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E-187 - Friday, August 30, 2019
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RECENT AURAL PLEASURE:
UPDATED: Lawsuit information page for SB 27 (McGuire and Wiener): Primary elections: ballot access: tax returns.
IN TODAY'S NOONER:
End the suspense! Assembly Appropriations passed the vaccinations bill on a party-line vote and now the committee is in recess because protestors were standing on chairs and refused to get down after being asked to twice by chair Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego). It's okay, the committee only has 222 more bills to tackle today.
It's Friday and we have a twofer of "per diem" floor sessions given the Monday holiday and the two biggest legislative committee hearings of the year. The 29th annual "Chalk It Up" festival starts tomorrow in Fremont Park (16th/Q). If you haven't been before, there will be lots of exhibiters and food trucks throughout the long weekend.
Monday will be the best viewing after most of the chalk art has been completed, but that also means it will be the most crowded. Parking will be crazy, particularly since the event closes off a full block of parking, so it's a great opportunity to grab a bike or scooter or light rail.
Meanwhile, I hate to say "calm before the storm" with a hurricane approaching Florida, but I can't think of a better phrase to describe a dark morning a few hours before the Appropriations committees of both houses meet to clear their suspense files, setting the stage for the last two weeks of the legislative session.
Here's what's at stake, according to lobbyist Chris Micheli:
I've talked with several members with key bills on Suspense and there is a huge amount of uncertainty--more so than usual.
BALLOT THREAT: As legislators continue debating AB 5 (Gonzalez) over the codification of the Supreme Court of California's decision in Dynamex, Uber, Lyft, and Doordash are threatening an initiative for next year to do what the majority in the Legislature doesn't appear prepared to--a "tweener" status for "gig" workers somewhere between employee and independent contractor.
Judy Lin reports for CalMatters:
"Three major gig employers vowed to commit at least $90 million to pass a California ballot measure next year unless lawmakers embrace a new model of employment for hundreds of thousands of drivers and delivery workers in the state, the companies announced Thursday.
With lawmakers expected to pass a labor-backed bill to reclassify a host of workers as employees instead of freelancers, Uber, Lyft and DoorDash said they will deposit $30 million each to fund a 2020 ballot measure if lawmakers don’t create an exception for gig workers. The bill AB 5, is up for a key vote Friday in the Senate appropriations committee.
For months, the San Francisco-based companies have unsuccessfully tried to persuade lawmakers to sanction a new, hybrid employment model that would give the workers they rely on certain job benefits available to employees but still classify them as legally independent. Uber, for example, is offering a minimum wage of $21 per hour with the opportunity to earn more, access to portable benefits that could include paid time off and sick leave, as well as sectoral bargaining for rideshare drivers."
Political consultants are already licking their chops ahead of an election that will likely have commercial property taxes, the bail reform referendum, and rent control. $60 million was reported to the committee this morning, with Uber and Lyft ponying up already.
John Myers tweets the important caveat:
"Worth noting that all the rideshares really need to do is pony up the $3M-$5M to gather signatures and make a show of force come 2020 #CALeg session, see if they can find a deal before next summer's ballot deadline. Not that it would be easy, of course."
Yesterday, supporters of AB 5 rallied outside the Capitol before meeting elsewhere to talk about how they can unionize.
Meanwhile, the Bee editorialized against AB 5 today, essentially arguing that the bill would put newspapers out of business.
"That’s because the bill would require newspapers to treat newspaper carriers as employees rather than independent contractors. This would disrupt and destabilize the newspaper industry at a time when accurate, credible news is most needed – and most threatened.
Newspaper carriers have long been established as part-time, independent contract positions. Unlike new on-demand delivery jobs through platforms like Instacart and DoorDash, newspaper delivery happens at the same time daily in exchange for fixed fees, allowing carriers to count on predictable income and steady hours. These part-time side jobs have existed for decades."
beJUULed: The Associated Press reports on the national blowback JUUL Labs is facing:
"E-cigarette giant Juul Labs is facing mounting scrutiny from state and local law enforcement officials, with the attorneys general in Illinois and the District of Columbia investigating how the company’s blockbuster vaping device became so popular with underage teens.
The company’s rapid rise to the top of the multibillion-dollar U.S. e-cigarette market has been accompanied by accusations from parents, politicians and public health advocates that Juul fueled a vaping craze among high school students. In addition to the ongoing inquiries in Illinois and the district, which had not been publicly disclosed before, four other state attorneys general are probing or suing Juul."
I have no idea what's going to happen to AB 1639 as members are deeply divided on it with lots of behind-the-scenes activity for and against the bill. There are three possible steps left where the bill can be quietly killed -- Assembly Appropriations (today), Senate Health, and Senate Appropriations. The bill has an urgency clause so it's a 2/3 vote bill but also needs rule waivers at each step of the process.
It's uncertain where Senate Health chair Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) is on the bill, which has divided health advocacy organizations. The California Medical Association supports the bill after the penalties of youth were removed from the bill.
"The state Senate approved the bill 31-4 in May. At the time, state Sen. Nancy Skinner, the bill’s sponsor, said NCAA rules “disproportionately harm students from low-income families” and are “particularly unfair” to female athletes. The bill faces a key test Friday, when an Assembly committee will decide whether to advance it or kill it.
If the bill ends up being signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, there could be a long, contentious court battle.
