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The Nooner for Tuesday, June 16, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners
GENERAL ELECTION DATA POINTS
Happy Taco Tuesday! I'm in a particularly good mood this morning after losing a few pounds of hair weight in my first haircut since December. I was scheduled to get an overdo cut post-election on March 18. We know how that worked out. Anyway, Jason asked how short I wanted to go on the sides and I told him to take it all the way in just in case we return to lockdown. For the gents, while getting an appointment when they first reopened was akin to my niece and her friends trying to get Shawn Mendes concern tickets, appointments are much easier to get now at Iverson's and come with my highest recommendations. Just remember to bring your mask!
COVID-19: On a day that people were sharing their experiences about reopenings over the weekend and Governor Gavin Newsom held a NoonerAtNoon presser that at times sounded a bit defensive during reporter questions and pointed to county health officers making the actual reopening decisions, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington updated its widely respected model. The institute now projects that COVID-19 continues to spread through the summer with an acceleration in September. Nationally, the number of deaths by October 1 are forecasted to be 201,129 with a range of 171,511 to 269,395.
Last Thursday, I reported on the latest numbers for California. As of then, the model predicted 8,821 deaths by October 1. The updated model for The Golden State, which uses reopening and anonymized cell phone data to measure movement, now predicts 15,155 by October 1, an increase of 72%. The range of deaths in California forecasted by October 1 is 10,606 to 26,734.
Most concerning is that the new projections forecast the demand for ICU beds in California by October 1 will be 2,561, but only 1,994 will be available. Cross your fingers that the actual will be on the low end of the range of 858 to 7,882.
When I first started writing about what was then just called the novel coronavirus on January 24, some suggested I was trying to make it a political issue and this was "just a China problem." When I first talked about the numbers IHME model, I was told that I was buying into the hyperbole of liberal elites in Seattle.
The fact is that IHME's numbers have been on the low end of reality throughout the pandemic as virus control strategies have been relaxed faster than expected and the virus has shown resilience to warmer temperatures.
Here is a fascinating new site by researchers that looks at the R0 ("R-naught") figures for Bay Area counties and other California regions, as well as other states. While researchers are affiliated with UCSF, it is not an official site.
If you're new to looking at the R-naught figures, you want to see the line below 1. At 1, it means that for each infection, an infected person is likely to spread the virus to one other person. As it gets above 1, that's when exponential growth in the spread occurs. At 2, it means each infected person on average will infect two other people.
The R-naught figures used on the site come from actual case data, which obviously differs from the IHME model, which is a going-forward projection.
For reference, Sacramento is in the Delta region, which also includes Yolo. Let's take a look.
According to the data presented by the researchers, the spread was significantly reduced as the stay-at-home orders and much of the state was shut down. There is obviously a lag because of the incubation period and subsequent spread, but the spread curve was obviously bent. As restrictions were relaxed, the opposite happened. As I wrote above, the belief that hot weather will make the virus dissipate is largely contradicted by the data as late May and early June was particularly hot in the Delta region.
If you geek out on the site, look at the curves for Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and the Inland Empire which are particularly troubling. Central Coast also has a troubling R-naught, but it's also more sparsely populated than the others.
These data are updated daily. The work, supported by an NIH grant, has been submitted for peer review.
For CalMatters, Barbara Feder Ostrov looks at the challenge for county health officers who are unexpectedly in a highly political role that they aren't used to.
Local public health officers haven’t been this important in a century. They’re also being second-guessed, harassed and threatened by residents, and sometimes local leaders, angry about pandemic shutdowns. Some have simply quit.
Four other health officers in California have resigned or retired in the last two months, in Nevada, San Benito, Yolo and Butte counties, as have two public health department directors in San Bernardino and Orange counties (in addition to Quick). On Monday, the state reported nearly 150,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 5,000 deaths.
