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E-143 - Monday, October 14, 2019, presented by SYASLPartners
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RECENT AURAL PLEASURE:
LEGISLATIVE DIRECTORY UPDATES:
WEEKENDS IN THE NOONER:
IN TODAY'S NOONER:
2019 LEGISLATIVE GOLDEN BEAR AWARD NOMINATIONS: Keep sending your nominations in the 21 categories for our award ballot (which you will be voting for) by Friday, October 18 at 5pm. Nominators are kept confidential, as will votes when we get to that round. If you did not receive the nominations email on Saturday, you can get the info on this page and copy and paste the nomination categories into your email with your picks. Voting will then be October 18-26 with "winners" announced on a special podcast.
THAT'S A WRAP! The 2019 legislative year came to an end last night when Governor Gavin Newsom released the final list of approved bills and vetoes. The last batch included twelve more signed bills and 68 more vetoes.
This year, there were 1,833 bills introduced in the State Senate and 792 in the State Senate, for a total of 2,625. Of these, 1,042 were sent to Newsom. Of those, he signed 870 and vetoed 172, for a veto rate of of 16.5%--the same as Jerry Brown's final year in office.
Gibran and I will sit down with lobbyist Chris Micheli this afternoon to talk on the pod about the session that was. Chris is a veteran lobbyist who also teaches at University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law, and we'll talk about the session. Capitol insiders know Chris beyond just being a great guy for churning out important data, such as the essential "72-hour scorecard" at the end of the legislative year, which indicated after which time bills could be heard on September 13. I included information from his "ladle of billing" in The Nooner that day.
We'll have slides that we use in the YouTube version (assuming tech hamsters cooperate) and we'll upload them to the podcast list when the episode comes out in formats for you to reference/steal/etc.
Oh, that was so innocent when we could pack up and hit the trail shortly after 9pm that Friday. For those in the hallways that afternoon, the buzz was that the last two 72-hour bills -- SB 664 (Allen) and AB 40 (Ting) with 9pm 72-hour dates -- were never brought up, but as you recall, we wouldn't see the session adjourned for Joint Recess until after 3am Saturday morning.
Since he also has clients that opposed AB 5 (Gonzalez), we might ask him what's next from their perspective. We will also be having Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) back on soon since she was the one recording that we lost to the hard drive gods. We're also working on someone from labor and my friend Ben Ebbink, who was also on the other side of Lorena on the bill, but who hugged it out with Lorena on Twitter on Friday and I wrote about on Saturday.
Now that bill signing is done, we'll be back to more guests. We want the podcast to be more about telling the story about the people and process around the Capitol rather than being a "pitching post" for members, lobbyists, and organizations to sell their bills. We've talked about lots of bills, including with members through the year, but the last month of the legislative year and bill-signing period is different.
Back to last night, when the governor's team was merciful and gave us the final actions around 5:30 and while it was certainly a mixed bag for members and lobbyists alike, it was certainly better than an 11:30pm Sunday night drop. Here are some of the bills from the final outcomes that we have talked about in The Nooner this year, as well as those in our summer "Seven Bills in Seven Days" series (7b7d) or were otherwise highly watched (or ones I happened to be watching). I'm linking to those written about here but note that many bills were amended after recess about that may have substantively changed my analysis and the support/opposition. That's said, two months summer recess ended, it's interesting to look back.
Other bills covered in Seven Bills in Seven Days:
I'm still digesting my overall assessment as to how Newsom's actions define his first legislative year. While certainly progressive, he vetoed some bills that were considered "easy" out of budget pressures, using boiler-plate, Department of Finance-flavored veto messages that could just have been from the Wilson, Davis, Schwarzenegger, or Brown administrations.
SADDLE RIDGE FIRE AND THE GRID: All evacuations in the northwestern Los Angeles and southeastern Ventura counties from the Saddle Ridge fire have been lifted. As of 7am this morning, the fire had consumed 7,965 acres, destroyed 17 structures, and damaged 58 more, according to Los Angeles County Fire.
As the focus turns to the cause, the team at the Los Angeles Times report that a Southern California Edison electrical tower is suspected.
This is important to think about if it proved true in the context of the PG&E shutoffs in northern and central California. No major fires broke out even while millions were inconvenienced and lives were threatened by the Public Safety Power Shutoff.
We will never know whether the 50 reported cases of damage to PG&E equipment discovered in the areas where power was turned off would have sparked a blaze. The important thing is that we're not talking about a 2018 Camp Fire-style disaster this October.
