Around The Capitol

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RECENT PODS: Obviously, there are lots of pods these days. I try to select a few those most relevant to California's politics and policy, rather than every episode from the pods I follow.

  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): The 2021 Bash (usually the back-to-session bash) with David Quintana (2021-07-11)
  • Against the Grain (National Journal): Hoover Institution fellow and candidate for State Controller Lanhee Chen (2021-07-09) 
  • SacTown Talks (Jarhett Blonien): Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-North Hollywood) (2021-07-09)
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Jeffe): The federal infrastructure bill and California and a look at the media criticism of the office dynamics of Senator Kamala Harris. (2021-07-08)

CLASSIFIEDS BELOW:

  • Capitol Seminars’ Advanced Courses: Budget Advocacy & "So You Think You Want to Sponsor a Bill" Offered Via Zoom
  • Miller & Olson LLP Seeks Political Reports Specialist
  • Aaron Read & Associates Office Space for Rent
  • Veloz Seeks Program Director
  • California Council on Science and Technology (jobs)
  • SFBay Government & Regulatory Affairs Specialist (job)
  • 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 Monday, July 12, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners

¡Buenos dias y feliz lunes! The cooling trend has arrived in NorCal and we aren't expecting to see triple digits this weekend. Hopefully that will allow firefighters to get the upper hand on the state's wildfires.

Today launches the final three days for policy committee to hear bills for the first legislative year of the biennium. Summer recess is scheduled to begin after session on Thursday, while Friday is the deadline for recall election candidates to file nomination papers.

WEEKENDS AT THE NOONER: Hopefully, you were lounging in a body of water somewhere this weekend. Here is what was covered in this space the last couple of days.

Saturday, July 10

Sunday, July 11

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BUDGET: We had a flurry of amendments to budget trailer bills and a new Budget Bill Jr. published last night, creating the opportunity for them to be voted on this Thursday before the Legislature departs for the monthlong summer recess.

  • AB 131 Committee on Budget. Child development programs. (amended 07/11)
  • AB 132 Committee on Budget. Postsecondary education trailer bill. - higher education (amended 07/09)
  • AB 133 Committee on Budget. Health. (amended 07/11)
  • AB 135 Committee on Budget. Human services omnibus. (amended 07/11)
  • AB 140 Committee on Budget. Housing: letting of state property: Infill Infrastructure Grant Program of 2019. (amended 07/11)
  • AB 144 Committee on Budget. Taxes: credits: qualified motion pictures: certified studio construction projects: reports. (amended 07/11)
  • AB 148 Committee on Budget. Public resources. (amended 07/11)
  • AB 153 Committee on Budget. Public social services. (amended 07/11)
  • AB 156 Committee on Budget. Communications: broadband. (amended 07/11)
  • AB 160 Committee on Budget. Department of Cannabis Control: licensure: appellations of origin: trade samples. (amended 07/11)
  • AB 164 Committee on Budget. Budget Bill Jr. III (amended 07/11).

With the exception of AB 132, mirrored SBs of the same number have been amended in the Assembly. The Assembly version (SB 132) still has Section 67 to ban contracting out for employees who work in newly built or retrofitted University of California facilities. The language is supported by AFSCME but strongly opposed by the building trades and UC.

COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2: 

  • Vaxx stats:
    • Californians fully vaccinated: 20,501,996 (60.4% of 12+) - 18th among U.S. states
    • Californians partially vaccinated: 3,170,355 (9.3% of 12+) - 12th among U.S. states
    • Californians with no vaccine: 30.3% (of 12+)
    • Doses on hand: 4,597,881 (80 days of inventory)
    • full data, including demographic breakdown
  • COVID at the Capitol: On Saturday evening, legislators and legislative staff were sent a memo reporting that a tenth staff member has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Reportedly, this staff member was fully vaccinated, meaning that one-half of the 10 staff report positive was fully vaccinated. The reports from Chief Administrative Officer Debra Gravert do not indicate whether any of those testing positive are symptomatic. Because of the small number, that would raise HIPAA health privacy concerns.
  • LA County: In the Times, Luke Money and Rong-Gong Lin II report on the concerning rise of new SARS-CoV-II cases in the state's largest county.

    Recent spikes in coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County and elsewhere in California underscore a pandemic divergence, in which the unvaccinated face growing danger, while the vaccinated are able to move back to regular activities without fear of getting sick.