STATE BUDGET: As expected, Democrats passed their version of the State Budget yesterday without an agreement with Governor Newsom. The main budget bill SB 74 was approved on party-line votes first by the Assembly on a 61-15-3 vote, while the Senate approved it 29-11. In the lower house, the three abstaining members Phillip Chen (R-Yorba Linda), Tyler Diep (R-Westminster), and Devon Mathis (R-Visalia). Chad Mayes, the former Republican and now the lone no party preference member, voted no.
Summer recess is scheduled to begin on Friday with the Legislature returning July 13. The new fiscal year begins on July 1.
Notably, Governor Newsom's office did not have a press release after the Legislature's approval of SB 74.
During his presser yesterday, KQED's Guy Marzerati asked about the budget deadline. Newsom answered that they were making "real progress" and are "very pleased with the conversations we've been having." He stated that he believes there could be action on federal aid to state and local governments "after the Fourth of July break" of Congress and he "remain(s) confident that something will happen at the federal level to help mitigate cuts at the state level."
Now, the question is whether Newsom is willing to sign SB 74 with some tweaks on small issues while accepting the Legislature's plan to kick the can on big issues to August before cuts take place awaiting the results of federal action. The Governor's May Revision contrasts with that of legislative Democrats by cutting first as of July 1 and then subsequently restoring to the extent federal funds arrive.
The other big outstanding issue is how much in reserves are spent this year if federal funds are not forthcoming and whether or not to cut more in 2020-21 than the Legislature proposes so that more reserves are available in 2021-22. There's no right answer, as nobody has a clue as to how long the economic impact of COVID-19 will last, let alone how long the virus will be around awaiting a vaccine.
So, three days before Summer Recess is scheduled to begin and 15 days before the new fiscal year starts, we're left asking "Ok...Ok...What's Next?"
That said, that question seems to be generally applicable for everything in 2020.
RENT/MORTGAGE/VEHICLE LOAN FORBEARANCE & CONSUMER LOAN INTEREST CAP: Those watching the debate in the Assembly yesterday over AB 2501 (Limón), the bill to, during the COVID-19 state of emergency and aftermath, (1) provide rent and mortgage loan forbearance, (2) limit repossessions of vehicles used to secure consumer loans and cap interest rate on those loans, and (3) cap interest rates on deferred deposit loans saw an example of interesting legislative and political gymnastics.
The majority-vote bill got to 39 of the needed 41-votes, but ended the day with only 28 votes and 26 members not voting. What happened?
Obviously, the bill is very popular among left-leaning activists, who have held many protests calling for the actions. It also has broad opposition by the financial industry, realtors, car dealers, and property owners -- all major political players.
The bill is supported by Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and thus was kept the vote was kept open "on call" for over an hour. When it was clear that the 41 votes would not be reached, many members that had voted "aye" abandoned ship and moved to not voting.
Seeing that 41 votes were not there to pass the bill, eleven members decided that pissing off a large coalition of heavy political players wasn't worth appeasing the activists, who are important but rarely deliver big campaign money or threaten independent expenditures against politicians that get sideways with them.
The eleven who switched from "aye" to "not voting" are all Democrats: Bauer-Kahan, Boerner Horvath, Calderon, Cervantes, Eggman, Frazier, C. Garcia, E. Garcia, Jones-Sawyer, Kamlager, and Low.
I've seen things like this happen over the years, but the current environment makes it particularly interesting. Typically, there would be a cavalcade of lobbyists standing at "the gate," which is the Annex third-floor entrance to the Assembly Chamber. There's also a "gate" down the hall on the Senate side. Lobbyists send notes in to members urging them to vote a certain way or request the members to come out for a chat. Lobbyists are banned from entering the rear of the chamber where members of the press and visitors granted a pass sit, although are allowed to sit in the public gallery on the third floor of the historic Capitol.
Because of COVID-19, there is no gathering at the chamber gates and no visiting legislative offices to urge the skeleton legislative staff to talk to their members about legislation. All communication right now when members are on the floor is almost exclusively through email and text messages, while members are regularly reading devices on the floors of each house, responding to messages, and tweeting.
