Around The Capitol

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RECENT PODS:

  • Then There's California (Senate Democratic Caucus): Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) (2021-05-31)
  • SacTown Talks (Jarhett Blonien): Senator Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) (2021-05-29)
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Jeffe): Thomas Wong, president of the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District on water and politics (2021-05-27)
  • California State of Mind (CapRadio): U.S. Senator Alex Padilla on immigration and clean energy (2021-05-24) 

CLASSIFIEDS BELOW:

  • Solano County Board of Education Seeks Experienced Consulting Firm for Redistricting Services
  • McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific - MPA/MPP
  • McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific - Masters of Science in Law

The Nooner for Tuesday, June 1, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners

Happy June and LGBTQ+ Pride Month! This afternoon, in Senate Budget and Fiscal Review, we begin the homestretch of the state budget process. For homegamers, the budget has to be approved by both houses by June 15 or lawmakers forfeit their pay and per diem. Meanwhile, my sources tell me that negotiations continue between the two houses and Governor Newsom but the budget year has turned out far better than as thought it would last year.

On my morning walk, I listened to the NYT podcast The Daily, which was on the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre in which a mob targeted the Black community of Greenwood amid the 1920s oil boom. Great episode and worth a listen (as most episodes are). Of course, the topic wasn't covered in high school American history...

In California, we may not have noisy cicadas that we are seeing on social media on from our mid-Atlantic friends, but apparently we do have Lyme disease-carrying ticks on our northern coast. Kurtis Alexander writes for the Chron:

Disease-carrying ticks, long considered something to fear in thick woods, are also prevalent in Northern California’s open coastal areas, a new study shows.

The research, published after four years of field work in the Bay Area, indicates that the reach of tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease is greater than previously thought and a concern that those headed to the beach or walking on a bluff should keep in mind.

“This shouldn’t be a deterrent for getting out into the beautiful Bay Area outdoors,” said the study’s lead author, Dan Salkeld, a research ecologist at Colorado State University who formerly worked at Stanford. “The thing to take away form this is to be aware that ticks are out there. When you go out hiking or spending the day outside on the coast, check yourself for ticks. Wear repellent if you can.”

AD18 (Alameda-San Leandro-West Oakland): I'm still working on analysis of AD18, the district left vacant following Rob Bonta's appointment to succeed Xavier Becerra as Attorney General. While there was early speculation that Bonta's wife and Alameda USD school member Mia Bonta was the favorite, Malia Vella -- an Alameda councilmember -- is a very serious competitor. The special primary is June 19 and, if no candidate receives over 50%, the top two candidates will meet at a special general on August 31.

DO YOU RECALL? Gubernatorial successor candidate Caitlyn Jenner this morning tweeted:

Sacramento politicians work only about 30 weeks/yr, but they make nearly 3x the amount of the avg Californian. It's time we return that taxpayer money to the people. I can't wait to support a ballot measure to make the legislature part-time and cut their 6 figure salary in half.

If you believe this, you've never known a California legislator. These are 52-week jobs and the days are at least 12 hours. Of course, would-be governors love the concept of a part-time Legislature, which concentrates power inside the Office of the Governor. Look to Texas right now, or well, California last year.

EDD: For the Chron, Carolyn Said reports that the difficulty in applying for uninsurance in California has led to a new industry of intermediaries with auto-dialers.

It’s so tough to contact California’s Employment Development Department about unemployment benefits that a cottage industry has sprung up of intermediaries offering to help desperate jobless people reach the agency — for a fee.

With EDD’s phone lines perpetually jammed, thousands of people are paying $20 to $80 per call to private companies that connect them to EDD by robo-dialing it — which in turn adds to the congestion. At the same time, many non-English speakers are paying intermediaries to fill out their unemployment applications and often pay them again every two weeks for the simple process of recertifying to keep the benefits flowing.

Meanwhile, the agency’s data shows that its call volume is soaring and it’s lagging on answering. For the week that ended on May 15, EDD received 5.12 million calls from 378,146 unique callers — with almost a third of those callers unable to get through.

EARTH, WIND, AND FIRE: For CapRadio, Scott Rodd writes that California's wildfire season may arrive sooner rather than later because of the drought.

The last 18 months have been among the driest and hottest on record in California, leading Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a drought emergency in over 40 counties. Moisture levels in fire fuels like grass and brush are below average across most of the state. Forests are filled with dead trees, which are prime for catching fire. And the meager snow pack has largely soaked into the ground instead of flowing into lakes and rivers.

Experts say this sets the stage for a dangerous wildfire season that could spark major fires weeks or months earlier than usual.

“Once there is an ignition event — whether it’s through a natural ignition event like dry lightning or whether it’s a human-caused ignition like a ember from a campfire — then that is much more likely to produce a large fire,” said Alex Hall, director of UCLA’s Center for Climate Science. 

HOUSING: The AP's Adam Beam reports that shuttered retail is being looked at for increasing California's housing stock.

California state lawmakers are grappling with a particularly 21st-century problem: What to do with the growing number of shopping malls and big box retail stores left empty by consumers shifting their purchases to the web.

A possible answer in crowded California cities is to build housing on these sites, which already have ample parking and are close to existing neighborhoods.

But local zoning laws often don’t allow housing at these locations. Changing the zoning is such a hassle that many developers don’t bother trying. And it’s often not worth it for local governments to change the designations. They would prefer to find new retailers because sales taxes produce more revenue than residential property taxes.

However, with a stubborn housing shortage pushing prices to all-time highs, state lawmakers are moving to pass new laws to get around those barriers.

A bill that cleared the state Senate last week would let developers build houses on most commercial sites without changing the zoning. Another proposal would pay local governments to change the zoning to let developers build affordable housing.

DMV: In The Bee, Andrew Sheeler looks at the plans by the California DMV to reduce the need for in-person appointments.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Department of Motor Vehicles was forced to close its doors and shift to a primarily digital approach.

Now, the director of the DMV says the department is looking to make some of those changes permanent in a bid to become “more modern and agile.”

To that end, the DMV is asking for more than $60 million in funding in the state budget that will go into effect in July.

 SUTTER HEALTH: The Bee's Dale Kasler reports on the major changes happening at the healthcare giant Sutter Health.

Sutter Health has been the pre-eminent hospital chain in Northern California for decades — respected but also feared.

Critics say it has strong-armed insurance companies and major employers into contract terms that inflated healthcare prices across the region. State officials blamed Sutter for making Sacramento the most expensive city in America for delivering a baby.

Now, this formidable organization — with two dozen hospitals, 12,000 doctors and 3 million member patients — is facing a reckoning over the way it does business.

In January, the Sacramento-based healthcare organization laid off 274 workers. It has eliminated another 800 jobs through voluntary buyouts, and in March it announced major financial losses and a “sweeping review” of its operations and costs. Sutter Chief Financial Officer Brian Dean says further staff reductions are likely.

Sutter says its troubles had been building for years — and were magnified when COVID-19 struck, escalating costs and prompting home-bound patients to cancel visits to the doctor.

OAKTOWN:  For CalMatters, Dan Walters looks at the new hopes for the demolition of I-980 that divides Oakland.

An organization called ConnectOakland has suggested a tree-lined boulevard flanked by a “livable urban environment” of residences, open spaces and neighborhood commercial facilities.

I-980 is also on a list of the nation’s 10 most obsolete and divisive freeways drawn up by the Congress for the New Urbanism, called “Freeways Without Futures.”

“Freeway construction was a disaster for city neighborhoods in the 20th Century,” the report says. “Many neighborhoods were divided in two — their main streets demolished and businesses closed, disproportionately in minority communities.”

The newest wrinkle in the Grove-Shafter saga is a chance that President Joe Biden’s immense infrastructure plan might supply demolition money.

California’s new U.S. senator, Alex Padilla, has joined those seeking its removal as part of a larger nationwide effort to erase some freeways that have lost local support.

“For far too long, some Californians have faced historic barriers to mobility and economic opportunity due to highway construction,” Padilla said in a statement. “This injustice has deliberately targeted communities of color by demolishing homes and small businesses. In Oakland, California, local leaders are considering opportunities to repair the inequities caused by the I-980 freeway and reconnect West Oakland to the city’s downtown.”

COVID-19 after the jump...

COVID-19: California reported 4 deaths yesterday for a total of 62,929 since the pandemic began.

-vaccines:

  • vaccine doses administered in California: 37,513,067
  • vaccine doses delivered to California: 46,298,020
  • Californians fully vaccinated: 17,347,872 (51.1% of 16+)

VACCINE HESITANCY: For SDUT, Paul Sisson writes that, even with new incentives, vaccine hesitancy will keep an unhealthy share of Americans from getting a vaccine.

San Diego County will soon reach 2 million residents who have had at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine. But in a region with more than 3.3 million residents, that means there are still more than 1 million who have not yet come forward to get stuck.

Some just haven’t gotten around to it yet, and the state’s new $115 million lottery — which rewards vaccination with cash rewards — will surely push some off the fence and into vaccination clinics.

But it is clear that misinformation, not money, has often driven vaccination decisions.

survey performed in mid-April by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit and nonpartisan health research organization, estimates that 54 percent of Americans believe “common misinformation” about coronavirus vaccines.

MASK-BACKWARDS: The Bee's Summer Lin reports on a Mendocino Cafe that charges customers $5 if they either enter wearing a mask or mention being vaccinated.

A poster on the window at Fiddlehead’s Cafe in Mendocino read, “$5 fee added to orders placed while wearing a face mask,” SFGate reported.

Chris Castleman, owner of the cafe, told McClatchy News that he put the sign up “because the pro-mask people have been damaging our country for too long. It’s time to end the mandates and start focusing on reversing the collateral damage done by these government restrictions.”

cakedays and classifieds after the jump...

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Johnny Alvarado, Gareth Elliott, Justin McCarthy, and Shannan Velayas!

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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: