Good morning, California.

“This election is about the status quo vs. change. Gavin Newsom stands with the lobbyists and the corrupt insiders. It’s about time someone stands for the Californians he has forgotten.”—Republican John Cox’s first ad of the general election race for governor, a two-minute spot distributed over digital platforms.

What matters in final weeks of legislative session

A legislator stepped into the Coa Room of Mayahuel restaurant where Assemblyman Rudy Salas was holding a fundraiser Monday.

Legislators convened Monday to focus on hundreds of bills left to approve or kill in the final four weeks of the session—and raise money from the interests that care deeply about those bills.

The math: There are 125 fundraisers scheduled in the next four weeks. The Legislature is in session Mondays through Thursdays for those four weeks. That equates to 7.8 fundraisers per day, at breakfast, lunch and the dinner hour.

The blitz included a Monday event for Bakersfield Assemblyman Rudy Salas, one of the few Democrats who has cause to worry about his reelection. Assemblyman Adam Gray, a Modesto Democrat, hosted the event for Salas.

Gray is chair of the governmental organization committee, and Salas is a member. That’s the committee that controls legislation related to gambling; card rooms, race tracks, and casinos, all of them rich sources of campaign money.

Assemblyman Chris Holden, a Pasadena Democrat and chairman of the Assembly Energy Committee, is scheduled to hold two fundraisers during the final month. He is carrying legislation that would help create a western regional electricity grid in which California and several Western states would share electricity. Utilities, organized labor and various out-of-state companies are keenly interested in the bill.

P.S. Jesse Unruh, who was Speaker in the 1960s, uttered the line: “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.” Some things don’t change.


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Still no test for driving while stoned

State Controller Betty Yee.

Controller Betty Yee, recuperating after being rear-ended last month by a driver who allegedly was high on marijuana, said Monday that the cannabis industry needs to quickly work with law enforcement to develop standards for driving while stoned.

Jog my memory: Yee, riding in a car driven by her California Highway Patrol security officer, was struck in the tunnel that links Alameda and Oakland on July 13. The driver, Aaron George, 25, was booked in Alameda County on a charge of driving while intoxicated and causing an injury.

Yee, who had been recovering from a concussion when the accident occurred, passed out in the crash and was badly bruised. She still must take it easy.

Yee, a Democrat, opposed Proposition 64, the 2016 initiative that legalized the sale of marijuana for recreational use. The reason: she said the regulatory framework was not in place, including a test for unsafe levels of marijuana for motorists.

Yee: “Law enforcement is in a bind. They can’t test for it…. I would hope law enforcement and the industry are having serious discussions.”

P.S. Nearly two years after Proposition 64’s passage, a CHP spokeswoman said the CHP continues to assist UC San Diego “with an ongoing study evaluating the effects of cannabis on a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.”

Brown names 4 new UC Regents

Gov. Jerry Brown handed out four highly coveted appointments on Monday, filling what almost certainly will be his final slots on the University of California Board of Regents.

UC Regents don’t get paid beyond expenses. But the Board of Regents is probably a governor’s most prestigious unpaid appointment.

The governor’s appointees: his finance director, Michael Cohen; Laphonza Butler, a leader with the influential Service Employees International Union; urban planner Cecilia V. Estolano, who is president of the California Community College Board of Governors; and Richard Leib, a Solana Beach school board member, and a charter public school advocate.

Regents must be confirmed by the state Senate and serve 12-year terms.

Trump offers a theory about California wildfires

As much of California chokes on air thick with smoke and mourns nine people who died fighting or fleeing from fires, President Donald Trump offered his take: “California’s bad environmental laws” are to blame.

Trump theorized by a tweet that those environmental laws “aren’t allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean.”

Not quite. Water naturally flows to the ocean, except for water that is diverted to farms and cities. That law of nature aside, water availability is not the problem.

The San Francisco Chronicle: “Firefighters are not in competition for water, and officials said there’s no shortage affecting their ability to extinguish blazes.”

Trump criticized Gov. Jerry Brown, tweeting that he “must allow the Free Flow of the vast amounts of water coming from the North and foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Can be used for fires, farming and everything else.”

Brown spokesman Evan Westrup on Trump’s tweet: “This merits no response.”

Walters: Officials use tax money on campaigns. It’s wrong

CALmatters commentator Dan Walters is annoyed at the seeming use of taxpayers’ money to help fund political campaigns for various ballot measures, particularly bonds. Local officials are hiring campaign consultants on the fiction that they will provide unbiased information to the voting public. Now, he writes, “state government is headed down the same slippery slope” regarding a ballot measure in November to repeal a gas tax increase legislators passed last year to pay for road repairs.

Walters: “All of the taxes involved, including the gas tax, may be justifiable on their own merits. But using taxpayer money to persuade voters to endorse them is just plain wrong.”

Please email or call me with tips, suggestions and insights, dmorain@calmatters.org, 916.201.6281. Thanks for reading, please tell a friend and sign up here.

See you tomorrow.