May 23, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories


The price on universal health care is in, and it’s bigger than California’s budget — It would cost $400 billion per year to remake California’s health insurance marketplace and create a publicly funded universal heath care system, according to a state financial analysis released Monday. Sacramento Bee article; Sacramento Bee editorial; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article


Justice Department narrows scope of ‘sanctuary cities’ executive order – In the new memo, the attorney general defines the cities narrowly — as places that “willfully refuse to comply” with federal law. Sessions also made clear the threats apply only to a modest pool of grants administered by the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security, not the entire stream of U.S. funding for states and localities. NPR report; LA Times article


State budget


Blue jacket alert: FFA backers see progress against governor’s proposed funding shift — More than half of the state Assembly opposes a $15.4 million funding shift that has raised concern at FFA and other career-training programs. They are asking Gov. Jerry Brown to keep this money at the high school level, rather than making it part of a $48 million pot under the community college system. They say this annual funding since 2005 has improved instruction at the secondary level, including agricultural education in the state’s farm regions. Modesto Bee article


Gov. Brown


PolitiFact CA: Is Jerry Brown ‘diverting’ 30 percent of California’s new tax money? — Drivers in California will start paying a higher gas tax this fall, as part of a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown to raise money for the state’s deteriorating roads and bridges. But when that tax hike kicks in, how much revenue will go to road projects? PolitiFact CA article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures


Cathleen Decker: For Democrats in California, a generational shift pulls the party left, with danger and opportunity ahead — To outsiders, they were the West Coast liberals whom conservatives love to hate — stereotyped as chardonnay-sipping, tree-hugging, near-socialists who, were it geologically possible, would push the state so far left it would plunk into the Pacific. In truth, they have exerted a moderating force on Democrats here. Their reign effectively ended at this weekend’s state party convention, part of a shift both generational and ideological that is altering power across the country and in the nation’s biggest Democratic state. Whoever fills the vacuum will answer defining questions: How far left will the California Democratic Party now go? Will its movement backfire? Decker in LA Times


Joe Mathews: The governor’s race doesn’t need Steyer — The billionaire Tom Steyer is widely reported to be exploring a campaign for governor of California. Here’s hoping he doesn’t get in. The race doesn’t need him. The 2018 gubernatorial field, as it currently looks, is an exceptionally strong one. I’d suggest that any of the five leading candidates would be an improvement on the fading incumbent, Jerry Brown. Mathews in Fox & Hounds



California may bar landlords from reporting immigrants – The California Assembly has approved a bill to bar landlords from threatening to call immigration authorities on tenants. AP article

Become a sanctuary state could help California protect its economy, too — California is pushing forward with legislation to become the nation’s first “sanctuary state.” If passed, the bill would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from detaining or arresting an undocumented immigrant for federal immigration enforcement purposes. Without a warrant, local officers would refrain from holding someone who overstayed their visa for federal immigration authorities, for example. CNN report


Other areas


National Democrats name California GOP Reps. Devin Nunes and Duncan Hunter targets in 2018 election – The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added congressional districts held by Reps. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) and Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) to their list of 2018 targets on Monday. Both represent traditionally strong Republican districts and have consistently won reelection by large margins, but Hunter and Nunes are facing ethics questions. LA Times article


Conservative group runs ads thanking California GOP for health care vote — A conservative advocacy group will run television ads thanking six California Republicans for voting for the GOP bill to roll back the Affordable Care Act. LA Times article


Push to limit money bail gains steam in California – California has joined a push for reform that spans at least two dozen other states. Legislation making its way through both the California State Senate and Assembly would move away from cash bail, instead directing courts to release most people if they don’t pose a risk to public safety and are likely to show up to their court date. KQED report


Dan Walters: The slave next door: 21st century California still has humans in bondage — We may think that human slavery is a brutal relic of a bygone era, but it still flourishes and California is a hotbed of human trafficking. Walters column in Sacramento Bee


California Assembly Democrats launch progressive caucus – Riding a wave of activism in state politics, nearly two dozen Assembly Democrats have formed a progressive caucus to prop up the party’s left flank in the Legislature. LA Times article


California lawmakers aim to strengthen gun ban in schools – California lawmakers have passed a bill to revoke superintendents’ ability to let people carry guns in a school zone.AP article


With one member bowing out, CalPERS has an unexpectedly open election — An outspoken member of the CalPERS Board of Administration is not seeking re-election, setting up a wide-open race to succeed him. Sacramento Bee article


African American Caucus leaders want to know why U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters was cut off during state convention speech — The head of the California Democratic Party African American Caucus said Monday he was working with state party officials to determine who was responsible for cutting off the sound to U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters’ microphone as she spoke to the group at the party’s convention on Saturday. LA Times article


