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California Legislative Directory| Classifieds | Sofa Degree

E-240 - Sunday, July 7, 2019

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SacTown Talks by The Nooner


  • AB 1054: Public utilities: wildfires and employee protection.
  • AB 1639: Tobacco products.
  • SB 200: drinking water bill
  • Two Californias
  • Climate change and California coastal erosion
  • POTUS 2020
  • Cakeday

Happy Sunday and happy #CAKEDAY to my sister Lisa Ortega

I started writing today at 6 and went to farmers market when it opened at 8. While I would have loved to see the USA women up after the half, I'm not lying when I say I was happy to see the score of nil when I returned. Now I'm typing this graf at minute 73' and the USA is up 2-0.

And...that's it! The USA women win 2-0 and are back-to-back World Cup champions. Now is the drama of whether The White House sends an invite or not. 

Seen at farmers market: paid signature gatherers for the latest rent control initiative sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation as well as Sanders and Warren supporters.

Fortunately, there are still no deaths or serious injuries reported from the series of earthquakes near Ridgecrest in Kern County, although the isolated town of Trona appears to be hardest hit with significant destruction.

An astute reader notes that while it is correct to say that Friday night's temblor was the largest in nearly 20 years to have an epicenter in California, the Easter Sunday 2010 7.2 quake with an epicenter of Guadalupe Victoria, Baja California caused severe damage in the California border city of Calexico and its sister city across the border in Mexicali. The damage to Calexico may have been greater than that of last week's quakes because of population density and other factors.

A state of emergency has been declared by Governor Newsom in both Kern and San Bernardino counties. Newsom visited the region yesterday. President Trump has reportedly told Newsom that all necessary federal resources are available to assist. For the Bakersfield Californian, Maureen Strode writes up the damage.

It's going to be a cray-cray week around the Capitol, as it's "do or die" for most bills before summer recess begins on Friday.

AB 1054 (Holden), the bill incorporating the recommendations of Governor Newsom's "strike team" that looked at wildfire preparedness along with utility financial solvency and rate recovery, is up in Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications at 10:30 tomorrow (Monday) in Room 112. The bill is also scheduled for Appropriations tomorrow at the same time following action by the policy committee. While there is no procedural need for complete legislative action, Wall Street investment analysts are reportedly awaiting state legislative action before borrowing can go forward for any of the investor-owned utilities, not just PG&E that is currently in bankruptcy proceedings. 

There is no Senate Energy analysis with positions of organizations reflected, as the bill was amended on Friday and the text was available on Saturday.  

It is going to be wild week as policy committees need to wrap their work, with deadlines of Wednesday for bills that need to go to a fiscal committee and Friday for bills that need not to. After that, its a two-thirds vote to allow action.

What does that mean for AB 1639 (Gray, Cunningham, and Robert Rivas)? The gut-and-amend bill on tobacco age verification and limitations on electronic cigarette flavored products (with exceptions) is scheduled for Assembly Governmental Organization on Wednesday at 1:30. However, the bill was dual-referred to Assembly Health by Rules Committee on Friday. The last meeting of Assembly Health, however, is scheduled for Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. 

As an urgency bill, AB 1639 requires a two-thirds vote. With a two-thirds vote, the deadlines can be waived. Although, it makes it that much more difficult to members on the bubble on the policy matter to cast separate votes (policy committee, fiscal committee, house-of-origin floor) to bend the rules to move the bill forward. Rules waivers happen, but usually after a high-profile bipartisan compromise or for a non-controversial necessity that comes up between deadlines and the end of the legislative year, which is September 13. 

Besides needing rules waivers for Assembly G.O. and Health, AB 1639 would need a rules waiver for Senate Health for its consideration, with the same two-thirds  floor vote requirement to be considered after the policy committee deadline.

It looks unlikely that AB 1639 will pass this legislative year. Of course, for the Vapor Technology Association that represents the major brands and whose talking points closely align with the amended AB 1639, a delay wouldn't be such a bad thing. 



SB 200 (Sen. Monning, Asm. Eduardo Garcia, and Asm. Bloom): Drinking water. The bill to provide a structure to spend the $130 million included in the State Budget to clean up drinking water passed the Assembly Floor on Friday on a 68-0-11 vote. While originally a budget trailer bill, it was separated from the budget and is being passed on a bipartisan bases with supermajorities. The bill is now in the Senate for concurrence in the Assembly amendments.

TWO CALIFORNIAS: For CALmatters, Dan Walters writes up the perspectives of two very different Californias:

"Is it, as Gov. Gavin Newsom contends, a nation-state proving that economic prosperity, multiculturism and social progress can advance together?

“California is what America is going to look like,” he told a television interviewer. “California is America’s coming attraction.”

Or is it, as Hoover Institute historian Victor Davis Hanson indirectly responded in a Fox News interview, “America’s first third-world state” with widening income and wealth disparities, rampant homelessness, poor schools, and rising disease levels despite high taxes?

“We have a medieval society,” Hanson asserted, with a wealthy “royal elite,” including Newsom, that prospers while ordinary Californians “are treated like peasants.”

Walters concludes:

"The Economist quotes a leading in-state critic, Chapman University’s Joel Kotkin with this appraisal: “The Golden State used to be a rising tide lifting all sorts of boats. Now it’s a rising tide lifting a few yachts.”

Kotkin is basically saying what Newsom is saying. California has many attributes, but unless it can somehow close its yawning socioeconomic gaps, it will, indeed, continue its evolution into a two-tiered society – of the sort often found in the third world – that would be unworthy of emulation."

