jury in the misdemeanor charge of child cruelty of his 7-year-old daughter, reports Rory Appleton for the Fresno Bee. The Democrat from Fresno, whose father also served in the Assembly, has been on unpaid leave since being charged.
APPROPS: Obviously the biggest story with the Appropriations committee's Suspense File actions yesterday was SB 50 (Wiener)--the housing density bill--being shelved for the year. Governor Gavin Newsom, who had not yet weighed in on the bill, released a statement expressing disappointment that the bill was not continuing through the process as did Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg, Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf, and San Francisco mayor London Breed. San Francisco's Board of Supervisors oppose the bill.
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti has not commented but is also in Jerusalem right now. While the LA city council voted 12-0 to oppose the bill but he did not sign the resolution. As we talked about with Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove in Tuesday's podcast, the politics are very complicated.
If SB 50 didn't have the votes this year, I can't imagine it will in its next window--January 6-31, 2020. That's less than two months before the primary election.
Also held was AB 18 (Levine), which would have taxed firearms sales with an excise tax, as was SB 561 (Jackson), which sought to expand consumer rights under the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018. SB 561 was heavily opposed by major tech companies.
The bills approved by Senate Appropriations include SB 230 (Caballero), which is the law enforcement-favored bill on police use of deadly force. Of course, it is now tied to Assemblywoman Shirley Weber's AB 392's passage and that bill is currently parked in Assembly Rules after being cleared by Assembly Public Safety. Senator Richard Pan's SB 276 to track vaccine medical exemptions also was approved and heads to the Floor.
SB 29 (Durazo) was amended to limit the expansion of Medi-Cal for undocumented residents to what's provided for in the budget--young adults and seniors, and her SB 756 to enact a moratorium on charter schools was amended to be a two-year, rather than permanent moratorium. Senator Jerry Hill's SB 38 banning the sale of flavored tobacco was passed with amendments. With Senate Approps chair Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada-Flintridge) as a joint author, SB 38's approval was predicted but the bill may have troubles in the Assembly, particularly if double-referred to Health and Governmental Organization. As I wrote on May 1, G.O. is means death for the bill. Unlike in the Senate, Assembly G.O. has jurisdiction over tobacco issues.
Also sent on to the Senate Floor with Portantino as a principal coauthor was SB 307 (Roth), which would increase the environmental barrier's to the Cadiz project in the Mojave Desert. The Los Angeles-based investor-owned company owns land in the Cadiz Valley and wants to extract groundwater for delivery via the under-capacity Colorado River Aqueduct for delivery to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for sale to regional water agencies. Then, in wet years, the company would "recharge" the groundwater beneath the desert for subsequent delivery. The company has six of Sacramento's top lobbying firms on retainer to work on the bill, spending $142,500 in the first quarter.
Under the bill, the final decision would rest with the State Lands Commission (SLC), which consists of the Lieutenant Governor, State Controller, and the Director of the Department of Finance. The SLC has jurisdiction because the 31-mile pipeline would cross into state-owned land, requiring a lease. The project is supported by the Trump Administration and the Bureau of Land Management has said, that although the pipeline is subject to federal oversight, further federal approval is not required as the pipeline is deemed included in the original right-of-way grant for the railroad.
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Anyway, those are some of the high-profile bills, and here are the full Senate and Assembly lists. Assembly Approps chair Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) tweeted that the committee approved 472 of 721 bills with a projected cost of $12 billion. The Senate considered 355 bills.
The Legislature now has a two-week sprint to act on bills by the May 31 house of origin deadline.
HAPPY INFRASTRUCTURE WEEK! Yesterday, the federal government notified California that it was no longer working with the state on high-speed rail and withdrawing $929 million appropriated for that purpose. Stuart Leavenworth and Ralph Vartabedian report for the Times:
"Loss of the money poses a potentially "devastating" hit to the project, state officials said, but it will not immediately change construction plans and could yet be reversed in future legal action.