At the top today, I include a new podcast from Chris Micheli released yesterday talking about what it's like working in the Capitol as an advocate during this surreal time. He is one of the few lobbyists who have been going to committee hearings to testify in person, while many advocates are calling in on a moderated conference call line. Of course, he does it both for his clients and also for his constant research on the legislative process and classes on the legislative process for the McGeorge School of Law. In late May, I had a Nooner Conversation with Micheli on the Capitol amidst COVID-19 and his new book on the state's legislative process.
Sure enough, during yesterday's Assembly Budget Committee meeting that took place in the socially distanced Assembly Chamber to hear budget trailer bills, Micheli was the lone lobbyist in person to testify with concerns on the tax package that is part of the budget. He spoke from the gallery above, providing the odd image of legislators looking up to hear testimony when they are used to being elevated above those testifying.
EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION: Yesterday, I misstated that former State Senator and now LA supe Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) had the first bill to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in California, something that is now the law of the land following the Supreme Court of the United States' ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, GA yesterday.
My friend and current SD17 candidate John Laird carried AB 1400 in 2005, a bill that added sexual orientation to the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Sheila Kuehl's SB 1441 to prohibit discrimination in state-funded programs followed the next year. Kuehl, along with other first-generation openly LGBTQ state lawmakers Christine Kehoe, Carole Migden, and Mark Leno were co-authors of Laird's AB 1400.
DIALYSIS: Yesterday, the Secretary of State announced that the latest effort by SEIU-UHW to provide increased regulation of private dialysis clinics has sufficient valid signatures to qualify for the November 3 ballot. While it doesn't go as far as the 2018 proposal that would have capped profits, it is likely to again fill your television with ads this fall.
SECOND AMENDMENT: Mostly lost amidst the case on employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or identity ruling was the denial of review of all the Second Amendment cases challenging state and local regulations of firearms. Legal eagle Amy Howe posted on her blog and on SCOTUSblog:
The court denied nine of the 10 petitions without comment, in cursory notations on today’s order list. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented from the denial of review in Rogers v. Grewal, a case that hailed from New Jersey, which grants licenses to carry a handgun in public only if the applicant can show a “justifiable need.” The state has defined “justifiable need” to mean “a special danger to life that” can only be avoided with a permit to carry a gun; Thomas Rogers, a New Jersey resident who runs a large automatic-teller business and applied in 2017 for a public-carry permit, argued that these restrictions violate the Second Amendment – which, he said, makes clear that there is a general right to carry handguns outside the home.
In a 19-page opinion that was joined in part by Kavanaugh, Thomas lamented that “[o]ne would think that such an onerous burden” as the New Jersey scheme “on a fundamental right would warrant this Court’s review.” For example, Thomas observed, the Supreme Court “would almost certainly review the constitutionality of a law requiring citizens to establish a justifiable need before exercising their free speech rights,” and “it seems highly unlikely that the Court would allow a State to enforce a law requiring a woman to provide a justifiable need before seeking an abortion.” However, today the Supreme Court “simply looks the other way” when “faced with a petition challenging just such a restriction on citizens’ Second Amendment rights.”
Thomas argued that Rogers’ case would have given the justices a chance to “provide guidance on the proper approach for evaluating Second Amendment claims,” “acknowledge that the Second Amendment protects the right to carry in public” and resolve a division among the lower courts on whether restrictions like New Jersey’s are constitutional. For that reason, he would have granted Rogers’ petition for review.
There are still several California cases in the federal legal pipeline and now it's very unlikely that the Supreme Court will give guidance beyond Heller and McDonald in the new term beginning in October 2020, leaving largely to the Ninth Circuit to guide district court judges. Those cases relate to the right of individuals to maintain firearms in their own home and transport them outside thereof. The California cases deal with such things as gun type and ammunition magazine size.
cakeday and classifieds after the jump...
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Carson Eades, Becca Patton, and Teala Schaff!
GHOSTS OF CAKEDAYS PAST: Yesterday, I missed sending birthday greetings to Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco). However, I did catch it in time to wish him a happy birthday on Twitter.