Good morning, California.
“We know we can pass groundbreaking legislation that will grow our economy, inspire innovation, and protect the air our children breathe and the water they drink. I did it, and I’m a Republican.”—Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, touting SB 100 on the website Medium.
All in on clean energy
Sen. Kevin de León after the Assembly approved his SB 100
The Assembly on Tuesday approved legislation committing California to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045, the toughest clean energy goal in the nation.
Remind me: Sen. Kevin de León, a Los Angeles Democrat running for U.S. Senate against Dianne Feinstein, has been working on SB 100 for more than a year. The bill is aimed at spurring green jobs and reducing pollution from fossil fuels.
It would require the state’s utilities to get 100 percent of electricity from wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and other carbon-free sources including, perhaps, nukes by 2045.
A not-inconvenient ally: Former Vice President Al Gore wrote to legislators urging their support and exhorted people in an audience where he appeared in Los Angeles to call hold-outs when the bill stalled early in the day. It ended up getting 45 votes, four more than needed in the 80-seat Assembly. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also pushed it, via tweet.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and major energy users, including oil companies, opposed it, citing the potential for higher electricity bills. De León dismissed cost claims, saying California households pay relatively low energy bills.
Politics: The bill is a challenge to President Donald Trump’s plan to increase coal and fossil fuel use. Speaking of which, lawmakers gave final approval to a bill by Santa Barbara Democratic Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson intended to stymie Trump administration attempts to expand offshore oil drilling.
Strategic. Persuasive. Effective. Working at the intersection of business, politics and policy.
Brown signs landmark bail bill
Law ends cash bail in 2019
Gov. Jerry Brown put California at the forefront of a national movement to get rid of the nation’s money-bail system, signing a bill that will let judges, rather than wealth, be the chief determinant of who goes free or remains in jail pending trial.
Brown: “Today, California reforms its bail system so that rich and poor alike are treated fairly.”
What’s next: The change won’t take effect until October 2019. But the bill threatens the existence of the bail bonds industry. Bail representatives raise the possibility of an industry-backed referendum to invalidate the law.
Meanwhile on the left: The American Civil Liberties Union fears the change gives too much power to judges. They want to tweak risk assessment formulas to address potential racial bias next year.
It's time to make behavioral health solutions a top priority in California.
Mental health diversion gets fine-tuned
An earlier justice bill hailed by some as a reform had to be sent back for repairs Tuesday. Rushed through this summer, the measure, as written, could have let people accused of violent crimes get diverted into mental health care treatment and ultimately have their records expunged.
The goal: The original bill emerged as part of the new state budget and was not heard in any committee. It was intended to divert petty criminals who are mentally ill away from jails and into treatment. If they completed two years of mental health care, their arrests would be erased.
The problem: The language was so loose that people arrested for serious crimes could end up with no record.
The tweak: A bill by Sen. Jim Beall, a San Jose Democrat, would deny diversion to people arrested for violent and sex crimes and clarify that treatment programs must be available. The Assembly approved it 70-0.
Fires, net neutrality and more still TBD
Net neutrality bill could come to a vote today
With the clock winding down on the legislative session, major proposals still remain on the agenda. Among them:
- A big “net neutrality” bill that would stop internet service providers from limiting access to the web based on who pays. AT&T opposes it.
- A legislative deal to help utilities avert bankruptcy and better manage wildfires. That’s headed for a vote in the full Legislature, likely on Friday, the final day of the two-year session. As expected, it offers relief—critics say a “bailout”—from staggering liability for the 2017 wine country fires for PG&E.
- A far-reaching bill to make California’s grid part of a larger regional electricity transmission system that would extend across the Western states.
- Nationally watched legislation that would require lethal force to be the last resort for law enforcement officers in California.
- A $435 million tax credit for aerospace industry for hiring to build drones and other military craft. Legislators approved a similar tax credit in 2012.
Pro-Con: A regional electricity grid
Legislation backed by Gov. Jerry Brown would authorize California to collaborate with other Western states to create a regional grid to deliver electricity.
Retired Adm. Len Hering: “In my 32 years in the U.S. Navy, I saw first-hand the value of renewable energy. It saves money and provides energy security—ultimately saving American lives.”
Mark Toney, executive director of The Utility Reform Network: “A regional grid could make California vulnerable to Trump administration efforts to subsidize coal-fired generation through wholesale markets, and undermine protections for state environmental policies.”
Walters: Duncan Hunter and Dems’ failure
Congressman Duncan Hunter, with his wife and co-defendant, Margaret
U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter’s career is on life-support because of his indictment on charges of misusing $250,000 in campaign funds, CALmatters commentator Dan Walters writes. But the Democrats’ challenger is Ammar Campa-Najjar, described by Walters as “very left-wing.”
Walters: “Thus, even while under indictment, Hunter is favored to prevail … creating the scenario of a special election sometime next year should a re-elected Hunter be compelled to resign. And given the very rightward tilt of the 50th CD … the GOP would be highly favored to retain the seat.”
See you tomorrow.