Around The Capitol

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  • California State of Mind (Scott Rodd and Nigel Duara @ CapRadio): Rodd talks to CapRadio reporter Mike Hagerty California's efforts to bring back leisure spending in reopening and Duara talks with CalMatters's Barbara Feder Ostrov about the money county health departments are trying to get into the budget). (2021-06-18)
  • Look West Podcast (Assembly Democratic Caucus): As Life After COVID Begins with Assemblymembers Cottie Petrie-Norris, Mike Gipson, Tasha Boerner-Horvath, Cristina Garcia and Jose Medina. (2021-06-17)
  • Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos @ KQED): WLRN's Caitie Switalski Muñoz to discuss the different pandemic approaches of California and Florida; Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee president Jessica Post on statehouse failures in 2020, what's ahead in 2022, and her ten-year plan to regain statehouses. (2021-06-17)
  • SacTown Talks (Jarheet Blonien): Sacramento County DA and Attorney General candidate Anne Marie Schubert (2021-06-18)
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Jeffe): The state's response to the pandemic, the reopening, and uptick in gun violence. (2021-06-17) 
  • 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)


  • 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

MONEY MATTERS: interesting campaign finance reports filed yesterday

  • AD18 (Alameda-San Leandro-West Oakland): Educators and Healthcare Professionals for Mia Bonta for State Assembly 2021 reports spending $27,943 (cumulative total: $340,019) and receiving $25,000 from the California Medical Association.


  • Clean Up California, Kevin Faulconer's Ballot Measure Committee to Recall Gavin Newsom reports receiving:
    • $25,000 from John Chambers (CEO, IC2 Ventures, Palo Alto) - former Cisco chairman and CEO
    • $10,000 from Brett Meyer (real estate investor, Meyer Properties, Newport Beach)


The Nooner for Saturday, June 19, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners

Happy Juneteenth! On this day in 1865, Union Army general Gordon Granger (1821-1876) road his horse into Galveston, Texas to announce General Order No. 3 that proclaimed that the persons enslaved were free -- 900 days following the Emancipation Proclomation and 41 days after the end of the Civil War.

If you're a Giants fan looking for 1:05pm game against the Phillies, remember that it's on ComcastXfinityNBCUniversal's Peacock stream and not on NBC Sports Bay Area. It's free, although you have to sign up for a free account. I'm guessing that's so they can endlessly promote the online channel's premium content, which has two levels at $5 (full library w/ ads) and $10 (no ads. The premium version of Peacock is included with Xfinity X1. What sucks is that the commentator duties are shared by usual folks from both teams, unlike national games that have "neutral" folks.

Today from 11-7pm is the Sacramento Vegan Fest, which has been moved to a larger venue in Southside Park (which I obviously love). The event has music and speakers from the stage and over 30 restaurants from Sacramento and beyond, importantly including a couple of Hawaiian-style ice vendors. Tickets are $15 (advance were $10) and can be purchased online.

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Hopefully this customary ad slot will be filled again soon!


JUNETEENTH: While June 19th is now a federal holiday and federal employees received a paid day off yesterday, it may not become a holiday for state employees soon. David Lightman and Hannah Wiley write in The Bee:

Junteenth is the newest federal holiday, but California state workers aren’t likely to get it as a paid day off anytime soon.

Doing so would be meaningful, but other priorities should be addressed first, said state Sen. Sydney Kamlager, Legislative Black Caucus vice chair.

“Juneteenth is important, but fixing the (Black community’s) systemic issues is more important,” the Los Angeles Democrat told The Sacramento Bee. “I think symbolism is important, but the substantive legislation that comes with teeth and is attached to money is more important.”

California has recognized Juneteenth as a holiday since 2003. But it has not gone as far as Washington did this week. The new law means most federal workers had a paid day off Friday, and will on June 19 in the years ahead.

DO YOU RECALL? For Politico writes on Governor Newsom's strategy to defeat the recall on display last week in his COVID "victory" tour (cross your fingers).

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s political career has long been something of a white-knuckle roller coaster ride.

So it was fitting that the Democratic governor, in his latest fist-pumping lap around the state, hit the front seat of the New Revolution roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain this week, hands in the air, relishing the stomach-churning jaunt.

It was just the latest example of how Newsom is using a bully pulpit on steroids as he tries to defeat a Republican-driven recall.

The governor announced free tickets to Six Flags and taco giveaways for anyone getting a Covid-19 shot. He channeled his inner game show host persona and delivered massive checks to vaccine lottery winners, backed by a "Big Spin" wheel and appropriately kitschy music. He celebrated the end of pandemic restrictions with Minions and Trolls under confetti at Universal Studios. Between it all, he was on Instagram with musician John Legend and in studio with James Corden on "The Late Late Show."

His dizzying schedule has made the scope — and optics — of Newsom’s victory tour unrivaled in the annals of modern state politics. Fueled by record tax revenues, business connections and celebrity friends, the governor is demonstrating how he'll use his official perch this summer to drive his campaign narrative.

“Imagine being in politics and giving away money — that’s about as good as it gets,’’ Newsom told Corden. "Oprah Winfrey, eat your heart out!"

