“People tend to snicker and blush when talking about strippers. I get it. Sexy is literally in our job description. But the employment status issue is no laughing matter.”—Stormy Daniels in an L.A. Times op-ed urging the Legislature to alter the California Supreme Court’s 2018 Dynamex decision so that strippers (and other gig workers) can remain independent contractors, not employees of nightclubs where they work.

Becerra blasts Trump's speech

AG Xavier Becerra gave the Dems' Spanish response to the State of the Union.

California got its State of the Union licks in on Tuesday, as Attorney General Xavier Becerra delivered the Democrats’ nationally televised Spanish retort to President Donald Trump’s speech. 

  • Becerra, son of immigrants from Mexico, spoke from his Sacramento high school alma mater, C.K. McClatchy High School, which also produced California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

U.S.A. Today: Becerra “struck an optimistic tone Tuesday night in his Spanish-language rebuttal to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, leaning heavily on his family’s immigration story as he urged U.S. Latinos to turn out to vote in 2020.”

Becerra: “Don’t you think that it is already the time that we in our government build schools, not walls? Then, get those hands ready to vote in the next election.”

Becerra has filed or joined no fewer than 45 suits against the Trump administration. He also has taken the lead on the case defending the Affordable Care Act against a constitutional challenge pending in Texas brought by Republican attorneys general.

The L.A. Times: “Becerra’s response, which was carried by Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo, will further burnish his credentials as a national figure in the Democratic Party’s resistance to Trump, said Bob Shrum, director of the Center for the Political Future at USC.”

Let the polls begin

Presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris.

In the first of many polls of the California electorate leading up to the 2020 primary election, a Quinnipiac University Poll found that Sen. Kamala Harris can count on a home state advantage, CALmatters’ Ben Christopher reports.

  • Fifty-eight percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning California voters said that they are “excited” by the prospect of a Harris nomination.
  • Voters overall were split 40-38 percent over whether Harris, who announced her candidacy two weeks ago, would make a good commander in chief.

This is the Quinnipiac poll’s first foray into California. The California primary will fall on Super Tuesday, March 3, though early voting will start on Feb. 3. That’s 361 days from today.

The insurance impact of that gender law

Insurers can no longer charge teen female drivers less than teen males.

The 2018 law permitting gender-nonbinary drivers licenses in California has ended the practice of charging higher auto insurance rates for teen male drivers than for teen females.

  • In a little-noticed consequence of a law intended to promote equality, California’s Department of Insurance last month issued a regulation prohibiting the use of gender in auto insurance rating, as I detail in a report for CALmatters.
  • Dave Jones issued the rule last month in his last days as Insurance Commissioner. Jones’ replacement, Ricardo Lara supports the policy. 

Insurance lobbyists had been neutral on Senate Bill 179, the nonbinary gender legislation by Senate Presiddent Pro Tem Toni Atkins.

  • Rex Frazier, president of the Personal Insurance Federation of California, which represents several major auto insurance companies, said the gender of teen-age drivers can result in a savings or added cost of 6 percent.

Jones: “The real driver for the change was that there was really no consistency with regard to how insurers were using gender as a rating factor.”

What’s ahead: Insurance companies must submit gender-neutral pricing policies to the Insurance Department by July 1. The new pricing would take effect after that. 

No deal on police use of force

Stephon Clark's family at a Sacramento rally.

Negotiations have broken down between law enforcement and civil rights advocates on legislation to curb police shootings, with the two sides proposing competing bills to reduce the number of Californians killed by police, CALmatters’ Laurel Rosenhall reports today.  

  • The development divides Capitol Democrats as the emotional issue of police shootings takes center stage this spring, with a string of reports due on the death of Stephon Clark and other police shootings.
  • The ACLU and Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a San Diego Democrat, wants tougher legal standards for justifiable shootings.
  • Police unions, backed by Sen. Anna Caballero, a Salinas Democrat, see the current standard as a critical workplace protection in a dangerous job, want clearer policies and better training.  

Weber: “I think we all have always believed that officers only used deadly force when they had no other options available to them. That has always been my perception, and I discovered later that it’s not really true.”

David Swing, California Police Chiefs Association: “The sanctity of life is important for all of our peace officers in California. This bill moves the needle on ensuring that we have policies and training that helps preserve the sanctity of life.”

Doing the math: Democrats hold about three-quarters of the legislative seats in both chambers, but there’s blue and then there’s blue in California. Expect police unions, who have circled the wagons in past years. to try to divide and conquer on this issue—and to get out ahead of it with their bill.

Pushback on CA's privacy law

Business and tech lobbies want California to clarify a new privacy law.

Lobbyists representing tech and other businesses on Tuesday voiced several concerns about California’s landmark privacy law that is supposed to take effect in January 2020.

Among the questions raised in a hearing before California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s staff in Sacramento:

  • Can students’ grades be released or are they protected under the privacy law?
  • Can employees delete information held by their employers if they are fired?

Bloomberg Law: “The groups want Becerra to clarify what personal information falls under the law; whether de-identified personal data businesses hold on consumers must be re-identified to link it back to a consumer who has requested it; and whether and how businesses can require that they verify the identity of consumers who ask for their data to prevent fraud.”

The California Consumer Privacy Act passed without a single no-vote last June, averting an initiative by Alastair Mactaggart, a privacy advocate and San Francisco Bay Area real estate developer. 

  • The law has flaws, as often happens with major legislation. The significance is subject to debate.
  • Mactaggart says the mistakes are minor. Assemblyman Ed Chau of Monterey Park, one of the authors of the 2018 measure, has introduced a new bill to clean up drafting errors.

Mactaggart attorney James C. Harrison: “Business are in a position of having to comply with the act, and they’re perusing it and finding things they don’t like.”

What’s next: Becerra is scheduled to hold hearings in Fresno on Feb. 13 and Stanford Law School, Becerra’s alma mater, on March 5. The attorney general is responsible for enforcing the law.

Commentary at CALmatters

Cities and the state need to work together to build more housing.

Dan Jaffe, Association of National Advertisers: The California Consumer Privacy Act offers some protections but it must be fixed, or else consumers will lose.

Dan Walters, CALmatters: Darrell Steinberg has an ambitious agenda as mayor of Sacramento, but as he works on it, he must deal with the fact that he has little executive authority.


Please email or call with tips, suggestions and insights, [email protected]org, 916.201.6281. Shawn Hubler, [email protected], edits WhatMatters. Thanks for reading, please tell a friend and sign up here.

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