Around The Capitol

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RECENT PODS:

  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): GOP political consultant Matt Rexroad on redistricting and the recall. (2021-01-18)
  • If I Could Change One Thing (SDSU School of Public Health): Dr. Monica Gandhi, Professor of Medicine and Associate Chief of the Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital / UCSF on when/if mask mandates will go away. (2021-04-07)
  • California State of Mind (CapRadio): California Prepares for Wildfire; Disparity in Covid Deaths Highlight Need for Vaccine Equity (2021-04-16)
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Jeffe): Police Shootings: A Dilemma Forever? (2021-04-16)
  • SacTown Talks (Jarheet Blonien): Monica Davalos and Adriana Ramos-Yamamoto of the California Budget and Policy Center (2021-04-16)
  • KQED's Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): Law Enforcement Action Partnership executive director Diane Goldstein on the Role of State Legislatures in Police Violence (2021-04-15) 

CLASSIFIEDS BELOW:

  • Capitol Weekly presents A Conference on Housing Policy
  • New Sacramento-based thriller
  • Golden State Opportunity: Director of Operations, Director of Development and a Northern CA Coordinator
  • Exclusive Downtown Penthouse Near Capitol Building
  • Associate Position at CleanSweep Campaigns, San Francisco
  • McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific - MPA/MPP
  • McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific - Masters of Science in Law

DISTRICT UPDATES:

  • AD49 (West San Gabriel Valley): added Rosemead councilmember Susan Armenta (D) - if Chau does not run for reelection
  • Correction: AD49 (West San Gabriel Valley): added labor organizer Frank Torres (D) - if Chau does not run for reelection (I listed wrong district number yesterday)

RECALL WATCH: The final signature reports from counties have been submitted to the Secretary of State's Office, which has ten days to report to counties on the total, triggering the 30-day signature withdrawal period. As of the last report on March 11, 1,188,073 signatures had been validated. Proponents need 1,495,709 to qualify the recall, a total that they are fully expected to meet.

The Nooner for Tuesday, April 20, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners

¡Feliz martes y Taco Tuesday! Yes, I'm already thinking about dinner. I have leftover shrimp from last night so it'll likely be tacos de camarones for me tonight while catching the Giants game.

It's another busy day of legislative hearings. It's 9:30 as I write this section and I have windows with video of Assembly Business & Professions and Assembly Judiciary open. Of course, the bills I'm interested in come up at the same time and I have to choose which audio to turn on. Nevertheless, it's better than running between two committee rooms. Anyway, at 1:30, the concurrent hearing craziness continues.

Meanwhile, I just got an appointment for vaccine #1 at the Rite Aid on Kay Street at 10:24am tomorrow. The Nooner may be a bit abbreviated tomorrow, but know that it's for a good cause. My previous one was next Tuesday and was not walking distance, so it'll be nice to get started nearly a week early and at the same Rite Aid where I got my flu shot.

PETITIONS: This afternoon at 1:30, Senate Judiciary will hear the two bills by Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) that affect petitions for initiatives, referenda, and recall. SB 660 prohibits per-signature compensation for petitions. SB 663 would provide access to names and addresses of those signing petitions by targets of a recall. Neither are urgency bills and thus wouldn't go in to effect until January 1, 2022.

CANNABIS: Some advocates for recreational cannabis want to place a measure on the ballot to expand the provisions of Proposition 64 (2016), reports Andrew Scheeler for The Bee.

A new coalition of marijuana advocates wants to put cannabis back on the California ballot aiming to expand access for consumers just five years after voters legalized recreational use.

Marijuana advocates argue that high taxes and recalcitrant local governments have led to legalization falling far short of what voters were promised with Proposition 64 in 2016. They’re working on a proposal that they argue would fix the problems created by the law.

Most notably, the proposed ballot measure would strip local governments of their power to approve or deny cannabis licenses.

“The big issue with local control is it’s just bad policy,” said Sean Kiernan, executive director of veterans advocacy group Weed for Warriors and the California Cannabis Reform Project, which is working on the proposed ballot initiative.

What has resulted, Kiernan said, is that the illicit cannabis market continues to thrive while people, including the disabled veterans he represents, are unable to access lawful, regulated cannabis in huge portions of the state.

...

The ballot initiative likely will face an uphill battle, especially from local governments reluctant to give up control and revenue, said Meital Manzuri, a Los Angeles attorney whose practice focuses on cannabis.

