Good Morning, California.

“The thin blue line is as symbolic as it is substantive. This thin blue line is the symbol, the manifestation of a line that separates peace from chaos.”—California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye at the California Peace Officers Memorial on Monday. Her husband is a retired Sacramento police lieutenant.

A police chief's warning

Newman police Chief Randy Richardson hugs a family member of fallen Officer Ronil Singh.

An always emotional annual ceremony to honor fallen police officers took a political turn Monday when the keynote speaker warned that policies being considered by the Legislature would make officers’ jobs tougher.

Newman police Chief Randy Richardson, the keynote speaker, choked up as he recalled Newman Officer Ronil Singh, who was shot to death early on Dec. 26, 2018. Singh’s widow, Anamika, baby and other family members were at the ceremony, as was Singh’s black Labrador retriever, Sam.

Richardson: “Evil can only triumph when good men and women do nothing. And the policies that are coming from across the street are making it more difficult.”

Richardson later told me he was referring to Democratic Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s Assembly Bill 392, which would restrict officers’ authority to use deadly force.

Richardson: “You’re already making split-second decisions, and now you’re going to present hesitation. We’re going to unfortunately have a lot more names on that wall. … Hopefully somebody was listening.”

Trump’s view: An undocumented immigrant has been charged with Singh’s murder. President Donald Trump has cited Singh’s death as he argues for tighter border security. In his remarks, Richardson noted that Singh immigrated from Fiji legally.


Use of force debate heats up

Gov. Gavin Newsom at the California Peace Officers Memorial on Monday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and roughly 20 legislators attended the solemn ceremony Monday commemorating fallen police officers, as they contemplate legislation that would set a tougher standard for when police officers can legally use of force.

Newsom, responding later in the day to a question by CALmatters’ Laurel Rosenhall, said:

“We’re committed to advancing an effort to see where we can come together on that bill. We’ve been working hard behind the scenes, and we’re making progress.”

Three Senate Democrats said after the ceremony that they won’t support legislation by San Diego Democrat Shirley Weber to restrict officers’ authority to use deadly force. That suggests that even if the Assembly approves her bill, it would face a rough fight in the Senate.

Sen. Tom Umberg, an Orange County Democrat: “I for one am not going to second-guess their judgment when their life or the lives of others are in danger.”

As Umberg spoke after the ceremony, Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, a Stockton Democrat who sat on the stage during the ceremony, walked past. Would she support the bill?

“No. No.”

Sen. Steve Glazer, an Orinda Democrat: “I’m not there.”

Glazer is co-authoring alternative legislation by a fourth Senate Democrat, Anna Caballero of Salinas, that law enforcement is backing to require more training.

  • Democrats control the 40-seat Senate. But several Democrats serve in swing districts. And all elected officials understand the political power of law enforcement. That’s never more apparent than on the day each year when the names of fallen officers are placed on the California Peace Officers Memorial.


'Force of Law'

CALmatters' Laurel Rosenhall hosts the Force of Law podcast.

California police kill someone every two to three days on average, a rate that’s higher than the national average.

In Episode 2 of the Force Of Law podcast, CALmatters’ Laurel Rosenhall delves into the forces at work in one of the most emotional and consqeuential issues confronting the Legislature in 2019. She features:

  • A Los Angeles police officer who discusses how shaken he was after a killing a man who threatened him with a shotgun.
  • A San Jose mother who confronts the pain of watching the video of police killing her partner.  
  • Activists from around the country mark the first anniversary of Stephon Clark’s death in Sacramento.

Please listen and subscribe to Force Of Law here. And send Laurel your feedback: [email protected].

Ambitious higher education bills

Concern is growing about the $1.5 trillion in education debt.

California lawmakers are pushing ambitious bills to address the cost of college, as students pack hearings to share stories of hunger and homelessness, and concern grows about the $1.5 trillion in education debt.

CALmatters’ Felicia Mello teamed up with student journalists to track some of the most far-reaching bills as they move through the legislative process, including:

  • A $2 billion expansion of the Cal Grant that would double state spending on financial aid
  • Programs to help community college students find housing and sleep in campus parking lots until they do
  • A student loan borrower’s bill of rights
  • A cap on California State University executive salaries in years where the university increases tuition

To see which make it to the governor’s desk, check back with our bill tracker.

Seeking Trump's tax returns

Donald Trump is the target of a bill by Democratic Sen. Mike McGuire.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin surprised no one Monday by refusing to turn over President Donald Trump’s tax returns to the U.S. House of Representatives.

In California, Democratic legislators hope they could compel Trump to release his taxes.

  • Their hammer: Kicking any candidate who refuses to release tax returns off the 2020 presidential primary ballot.
  • Whether they have the legal authority is another question, CALmatters’ Ben Christopher writes.

As he did last year, Democratic Sen. Mike McGuire, of Healdsburg, is pushing legislation that would require all presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns. Trump is the target.

The Democratic-controlled Senate approved Senate Bill 27 on a party-line vote, 27-10, with one Democrat, Richard Roth of Riverside, not voting. The measure awaits an Assembly vote.

  • In 2018, then-Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed McGuire’s bill, questioning its constitutionality and noting it could create a slippery slope:

“Today we require tax returns, but what would be next? Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power?”

What has changed: Gavin Newsom is governor.

Commentary at CALmatters

Sen. Steve Glazer, Orinda Democrat: Online retailers have leveraged their power to extract subsidies from cities desperate for tax revenue. Those cities have agreed to give the retailers half or more of the sales tax paid through the retailer not just by their own residents but by people in every city in the state. Online retailers are reaping as much as $1 billion a year in taxpayer dollars through these kickbacks.

Emma Turner, California School Boards Association: California has more charter schools than any state in the union. Yet our haphazard charter laws force school boards to grapple with loopholes and unintended consequences, too often creating havoc in our state.

Please email or call me with tips, suggestions and insights, [email protected], 916.201.6281. Thanks for reading, please tell a friend and sign up here.

See you tomorrow.