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E-170 - Sunday, September 15, 2019
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RECENT AURAL PLEASURE:
TRUMP TAX RETURNS: Lawsuit information page for SB 27 (McGuire and Wiener): Primary elections: ballot access: tax returns.
MONEY MATTERS: This is the space where I'll be looking interesting contributions to party committees or non-capped "ballot measure" committee accounts affiliated with legislators. Standard contributions to candidate committees up to the 2020 limit of $9,400 for primary and general are not included.
IN TODAY'S NOONER:
CLEAN UP, AISLE NOONER: First, I was wrong when I said what ACA 14 (Gonzalez) does. While it is indeed about employment practices at the University of California, it is about limiting the ability of UC to contract out support services jobs and not affirmative action. It was one of those "Which one is this?" moments in the early morning hours where lobbyists and press ask each other the question as bills come up. Friday was the one day of the week that I didn't bring my laptop with me because, after all, we were going to be done early.
¡Lo siento! Same analysis from yesterday applies about it being the top remaining priority for Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) Saturday morning on which the very powerful Assemblywoman from San Diego was rebuffed. I would have sent out an immediate correction had it been on a session day. But I have more today anyway.
Sources tell me that while AB 1066 to provide unemployment insurance during prolonged labor disputes may have failed in the Senate because of "LG fatigue," as in Lorena, for the year to be reconsidered in 2020 (granted unanimously), that doesn't appear to be the case on ACA 14. Like the education bond, ACA 14 needed to pass on Friday (well, and Saturday) to be placed on the March 3 statewide ballot. It needed two-thirds votes of both houses.
Needing 54 votes in the Assembly, it received 54 on June 24. But the lobbying by UC accelerated as the bill made its way to the Senate Floor. Former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, who is now chair of the UC Board of Regents, was already lobbying heavily on the education bond to maximize the share for UC. He was also making commitments to Democratic senators that UC will institute new processes relating to contracting out, particularly on behalf of the system's medical centers.
One ear that was particularly willing to listen was Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), who is in the club of former speakers along with Pérez. As Speaker, Hertzberg was on the Board of Regents, although like other speakers, meetings were usually attended by staff. Those are both elite clubs with large deference among members. Although Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) spoke in favor of ACA 14 on the floor, Hertzberg appeared to have been encouraging members to "stay off" the vote. In the end, I have the vote as 23-12, meaning five members didn't vote.
Due to the disarray of Friday night/Saturday morning, the Senate votes are still not posted until staff returns tomorrow. From my chicken scratch of a notebook, I believe Hannah-Beth Jackson and Richard Pan both weren't up as voting yes the bill. Hannah-Beth has solid labor credentials, voted for AB 5, but asked for exemptions for local commercial fishermen, which are somewhat akin to the owner-operator truck drivers that were among the most controversial exemptions sought in the process.
The trucking stuff is complicated and to be honest I haven't drawn it all out on my non-existant whiteboard. On commercial fishermen, the exemption is until January 1, 2023, so Jackson may have still been frustrated that she didn't get more. (Better than the one year that the newspapers got for distribution, but Hannah-Beth will likely still get an earful for it being temporary.
The electeds walked away from AB 5 (Dynamex) with mixed emotions. Some fought for exemptions and got them and can proclaim victory to the industry sector, some fought and got temporary exemptions and can say they did the best they could, and others asked for exemptions that were not included. Everybody believes that the entire topic will be front and center next year following the qualification and/or referenda on AB 5/AB 170. The only question is how many bills we'll see introduced to either rewrite the relevant Labor Code sections or provide further exemptions, the latter that will make the ERAF exemption frenzy the previous two decades (for the education and local government finance geeks) look like pre-season.
Pan stayed off ACA 14 after Lorena served as the second-biggest target of the anti-vaccination protests as the principal co-author of his SB 276. Of course, he has relationships with UC Davis Health that was very concerned about the bill and is also close to Hertzberg. It's likely a combination that the official rationale of not being an aye vote will be the concerns of UC med centers, it is likely Hertzberg after being lobbied by Pérez and as a former Regent, was the final arm twist to not go up on Lorena's highest priority remaining item of the year. He likely would have been the 27th vote to place the measure on the March ballot.