This has been a persistent theme on the podcast with both local guests (Hansen, McCarty) and on "What a Week" episodes. The topic's frequent spot on the pod always paves the way for Gibran to cite Victor Davis Hanson and use the word "dystopian."

It's also why I talk about K Street in Sacramento so much. It is only 1/2 mile from 7th Street to 13th Street on the historic street. On one end is Downtown Commons (DOCO) including the arena and the swanky Kimpton Sawyer Hotel and townhouses. A Hyatt brand is replacing a residential hotel, which has been gutted and currently only consists of its historic brick shell. On the other end of K is a major expansion and remodel of the city's convention center and community theatre. 

In between these two is the "other" California. Between 8th and 12th, you can find the addicted, homeless, and near-homeless. In other words, the "book" has a beautiful outer look, with each cover showing great promise. The pages in between however, need some serious work. There are hard-working local business folks who are trying, but the same city commitment to the bookends needs to be paid to that which is in between the covers. 

For one, the Downtown Partnership needs to expand the number of "yellow jacket" guides on K and station them appropriately. They discourage crime and make the street more inviting for tourists and residents alike. We want tourists in town for a convention to stroll up K and to the expanding restaurant scene around DOCO. On the way, they might pick up a book at Capital Books on K or see the marquis offerings of the Crest Theatre. Maybe they discover a local restaurant mid-K and decide on Mother, Empress Tavern, or Crest Cafe over previous plans to go to the chain restaurants at DOCO.

I walk K Street several days each week. I saw one Downtown Partnership guide this week and he was standing in front of Ella, a fantastic Selland restaurant, but that's not where the guides are needed. After all, there is a valet crew already standing there.


Probolsky Research


CLIMATE CHANGE AND COASTAL EROSION: Rosanna Xia reports for the Los Angeles Times that while California has been largely insulated because of its geography from the modest rise in ocean level from melting glaciers, the current projections of scientists tell a very different story for the state's coastline over the remainder of the 21st century. This threatens significant 20th-century construction along the coast. Xia writes:

"Wildfire and drought dominate the climate change debates in the state. Yet this less-talked-about reality has California cornered. The coastline is eroding with every tide and storm, but everything built before we knew better — Pacific Coast Highway, multimillion-dollar homes in Malibu, the rail line to San Diego — is fixed in place with nowhere to go.

But the world is getting hotter, the great ice sheets still melting, the rising ocean a slow-moving disaster that has already swept past California’s front door. Seaside cliffs are crumbling in Pacifica, bringing down entire buildings. Balboa Island, barely above sea level, is spending $1.8 million to raise the wall that separates it from the ocean."

Fantastic, well-written article, epitomizing the need for journalism.

There's even an accompanying game testing your ability to save a town.

KAMALA: For the LAT, Doyle McManus writes that while Kamala Harris has surged after her offensive against Joe Biden at the debate, she still needs to set forth more definitive policy positions.

DREAM TEAM? In the Chron, Willie Brown writes that if the Democrats want excitement in 2020, the dream ticket is Harris-Buttigieg. He also writes that doesn't mean they can beat Trump.

SWALWELL AND DNC DEBATE RULES: While Swalwell cancelled his July 3-4 Fourth of July swing through New Hampshire and doesn't have any public events scheduled until July 13, his campaign seems focused on one thing--number of individual donors. As you likely know, there were two ways to land on the debate stage--polling or donors. For the first two debates--last month in Miami and July 30-31 in Detroit--to qualify to be one of the 20 a candidate had to meet a threshold of 1% in three national or early caucus/primary state polls OR have either 65,000 donors including 200 from each state. If more than 20 qualified (there are currently 24), there is a process by how the field is winnowed.

The DNC's donor criteria to promote grassroots participation is cute, like Hello Kitty is cute. What it has done is promote gimmickry donations as candidates without the polling numbers try to find names to list as donors to meet the DNC's criteria. I've written before about how merch sales factor into this and how I am technically a "donor" to Kamala, Booker, and Buttigieg. I haven't personally settled on a candidate yet, but I liked their shirts. I would likely buy Andrew Yang's "Math" shirt if it instead said:


*up to statistics

That's more my style.

Candidate Marianne Williamson is selling her merch to her legions of New Age followers. Of course, when you sell merch, the campaign funding is cents on the dollar.

Swalwell isn't focused on selling merch at this point. He's pitching $1 donors. Anybody that has run anything from a school board campaign up knows that, after processing and reporting (and often paid advertising) costs, it takes two $1 donors to provide a cup of Maxwell House to a volunteer at a phone bank.

The DNC screwed this one up. There should have been at least a threshold of $25. I know of several GOP folks that have played with this stupid criteria by giving Williamson $1.00. Hey, I've played that game before. I ended up on former congressman "B1" Bob Dornan years ago. It was one of those "surveys" with a fundraising ask.

I filled out the survey and sent back a check for $0.02. They cashed it. That was when you got your cancelled checks back and I'm sure I have it around here somewhere.

The threshold for donors for the fall debates rises from 65,000 to 130,000 and 400 in each state (or 2% in the three-poll scenario). Swalwell may not be able to travel on the $1 donors, but it just might hold a spot for him on the stage September 12-13 (ABC, location not announced).

Anyway, when you see the ads on social media and email asking to ask friends for ridiculously low contributions, you now know that you can blame the DNC. As Jesse Jackson said at the 1980 Democratic National Convention about his own defeat in the primary, blame it on their heart and not on their head.

#CAKEDAY: Light the candles for Ryan Arba, Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), Jeff Klein, Devin Lavelle, State Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsberg)!




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