Good Morning, California.

“The one — and really there is only one — downside to living longer than you are supposed to with a deadly cancer is that sometimes the surgical fixes that are meant to keep you alive for five years need a little upgrading after 8 years and counting!”former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, who died Monday from complications from her esophageal cancer surgery in 2010, in an April 7 Facebook post.

Wear your helmet

Scooter-caused accidents are on the rise.

With almost no opposition, the Legislature last year granted e-scooter startups an exemption from a state law requiring adults to wear helmets when zipping along city streets on the motorized scooters.

This year, accident victims are asking the Legislature to force e-scooter and electric bike rental companies to alter their terms of service so people can collect damages when crashes occur.

On Tuesday, a legislative committee approved Assembly Bill 1286 by Democratic Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi of Torrance. The bill would require the companies to:

  • Provide insurance to protect riders and pedestrians.
  • Ban the companies from requiring customers to waive their right to sue as part of the terms of service.

Lawrence Russo, a 67-year-old retired Navy chaplain, was riding an e-scooter down a hill in San Diego when the brakes failed.

“I didn’t have any warning.”

The next thing he knew he was in an emergency room, and a doctor asked him whether he was an organ donor. He is a bicyclist who wore his bike helmet. He’s not sure he would have survived without the helmet. He’s also not sure he’ll be able to collect damages.

Nancy Peverini, lobbyist for Consumer Attorneys of California: “There has been a huge increase in visits to emergency rooms because of scooter-caused accidents.”

Uber, Lime and Bird Rides opposed Muratsuchi’s measure, and a lobbyist for the trade group, Technet, called the companies’ liability waivers standard features of contracts:

“This would be singling out shared mobility among industries in California for limitations on their freedom of contract.”


A new-old way to kill bills

The Assembly has given committee chairs new power to thwart legislation.

Democrats in the Assembly have discovered a new tool for deep-sixing inconvenient legislation—doing nothing, CALmatters’ Laurel Rosenhall reports.

In a tactic that’s already a Senate tradition, the lower house has enacted a rule that authorizes committee chairs to decide whether a bill assigned to their panel can be brought up for consideration. It’s a throwback to an earlier time 25 years ago when Assembly committee chairs had greater clout. As committee chairs gain greater power, bills from both parties haven’t seen the light of day.  

Rosenhall: “As key deadlines came and went this month for bills to move out of committee, chairs used the new power to quash bills by just not scheduling them for a public hearing. No hearing, no debate, no vote.”

Casualties have included Republican bills—a proposal to protect conservative speech on campuses, for instance—and Democrats’ priorities, such as proposed tweaks to the state’s school funding formula that would channel more money to low-performing kids.

Click here for more from lawmakers, whose irritation is bipartisan.


Newsom appoints ally as watchdog

Proposition 64 legalized commercial cannabis sales.

Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Democratic attorney Richard C. Miadich, lead author of the initiative that legalized commercial cannabis sales, as the Fair Political Practices Commission’s new chairman.

  • Created by a Watergate-era initiative sponsored by Jerry Brown in 1974, the Fair Political Practices Commission is responsible for enforcing campaign finance and lobbying law. The chair is the one full-time member of the board and is paid $158,572 a year.

Then-Lt. Gov. Newsom promoted Proposition 64, the 2016 initiative that legalized commercial weed sales. In that campaign, Miadich often served the role of expert on the how the initiative would work.

  • Miadich had been managing partner at the Sacramento-based firm, Olson Hagel & Fishburn, which has represented the California Democratic Party. He also registered as a lobbyist in 2017 working on implementation of Proposition 64.
  • The site, 64Solutions, was a short-lived consultancy that offered guidance to the cannabis industry, and listed Miadich as one of its experts, calling him one of the lead drafters of the initiative:

“He also advises clients interested in entering the commercial cannabis space with regard to the new rules and regulation that will govern those activities at the state and local levels.”

Sacramento consultant Brian Brokaw, who had been part of 64Solutions, said the consultancy has been dissolved.

Take a number: $359 million

Jennifer Siebel Newsom and son Dutch in the Capitol Park on Tuesday.

First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, with her youngest child, Dutch, in her arms, joined with First 5 Commission lobby day, reading to kids at the Capitol Park and advocating for early childhood education.

  • That First 5 comes to Sacramento to lobby represents a change.
  • First 5 is the organization in counties that provides a variety of services for young children, and is funded by a 50-cent per pack tax on tobacco, promoted by actor and producer Rob Reiner and approved by voters in 1998.
  • Its funding is falling, as tobacco use and revenue from cigarette sales decline.

In his budget proposal, Gov. Gavin Newsom estimates that Proposition 10 revenue will be $359 million, down from $555 million in 2008-09. Newsom, however, is earmarking as much as $3 billion for early childhood programs, a sum that would more than make up for declining tobacco tax revenue.

Kamala Harris watch

Kamala Harris drew 20,000 people to Oakland when she announced her candidacy.

It is, of course, early in the presidential campaign. But a new Quinnipiac University National Poll has little good news for U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris.

Harris had 8 percent support of likely Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, placing behind Democratic front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders and South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

The first major poll taken since Biden entered the race last week shows Biden well ahead of the field of 20 with 38 percent support.

Among its findings:

  • Harris is supported by 11 percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning women voters, and 9 percent nonwhite Democrats.
  • Biden led Democrats among women, 39 percent, and nonwhite Democrats, 42 percent.
  • 6 percent of Democratic voters believed Harris would be the best leader, behind Biden’s 44 percent.
  • 2 percent believe Harris has the best chance of unseating Donald Trump, compared with Biden’s 56 percent.

Harris has qualified for the first Democratic debate, June 26 and 27. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

Ellen Tauscher, 1951-2019

Ellen Tauscher was a congresswoman and arms negotiator.

Former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, a centrist Bay Area Democrat who took a significant role in flipping Republican congressional seats in 2018, died Monday at Stanford University Medical Center from pneumonia, stemming from unexpected complications from her esophageal cancer surgery in 2010. She was 67.

She won an East Bay congressional seat by defeating a Republican in 1996, and served as an arms negotiator in the Obama administration.

In a commentary for CALmatters, Tauscher described the tactic of the political action committee she headed in the 2018 race: “We believed that the only way we could be successful was if we started running campaigns early and talked to voters face-to-face about the issues that mattered most to them.”

Pretty basic and often overlooked.

Commentary at CALmatters

Assemblyman Jim Frazier, Assembly Transportation Committee chairman: Lobbyists who earn six figures working for elite environmental groups and their 1-percenter donors can afford to buy Teslas. But low- and zero-emission automobiles are still too pricey for most Californians.

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See you tomorrow.