    Some who have not been inoculated may have hoped that the dramatic decline in COVID-19 cases this spring and summer — which officials attribute to a robust vaccination campaign — would be enough to protect them without getting a shot. But with the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, infections are again on the rise — and communities with low vaccination rates are in the crosshairs.

    Los Angeles County reported more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases cumulatively over the last three days. It was the first time since early March that the county has reported three consecutive days with more than 1,000 new cases.

    COVID-19 hospitalizations are also up. On Friday, they reached 373 — the most since early May and 76% higher than the record low of 212 on June 12. On Saturday, L.A. County reported 372 COVID-19 hospitalizations.

    Unvaccinated people may be playing an increasingly risky game of chance. The coronavirus case rate for California’s unvaccinated residents is eight times higher than it is for vaccinated residents: For every 100,000 unvaccinated residents, 4.9 per day become infected, while for every 100,000 vaccinated residents, 0.6 are infected.
  • Here is a graph of the rise in new cases as reported by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. 

    Los Angeles County new cases

 

  • The state cost: For CalMatters, Barbara Fester Ostrov reports on what California has spent in state funds battling the pandemic. 

    Fighting COVID-19 in California has cost taxpayers at least $12.3 billion since the start of the pandemic.

    That’s more than the gross domestic product of 50 nations. More than the value of the Dodgers, Yankees and Giants combined. Almost double General Motors’ profits last year. Enough to give $313 to every single Californian.

    And that doesn’t include $110 billion from the feds to boost unemployment checks, and billions more in federal stimulus money, rent aid and loans to businesses shuttered for much of last year. 

    State finance officials added up the government costs from about 40 categories and came up with the $12.3 billion estimate for “total direct pandemic emergency response” between 2020 and 2022. 

    What did our federal and state tax dollars buy?

    Truckloads of N95 respirators and surgical masks desperately sought by health care workers in the early days of the pandemic, purchased through a controversial $1.4 billion contract.

    Hundreds of millions of gowns and plastic gloves.

    Extra beds in hospitals.

    Medical interpreters to handle hundreds of languages. 

    Laptops for students suddenly thrust into remote learning. 

    Temporary workers to trace contacts of infected people and answer hotlines swamped by unemployed Californians seeking benefits. 

    One of the biggest price tags was for state prisons, where 227 infected prisoners have died and combatting COVID-19 has cost nearly $1.6 billion. Other big price tags: Testing for the virus, at more than $1.8 billion, and $1.1 billion in lab equipment for overloaded public health labs

    The $12.3 billion may sound like a lot for a single state. But University of Southern California economist Adam Rose spells out the high stakes: He estimates that the cost of lives lost to COVID-19 in the United States could top $6.2 trillion, with another $5 trillion in overall impact. The economic burden of the pandemic far exceeds that of the Great Recession, Rose said.

DO YOU RECALL?

  •  Recall election key dates:
    • July 16 5pm: Candidate filing deadline
    • July 19: Randomized alphabet drawing for ballot order
    • July 21: Certified list of candidates and ballot order rotation (by county) 
    • July 31: Ballot mailing to military and overseas voters
    • August 5: First pre-election campaign finance statement
    • August 16: Ballot mailing begins to all registered voters
    • September 2: Second pre-election campaign finance statement
    • September 14: Election Day
  • From the desk of the dean: In the Times, George Skelton gives Gavin Newsom a grade of C but writes that it shouldn't be cause to recall him.

    Schmidt managed the successful reelection campaign of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, the last time a Republican won statewide office in California. The action hero was elected in 2003 when Democrat Gray Davis became the only California governor ever to be recalled.

    I called Schmidt and asked him to elaborate.

    “Look,” he said, “California is a unique state politically for 100 different reasons. Part of it is because of Hiram Johnson’s progressive reforms. But those reforms are ripe for abuse.”

    No question. They’ve been abused almost from the day they were enacted, especially by the special interests they were created to counter.

    “A four-year term is a four-year term,” Schmidt continued. “Elections have consequences — unless you’re governed like a banana republic.”

    Elected officials shouldn’t be recalled unless “there’s evidence of malfeasance or criminality,” Schmidt said.

    “In an age of ascending populism, the recall is ripe for opportunists, and that’s what we’re seeing here. It’s a waste of time, a waste of resources.… With so much instability in American politics, a recall makes California much more unstable.”

    It certainly has pushed the governor into inevitably focusing on a political fight instead of concentrating full time on what he should: devastating wildfires, a disastrous drought and pandemic recovery.