Manchester attack points to vulnerabilities at venues with high security, counter-terrorism experts say — The explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in the British city of Manchester killed at least 19 people and injured dozens. It is raising new questions about how authorities can better protect large venues. LA Times article


Presidential Politics


Trump’s budget reportedly puts Medicaid and children’s health funding in crosshairs – President Donald Trump’s new budget proposal to be released Tuesday reportedly would strip more than $800 billion from the Medicaid program over the next 10 years – providing an executive-branch rubber stamp of key provisions in Obamacare repeal legislation being championed by Republicans in the House of Representatives. McClatchy Newspapers article; New York Times article; LA Times article


Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence — President Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials. Washington Post article


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories


California engages world, and fights Washington, on climate change – The state has been as the leading edge of the resistance to President Trump. But of all the battles, none has the global implications of climate change. New York Times article


This straight-A student was kicked out of class for something you can hardly see — Tyler Pafford, a 15-year-old student at Bullard High School, was stopped from taking her finals on Monday because of a small nose piercing. Now, she and her mother, Rebecca Pafford, are questioning the Fresno Unified school district’s dress code policy – saying it’s inconsistently enforced and pushes students out of valuable class time. Fresno Bee article


Jobs and the Economy


Stanislaus County hopes to launch access center for homeless in downtown Modesto — Stanislaus County is taking the lead in creating an access center to help homeless people who want to get off the streets. The initial center would be operated in a modular building at 825 12th St., next to the downtown Modesto jail. County staff members recommend a lease-purchase agreement for the building. Modesto Bee article


Higher gas prices arrive just in time for summer driving – The average-priced gallon of unleaded gas in Fresno now costs more than $3, thanks to a rise of 8.6 cents per gallon in the past week. Fresno Bee article


California may ban employers from asking about prior salary – California could further strengthen its equal pay protections under a bill passed by state lawmakers. The state Assembly voted Monday to prohibit employers from asking applicants what they were paid at previous jobs. The Assembly voted 56-8 to send the bill to the Senate. AP article


America’s cities are running out of room – A shortage of homes for sale has bedeviled U.S. house hunters in recent years, so why don’t builders build more? One problem is that they’re running out of lots to build on—at least in the places that people want to live. Bloomberg article


Seattle climbs but Austin sprawl: The myth of return to cities – Be skeptical when you hear about the return to glory of the American city — that idealized vision of rising skyscrapers and bustling, dense downtowns. Contrary to perception, the nation is continuing to become more suburban, and at an accelerating pace. The prevailing pattern is growing out, not up, although with notable exceptions. New York Times article


Modesto considers charging admission to McHenry Mansion and Museum – Modesto is considering charging admission to the McHenry Museum and the McHenry Mansion, though the two nonprofits that help operate the two community treasures have concerns about the proposal. Modesto Bee article


Adelanto wants to be the ‘Silicon Valley of medical marijuana’ – As California moves toward issuing permits for large-scale medical marijuana cultivation next year, a number of struggling desert cities, such as Adelanto and Desert Hot Springs, have sought to establish themselves as destinations for growers. Just by approving ordinances allowing industrial cultivation before state licenses were issued, the cities set off land rushes — with dusty plots selling for many times their original value.  LA Times article


U.S. Supreme Court deals blow to ‘patent trolls’ – The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling on Monday that will sharply limit the places where companies can file patent infringement lawsuits, a move that is expected to have significant implications for Silicon Valley’s technology industry and Northern California’s federal courts. San Francisco Chronicle article


Criminal Justice/Prisons


Bakersfield Police Department to propose changes to massage parlor and practitioner licensing — Bakersfield massage parlors that lose their licenses could face new, additional penalties and massage practitioners could see a simpler licensing process under a new proposal brought forward by the Bakersfield Police Department. Bakersfield Californian article


Stoners hold breath for Prop 64 – Jay Schlauch’s conviction for peddling pot haunted him for nearly a quarter century. The felony prevented him from landing jobs, gave his wife doubts about tying the knot and cast a shadow over his typically sunny outlook on life. So when an opportunity arose to reduce his record to a misdemeanor under the voter-approved law that legalized recreational marijuana last year, Schlauch wasted little time getting to court. Visalia Times-Delta article


Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer calls for federal oversight of district attorney’s office – Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer asked federal authorities Monday for an emergency takeover of the Orange County district attorney’s office, citing what he called “continuing revelations of scandal.” LA Times article




California colleges welcome revived federal Pell Grants for summer school – California’s colleges and universities are celebrating what many describe as a happy surprise: the revival of federal financial aid for summer school. The move will help more low-income students graduate on time and help reduce college debt, its proponents say. EdSource article




After years of planning, California is likely to roll out its earthquake warning system next year — California will likely roll out a limited public earthquake early warning system sometime next year, researchers building the network say. LA Times article


UC Riverside fire ecologist predicts the risks of wildfires this year in Southern California – Minnich, 71, forecasts the probability of fire risks throughout Southern California based on meteorological and historical records, aerial photographs and ecological studies. With the long Memorial Day weekend approaching, The Times grabbed a stump and listened to Minnich’s predictions for Southern California’s 2017 fire season. LA Times article


Climate change taking toll on clarity of Lake Tahoe water — Climate change is causing Lake Tahoe to warm sooner in the spring than it has historically, disrupting the normal mixing of shallow and deep water and undercutting gains made in reversing the loss of clarity of the cobalt mountain lake, scientists say. AP article


Health/Human Services


Will this gene-editing tool cure the diseases of the future? — Genetically altered monkeys with autism symptoms, mice with Alzheimer’s disease and sterile mosquitoes have become a crucial part of human disease research. Two UC Davis graduates are helping laboratories create these animals as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Sacramento Bee article


Is abortion reversal therapy a second chanced or a dangerous experiment? – Buell has become a champion of what’s known as “abortion reversal therapy,” an increasingly popular procedure promoted by anti-abortion advocates despite the warnings of many physicians about its effectiveness. The therapy purports to undo the effects of non-surgical abortions, also called medical abortions, in the crucial window after women take the first dose of the abortion regimen and before they swallow the second dose a few days later. Sacramento Bee article


Land Use/Housing


Ed Persike: LAFCO works better with an independent public member – The Stanislaus County LAFCO board member writes, “The LAFCO public member is a very important position, helping to determine the long-term direction of our community. The person cannot have an ax to grind. The person must be unbiased and seek only the best for our communities. The person also really needs to be able to work in a collaborative fashion with the other members. With this in mind, I challenge current LAFCO members to do what is right and not what will make them feel good.” Persike op-ed in Modesto Bee


Last-minute attack may foil proposed San Francisco density housing law — An affordable housing advocacy group is trying to come between the moderate and progressive wings on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, just as they close in on passing housing density legislation that has taken two years to craft. San Francisco Chronicle article




U.S. approves $650 million for San Francisco Bay Area train system — The Trump administration announced Monday that it will fully fund a $650 million federal grant for electrification of a San Francisco Bay Area train system that also would help California’s high-speed rail project. AP article


Brik McDill: High-speed rail is a countless cargo of K-notes — A seasoned yachtsman once asked by a novice what it’s like to sail responded that it’s like walking to the end of a pier with a suitcase full of $100 bills and throwing them one by one into the ocean. Keep that in mind regarding HSR, only changing the suitcase of C-notes into a countless cargo holds of K-notes. That’s where we’re heading. McDill column in Bakersfield Californian


Massive slide covers stretch of iconic California highway – A massive new landslide along California’s iconic coastal Highway 1 has buried the road under a 40-foot layer of rock and dirt, the latest hit in winter of crippling slides and flooding.  AP article


LA bus ridership continues to fall; officials now looking to overhaul the system — As ridership on Southern California’s largest bus network has dropped steadily over the last few years, transportation officials have expressed confidence that the decline was temporary and riders would soon return. LA Times article


Suit says BART mobile app collected personal information – A class-action lawsuit filed Monday alleges that BART has been collecting personal information from people using BART Watch, a mobile app meant to help riders report crimes and get updates about the transit system. San Francisco Chronicle article


Other areas


Animal shelter plans for life after SPCA – A six-page staff report says today’s meeting has been scheduled to begin the process of charting how the shelter will function once the security blanket provided by the SPCA is removed in a little more than 13 months. Stockton Record article


Foon Rhee: If we can tell Chinese and Korean food apart, why not people? — Too often, Asian Americans are lumped together as a “model minority” with the highest income and most education. But there are cultural, economic, political and social differences among various groups of Asians. Asian Pacific American Heritage Month would be a good time to recognize and celebrate them. Rhee in Sacramento Bee


California redwoods license plate dies from lack of interest — Millions of Californians visit the state’s majestic redwood forests every year. Their love for the venerable trees, however, apparently doesn’t extend to their license plates. San Jose Mercury News article


The Business Journal wins statewide journalism awards — The Business Journal earned two 2nd-place awards in a statewide journalism contest for its business coverage and design. The Business Journal article


Valley Editorial Roundup


Fresno Bee – Gov. Jerry Brown proposes to help fund one important health care service by taking money from another one, mental health care; Disgraceful, deplorable, dysfunctional. All these “D” words fit California Democrats.


Sacramento Bee –- Sen. Ricardo Lara deserves credit for delving into the complex reality of health care. But for now, his prescription, a California-only universal health care system, looks less like a salve for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act than a political rallying cry – and a fiscal fantasy; If California Democrats hoped to sell “the resistance” to new voters at the party’s convention in Sacramento, they failed.