Nebraska law professor Josephine Potuto believes the NCAA could use the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause to retain control over eligibility decisions."
ENTHUSIASM GAP? For CalMatters, Ben Christopher looks at the prospect of high Democratic turnout in the March 3 primary while there are few reasons to create enthusiasm among GOP voters. He writes:
"In theory, it could give Democrats an opportunity to edge more Republican congressional and legislative candidates out of qualifying for the November general election, given that only the top two March voter-getters in each district advance to November, even if they’re in the same party.
And also in theory, it offers the Democrats who hold a giga-majority of seats in the Legislature a chance to load up the primary with measures on the progressive wishlist, like, say, repealing capital punishment. While citizens can qualify initiatives and referendums for the November ballot, only the Legislature can place measures on the March ballot.
But thus far, Democratic lawmakers are holding back.
With two weeks to go until the end of the legislative session, not a single measure has made the cut."
Obviously, the big one is ACA 1 (Aguiar-Curry) to lower vote threshold for local government tax measures from two-thirds to 55%. It's ten votes short in the Assembly with lots of skittish Democrats not casting votes.
WILDFIRES: Julie Cart writes for CalMatters about the steps the state has taken to respond to wildfires threats since the disastrous last couple of years. Cart reports:
"Having just endured more than a decade of rampaging fires — 14 of the 20 most destructive fires in state history have occurred since 2007 — fire bosses say this year the glass is half-full.
“We’ve got a few things going for us at the moment,” said Scott McLean, a spokesman for Cal Fire, the state firefighting agency. “We still have a snowpack. Our upper elevations haven’t dried out. Because of that, we are able to continue our fuel-reduction projects.”
Yes, this year featured a wet winter — usually good news for fire officials. But so did 2017, one of the state’s wettest winters in half a century and one of the most devastating years for wildfire.
Clearing and cutting has helped eliminate some of the brush and trees that fuel the flames. But California’s forests are still clogged with 147 million dead trees, and counting. And the late-winter rains encouraged the growth of grasses and other highly combustible plants."
Meanwhile, voters in El Dorado County rejected a parcel tax for more firefighters. The Bee's Ryan Sabalow reports:
"Of the 12,655 voters who cast their ballots, 62 percent voted “no” for Measure B, which would have levied a $96 a year parcel tax on property owners.
The $2.6 million generated annually would have gone to fund additional firefighting positions in the El Dorado County Fire Protection District, which serves communities such as Apple Hill, Coloma, Placerville, Pollock Pines and Shingle Springs.
A local taxpayer group in the heavily conservative region opposed the measure, saying it lacked safeguards to ensure the money would go where it was intended.
The El Dorado County Fire Protection District serves one of the state’s most fire-prone regions, where a major wildfire could devastate communities."
This morning, the SF Chronicle has a brutal editorial for PG&E.
WATER: The OCR's Martin Wisckol writes up the challenges of "forever chemicals" in Southern California drinking water. "Wells of nearly two dozen Southern California water agencies have reportable levels of PFAS, a chemical family increasingly linked to cancer, liver and kidney damage, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, low fertility, low birth weight and ulcerative colitis."
BROUGH: For the Register, Brooke Staggs reports that the Fair Political Practices Commission is looking into Assemblymember Bill Brough's campaign expenditures following a complaint. Staggs writes:
"The Fair Politics Practices Commission announced its investigation the day after the Register published a story about how Brough spent roughly $35,000 in campaign funds on family trips to Ireland, pricey meals, sports tickets in the first six months of this year alone.
But the investigation started in response to a complaint filed last month by political blogger and conservative activist Aaron F. Park with RightOnDaily.com.
In his lengthy complaint, Park claims that since 2015 Brough used campaign funds for meals totaling $175,000. Park alleges the assemblyman also used campaign donations to pay for personal cell phone bills and family vacations. And the complaint notes that Brough spent nearly $3,000 on designer cigars and a custom liquor cabinet that were booked in financial records as “office expenses.”
GOODBYE, IRWIN: This morning, the Senate honored longtime and omnipresent staffer Irwin Nowick, who is retiring. The LAT's Chris Megarian profiled him in 2013. Of course, he'll still be around because, well, it's Irwin.
GOODBYE, GOVERNING MAGAZINE: The September 2019 issue of Governing magazine is its last after nearly 33 years of quality, nonpartisan publishing
SD17 (Santa Cruz-San Luis Obispo): As noted above, the race for the State Senate district currently represented by Bill Monning (D-Carmel) just got more crowded, with nonprofit director Maria Cadenas (D) joining the race that has generally been seen to be heavily favored for former Assemblyman John Laird (D-Santa Cruz). Cadenas lives in Watsonville and Laird is from Santa Cruz.
Laird has captured the endorsements of many local government officials, but Cadenas is Latina and also LGBTQ, making the race a lot more interesting.
SEIU LOCAL 1000 CONTRACT: For the Bee, Wes Venteicher reports that the state's largest union has reached a tentative agreement with the Newsom Administration. He writes:
"SEIU Local 1000’s proposed contract would give $260 per month to workers with CalPERS health plans to go toward their insurance premiums, according to a summary of the agreement the union posted to its website Thursday. That adds up to $3,120 a year for each worker represented by the union.
The amount matches the average Local 1000 employee’s contribution toward their health insurance, said union president Yvonne Walker."
CAKEDAY and CLASSIFIEDS after the jump...
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Rudy Ramirez!