The 2016 battle over Prop. 64 hinged in part on getting local governments to buy in, and she said the issue of local control was a concession from marijuana legalization advocates to make legalization more palatable.

POP! In the Chron for Kaiser Health News, Samantha Young reports on the stalling of the latest bill to reduce the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages by removing the prohibition of sales taxes levied by local governmetns on them, as they are currently considered groceries.

In 2018, the industry spent $8.9 million to boost a statewide ballot measure sponsored by the California Business Roundtable that would have made it more difficult for cities and counties to levy taxes — not just taxes on sugary drinks — by requiring them to be approved by two-thirds of voters instead of a simple majority. Fearful that local governments could face a higher voting threshold for taxes and fees that would fund services, lawmakers at the time said they had no choice but to negotiate with the industry.

In a deal that several lawmakers described as “extortion,” the legislature agreed to pass a bill banning new local taxes on sugary drinks until Jan. 1, 2031, if the industry and other supporters dropped the ballot measure. Then-Gov. Jerry Brown, who had dined with industry executives several weeks before, signed the bill.

The California deal was a coup for Big Soda: Legislation that would have imposed a state tax on sugary drinks died a year later, as did a bill that would have required health warning labels on sugary drinks and another that would have banned sodas in grocery store checkout aisles.

This year’s bill, which would have reinstated cities and counties’ ability to put soda taxes before voters, is all but dead.

“They’re gaming the political system,” said Assembly member Adrin Nazarian (D-North Hollywood), the author of AB 1163. Nazarian said he hopes to revive the measure before April 30, the deadline for policy committees to hear legislation for the year.

Public health advocates point to such taxes as a way to cut consumption of soda, sports drinks, fruit juices and other sweet beverages, citing studies that show the more they cost, the less people buy them. On average, a can of soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar, nearly the entire recommended daily amount for someone who eats 2,000 calories a day. Some energy drinks contain twice that.

...

Nazarian’s bill is on hold in the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee, led by Assembly member Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood). A spokesperson for Burke did not return calls and emails requesting comment.

The bill is keyed as fiscal, meaning it has to go to Appropriations and must be passed by next Friday. The final Revenue and Taxation hearing is scheduled for next Monday, and Burke hasn't placed it on the agenda. Young continues:

[In addition to Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Speaker Anthony Rendon,] Burke also received money from soda companies, collecting about $22,000 from Coca-Cola, Pepsi and the American Beverage Association from 2017 through 2020.

Public health groups are mobilizing a grassroots effort to get a hearing for Nazarian’s bill. They say California must address the disproportionate health effects of sugary drinks on Black and Latino communities.

Young's article looks into the extensive money spread by the industry in both political contributions and behested payments.

MINIMUM WAGE: For The Bee, Jeong Park reports on an effort to eliminate an exception to the minimum wage that allows employers to pay certain employees with disabilities as little as $2 per hour.

Under a program known as 14(c), companies can pay Californians with disabilities below minimum wage.

Supporters of the program say it has provided employment opportunities for thousands of people who wouldn’t otherwise get hired. Opponents say the program is exploiting workers who could do the job just as well as others with the right training and support.

Some disability advocates are pushing to end the program: A recent proposal to hike the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour included a provision ending 14(c). But with the proposal stalling in Congress, advocates have put forth a bill in the California Legislature to phase out the program by 2025, joining ten other states including Alaska, Oregon and Texas.

“This is not a partisan measure,” said Sen. María Elena Durazo, who introduced Senate Bill 639. “It’s a measure to offer dignity to those workers with disabilities.” 

The bill passed Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement 4-0, with lone Republican Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh abstaining. The bill will be heard in Senate Human Services this afternoon.

UC HOSPITALS: The Chron's legal eagle Bob Egelko looks at Senator Scott Wiener's (D-San Francisco) SB 379, which would prohibit the University of California from contracting with hospitals that restrict abortion services and transgender surgeries.

State lawmakers are considering a hotly contested bill by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, that would prohibit UC from agreeing to require its physicians and medical students to comply with those restrictions when they work at private hospitals, in urban as well as rural areas. The hospitals include St. Mary’s Medical Center and Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco, both owned by Dignity Health, which was formerly known as Catholic Healthcare West and follows the church’s health care directives at most of its facilities.

Restrictions on care in the contracts the university signs with those providers, Wiener said, are based not on medical needs or resources, but instead are “based on the policies of the UC contractors, which result in discriminatory and substandard patient care,” particularly for low-income and minority patients.

