This is a good week for California Democrats in Sacramento and for Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher in particular. A half dozen emails from her office landed in my inbox yesterday, touting legislative victories large and small.
The biggie in this batch of wins was Assembly Bill 805, mandating a structural overhaul of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). The most significant impact, in my opinion, of such a restructuring will be a reduction in the power climate change denialists/obstructionists have over decisions regarding infrastructure.
There are plenty of reasons to question whether this all will come to pass, but I’m hopeful. Gov. Brown hasn’t weighed in on this legislation. Escondido Mayor Sam Abed and others are promising lawsuits. And the local right-not-to-get-paid-much types are apoplectic over a provision requiring skilled and trained workers to be employed on local transportation projects, a standard they feel favors unions.
AB 805 isn’t a perfect win; no piece of legislation ever is. But it represents a bold attempt to address more than the token inclusion of environmental considerations that might otherwise have to wait until the current generation of reactionaries ages out of office. I’m taking all this crazy climate stuff more seriously every day.
Here’s Joshua Emerson Smith at the Union-Tribune:
The proposal comes as SANDAG has faced criticism across the political spectrum, from conservative groups that increasingly feel the agency hasn’t focused enough on freeway expansion to environmentalists who have gone as far as to sue the agency for not investing more in public transit.
AB 805 has been hailed by the latter as a way to secure more funding for buses, bike lanes and trolleys, and blasted by the former as undermining a system that requires appropriate consensus.
Also pleasing transit advocates, the bill would extend taxing authority to the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System and the North County Transit District. Voting boundaries for such tax-and-spend blueprints would be based on each transit agency’s service territory.
Other wins for the Assemblywoman from the 80th District included:
- AB 568, requiring paid leave for pregnant teachers and other school employees.
- AB 1070, consumer protections for solar energy system customers.
- AB 1209, requiring large companies to report their mean and median salary data by classification and gender to the Secretary of State. This response to the Trump administration’s repeal of the Obama Equal Pay Initiative was opposed by the California Chamber of Commerce as a ‘job killer.”
- AB 1312, requiring police to avoid destroying rape-test kits prematurely and ensuring that rape victims are made aware of all their rights.
- AB 1221, requiring that bartenders and servers receive mandatory training on alcohol responsibility statewide.
State Senator Toni Atkins and Assemblyman Todd Gloria also had legislative accomplishments to tout, including:
- AB 1637, Authorizing local housing authorities to provide gap financing for development of projects in which at least 40% of housing units will be occupied by low-income individuals and at least 10% of units are affordable to, and will be occupied by, middle-income individuals.
- AB 214, Strengthening the San Diego Conservancy’s capacity to protect and enhance the 52-mile river watershed.
- SB 625, Re-establishing an “honorable discharge” program for juvenile offenders.
- AB 250, (Co-authored with Assm. Gonzalez-Fletcher) Creating a program to support more affordable overnight accommodations in state and local parks on the coast, including campgrounds, cabins, hostels and motels.
There are hundreds of bills awaiting consideration in the California legislature this week: as of Monday, there were 242 measures pending on the Assembly floor and 343 in the Senate. (So I know I missed some in the commentary above.)
The nation’s most comprehensive law requiring transparency in drug pricing, SB 17, is headed to the Governor’s desk.
Under provisions of the act, pharmaceutical companies would be required to notify health insurers and government health plans like Medi-Cal at least 60 days before scheduled prescription drug price hikes exceeding 16% over a two-year period. It would also force drug companies to explain the reasons behind those increases.
From the Mercury News:
“Public anger at rising drug prices has been growing for some time, and Californians expect their government to do something about it,” said [Co-sponsor Senator Ed] Hernandez in a statement afterwards.
“Drug companies threw everything they had at this bill, but the Assembly stood up for consumers. The reason Big Pharma hates this bill so much is that it’s going to work.”
The bill is strongly opposed by the pharmaceutical industry, which deployed legions of lobbyists and paid for full-page newspaper ads leading up to the Legislature’s final votes on the measure, partially out of fear that SB 17 could become a national model and the first major step toward price controls.
A deal has been struck with Gov. Brown on SB 54, the California Values Act, which has been widely heralded as California’s answer to the Trump administration’s reactionary immigration policies.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Gov. Jerry Brown and state Senate leader Kevin de León agreed Monday to amend a “sanctuary state” bill that would limit the role of state or local law enforcement agencies in holding and questioning immigrants in the country illegally.
Senate Bill 54, which De León introduced earlier this year, would prohibit police and sheriffs from asking about a person’s immigration’s status, detaining people for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “hold” requests and participating in any program that deputizes police as immigration agents.
Brown had made it clear he wanted changes to the original language of SB 54, and those negotiations have been underway at the state Capitol for several weeks.
SB 54 has been sent back for final approval (not guaranteed, but likely) by the Assembly.
Democrats have never nominated someone from the West to lead their presidential ticket, but that could change this week as the Legislature iss poised to move the state’s 2020 presidential primary back to March.
“In all probability, the winner of the California primary would be the nominee,” said Don Fowler, a former Democratic National Committee chairman from South Carolina.
While acknowledging that “a lot of this rationale this far in advance just is completely wrong,” Fowler said: “The implications for the flow of the winnowing process [of candidates] is very significant in moving California.”
California for years has sought to exert greater influence in presidential elections. Despite its size, the state has been a relative afterthought in national campaigns, marginalized not only because of its late primary, but also because of the high cost of campaigning here.
Loath as I am to wade into the Hillary vs Bernie battles on social media–I have critiques of both– this headline from Wonkette captures my feelings about all the boys in the band saying Ms. Clinton should shut up:
Hillary is clear about not wanting to run for office anymore. I want to be clear about saying I may not agree with her, but the sexism surrounding how she’s been treated is undeniable.
Here’s a link to Hillary Clinton’s NPR interview by Rachel Martin, where a lot of hard questions are asked and answered.
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