VACCINATIONS: full stats, including breakdown by group are available here

  • Californians fully vaccinated: 19,164,548 (56.5%)
  • Californians partially vaccinated: 3,570,359 (10.5%)
  • Doses on hand: 5,463,506 

VACCINE VERIFICATION: Yesterday, the state released its digital vaccine verification program. I quickly tried out the voluntary program. Here is how it works. You go to and enter your name, date of birth, and either a cell phone number or email address. You choose a PIN and then a link is sent via text message or email. Upon clicking it, you get something that looks like this, which you can take a screen shot with and save it on your phone.

Vaccine record

Super confidential information. Feel free to send me cool stuff for my cakeday. Anyway, again, the program is voluntary. However, large event organizers and retailers  wanted this along with retailers. In determining who was entering without a mask, many wanted a fast way to verify that someone who claims to be fully vaccinated actually is. The paper cards certainly won't last long and this is the solution.

The data is kept in county health department registries, which the state securely accesses for the verification app, but does not maintain in a centralized database. However, that led to a problem yesterday -- the San Diego connection wasn't working. That was a bit ironic, as UCSD Health had a representative on the steering group. Paul Sisson writes in the SDUT:

The health card framework is a creation of the Vaccine Credential Initiative, an coalition of public and private organizations focused on creating secure standards for verifying vaccination status.

UC San Diego Health is a member of the VCI steering group and Dr. Christopher Longhurst, the local health system’s chief information officer said he spoke privately with local organizations that hold large events in the area.

“They told us quite clearly that this is not required by the state and, until that changes, they will continue to allow people to self attest their vaccination status,” Longhurst said.

But he added that adoption of the digital vaccination card system does help health care organizations, including the university, which will soon be able to issue similar records for the roughly 500,000 county residents it has vaccinated since December. And additional abilities are soon to be added, including the ability to receive scannable proof of a recent negative COVID test.

It takes about three minutes to go to the state's page, get the text/email, click the link, enter your chosen PIN and you get a page like above. Then you can take a screen shot and carry it around with you as a photo. What large event organizers don't want is for you to arrive at the ticket gate without a mask and go through the process to get your QR code again. (Of course, you can also do it before you get to the front of the line. The link you are initially texted/emailed does not change.)

JOBS: The LATs Margot Roosevelt reports on the latest jobs numbers for The Golden State.

California has added jobs at a torrid rate since the beginning of the year, but the state’s economy has a long way to go before it recovers its pre-pandemic prosperity.

May was the fourth month that Golden State payrolls grew by more than 100,000 positions — a faster post-recession rate than in any previous recovery.

Employment grew to 16.35 million jobs, but just 51.8% of the 2.7 million lost in March and April 2020 had returned as of last month, state officials reported Friday.

“A full California labor market recovery from this pandemic is still likely several years away,” said Scott Anderson, an economist with Bank of the West in San Francisco. “Even with stepped-up job growth, California has been unable to close the yawning unemployment gap with the nation.”


In May, California’s leisure and hospitality industry added the most workers — 62,300 — with gains in restaurants, bars and hotels, as well as entertainment and recreation businesses. But the hard-hit sector is still down more than 517,000 payroll jobs since the pandemic hit.

Education and health services added 16,500 workers. Information gained 11,200 jobs, mainly in motion picture and sound recording companies.

Construction lost 1,600 jobs, more than any other sector, mainly due to losses in commercial building. But lumber prices, a lack of buildable land and labor shortages could be weighing on residential payrolls too, Anderson said.

  1. Marin: 4.3%
  2. San Mateo: 4.6%
  3. Santa Clara: 4.7%
  4. Sierra: 4.8% 
  5. Placer: 4.9%
  6. San Francisco: 5.1%
  7. San Luis Obispo: 5.2%
  8. Lassen: 5.3%
  9. Sonoma: 5.3%
  10. Calaveras: 5.4%

The non-seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate was 7.5% in May.

The ten counties with the highest non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates in May are:

  1. Imperial: 15.9%
  2. Colusa: 11.2%
  3. Tulare: 10.2%
  4. Kern: 10.1%
  5. Los Angeles: 10.1%
  6. Merced: 9.9%
  7. Kings: 9.2%
  8. Alpine: 8.8%
  9. Fresno: 8.8%
  10. Sutter: 8.6%

Full data are here.

These data are from federal surveys of businesses and households during the week of May 12. The numbers for June that will be released in July 16 will be from a survey week prior to the reopening. The numbers reported August 20 will be important to watch as we've all seen the stories, social media posts, and signs announcing job openings as restaurants and retailers scramble to staff back up.

Adam Beam reports for the AP on the difficulty employers are having finding people to fill jobs.

Despite the gains, businesses have reported difficulty finding enough people to work. About 2 million people are still getting unemployment benefits in California, which include an extra $300-per-week because of the pandemic. That extra benefit doesn’t expire until September.

“If it weren’t for the labor shortage that we are experiencing, the employment gain in California would have been much higher,” said Sung Won Sohn, a professor of finance and economics at Loyola Marymount University.