EARTH, WIND, AND FIRE:

Largest Active Fires
  County Cause Acres Consumed Containment Structures Destroyed Fatalities Personnel Onscene
Beckwourth Complex (incl. Sugar Fire) Plumas Lightning 89,748 23%  unknown 0  2,326
River Fire Mariposa u/i* 4,000 5% unknown 0 251
Notes:

u/i= under investigation  


The LAT's Hayley Smith writes on the early-season fire destruction California is seeing.

California is off to another record-breaking year of wildfires as the state enters its most dangerous months, with extreme heat and dry terrain creating the conditions for rapid spread.

More than twice as many acres burned in the first six months of this year than during the same period last year — and hundreds more fires, officials said.

June saw a series of destructive blazes that swept through rural counties at the northern edge of the state, fueled by a historic Pacific Northwest heat wave. But July is already shaping up to be worse.

...

The news [about the widespread Sugar Fire in Placer County] comes after months of concerning forecasts and warnings about what the 2021 wildfire season may bring. Officials said the increased activity is being driven by hot, dry conditions that have plagued much of the West Coast for weeks, while scientists noted that shifting jet streams and the state’s unique topography are also contributing to the earlier and more frequent conflagrations.

One thing everyone agrees on is that climate change is a factor that cannot be ignored.

“The exceptional fire weather this year and in recent years does not represent random bad luck,” said Jacob Bendix, a Syracuse University professor who specializes in pyrogeography, or the study of wildfire distribution. “It is among the results of our adding carbon to the atmosphere — results that were predictable, and indeed that have been predicted for decades.”

In the Times, Thomas Curwen reports that the River Fire is burning toward Highway 41, which is the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park.

The River fire jumped from 800 acres to 2,500 acres in a few hours and was burning toward Highway 41, which leads to the Mariposa Grove and the southern entrance to Yosemite. By 10:15 p.m., it had burned 4,000 acres and was five percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

On a day of scorching temperatures, the River fire emerged as others burn in Northern California and Oregon, in what is shaping up to be an especially destructive fire season. A historically dry winter has created severe drought conditions throughout most of the West.

Driven by winds gusting to 15 mph, the River fire broke out at 2 p.m. and was burning in a southeasterly direction through dry grass and oak habitat toward the communities of Raymond and Coarsegold. The Madera County Sheriff has issued road closures and evacuation orders for residents in this rural portion of Madera and Mariposa counties. No injuries or structure damage have been reported.

CA45 (Anaheim Hills-Tustin-Irvine): The LAT's Seema Mehta reports on a town hall meeting held by Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) yesterday at an Irvine park gone awry.

A melee broke out at Rep. Katie Porter’s district town hall meeting Sunday, with her backers scuffling with supporters of former President Trump who were loudly interrupting the congresswoman as she spoke.

Porter, a Democrat from Irvine, said that the acts of the protesters were premeditated and that all attendees had been given the opportunity to ask questions.

“It is disappointing that a small but vocal group of attendees, who advertised a ‘confrontation rally,’ created unsafe conditions at a planned family-friendly event,” Porter said in a statement. “While I absolutely respect their right to disagree, their disturbance disrespected all the families who attended and were ready to engage in a thoughtful, civil and safe way.

“My team and I are evaluating next steps, but my promise to Orange County families is that I will continue to hold town halls and to be in conversation with them.”

Porter was referring to an Instagram post by Nick Taurus, who says he is running against her in the midterm election. On Thursday, he invited supporters to join him at the town hall to “CONFRONT KATIE PORTER!”

“Katie Porter is a far-left ideologue supported by Bay Area academics, the billionaire class and foreign lobbies!” he wrote in the post. “Her America Last policies are awful for the 45th district and we intend to voice our displeasure.”

Perhaps most troubing, Seema's phone screen was cracked in the chaos.

TRANSITIONAL KINDERGARTEN: For EdSource, Karen D'Souza looks at how the expansion of transitional kindergarten will take place.

Championed by Gov. Gavin Newsom and several lawmakers, the $2.7 billion universal transitional kindergarten program will be gradually phased in over the next five years, until it includes all the state’s 4-year-olds by the 2025-26 school year.

Currently, transitional kindergarten, or TK, serves about 100,000 children, primarily those who turn 5 between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2. How the expanded TK program will be rolled out is detailed in SB 130, the TK-12 education trailer bill Newsom signed Friday, clarifying policies related to the state budget for 2021-22.

Although some of the state’s largest districts already offer expanded transitional kindergarten, experts say making a year of pre-kindergarten available to all is a watershed achievement in early education.