IT'S NOT EASY BEING GREEN: Continuing on yesterday's discussion, we have more on SB 1, SB 54, and AB 1080. It was clear that Governor Newsom was not going to sign SB 1 unless the majority of water interests pulled their opposition. He had the pressure from Senator Dianne Feinstein and four Valley House Democrats, three of whom are considered vulnerable in 2020 (Costa from the left, and Cox and Harder from the GOP).
While I didn't see any paper on it, it's very possible the message about SB 1 was also conveyed to Gavin from Speaker Nancy Pelosi on behalf of her California incumbent members. SB 1 is about policy and maintaining existing California environmental, public health, and labor standards in the Golden State, but make no doubt about it, it's also an "in your face" confrontation to bring more sunshine of rollbacks by the Trump Administration. Pelosi is focused on keeping a House majority amidst increasing demands from her caucus members for impeachment proceedings. My guess is that her team saw SB 1 as a problem for some of her moderate loyalists in California that further complicate those demands for impeachment.
As expected, Newsom's office sent out a message yesterday stating that he would indeed veto the Pro Tem's top priority bill. Atkins then tweeted a statement of her own.
Environmental groups were expecting that SB 1 was going to be a two-year bill. Things changed after the 5:14pm incident shutting down the Senate chamber. SB 1 had legs again. While environmental proponents of SB 1 knew it was likely to be vetoed, the expectation was that it would be in conjunction with a signing of SB 54 (or AB 1080), the bills on the reduction in the use of single-use plastics. Environmental groups feel like they either had the votes or were very close to it. Leadership in both houses didn't want to put the simple-majority bills up unless they were certain that the votes were there, since they only required a simple majority and failure on such a high-profile, high-stakes bill and not having a majority of 41 (of 61 Democrats) in the Assembly or 21 (of 29 Democrats) in the Senate would have been embarrassing.
Don't get me wrong, there was significant legislation for environmental/animal groups this year. As Potter the Otter told us on September 8, the governor signed Gonzalez's bill to prohibit the trapping of fur-bearing mammals. Another bill will be on his desk after the enrollment process, AB 44, by Laura Friedman (D-Glendale).
SB 1 was always tenuous with the inability to close the gap behind backers of the bill and the water interests. That said, the plastics bill would have given a headline for the legislative newsletters if Governor Newsom signed it, which sounded likely as a high-profile, nationally recognized statement like emissions reductions were.
At the end, it wasn't clear that the votes were there on the plastics reduction bills. There was great frustration among legislative Democrats that Governor Newsom got very involved on vaccinations, but wasn't sending strong signals of the importance to him of the plastics-reduction bills. The lack of a formal statement after the incident in the Senate Chamber and condemnation of such illegal tactics to disrupt legislative activity would not be tolerated in the Capitol further angered legislative Democrats (and Republicans, including those who didn't vote for SB 276 but personally wanted it to pass with votes of Democrats).
It didn't stop when the gavel came down. The statement from the Governor's Office that came out after the gavels came down early yesterday on the 2019 Legislative Year didn't mention the vaccinations bills or the incident and difficult circumstances legislators have faced this year. Senator Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) was assigned sergeants to escort him around the building. Senators were locked down in the caucus rooms for hours as Senate administrative staff scrambled to set up shop in Room 4203.
Is it fair to place on the blame Governor Newsom for the protests on vaccinations that defined the end of the legislative year? Of course not.
Could he have tempered the tenor when protestors were loudly outside of his office chanting "Help Us Jen!" referring to the First Partner, Jennifer Siebel Newsom? Likely.
Was it politically smarter for orders to go out (unclear by whom) Capitol security (CHP and sergeants) to afford protestors unusual latitude that would have led to arrests if they were done by students or Black Lives Matter and not largely white and wealthy moms, including many with strollers? Nobody wanted it to become a national narrative, whether they were for the bills as legislators or whether they were of changing positions in the Governor's suite.
After all, I have a hard enough time explaining to non-geeks the history of SB 277 on personal belief exemptions, the cottage industry that emerged thereafter over three years, and the new limited process of peer review for physicians signing the most medical exemptions (SB 276/SB 714) without the national media airing footage of a mom being dragged out of the building. They wanted that narrative and nobody wanted to give it to them.
That said, there is a feeling that security decision-makers were too lax. On Thursday, the Senate gallery was closed to all members of the public after anti-vaxx protestors tried to shout down the session. When the gallery was re-opened, the public was allowed back in but bags were required to be left out. Then signs were hanging over the railing, something again never allowed by other groups (there were pro-vaxx protestors doing the same thing. On Friday, bags were allowed in (they were screened at the Capitol entrance and again at the gallery), but signs were required to be left outside.
