Good morning, California.

“Harris advisers and allies have winced at some of the senator’s overtures to liberals, such as calling for eliminating private health insurance and refusing to rule out letting prisoners vote, two comments she later modified.”— The New York Times, reporting that U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris is attempting to reset her presidential campaign by using her strengths as a former prosecutor.

Newsom to ban widely used pesticide

A pesticide used on almonds and other crops may be toxic to children's brains.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration is moving to ban a pesticide used on 50 crops from almonds to wine grapes in the nation’s biggest agriculture state.

  • The pesticide, chlorpyrifos, has been in use since 1965. There’s evidence that it’s toxic to children’s brains.
  • Newsom acted after the Trump administration backtracked on an Obama administration effort to remove chlorpyrifos from the market. The United Farm Workers union has called for the ban, while agriculture is fighting it.

Jared Blumenfeld, Newson’s secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, told the Sacramento Bee’s Dale Kasler: “A lot of people live close to fields, schools are close to fields. This actually reduces the IQ of Californians.”

The announcement gives farmers two years to continue using the chemical. Newsom’s revised budget to be released today will include $5.7 million to study alternative pest-management methods and provide assistance to farmers as they transition away from chlorpyrifos, the Bee reported.

  • The decision could make moot legislation by Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, a Los Angeles Democrat, that seeks to ban chlorpyrifos. Central Valley Democrats, who are generally moderate, would have had a hard time voting for Durazo’s bill.
  • In a Senate Health Committee hearing a month ago, Democratic Sen. Melissa Hurtado of the Kern County town of Shafter made clear how tough the vote was:

“I’m deeply troubled. I can’t sleep.”

She didn’t vote on the bill in the committee.


Private lawyer reaps millions from public tax deals

Apple Inc. has been among the beneficiaries of tax-sharing deals with cities.

Attorney Robert E. Cendejas has reaped millions as he helps cities structure deals to give sales tax revenue to online retailers that agree to locate warehouses and other operations in those cities, Bloomberg Tax’s Laura Mahoney reports.

Mahoney: “A Bloomberg Tax investigation shows [Cendejas] and two affiliated companies have earned $1.9 million so far from one city where he landed a deal with a retailer, and stand to earn at least $18 million for their share of sales tax revenue gains from two others.”

Tax-sharing agreements involve such corporate giants as Apple Inc. and Best Buy and cities from Cupertino to Dinuba and Perris.

  • Sen. Steve Glazer, an Orinda Democrat, is carrying legislation that would leave in place existing deals but prohibit future ones. The League of California Cities is supporting the bill.
  • As that bill awaits a vote as early as today in the California Senate, The New York Times argued in an editorial that the arrangements pit one city against others.

Glazer told Mahoney: “It’s bad enough that the cities are giving away so much of their tax revenue to these private online retail corporations. Giving away another 20 percent of the people’s money to the consultant who sets up the deals makes this even more outrageous.”

Mahoney reported that Cendejas didn’t discuss the matter.


Driverless vehicle drivers

The Contra Costa Transit Authority is testing autonomous shuttles.

Legislation headed for a vote as early as today would require that transit districts have at least one person in all autonomous vehicles, including vehicles designed to move people short distances to subway or bus stops, or to their final destination.

  • Sen. Bill Dodd, a Napa Democrat, said his Senate Bill 336 would protect public safety and prevent job loss. Organized labor, including most public transit workers, are backing the bill.
  • The bill would extend to private companies that contract with public transit operators to provide so-called “first-mile/last-mile” service by requiring that their vehicles have at least one human operator.

With the blessing of the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the Contra Costa Transit Authority already is testing van-like autonomous vehicles—without human operators—intended to transport people short distances.

The legislative staff analysis notes: “By requiring an employee in virtually every [autonomous vehicle] used for public transit purposes, this bill diminishes the benefit of using AVs, making them less useful as a tool to help transit agencies provide their riders with better service.”

Hot off the grille: Roadkill

Could Californians soon partake in roadkill cuisine?

State Sen. Bob Archuletta, whose district spans urban Los Angeles and Orange counties, might seem an unlikely legislator to rally to the cause eating roadkill—but he has introduced a bill that would make clear that motorists who are so inclined can do so.

  • “Unlawful possession of wildlife” carries a fine of up to $1,000 and a six-month jail term—though roadkill “salvagers” are unlikely to receive that maximum penalty, CALmatters’ Ben Christopher reports.

Archuletta hopes to encourage the “culinarily courageous Californians to engage in a very particular form of roadside dining, so long as they apply for a state permit after-the-fact.”

Christopher: “While roadkill cuisine may not yet be mainstream, it appears to have joined the ranks of bug eating and Dumpster diving as a counter-cultural dietary choice once associated with extreme poverty—but now earning the respect of eco-conscious foodies. … Plus, roadkill is nothing if not free range—to tragic excess.”

Proponents include the California Deer Association, a hunting and conservation group, and the California Rifle and Pistol Association. They argue that the state could use data included in the permit applications to identify roadkill hotspots.

  • A cautionary note: California issues few tags to hunt elk and antelope. The legislative staff report notes that the bill could provide an incentive to hunt an elk or an antelope without a tag and report it as roadkill.

Car dealers’ clout

Car dealerships are trying again to win legislation that Jerry Brown vetoed.

Several major new car dealers and their trade group have donated $193,000 so far this year to Gov. Gavin Newsom, after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed car dealer-backed legislation in 2018.

  • Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes, a Democrat from Grand Terrace, has reintroduced legislation that mimics the bill Brown vetoed. Car dealers are backing the bill and automakers are opposing it.
  • The measure would alter arcane rules governing disputes between dealers and automakers, including how dealers are reimbursed for warranty repair work. Car dealers are backing Reyes’ bill, believing it would protect them from unnecessary costs. Automakers believe the changes would add to their costs.

Not a single legislator voted against Reyes’ bill in 2018. Her 2019 version has passed two Assembly committees unanimously and awaits an Assembly vote.

  • In his veto message, Brown said the existing dispute-resolution process worked well and called the proposal overly complicated.
  • Why car dealers are a potent force in Sacramento: There are civically engaged car dealers in most legislative districts.

Money matters: Campaign finance filings show the California New Car Dealers Association and several major dealerships have contributed $173,000 to Newsom since April and $20,000 in March.

Jenny Dudikoff McLaughlin, of the New Car Dealers:

“California’s new car dealers have consistently supported governors of both parties with political contributions … regardless of legislation we may or may not be pursuing.”

She added car dealers were early Newsom supporters, so “it should be unsurprising that we continued that support once he became governor since the dealers are also likely to support his re-election in 2022.”

Commentary at CALmatters

Emily Rooney, Agricultural Council of California, and Jennifer Clary, Clean Water Action: Groundwater basins drawn down by years of drought contain dangerously high levels of nitrates, arsenic and other contaminants. One million Californians don’t have safe drinking water and nearly 2 million more are not served by a regulated public water system. All Californians must pitch in to help.

Dan Walters, CALmatters: Excluding hydroelectric power from the state’s renewable portfolio to reduce greenhouse gases makes no sense. A pending bill would bring some rationality to the situation.

LettersOur family moved to the Santa Clarita Valley because it was a great community. Since then, our family has seen first-hand the value of school choice. One size does not fit all.

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See you tomorrow.