The termination of the 2010 grant was based on the state's multiple failures to forecast accurate schedules, report key milestones and show that it can meet milestones to complete work by a 2022 milestone under the agreement, the Federal Railroad Administration, a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, said in a 25-page letter announcing its decision."
Governor Newsom responded "This is California's money, appropriated by Congress, and we will vigorously defend it in court."
Lots more and #CAKEDAY after the jump...
PHARMACEUTICALS: Yesterday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that Alameda, San Francisco, Santa Clara counties will join with the state in negotiating bulk pharmaceutical drugs to lower the cost to offer their respective health programs. Others, including private businesses may also join the collective negotiations.
HEALTH CARE: For CapRadio in partnership with USC Center for Health Journalism News Collaborative, Sammy Caiola looks at the scaling back by Senate Appropriations of health care coverage bills for income-qualified undocumented residents. The revised SB 29 (Durazo) as amended will conform with the proposal emerging from the Senate budget subcommittee, which would limit eligibility to adults 19-25 as proposed by Governor Newsom and would add seniors.
HOMELESSNESS: In the Chron, Kevin Fagan reports that a preliminary count finds that the number of San Francisco's homeless population has surged 17% since 2017 to 8,011. The city and county spends more than $300 million annually combatting homelessness. Meanwhile, Marisa Kendall reports for the East Bay Times that it has increased 43% in the same time period.
WATER WARS: For CALmatters, Dan Walters has a fantastic article on California's major water issues. One issue is the future of the Friant-Kern Canal, which has been sinking because of overdrafting of well water in Tulare County, significantly reducing the conveyance capacity of the canal. Senate Appropriations yesterday approved SB 559 (Hurtado) with amendments. The original bill would have provided $400 million to the Department of Water Resources from the state General Fund to fix the canal, but it's unclear what the amended bill will look like.
DAM IT: Meanwhile, Louis Sahagun reports in the LAT that federal engineers are now questioning the safety of Prado Dam on the border of Orange and Riverside counties in the event of water exceeding the dam's height and failure of the spillway similar to Lake Oroville in 2017. In this case though, the water wouldn't have downstream Orange County River capacity and could flood many Orange County communities including Disneyland. There are similar concerns with the Whittier Narrows reservoir 40 miles to the west of Prado, which the Army Corps of Engineers has identified as it's highest national dam safety concern with a $600 million cost to fix.
Did I mention that it's infrastructure week?
DYNAMEX: For the OC Register, Brian Rogers reports that more workers considered independent contractors before the California Supreme Court's decision to narrow the allowable exemptions by job function are seeking amendments to AB 5 (Gonzalez), which would write the court's new "ABC" standard into the Labor Code.
FOREIGN CONTRIBUTIONS: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals filed an opinion yesterday in USA v. Azuna and USA v; Singh upholding Congress' actions barring foreign nationals from contributing to state and local election campaigns. In the Ninth Circuit opinion, the three-judge panel unanimously held that a 2012 Supreme Court of the United States ruling upheld the ban at all levels in Bluman v. FEC by not taking up the case from the DC circuit. Fun legal fact--now-SCOTUS Justice Brett Kavanaugh was the author of the circuit court opinion in the Bluman case.
In the cases decided yesterday, Azuna is a citizen of Mexico with a residence in San Diego and Singh was CEO of ElectionMall.com, which provided technology to candidates. Azuna was seeking to gain favor in a San Diego municipal election to build a large resort development by influencing the mayoral elections of Bonnie Dumanis and Bob Filner, and Singh was found guilty of assisting Azuna in his scheme of using straw men to make the contributions.
SF: The fight over the search and seizure of the freelance journalist who gained access to the police report into the death of San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi has now reached the courts as Bryan Carmody seeks access to the search warrant affidavits and the seized items from his home and office, reports from Sonja Hutson for KQED.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, John Hanna, David Kersten, and Anthony Wright!
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