Then came the 5:14pm incident on Friday evening that disrupted the Senate session and through the final night into managed disarray. Tensions had been building for the last couple of weeks, which is not unusual at the end of the legislative year, but which were exacerbated by the protests that made it difficult to get through the days and legitimate concerns for personal safety of members, staff, and guests to the Capitol.
There were also high-stakes bills and uncomfortable votes (VAXX, AB 5, e-cigarettes) and several legislators were deemed to have used up their political capital for the year. Members put up votes they weren't personally comfortable with, sometimes affirmative and sometimes negative. As a legislator, you have three considerations on a bill--constituents, leadership, and personal belief. The final vote may align with one but not one of those considerations. It becomes exhausting and patience runs out.
Reading through the lines of my writing over the last couple of weeks, you can see that. There were big losses by influential legislators that didn't make sense to the casual observer. They died more on personalities than policy, although I can give you an argument that makes it not personal for almost any bill of substance in the building. Seemingly unconnected bills meet the guillotine, sometimes mutual, and sometimes with one receiving clemency.
It's not unusual for fingers to be pointed wildly at the end of the legislative year, between the Governor and legislators and among legislators. I've seen it every year since I arrived--under five governors, thirteen Assembly Speakers, and six Senate President Pro Tems. However, the end of the year is usually late night tunnel-vision on bills and how to achieve them or defeat them depending on one's position. That wasn't possible this year. Nobody could wear horse-blinders and, regardless if someone was involved in the vaccinations fight, had a personal feeling, or was indifferent, the whole very personal debate and attacks throughout defined the end of the 2019 Legislative Year. Nobody works in a bubble.
Altogether, the year was a pretty damn good year for Newsom and the legislative Democrats. On that I agree with the early morning statement by the Governor. I wasn't alive when then-Assemblyman Jerry Waldie carried the bill that became Proposition 1-a in 1966 with support of Jesse Unruh to create a full-time Legislature. I don't know how mid-September was chosen for the end of the first year of the legislative session, which is not an election year.
The one thing I do know is that everybody needs some time to simmer down before returning on January 6.
More after the jumpity jump to pay for some Mexican street good today...
CA53 (San Diego): Yesterday, San Diego City Council president Georgette Gómez announced her candidacy for the open district currently held by Susan Davis (D). New Nooner Premium analysis will be available by tonight as I wait to get some intel.
FROM OUR "WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS" FILE: For NPR, Peter Talbot reports that Jump, owned by Uber, is pulling its e-bikes and e-scooters from San Diego and Atlanta. Talbot writes:
"The company has confirmed it will soon pull its ride-share bikes from those two cities. Over the summer, both San Diego and Atlanta ratcheted up regulations on shareable bikes and electric scooters.
The move comes at a tough time for Uber. The company laid off more than 400 workers earlier this week, as the ride-hailing company continues to struggle financially.
At the same time, there have been clashes in many communities over shareable electric scooters and bikes from companies like Uber, Bird and Lime. Neighborhood advocates say the bikes and scooters clutter cities and cause public safety concerns. Some communities have banned the use of these scooters and bikes at night."
As I've written, I walk a lot around downtown Sac. Friday-Saturday early morning totaled 6.5 miles according to the thingy on my wrist and 4 of which were in the Capitol for some good glutes work on the stairs. The vast majority of users of the bikes and scooters are courteous and abide by rule of law and being a decent human. Of course, on Nextdoor.com and in city council meetings are filled with the horror stories or simple whining about the small minority of users who do not.
I contact Uber/Jump and Lime support about stray bikes/scooters that are a legit issue. No, not the bike or scooter not parked at a rack, but rather the ones in the middle of the sidewalk that create a safety hazard and impede access for persons with disabilities. As you likely know, they do the "clean-up" with the white vans (Jump) of such strays overnight. I believe in the model and I think they have brought more life to the downtown, but the companies need make it easier to report strays and needs to have 24-hour clean-up, rather not just primarily in the late night.
CAKEDAY and CLASSIFIEDS after the jump...
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Congresswoman Nanette Barragán, Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, Tamara Torlakson, and Dan Weitzman!