Good Monday morning, California.
Gov. Jerry Brown is mulling whether to sign legislation letting voters decide in November whether to scrap daylight savings time.
“While I would love to enLIGHTen you on this, our office typically doesn’t chime in on pending legislation. Please don’t be alarmed, we will be sure to circle back when the time comes.” — Brown spokesman Brian Ferguson to The Sacramento Bee.
Decision near on regulating ‘crisis’ pregnancy centers
Supreme Court decision could come today on crisis pregnancy centers.
The U.S. Supreme Court, expected to wrap up its session today, probably will decide a case challenging a California law intended to ensure pregnant women receive complete information when they go to what appear to be family-planning clinics.
The case: National Institute of Family and Life Advocates vs. Attorney General Xavier Becerra stems from a 2015 law sponsored by Becerra’s predecessor, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, and NARAL-Pro-Choice California.
The law says clinics positioned as women’s health centers must give patients information about services offered by the state, including prenatal care and abortion.
The issue: Legislators concluded that pregnancy centers, many funded by abortion opponents, provide incomplete medical advice to dissuade women from having abortions.
The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, which operates 130 facilities it calls “nonprofit pro-life clinics” in California, argues that the law infringes on clinic workers’ free speech and religion by requiring abortion opponents to provide information about pregnancy termination.
Becerra’s brief: “The statute does not require anyone to provide information on, or refer any client for, abortion, contraception, or any other medical option. It simply imposes a carefully drawn, neutral disclosure requirement on entities that deal with a specific population likely to need particular information at a critical moment.”
What’s to expect: After listening to justices’ questions in oral arguments in March, The L.A. Times’ court reporter, David G. Savage, concluded California’s law was in trouble.
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Is conversion therapy a fraud or a right?
Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblyman Evan Low present a bill to declare conversion therapy fraudulent. (Photo Robbie Short)
CALmatters’ Robbie Short explores legislation that would declare as fraudulent so-called conversion therapy intended to turn gay and lesbian people straight.
Assemblyman Evan Low, a Democrat from Campbell who talks about suicidal thoughts he had as a kid as he came to terms with his sexuality, is carrying the bill intended to protect people from what he says is a harmful, prejudice-driven practice.
Religious conservatives say the legislation would violate their First Amendment rights to free speech and religion. Some who have testified against the bill say conversion therapy helped change them.
Dean Broyles, of the conservative National Center for Law and Policy: “It’s one of the more blatantly unconstitutional laws that has come out of California in the last five to 10 years.”
Expect a lawsuit challenging Low’s bill if it becomes law.
Cash-strapped borrowers beware of pink-slip loans
Legislation to protect cash-strapped Californians from falling victim—and losing their cars—to high-interest loans against their paid-off cars failed in the Senate Banking Committee. The committee could revive the bill by Assemblywoman Monique Limón, a Santa Barbara Democrat, on Wednesday.
Background: In 2016, people took 108,000 title loans totaling $433 million, and 20,648 vehicles were repossessed because borrowers failed to make the payments, a Senate analysis says. The loans can carry interest rates of 70 percent or more. Limón’s bill would cap interest at 36 percent.
Rosemary Shahan of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety: “It’s legalized loan-sharking.”
Lobbyist Joe Lang, representing Community Loans of America: “For many consumers who have low credit scores, who … don’t have any other options, you will be removing their last credit option.”
Money matters: Companies that offer high-interest loans lobby hard to protect their business. Two such firms, Community Loans and Check-into-Cash, have spent at least $153,700 on state political campaigns since the start of 2017, including $19,500 to members of the Senate Banking Committee.
Locals could lose the power to tax soda
Soda makers would scrap a November initiative that, if passed, would make it far more difficult to raise state and local taxes, in exchange for legislation barring cities from levying new soda taxes. That’s the outline of a deal being negotiated.
Remind me: The initiative would require two-thirds approval from voters for local taxes, rather than the current simple majority for certain tax hikes. The California Business Roundtable and American Beverage Association raised $8.3 million and gathered more than enough signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot.
The Service Employees International Union is trying to negotiate a truce, The Sacramento Bee reported.
What’s next: The proposal, memorialized in budget-related legislation, would need to be approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown by Thursday, the deadline for placing measures on the November ballot.
Local officials see soda taxes as a way to generate revenue while fighting obesity, and may lobby against the bill. But by agreeing to the deal, they’d avert a multimillion-dollar initiative war, the outcome of which is not certain. Soda makers would spare themselves an image-bruising campaign.
Walters: Is L.A. Unified too big to fail?
CALmatters’ Dan Walters, in his latest commentary, bores in on debt and questionable spending in California’s largest school district, Los Angeles Unified. The district staved off insolvency, thanks in no small part to budget-related legislation that give it a reprieve from paying a $105 million penalty for having too many administrators.
Walters: Why should it get a $105 million gift from all California taxpayers? The bigger question is whether taxpayers should rescue LA Unified without changing the shortsighted policies that fueled its entirely avoidable crisis.
See you tomorrow.