Obviously, the monthly jobs numbers reflect the lives of individuals, means a lot in terms of the economy and state budget, but has the added factor of critical and unusual odd-year political importance because of the yet-to-be-scheduled recall election. If the election is held September 14, that will be the last report before the election. If it is held September 21, we'll have the August jobs survey numbers that will be released September 17. Of course, by then, most minds will be made up and lots of ballots will have been cast in the mostly all-mail election.

UNEMPLOYMENT: The LAT's Patrick McGreevy writes, with California's unemployment insurance debt to the federal government accruing, that the business community is asking Governor Newsom for help.

California’s borrowing to pay unemployment benefits will balloon to $26.7 billion by the end of next year as state funds prove inadequate to cover the costs of unprecedented joblessness caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report warns.

Even as the economy is rebounding, unemployment remains high, and the debt is forecast to grow beyond the $24.3 billion estimated for the end of this year, state officials said.

Business leaders said Friday that as borrowing from the federal unemployment trust fund is paid back by higher payroll taxes, state officials must tap more of a projected budget surplus to lessen the financial hit on employers already struggling to recover from the economic shutdown of the last year.

“If they don’t do anything more, businesses are going to end up having to pay that tax at a critical time of our economic recovery,” said Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable. “If some [businesses] are teetering on the edge of a fiscal cliff, it could drive them right over the edge, and they go out of business.”


Employers pay federal and state taxes into unemployment insurance funds on behalf of each employee on their payroll. When the fund runs low, states can tap into assistance from the federal government to ensure that regular benefit payments can continue to be paid.

But money borrowed from the federal government is paid back through an increase in the payroll tax that gradually rises each year, hitting more than 3% after 10 years, until the debt is repaid.

The EDD debt forecast report noted that employer contributions are estimated to increase from $4.8 billion this year to $6 billion next year. The independent Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that the total debt may not be paid off until 2031.

REDISTRICTING: In his Redistricting Report, Paul Mitchell looks at a proposal by Senator Joe Manchin to change how election lines are drawn nationally.

If you’re following the national debate about voting rights legislation and its tight focus around the preferences of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) – who has been the key holdout on the Democrats’ election and redistricting reform proposal known as H.R. 1 – you probably saw that earlier this week he announced his own proposed solution to the issue. Besides stripping out reformer priorities like publicly financed congressional elections or no-excuses-needed mail-ballot voting, he also included this provision on his wish list: “Ban partisan gerrymandering and use computer models.”
We don’t think this is the Manchin vision of a bunch of robots drawing legislative and congressional districts, but the wording does suggest that the first half of the phrase can be solved by the implementation of the second. And we have some questions.
Election Law Blog author Rick Hasen, who said Democrats should leap at the chance to adopt the Manchin plan, also provided his own on take on what this computer modeling concept means for redistricting.
Manchin’s reported preference to leave the line-drawing decisions up to computers is not really what reformers have in mind when they advocate against gerrymandering. The discussion about reform has really been about taking the process away from the backrooms where party bosses and incumbent politicians draw lines that tilt the advantage steeply in their favor to one that maintains human control over the process, albeit in full view of the public and insulated from political self-dealing. This is the tack that California took with Props 11 and 20 and that the For the People Act (HR 1) took by requiring that redistricting be conducted by independent commissions made up of residents who were vetted for their qualifications, selected at random, and appointed with an equal number from each party.
But could undue reliance on computer models simply move the backroom from the smoke-filled chambers of politicians, to the Red Bull filled offices of programmers and math nerds who can construct computer programs with hidden biases?

HUMAN TRAFFICKING: While we celebrate the "end" of slavery 156 years ago today, we all know that there is indentured servitude continuing in California to this day through human trafficking. Yesterday, Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the creation of two new anti-trafficking teams to apprehend violators of the law and support victims, reports Stefanie Dazio for the Associated Press.

The state’s [pandemic] lockdown exacerbated problems with human trafficking, officials said Friday, and made it much harder for victims to escape and find housing and other services.

Kay Buck, the chief executive officer for Los Angeles-based nonprofit Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, called it “the most unforgettable and heart-wrenching year” as advocates saw a huge demand in services combined with a shortage of resources.

In LA alone, the nonprofit saw a spike of 185% in urgent human trafficking cases during the pandemic, Buck said. Advocates in LA County see victims — many who come from Mexico and the Philippines — who were duped into thinking they would have a job in the U.S. but are instead sold into “modern day slavery.”

Attorney General Rob Bonta’s two new anti-trafficking teams will be comprised of 13 special agents and two crime analysts.

Bonta also urged Gov. Gavin Newsom to include in the final state budget another $30 million in new grants over the next three years for efforts to combat human trafficking. The funds would be in addition to $30 million in grants that are already in the budget spread over three years.

Newsom and legislative leaders are negotiating in private right now over what the final budget will look like. It must be passed by July 1.

Actors and activists Mira Sorvino and Alyssa Milano — as well as state Assemblyman Miguel Santiago and Angela Guanzon, who escaped her trafficker and aided law enforcement in their prosecution — joined Bonta on Friday to implore Newsom and lawmakers to approve the additional funds.

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Rep. Pete Aguilar and Jen Roe!


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