UC says it has contracts to provide treatment or training at 77 hospitals and other health facilities in California with policies that Wiener’s bill would affect. The bill, SB379, would allow the university to maintain connections with the hospitals only if they changed their policies or did not apply them to UC physicians and students.

SB379 cleared the Senate Education Committee on a 5-2 vote last month and is scheduled to be heard Wednesday by the Senate Health Committee. It is supported by abortion-rights and LGBTQ advocates but opposed by hospital organizations — not only the Alliance of Catholic Health Care but also the California Hospital Association, which represents more than 400 private and public hospitals in the state.

...

Lori Capello Dangberg, vice president of the Alliance of Catholic Health Care, said Wiener’s legislation “would eliminate hundreds of partnerships that provide medically necessary primary and specialty care to thousands of patients.”

CARBON NEUTRALITY: For Capitol Weekly, Madelyn Reese looks at the state's winding road to achieving carbon neutrality.

Senate Bill 30, also known as the State Buildings and Assets Decarbonization Act of 2021, would require all state buildings to become carbon neutral by 2035. Furthermore, the bill would require the state to divest from projects, both residential and nonresidential, that are not zero emission by 2023. Finally, starting next year all newly designed and constructed buildings would need to be zero emission, too.

“California could stand to reap some of the highest benefits in the country if we electrify all of our buildings by 2050,” said Lizzi Nickerson, a clean energy associate with Environment California.” If we were to go all electric for new buildings and retrofit old buildings to run on electricity, we can reduce emissions in CA by 27.4 million metric tons of CO2, equal to taking 6 million cars off the road.”

This helps avoid the worst impacts of climate change, Nickerson said, and even improves the air quality inside homes and businesses, as well as outside.

COVID-19, more issues, cakeday, and classifieds after the jump...

COVID-19: California reported an additional 38 deaths yesterday for a total of 60,699 since the pandemic began. The usual weekend reporting lag applies.

-data dive: California's 7-day positivity rate is currently 1.3% (-0.2%), far below the 7.1% peak amidst mass testing on December 30, and the lowest 7-day positivity rate of the pandemic.

-vaccines:

  • vaccine doses administered in California: 25,790,401 (not the number of people vaccinated because of the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines)
  • vaccine doses delivered to California: 31,625,990
  • LA County: For the LAT, Luke Money reports that after falling short, the strained vaccine supply in Los Angeles County has rebounded.

    Los Angeles County is expecting an uptick in its supply of COVID-19 vaccines this week, providing a welcome boost to the region’s inoculation efforts.

    The county’s latest allocation, pegged at approximately 362,000 doses, is up nearly 39,000 from last week, according to the Department of Public Health.

    That number is only one piece of the wider pharmaceutical pie. Allocations sent directly from the federal government to qualified health centers and pharmacies are expected to swell the region’s total haul this week to more than 600,000 doses.

    County officials say they can more than handle shipments of that size. From April 4 through 11, the county reported an average of nearly 100,000 doses administered per day, according to Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer for the L.A. County Department of Public Health.“At this pace, we’re on track to fully vaccinate 80% of the county population 16 and older by the end of June,” he said during a briefing last week. 

-variants: From the California Department of Public Health:

  • "UK strain": B.1.1.7 variants are associated with approximately 50% increased transmission, and likely with increased disease severity and risk of death. Appears to have minimal impact on the effectiveness of treatments with antibodies.
  • "South Africa strain" B.1.351 variants are associated with approximately 50% increased transmission. May have moderately decreased response to antibody treatments.
  • "Brazil strain": P.1 variants may have moderately decreased response to some antibody treatments.
  • "West Coast strain"": B.1.427 and B.1.429 are associated with approximately 20% increased transmission. There is significantly reduced efficacy of some antibody treatments.

Here are the variants of concern in California. Remember that this is just from 36,639 samples of the 3.6+ million cases in California.

Known Variants of Concern in California
As of April 14, 2021

Variant  Number of Cases Caused by Variant 
B.1.1.7   1,937
B.1.351    27
P.1    166
B.1.427   4,416
B.1.429   9,074

You can view a US map by strain prevalence on the CDC site. Note that, like the numbers above, this map is case numbers of a sample, and note a case rate. Obviously, California will have higher counts, but that doesn't translate into a higher case rate of the variant.

-tiers for fears: As a reminder, any county must remain at a tier for three weeks before progressing to a less-restrictive tier, even if the metrics continue to improve. Today's changes are bolded and italicized.

Here's where the counties stand after today's changes bolded and italicized.