“After lagging behind other states, California suddenly leads the nation in expanding quality preschool,” said Bruce Fuller, professor of education and public policy at UC Berkeley.

...

Right now transitional kindergarten targets largely those children who narrowly miss the cutoff for traditional kindergarten. This bill outlines a plan to add children in two- or three-month increments over the next few years until all 4-year-olds are eligible for the program. 

Advocates stress that for transitional kindergarten to best nurture young minds, it must have small teacher-to-student ratios and a developmentally appropriate curriculum as well as before- and after-school services available beyond the program’s three instructional hours. The bill provides many of these quality assurances, such as starting with a ratio of 1 adult for every 12 children in the 2022-23 school year and segueing to one adult for every 10 children by the 2023-24 school year.

“That is fantastic. If we were able to accomplish those ratios, it would be wonderful,” said Gennie Gorback, president of the California Kindergarten Association and a former TK teacher. “Lower teacher-to-student ratios that allow for personalized attention are incredibly important. So much of a TK teacher’s job requires the teacher to individualize the education for each student. You get to know each child’s personality and developmental needs in a much deeper way.” 

THE INTERNET LOBBY: Politico's Emily Birnbaum reports on the decline in lobbying heft of The Internet Association in the other capital.

The Internet Association has been shedding staff, losing influence on Capitol Hill and shrinking to near-obscurity in media coverage of tech policy debates in Washington, even as the industry faces controversies ranging from alleged monopolization to privacy to how it treats its legions of workers.

The declining prominence of IA, a nine-year-old group that used to call itself “the unified voice of the internet economy,” comes as a larger fragmentation is splitting the tech industry’s lobbying efforts into factions, according to more than a dozen current and former employees, congressional aides and tech company employees who spoke to POLITICO on condition of anonymity. But they said the association’s internal dysfunction has also diminished its impact in Congress and in public debates about Silicon Valley’s expanding array of lawsuits, legislation and regulatory threats.

In short, “they’re irrelevant,” one Democratic congressional aide said.

In its place, other tech-focused advocacy groups — including a new startup headed by a former Google executive — have stepped into the void to speak for the companies on antitrust, a hot policy topic that IA declines to weigh in on.

The change in IA’s stature has become apparent even well outside the Beltway. Seattle-based researcher Margaret O’Mara said tech lobbying has entered a “company-driven” era in which more overarching advocacy groups are playing a diminished role. That’s in contrast to sectors such as oil and gas or gun manufacturing, which still rely heavily on their trade associations in the capital.

LAKE TAHOE: For the Chron, Gregory Thomas reports on the decline in the famed clear visibility of the Lake Tahoe water.

Lake Tahoe’s water continues to show some of the murkiest levels on record, according to a new report from UC Davis.

Readings from 2020 put the average depth of Tahoe’s water clarity at 62.9 feet, on par with 2019’s average of 62.7 feet but down a substantial 8 feet from the year before. The 2019 and 2020 data show the lake near its lowest level of clarity since UC Davis researchers began keeping records 53 years ago. The worst year was 2017, when lake clarity measured 59.7 feet.

When researchers first started peering into the lake the 1960s, clarity reached about 100 feet deep. But it has been declining steadily since then and has plateaued in the past 20 years, hovering between about 60 and 75 feet.

The report lists a few key environmental factors contributing to the issue, but the lead researcher didn’t mince words about the true nature of the problem facing Lake Tahoe.

“Climate change is starting to change the way Tahoe — and really all lakes and reservoirs — operate,” Geoffrey Schladow, director of UC Davis’s Tahoe Environmental Research Center, told The Chronicle.

SacTown, cakeday, and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research

SACTOWN: For the Bee, Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks looks into a legislative proposal by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento) to expand urban tree canopies.

Sacramento is the so-called city of trees, but for many neighborhoods, that designation rings false.

In some of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods, lush tree canopies provide shade and improved air quality, while low- and moderate-income areas such as Meadowview, Del Paso Heights, Parkway and Valley Hi suffer in the scorching sun.

A new bill introduced earlier this year by Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, aims to change that. The Trees for Residential Energy and Economic Savings Act, or TREES Act, would create a new program in the U.S. Department of Energy that would invest $250 million over the next five years to plant thousands of trees in residential neighborhoods across the country.

LA-LA LAND: The LAT's Alice Tchekmedyian looks at whether Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva can bring along progressive voters as he beats back calls for reduced expenditures on traditional policing.

