Good morning, California, and Happy Almost-Labor-Day Weekend. By midnight tonight, lawmakers will decide, among other last-minute business, whether to:
- Pass a tax to fund clean drinking water.
- Further delay Cadiz Inc.’s Mojave Desert water project. Cadiz’s stock tanked Thursday in anticipation of a final vote.
- Give the go-ahead to Steve Ballmer’s basketball arena in Inglewood.
- Grant strong incentives forcing ride-hailing companies such as Uber to buy zero-emission vehicles.
- Approve a late-blooming bill pushed by cannabis companies. Without the bill authorizing provisional licenses, legal operators will be operating illegally after Dec. 31 because local jurisdictions cannot process all the requests for commercial cannabis licenses.
- Make a big change on the electrical grid. And there’s so much more.
Climate change sticker shock
Aerial view of Shasta County's burned out Keswick Dam area
“Climate change is going to be staggeringly expensive,” writes Laurel Rosenhall of CALmatters, “and virtually every Californian is going to have to pay for it.”
Fueling debate: Damage from climate-fueled disasters is mounting into the tens of billions of dollars, even as the state goes all-in on strategies to curb global warming. Meanwhile, a climate report from the state this week made it clear that apocalyptic firenados are just one line item.
Rosenhall: “It could soon cost us $200 million a year in increased energy bills to keep homes air conditioned, $3 billion from the effects of a long drought and $18 billion to replace buildings inundated by rising seas, just to cite a few projections.”
Fallout: The most immediate cost will play out tonight as legislators decide on a package that would earmark $200 million for fire prevention, and allocate costs among utility ratepayers and investors.
It’s not clear how that vote will turn out. Oil companies, manufacturers, farm groups, consumer advocates and environmental justice activists have joined in an effort to kill the bill. Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric are neutral. If the bill fails to pass by midnight, legislators presumably would start negotiations in a special session.
Can CA regulate the Net? We’ll find out
Lobbyists outside the Assembly during the net neutrality vote
Lawmakers stepped toward establishing California’s own net neutrality Thursday, approving a bill that would prohibit internet service providers from restricting content based on whether providers pay for so-called fast lanes.
Basics: The Assembly passed San Francisco Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener’s bill by a wide margin, with some Republican aye votes, despite heavy lobbying by AT&T and other internet service providers. A final vote in the Senate is expected to send it to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature or veto.
Politics: President Donald Trump’s Federal Communications Commission reversed an Obama administration rule requiring net neutrality. Democrats here and nationally seized on the issue, which especially resonates with younger voters.
Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, a Los Angeles Democrat, drew internet users’ outrage earlier this summer when he tried to block the bill. He since has become a champion:
Santiago: “The Trump administration destroyed the internet as we know it.”
Republican Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez of Lake Elsinore: “I get it. The Trump administration made a change. California Democrats resist change when it comes to the current administration.”
Lawyer up: Lawsuits are coming, assuming the bill is signed into law. Telecom companies contend the feds have sole authority to regulate the internet and will sue to block California’s effort. Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon and other content providers, many of which back Wiener’s bill, are suing to block the FCC from adopting its internet regulation.
Keeping score on #MeToo bills
Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, who wants women on corporate boards
Sexual harassment scandals loomed large when the legislative year opened in January, and legislators responded with a raft of bills. On this final day of the legislative session, CALmatters’ Laurel Rosenhall reports on which bills got traction and which fizzled.
In other business: A potentially big bill sent to the governor on Thursday would require every publicly traded company based in California to have at least one female director by the end of 2019 or face hefty financial penalties.
Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, the sponsor: “One-fourth of California’s publicly traded companies still do not have a single woman on their board.”
Similar mandates are common in Europe, but this one, if passed, would be the first in the U.S. with teeth.
Mixing politics and burgers
Republican Sen. Jim Nielsen, with lunch
California Democratic Party chairman Eric Bauman called for a boycott of In-N-Out Burgers after the Irvine-based fast-food corporation donated $25,000 to the California Republican Party.
Bauman’s tweet: “Et tu In-N-Out? Tens of thousands of dollars donated to the California Republican Party… it’s time to #BoycottInNOut – let Trump and his cronies support these creeps… perhaps animal style!”
Northern California Republican Sen. Jim Nielsen retorted with 25 orders of burgers and 50 fries for Senate staff and colleagues:
Nielsen: “It’s a favorite of ours, our kids and our dog. He likes the double.”
Money matters: In-N-Out has donated $85,000 in the past three years to the California GOP, and $110,000 to a political action committee run by Democratic consultant David Townsend. Townsend uses that money to help elect moderate Democrats who tend to vote against legislation viewed as damaging to business.
Townsend: “I love In-N-Out Burgers. We proudly accept In-N-Out’s money and its coupons.”
Democratic Party spokesman John Vigna: “Chair Bauman’s personal tweet reflects his belief that he shouldn’t support companies that support the Trump agenda and that Jeff’s Gourmet Kosher Sausage Factory on West Pico Boulevard is the best All-American treat in California.”
In-N-Out issues: Bills lobbied on by In-N-Out this year include ones requiring that fast food restaurants provide straws only upon request and offer milk or water as the default in meals for kids.
Commentary at CALmatters
Art Pulaski, California Labor Federation
Art Pulaski, California Labor Federation: “The future of work is perhaps more uncertain in 2018 than it has ever been. … This Labor Day, we need to prioritize uniting working people to fight for an economy that restores America’s promise.”
Paying attention? Take our quiz
What mattered about these trees this week?
What did fact-checkers learn about John Cox? How much does it cost to log an acre of a forest? In what year must California electricity be generated by carbon-free sources, if Gov. Jerry Brown signs Senate Bill 100? To take the quiz, please click here.
Check out CALmatters’ events
Author: I’ll talk with author Miriam Pawel about her new book, “The Browns of California,” from 11:30-1 p.m. on Sept. 5, at the Historic Library and Courts building, 914 Capitol Mall, Fifth Floor in Sacramento. Admission is free, with a reception after. Hat tip to State Librarian Greg Lucas and his staff for helping put on this event.
Climate: CALmatters’ Julie Cart will host a panel coinciding with Gov. Jerry Brown’s Global Climate Action Summit at noon on Sept. 12, at the Public Policy Institute of California, Bechtel Conference Center, 500 Washington Street in San Francisco. Panelists will include former Sen. Fran Pavley, environmentalist lobbyist V. John White, and Michael Shaw of the California Manufacturers & Technology Association. It’s free, but please RVSP here.
See you on Monday.