Around The Capitol

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RECENT PODS:

  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Ken Jacobs, chair of the UC Berkeley Labor Center on a variety of labor issues, including the ongoing uproar over at SEIU 1000 following the election of outsider candidate Richard Louis Brown and the latest fallout from Proposition 22. (2021-06-13)
  • California State of Mind (CapRadio): Reopening; state budget with guest reporters from CalMatters (2021-06-11)
  • Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos @ KQED): Back in the studio, Scott and Marisa talk the assault weapons ban ruling, Kamala's trip to Guatemala and Mexico, and then are joined by SFDCC chair Honey Mahogeny. (2021-06-10) 
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Jeffe): With Warren Olney, a discussion on race in the classroom and politics as well as the assault weapons ruling (2021-06-10) 
  • California State of Mind (Nigel Duara @ CalMatters): Former Stockton mayor Michael Tubbs on the expansion of universal basic income (2021-06-09)

CLASSIFIEDS BELOW:

  • Capitol Seminars’ Invaluable Lobbying 101 Course Offered Via Zoom (July 9)
  • McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific - MPA/MPP
  • McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific - Masters of Science in Law

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The Nooner for Monday, June 14, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners

Happy budget Monday and the eve of reopening! I know people have mixed emotions about reopening -- too slow, too fast, just right... Well, from One Day More:

Tomorrow we'll discover
What our God in Heaven has in store
One more dawn
One more day
One day more

It was nice to see Sacramento waking up over the weekend. There were a lot more people in the park -- barbecuing, doing yoga, and participating in a panoply of other activities. For months, the only activity was the daily pick-up fútbol game of very impressive players who have apparently gone back to the work. The grass on the improvised soccer field that has turned to dirt is even starting to come back to life.

While I got my usual tacos yesterday, there was a Mexican hot dog vendor on T Street for the first time since things shut down. I surely hope the wonderful couple that sells hot links in addition to hot dogs and has guac and other fixins returns! Then I'll have to wrestle with the existential question of tacos or hot link. Or, tacos for lunch and a hot link for dinner. Meanwhile, without available hot links, I had a healthier dinner last night of pan seared wild Alaskan cod with a lemon thyme butter sauce over lemony greens with snap peas and wild rice.

I'm finding ways to get by without my Sunday farmers market and limit the use of the costly delivery services (even though I like supporting local restaurants). Anyway, I've been happy with the customizable boxes from Farm Fresh to You (code SCZT1169 for a $15 off first box) and last night's cod was from Wild Alaskan Seafood Company (which was also the purveyor of the salmon I used in the Thai yellow curry with eggplant last week). I've also used Belcampo for meats and Sea2Table for other sustainable fish. Not only are they all promoting sustainable eats, but the packaging is almost all recyclable.

Anyway, it's great to be back in the kitchen, saving money and eating better. I know some of you used the pandemic to exercise more and I've seen some impressive posts on social media. For me, I'm working on losing my COVID +19 (pounds).

Of course, while I've found other solutions, I miss the farmers that I used to see each Sunday. That said, on Wednesday, the Capitol Mall farmers market returns and I can't wait to see this year's offerings.

Oh yeah, news? We've got some after the jump...

WEEKENDS AT THE NOONER: Instead of reading your Nooner, you may have been out frolicking in the park like so many this weekend or glued to the French Open or the French bulldogs at the Westminster Dog Show. Sorry, Chaselands Mathew Moss, but Best in Show went to a gerbil. Sorry, Wasabi the Pekingese grabbed that prize. Who named that gerbil? I don't think they even use wasabi in Beijing. Shouldn't the doggie be named Ginger the Gerbil?

Anyway, if you were pondering these questions over the weekend instead of reading The Nooner, here is what the hamsters helped be churn out. 

Saturday, June 12

Sunday, June 13

BUDGET: In her opening comments this morning in the hearing to adopt the main budget bill (AB 128), chair Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) made it clear that there was no agreement yet with the Administration and that discussions continue. A description of the spending plan is in the agenda from this morning's hearing. In the Assembly, there is a bill identical to AB 128, which is SB 128 and could move directly to the floor if necessary.

On Saturday, I included an article by Debra Kahn of Politico that highlights some of the issues still under discussion between legislative Democrats and the Governor's Office.

DO YOU RECALL?

-timing: The Legislature is expected to approve a trailer bill this week (either SB 152 or AB 152) that waives the 30-day review period for the Joint Legislative Budget Committee since $215 million is included in the budget (with an additional $35 million in the trailer).

Assuming Governor Newsom signs the bill, in theory Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis could set a date any time after July 1 and, if done shortly thereafter, likely means a September election. Of course, September 7 is out, as it's the day after Labor Day. All elections, including specials, must be on a Tuesday and not the day after a state holiday. (Elections §1100)

So, we are likely looking at September 14, 21, or 28. It could also be pushed to October 5, depending on when the Secretary of State "certifies" the qualification under Elections §11109, although with all the moving parts, it's a bit unclear what exactly that means.

VACCINATIONS:  These numbers haven't changed since Friday because of a problem with the state's page, which is displaying hashtags where the numbers are supposed to be.

  • Californians fully vaccinated: 18,542,484 (54.6%)
  • Californians partially vaccinated: 3,834,013 (11.3%)

MASKS: The Chron's Kellie Hwang looks at the masking requirements beginning tomorrow. Here is the new state guidance on masks, which is incorporated into the new state public health order effective at 12:01am tomorrow.

California will mostly align with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on mask mandates starting June 15, which means that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks except in particularly risky spaces. However, state regulators will continue to require masks for all employees in the workplace for at least several weeks.

Cal/OSHA is expected to adopt workplace regulations on Thursday. Because they are regulations, they must be reviewed by the Office of Administrative Law and thus can't take effect before June 28.

Vaccinated people: Masks are not required in indoor or outdoor public settings except on public transportation including in airports and transit stations, in health care settings, schools, shelters and correctional facilities. Also, all employees must wear masks in the workplace, indoors and outdoors. Businesses and venue operators may implement vaccine verification or require all patrons wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. Individuals may still choose to wear a mask

Unvaccinated people: Masks are required in indoor public settings and businesses, and in outdoor settings anytime physical distancing cannot be maintained. All employees must wear masks in the workplace, indoors and outdoors.

At workplaces: Starting June 15, masks will still be required for all workers regardless of vaccination status. However, after changing course several times in the past week, the standards board of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has proposed a set of rules allowing vaccinated employees to go maskless in almost all job settings, while unvaccinated Californians working indoors would wear masks. The proposal faces a vote Thursday, June 17, and if approved, the earliest the new rules could take effect is June 28.

Exemptions: Children younger than 2, individuals with a medical condition, mental health disability, disability or hearing impairment that prevents them from wearing a mask, and people who work jobs in which wearing a mask would create a risk for them at work.

Enforcement: Mask wearing for those who are unvaccinated will mostly rely on the honor system.

After dealing with the anti-vaxx protests in the State Capitol, I fully trust anti-vaxxers to be among the most trustworthy on the topic. However, Governor Newsom on Friday said that an electronic verification system is near although didn't share details on what it would look like. I just want a QR code on my phone like I use to get a discount on a soda at the movie theater. Rite Aid has already transmitted the dates of my two shots to Kaiser and, whether provided by Kaiser or the state, a QR code system of validation should be easy. What I don't know is how information at mass vaccination sites and to the uninsured was collected and maintained.

Meanwhile, it will be up to retailers as to what to require. Without a verification system, many may still require masks and thus we will likely be hearing stories of more dramatic showdowns of patrons arguing over the policy.

Citing the number of families with small children that enter the store, Capital Books on Kay Street emailed customers stating that they will continue to require masks of all non-exempt customers regardless of vaccination status until vaccines are available to children younger than 12.

Also, as we've talked about repeatedly throughout the pandemic and true during recovery, local public health departments may have stricter but not more lax requirements than the state order.

SCHOOL DAZE: For EdSource, John Fensterwald reports that a survey of teachers who returned to a hybrid of in-person instruction this spring found it exhausting and frustrating.

Those who taught in variations of a hybrid schedule, in which students divided their time between in-person instruction at school and distance learning at home, were the most frustrated. They characterized their experiences as “exhausting”, “stressful,” even “discombobulating.”

Said a middle school teacher with 94% low-income students in the Inland Empire, “The task of simultaneously teaching students in-person and online has been extremely difficult. I have never felt this stressed or worn out while teaching.”

The responses are in the latest installment of a survey by the California nonprofit Inverness Institute and education consultant Daniel Humphrey. EdSource is partnering to present the findings.

During the first three weeks of May, 136 teachers were asked to rate and discuss their experiences on returning to school this spring and the implications for the fall.

The “California Teacher Consultant Response Network” participants were chosen from a pool of veteran classroom teachers who have participated in school improvement networks and education leadership programs. They broadly represent the diversity of the state’s teaching force by ethnicity, gender, grade level, and geography. Most have more than 10 years of classroom experience.

Of the teachers, 96% said they had been vaccinated for Covid, with 80% saying that immunization had eased their worries about in-person instruction. “The moment the second vaccine went into my arm I felt a sudden excitement about returning to school that I had not felt before!” said a Central Coast teacher in a middle school with 79% low-income students.

GUNS, GUNS, GUNS: In the Times, George Skelton writes that while federal Judge Roger Benitez's ruling overturning California's 32-year-old ban on assault weapons has been heavily criticized and is being appealed, it may be on solid legal ground.

The judge’s written opinion, although it began with a nutty comparison of a Swiss Army knife to an AR-15 assault rifle, may be on solid ground concerning a basic point: that what we call assault weapons have become so commonplace they now are protected by the 2nd Amendment.

“The banned ‘assault weapons’ are not bazookas, howitzers or machine guns,” the judge wrote.

“Instead, the firearms deemed ‘assault weapons’ are fairly ordinary, popular modern rifles. This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes.”

Despite the state’s three-decade ban on the sale of assault weapons, the judge wrote, an estimated 1 million exist — 5% of California’s total 20-million private firearms arsenal.

“There are probably more modern rifles in circulation than there are Ford F-150 pickup trucks,” the judge wrote.

That assault weapons are commonplace is important, Benitez explained, because in a landmark 2008 U.S. Supreme Court case — District of Columbia vs. Heller — the majority’s test for a modern rifle’s 2nd Amendment protection was whether it is “commonly owned by law-abiding citizens for a lawful purpose.”

“For the AR-15-type rifle, the answer is yes,” the judge ruled.

In the Heller case, the Supreme Court affirmed for the first time that individuals have a constitutional right to bear arms unrelated to militia use.

But in his 94-page ruling, Benitez failed to quote one key caveat of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion:

“The right secured by the 2nd Amendment is not unlimited…. The right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

CUT ELSEWHERE! The Bee's Vincent Moleski reports that the city of Susanville in northeastern California plans to sue the Newsom Administration over the decision to close the California Correctional Center by June 30, 2022.

The Newsom administration’s reasoning behind the planned closure of the prison — which for years has been a hub for inmate firefighting training — was the declining numbers of incarcerated Californians, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in early releases for thousands of inmates.

In April 2020, there were about 120,000 inmates in California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation custody. As of Wednesday, there were 97,688 people in CDCR custody. In January 2020, the Susanville facility, known as CCC, housed 4,054 inmates. By December, that number had dropped to 2,138. The closure is expected to save the state $122 million annually.

But city and Lassen County officials bristled at the announcement that CCC would close. The prison employs over 1,000 people in a city with a population of less than 9,000, excluding prisoners. State Sen. Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, said at the time that the closure would “devastate the community.” Some residents fear that losing such a large employer could mean ripple effects in other local economic sectors.

While it will have a significant local economic impact, it's also well known up there that many of the correctional officers live in Nevada. In fact, the fastest way there from Sacramento is I-80 to Reno and then north on Highway 395 to Susanville. I've done the drive a couple of times for college visits. You can see the RVs in the parking lot. Come across the border, work a few shifts, and then head back to the greater Reno area.

POPULATION: For CalMatters, Dan Walters looks at a major reason for California's sluggish population growth -- babies.

Immigration from other countries has slowed to a trickle, we lose more people to other states than we gain, the birthrate has declined sharply and the death rate was increasing even before COVID-19 struck.

The Public Policy Institute of California has been charting this dramatic demographic evolution in a series of reports, the most recent of which explores the state’s declining birthrate.

“Although birth rates have been falling for years, they reached new lows in 2021,” PPIC reports. “The estimated number of children a woman will have in her lifetime is at the lowest level since records have been kept, and well below the number needed to replace the population. And while birth rates dropped during the pandemic, the uncertainties of COVID-19 do not explain the longer-term decline.

“Birth rates are not just falling in California: since 2007, the fertility rate across the country has fallen from 2.1 to 1.6. But the California rate fell faster, from 2.2 to about 1.5, and spanned race and ethnicity. Notably, Latina women had the largest decline in California and now also have birth rates below replacement. And teen birth rates are the lowest on record.”

...

The new reality carries its own set of challenges, as PPIC points out.

“If fertility rates do not recover in California, it will have wide-ranging effects on society and the state,” its report concludes. “Most immediately, fewer children will lead to declining school enrollment and more schools will close. Longer term, the state may need to redirect funds for infrastructure and housing as populations in certain areas dwindle. It may also complicate support for elderly Californians as fewer working Californians are available to pay for programs like Social Security and Medi-Cal.”

POT PEE TESTS: In The Bee, Andrew Sheeler reports on a new civil service rule restricting the use of urine tests to detect the use of cannabis.

A new California civil service rule limits the use of urine cannabis tests in disciplining state workers, finding that pee samples do not accurately reflect whether an employee is intoxicated at work by a drug voters legalized.

The State Personnel Board issued a “precedential decision” in a case filed by a Caltrans worker contesting the department’s move to dismiss him over a urine test. The ruling says that merely testing positive for past marijuana use should not be grounds for discipline or dismissal for most public employees.

The decision does not apply to police or certain other professions where employees are prohibited from using drugs.

The State Personnel Board, which oversees California’s civil service rules, noted that a urine test only denotes that a person has consumed marijuana in the past. It does not indicate that the person is intoxicated at work.

“Under these circumstances, a positive urinalysis test for marijuana, without more, does not justify discipline under any of the charges in the (Notice of Adverse Action),” the board ruled.

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Ken Barnes and Phillip Kim!

 

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