For a sheriff who swept into office by convincing liberal, progressive voters he was their candidate, Alex Villanueva is making strange moves these days.

In the year since the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, the left-leaning elected officials who dominate politics in Los Angeles and other large U.S. cities have been scrambling to assuage demands for meaningful changes to policing.

Not Villanueva.

Instead, he has gone to war with the liberal forces that played a major hand in electing him.

Villanueva has appeared on Fox News to dismiss the notion of widespread police brutality, and in regular social media broadcasts, he has taken on a Trump-like demeanor, calling his critics trolls and out-of-touch elites. His news conferences have featured conservative politicians and personalities. He’s reveled in publicly rebuking local elected Democrats, including the mayor of Los Angeles, for what he sees as their inept handling of the city’s homelessness crisis, and he eagerly joined the campaign to kick the county’s ultra-progressive district attorney out of office.

And, in a move that is more NRA than ACLU, Villanueva has made it a mission to dramatically increase the number of people in Los Angeles County permitted to carry concealed guns.

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Jeanette Garcia-Garza, Marco Santana, and Max Vargas!

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 SEMINARS’ ADVANCED COURSES: BUDGET ADVOCACY & "SO YOU THINK YOU WANT TO SPONSOR A BILL" OFFERED VIA ZOOM

Taught by 46-year Capitol veteran Ray LeBov. Capitol Seminars is your No.1 lobbying advocacy training resource. Advanced courses focusing on the fundamentals of budget advocacy and the detailed aspects of sponsoring a bill. Next Zoom session is Thursday, July 29th. “So You Think…”: 9am–12pm ($225). Budget: 12:30pm – 2:30pm ($175). *$50 Off when you register for both sessions. Seats are limited. Reservations: (916) 837-0208. Further information: https://conta.cc/3AUOaxE

Miller & Olson LLP Seeks Political Reports Specialist

Miller & Olson LLP is seeking a Political Reports Specialist for its downtown Sacramento office. The Specialist position is responsible for administering the books for candidates, political action committees, as well as non-profit organizations. Specifically, the position requires bookkeeping and administering client bank accounts, preparing and filing campaign finance reports and communicating timely financial information to clients. For more information and to apply, click here: https://www.millerpoliticallaw.com/miller-olson-llp-is-hiring/.

AARON READ & ASSOCIATES OFFICE SPACE FOR RENT

Since some of us at ARA like partial remote working and less office time, we have some additional Office Space for rent.

Stunningly beautiful offices on the 11th Floor of the Meridian at 1415 L St, full of original art work. Beautifully furnished with cherry desks and credenzas.

Floor-to-ceiling widows, great views, access to two conference rooms, including one very large with a panoramic view of the Capitol.

Access to a large kitchen and work room. 1-3 offices could be available. Parking is also available, but additional.

Aaron Read & Associates, call Aaron 916-425-2260

Veloz Seeks Program Director

Veloz plays a unique and important role in the electric vehicle landscape in California. In this expanded position, the Veloz Program Director is part of a passionate and collaborative organization that is changing the conversation about electric vehicles in California and sparking a virtuous cycle of consumer awareness and demand. Reporting to the Executive Director and partnering with the small and mighty Veloz team, the Program Director develops and executes a comprehensive programmatic strategy to raise awareness of Veloz, to deliver high quality and high-value programming to Veloz members and to build a stronger electric vehicle movement in California (and beyond). For more information, read on.

The California Council on Science and Technology

The California Council on Science and Technology works with a range of government, research, and philanthropic partners to provide objective advice on science & tech policy issues and our team is growing! Join us in Sacramento as a Campaign Project Manager (70-105K), Science Officer (50-75K) or Program Assistant (40-60K). Full job descriptions and application instructions located at ccst.us/careers.

Government & Regulatory Affairs Specialist

San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA): The Government & Regulatory Affairs Specialist assists with all activities of the Government and Regulatory Affairs Manager including federal compliance programs (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), Title VI and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)), the agency’s emergency response program, and state and federal legislative programs. The position plays a key part in coordinating advocacy efforts to ensure a supportive policy and regulatory environment to advance the capital project and policy priorities of the agency. This is a specialist class position that reports to the Government and Regulatory Affairs Manager. Most work will occur in an office environment, with some occasional field work on the ferries and in the community. This is an exciting opportunity with WETA, the agency that operates San Francisco Bay Ferry, one of the most treasured public transit agencies in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area.

More info: weta.sanfranciscobayferry.com/employment

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: