Good morning, California.
“If there was a shove, I didn’t see it. If there was a shove, it was very minor. Certainly, nobody fell to the floor.”— Steve Trossman, director of public affairs for Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, as quoted in the Sacramento Bee.
Assemblyman Richard Bloom, a Santa Monica Democrat, had told the Assembly Rules Committee that union leader Dave Regan shoved him at Lucca Restaurant and Bar near the Capitol.
A historic bail overhaul is approved
Sen. Robert Hertzberg argues for his bill to overhaul the bail system.
Legislation to scrap California’s money bail system and give judges more say on pretrial incarceration went to the governor Tuesday.
Gov. Jerry Brown: “Today, the Legislature took an important step forward in reducing the inequities that have long plagued California’s bail system.”
The goal: Make the justice system fairer by letting lower-level defendants go free pending trial if judges believe they’re not a danger, regardless of their ability to post bail. People charged with murder and sex offenses won’t get out.
Sen. Robert Hertzberg, a Los Angeles Democrat who worked on the issue for two years, said this bill will help fix “a two-tier system of justice” in which wealthy defendants can pay for their release, but poor defendants languish behind bars.
Some progressives fear judges will have too much power, CALmatters’ Laurel Rosenhall reported. Republicans warned dangerous people would be freed and the bail industry would be put out of business.
One exception: Sen. John Moorlach, an Orange County Republican, voted for the bill: “The current system is flawed, a concern both sides of aisle agree on.”
What’s next: By January 2020, counties will establish agencies to assess the risks posed by arrestees. Judges will decide whom to release and detain pending trial.
By the numbers: California has 123 jails housing 72,500 inmates at a daily cost of $114 per inmate. An Assembly analysis says the new pretrial services departments will cost counties hundreds of millions a year.
An OC Dem throws the gas tax under the bus
Congressional candidate Katie Porter.
The GOP-led campaign to repeal the recent 12-cent state gas tax increase has a new high-profile backer, Democratic congressional candidate Katie Porter, CALmatters’ Ben Christopher writes.
Do tell: Porter, a UC Irvine law professor and Democrat hoping to unseat Republican Congresswoman Mimi Walters in Orange County, broke ranks with her party by opposing the $5 billion a year gas tax increase. Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic lawmakers worked hard to pass it last year.
Porter: “I oppose higher gas taxes and I won’t be afraid to take on leaders of both political parties.”
Translation: Porter’s campaign manager said voters should consider the remark an endorsement of the Republican-backed Proposition 6, which would roll back the increase. Porter took the stand after a Republican campaign committee aired ads attacking her for “refusing to oppose Sacramento’s gas tax increase.”
Context: Republicans used the gas tax in June to recall Sen. Josh Newman, a Fullerton Democrat, and think the repeal will help their candidates in November. Porter’s defection suggests the GOP could be right.
Betty Yee: Pot industry must deal with stoned drivers
Controller Betty Yee.
State Controller Betty Yee, injured last month in an auto collision suspected to have been caused by a 25-year-old driver under the influence of marijuana, called on the state’s legal weed industry to “step up” and address pot-related traffic accidents.
Yee, still shaky from the July 13 accident, told CALmatters: “I want to have the industry step up and be responsible. They have an adversarial relationship with law enforcement, so it’s not the easiest conversation to have, but people are getting hurt. So deal with it.”
The remarks echo more sharply a suggestion Yee made to me earlier this month. California does not have a defined cutoff level for drugs in a driver’s blood as it does for alcohol, and instead relies on officers to use their observations, perform field sobriety tests and do blood tests to prove impairment.
The California Highway Patrol has estimated the Bay Area could have a 70 percent increase in driving under the influence of marijuana if the current arrest rate continues through the end of the year.
Indicted: Duncan Hunter for misusing campaign money
Congressman Duncan Hunter with his wife, Margaret.
San Diego County Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted Tuesday on federal charges of using $250,000 in campaign money for:
Groceries, Uber fare, bars, theater tickets, movie tickets, restaurants, fast food joints, a garage door, video games, Christian school tuition, visits to Del Mar Racetrack, Disneyland and Las Vegas, dental work, and vacations domestic and abroad.
They took their pet rabbit on one trip, CALmatters’ Ben Christopher noted.
Taking a page from President Donald Trump, whom Hunter avidly supports, Hunter’s lawyer denounced the prosecutors, accusing them of bias for having attended a 2015 fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Hunter was first elected in 2008 to a seat his father held. He won the June primary with 47 percent of the vote in a crowded field, though press reports had revealed then that he was under investigation. His Democratic challenger in November is Ammar Campa-Najjar, a 29-year-old who worked in the Obama Administration and has been endorsed by Obama. Read more about him here.
A senator and a lobbyist walk into a bar
The California Nurses Association is calling on Sen. Joel Anderson, a San Diego County Republican, to step down and end his candidacy for the Board of Equalization.
The Sacramento Bee reported Anderson allegedly threatened to “bitch slap” the nurses’ unions’ chief lobbyist, Stephanie Roberson, at a bar across from the Capitol one evening earlier this month.
Anderson’s statement: “I have the utmost respect for Stephanie and I sincerely regret my word choice that was not directed at her.”
Anderson told me he is seeking an expedited investigation: “It’s going to come down to a misunderstanding.”
My turn: Making police more accountable
Guest commentator Jim Newton, the editor of the UCLA-based public policy magazine Blueprint, says that though there have been excesses on both sides, California law over-protects bad cops at the expense of transparency and the public. Sen. Nancy Skinner’s SB 1421 could finally bring balance and accountability, Newton writes.
Walters: Why rush Brown’s power grid plan?
CALmatters commentator Dan Walters wonders whether the Legislature was too hasty in delaying an overhaul of fire liability law that governs power companies. He also questions whether the Legislature will similarly rush Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to tie the state’s electrical grid to those of other Western states.
Walters: “It’s a big gamble at best and the pending bill should not be enacted until all of its ramifications are known and it has undergone a political stress test.”
See you tomorrow.