  • No county in the Purple (widespread) Tier.
  • 21 counties in the Red (substantial) Tier: Amador, Del Norte, Glenn, Inyo, Kern, Lake, Madera, Merced, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Shasta, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, and Yuba.
  • 33 counties in Orange (moderate) Tier: Alameda, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Humboldt, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Lake, Los Angeles, Marin, Mono, Napa, Mariposa, Mendocino, Modoc, Monterey, Orange, Plumas, Riverside, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Ventura, and Yolo.
  • 3 counties in Yellow (minimal) Tier: Alpine, Lassen, and Sierra.

The statewide map of counties and their tiers has not been updated as of 11:25am, but should be in the next couple of hours.

Statewide tiers map

More issues, cakedays, and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research

 

AMAZON: In The Bee, Dale Kasler reports on the job growth at Amazon in the Sacramento region during the pandemic.

As the pandemic exploded and thousands of jobs disappeared in Sacramento, one company mushroomed into one of the largest private employers in the region.

Amazon doubled its workforce in Sacramento over the past year, adding roughly 4,000 warehouse workers, package deliverers and others as COVID-19 devoured much of the rest of the economy and shoppers retreated from malls.

Inside the Amazon fulfillment center near Sacramento International Airport, employment grew from about 2,000 to more than 4,000 today, the center’s manager Kyle Desautels said.

...

Amazon already was one of the area’s major non-government employers. The pandemic sent it into elite territory. It moved ahead of such Sacramento-area mainstays as Intel, Raley’s and Apple and climbed to fourth in employment in the area. It trailed only the Kaiser, Sutter and Dignity hospital chains, according to statistics compiled by the Sacramento Business Journal.

Yesterday, as I walked over to Allspicery to pick up tea and spice refills, I passed the rally supporting AB 701 (Gonzalez), which would require large warehouse employers like Amazon and Walmart to disclose quotas and work speed standards. There were perhaps 25 people there when I walked by around 1pm. There may have been more at noon when several legislators were slated to speak but it was quite small, even during the pandemic. The bill is scheduled to be heard in Assembly Labor and Employment on Thursday.

Speaking of Allspicery, they are now accepting walk-up orders from 11-2. Telephone and online orders can still be picked up from 10-4.

SIN AGUA: In the Chron, Kurtis Alexander reports that Marin County may be the first in the Bay Area with mandated water restrictions as drought conditions worsen.

As drought conditions worsen across Northern California, the Marin Municipal Water District is about to become the Bay Area’s first major water agency to make the leap to mandatory water restrictions.

The utility is expected to adopt a plan Tuesday that would require nearly 200,000 residents of southern and central Marin County to limit outdoor watering to one day a week as well as to stop washing their cars, refilling their swimming pools and power-washing their homes, among other things. Offenders could face fines of up to $250.

The measures are reminiscent of 2015, when one of the state’s worst dry spells prompted water agencies across the state to impose unprecedented constraints. Lawns quickly dried up, and Californians took to shorter showers and fewer flushes before the five-year drought came to an end with the stormy winter of 2016-17, and then two moderately wet years. Back-to-back dry winters have since followed, however, and again water shortages are developing.

OC DA: For Voice of OC, Nick Gerda reports on the increasingly contentious race for Orange County District Attorney, which is up in June 2022.

The Orange County District Attorney race continues to intensify under a national spotlight, with warnings at a Monday crime victims’ rally organized at DA Todd Spitzer’s office that his election challenger would put criminals above crime victims.

The rally, in turn, has prompted accusations from Spitzer’s opponent, Peter Hardin, that the rally violates a state law against using taxpayer resources for campaigning.

Spitzer hasn’t responded to messages asking for his response to that allegation.

The national focus on Spitzer comes from a movement that’s trying to oust DAs across America and replace them with officials who are promising to reduce mass incarceration and combat racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

That movement is now trying to kick out Orange County’s Republican DA, Spitzer, who’s staring down a reportedly well-funded opponent in Hardin, a Democrat and former prosecutor.

The issue played out Monday at the annual crime victim’s rally, which this year was organized and broadcast live by Spitzer’s DA’s office.

Spitzer, who served in the Assembly from 2002-2008, is seeking his second term as District Attorney after his second sting on the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Hardin is an Irvine attorney and former deputy OC DA.

DR. DREW DEEP-SIXED: After outcry from several individuals and organizations, Los Angeles County supervisor Kathryn Barger has withdrawn her nomination of Dr. Drew Pinsky to serve on a city and county homelessness commission, reports Jaclyn Cosgrove in the Los Angeles Times.