As Gibran and I talked about on Friday's pod, some have pointed to maps of the PG&E outage and read something into it politically, such as Silicon Valley not being turned off. I'd love to believe the conspiracy theory, but I've spent a lot of time looking at the maps, read the explanations, and sat through lots of hearings on the topic. The decision of which areas to "turn off" have to do with where high-voltage lines traveled and where they deliver electricity. The Oakland "lowlands" were out because of lines through the Oakland Hills.
I don't know definitively where Silicon Valley's electricity is mostly generated, but the maps from the California Energy Commission appear to show that much is from south of the Bay Area. Anyway, you can play with the dynamic map and see if you can make sense of it. This feels like 2000-01, when we were geeking out and constantly refreshing the Independent System Operator's page to figure out when that supply/demand curve would invert leading to mandatory rolling blackouts.
It's been an amazing to watch how capacity, which includes imported electricity, has far exceeded demand throughout the year, even on some of the hottest days. The system is far better and far more renewables (many that subtract from demand) have been brought online.
We've made great progress on bringing renewables online, so good that the rooftop solar mandate likely will put us in surplus non-imported electricity. That's where storage technology comes in to play, and the politics of that (particularly labor issues) make it anything but simple. There are also proposed pumped-storage proposals in which water is used from hydropower at peak usage (daytime) and then pumped back to a higher elevation reservoir at low usage (overnight).
As I've written (or talked about, hard to remember which one), one of California's problems is that our demand is far more coastal than our supply, something that is only increasing by the mothballing of the nuclear plants. What this means is that electricity from the Pacific Northwest and Sierras travels long distance through forested areas, increasing the fire danger. Burying lines for this purpose itself has pros and cons. SoCal is not as forested, although the large-scale wind and solar projects are currently and proposed to expand in the desert areas to the east. That means that, like NorCal, electricity is transmitted over long distances in an arid climate that often experiences high winds (ergo wind power).
In the long-run, generation as close as possible to the end user with local storage and microgrids appear one of the best solutions to reduce reliance of long distance conveyance of electricity. Of course, like with the housing crisis, NIMBY is alive and well. Wind generating turbines in neighborhoods ("they cause cancer", "kill all the birds", "interfere with my cell signal") are less popular now than the pumpjack oil rigs that we played around growing up in Orange County.
As always when you're reading me, an episode of The West Wing comes to mind. If we gathered folks from the different clean energy sectors to debate where to put $1 billion in state investment to advance our climate and electricity/fire issues, I imagine it would look quite similar to the discussion "Josh Lyman" convened in 2004. The arguments are the same.
I'm still learning and consuming as much information as I can from lots of sources and perspectives. From what I've learned, there is no quick fix and there are lots of arguments on each side of various strategy options. It's going to take several years before of Public Safety Power Shutoffs are not indicated when faced by a weather event like last week with low humidity and high winds.
Governor Newsom was correct when he showed his ire at Thursday night's presser toward PG&E's leadership over on these issues over the last couple of decades. That said, a change in leadership or even provider won't solve the problem anytime soon.
SKELTON, CAKEDAY, and CLASSIFIEDS after we pay some bills...
FROM THE DESK OF THE DEAN: The LAT's George Skelton looks at whether or not the state is indeed shifting gas tax funds for other purposes and a subject of plentiful Twitter wars the last couple of weeks. In short, it's complicated. Unlike projects included in the Budget Act, the transportation are scheduled out administratively and the California Constitution and SB 1, the latter which voters did not overturn by Prop. 6 last November, clearly states that funds must be used for roads and rail.
That said, projects are being postponed to make room for more commuter rail. The areas where the most "deprogramming" appear to be in the road-heavy San Joaquin Valley, which is an area seeing high-speed rail built. They question whether they will ever yield the benefit of high-speed rail and don't have commuter rail in the same way the Bay Area, Livermore Valley, Los Angeles, Inland Empire, and San Diego do. They also were the counties that opposed high-speed rail and voted for Prop 6 to repeal the gas tax hike.
Skelton does believe they have been hoodwinked, writing:
"What does “deprogramming” mean? “Not moving forward,” [state Transportation Secretary David] Kim replies. “Doesn’t mean dead. It’s being put on hold.”
OK, but the Caltrans report clearly reads funding “deletion.”
And these projects should not be “put on hold.”
Any deletions have to be approved by the California Transportation Commission. It should reject Caltrans’ proposal and restore all funding.
Get more local rail money from the bullet train."
Gibran and I fought about this on last Monday's pod (10/8).
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Aref Aziz, Senator Mike Morrell, and Nora Vargas!