A celebrity doctor nominated to a local homeless commission has been pulled from consideration after community members objected and mounted a #DumpDrDrew Twitter campaign accusing him of promoting policies that criminalize homelessness.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced Monday evening that she had withdrawn her nomination for Dr. David Drew Pinsky, more commonly known as “Dr. Drew,” for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, a 10-member commission appointed by city and county elected officials.

Barger, who represents the 5th District, said she was dismayed that anyone would question “the appointment of a doctor with a passion for addressing these issues when a new voice is clearly needed.”

She said the nomination and the outcry it generated had become a distraction from important conversations about care for people experiencing homelessness.

When I used to listen to Loveline as a teen before it was syndicated, Dr. Drew was initially paired with "The Poorman" (Jim Trenton) and then Adam Carolla. Last year, Pinsky downplayed the coronavirus. He subsequently contracted it and walked back his previous comments, saying it felt like leukemia.

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Jaime Huff, Sam Oh, Garry South, and Mark Torres!

Classifieds

Add your classified now both in The Nooner and online for $50/week or $150/month by emailing scottlay@gmail.com, with a headline, a summary of up to 200 words, and what you'd like the end date to be. You can attach a PDF or provide a link for a bigger job description/info to apply. [Other advertising options]


Capitol Weekly presents A Conference on Housing Policy

Join us for an informative update on California’s Housing Crisis. For years, the Golden State has had the highest home prices in the US, one of the lowest rates of home-ownership, and the most people living on the streets – now, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation even worse. Three panels of experts, insiders and elected officials will discuss the status of the state’s Housing Crisis and the policy solutions being proposed to help solve it.

This event will be hosted on ZOOM from 9AM – 1:45PM, Wednesday, May 26. There is no cost to attend, but registration is required. Attend one panel, or the whole day!

NEW SACRAMENTO-BASED THRILLER!

SET IN SACRAMENTO, ALL THAT FALL is "a white-knuckled, character-driven thriller, at once twisty and full of heart." In this first in a new series from award-winning author KRIS CALVIN, Investigator Emma Lawson has just 48-hours to stop a killer whose plans for revenge include upending California's government. "The story reads as if it happened. Emma and the rest of the cast will hook you." ORDER NOW from Amazon or your favorite bookstore at www.kriscalvin.com. Available in hardback, ebook & audiobook.

Golden State Opportunity is looking for a Director of Operations, Director of Development and a Northern CA Coordinator.

These are exciting opportunities for the right person who wants to build their own teams, establish a foundation for a rapidly growing organization with national political ambitions and wants to make a significant impact in ending poverty as we know it. Please review the job descriptions, with salary ranges, at Careers at GSO.

Exclusive Downtown Penthouse Near Capitol Building

Penthouse residence for rent in desirable Downtown Marriott building. Renter will enjoy private lobby, use of hotel amenities such as pool / spa, gym, and access to concierge services such as supervised Amazon package delivery, etc. This space would be perfect for a member or lobbyist or consultant with frequent business in the Capitol. Comes with one parking spot with option for another if needed. You can view full listing, photos and more here. Can be rented furnished or unfurnished.

Contact: Joe Fernandez, Eagle Property Management; (916) 430-9196, jfernandez@eimpropertries.com

The McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific

In addition to a well-respected JD, the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, offers the Master of Public Administration (MPA) and the Master of Public Policy (MPP) degrees. Both full-time students and those earning a professional degree while working succeed in the program. Our focus on the interconnections of law, policy, management, and leadership provides unique competencies for your success. Students gain a foundation in statutory interpretation and skills in public policy making and implementation. Learn at a beautiful campus three miles from the State Capitol:
go.mcgeorge.edu/publicpolicy

McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific

Built on the foundation of nationally ranked and world class programs, McGeorge School of Law offers an online master (MSL) degree for individuals seeking in depth knowledge of law and policy, but who do not require a traditional law degree. Our MSL’s two concentrations in Government Law & Policy and in Water & Environmental Law offer students the flexibility to work while they learn and still engage in a highly interactive master’s program. To learn more and to sign up for our monthly webinars, please visit our website, Online.McGeorge.edu, or contact us at graduatelaw@pacific.edu.

Political Data Inc.
For 30 Years PDI has been California’s premier data vendor. Now, you can get live online trainings on the newest PDI software every week: