Good morning, California
“We had one car break down on us and we didn’t have the money to fix it. So, it’s gotten to the point where we just don’t use it.” — Charlene Holkenbrink-Monk, to Amita Sharma of KPBS for The California Dream project in collaboration with CALmatters.

California attempts net neutrality

Sen. Scott Wiener (right) and Sen. Bill Dodd hold press conference to support California's version of net neutrality.

Trying to fill a void being left by the Federal Communications Commission, Democrats are seeking to force Internet service providers operating in California to ensure net neutrality.

Legislation, which could come for a vote in the Senate today, would bar AT&T, Comcast and other service providers from restricting content based on whether providers pay for so-called fast lanes.

Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, introduced the bill in reaction to a 2017 decision by President Trump’s FCC chairman to reverse Obama administration net neutrality rules.

Wiener: “States are still relevant. California has the right under its police powers to protect the health and safety of the public, and our economy.”

Picking sides: In committees, Democrats are voting for the measure and Republicans are against it. Major telecommunications companies are lobbying to kill the bill. Organized labor and consumer organizations are advocating for its passage.

If it becomes law (it has many hurdles), Internet companies would sue claiming federal law preempts the state from acting and that the state is violating the Constitution by interfering with interstate commerce.

However, Wiener said a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this month expanded states’ rights by empowering them to legalize sports wagering; that could bolster California’s case.


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Will a long-shot come in?

Key legislators are considering trying to place a measure onto the November ballot that would authorize sports betting in California.

Remind me: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled two weeks ago that states could permit sports wagering. Initially, legislators said they likely would not act this year, and they still  may not.

But Assemblyman Adam Gray, a Modesto Democrat, and Sen. Bill Dodd, a Napa Democrat, told me they are considering taking some action, and they chair committees with jurisdiction over gambling.

Dodd: “We want to keep our options open.” An informational hearing on sports wagering in the coming weeks “makes a lot of sense.”

The players: Indian tribes that operate casinos are the whales in this game. Individual tribes often disagree on strategy. Card rooms and horse race tracks want a piece. Tribal leaders and operators of card rooms and tracks are rivals.

The odds: Dodd and Gray are trying to determine if there is consensus among the players to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot permitting sports wagering. Both houses would have to approve such a measure by two-thirds votes by August. It remains a long-shot.

Dan Walters: How SCOTUS helped California

CALmatters’ Dan Walters analyzes the U.S. Supreme Court decision permitting states to authorize sports wagering. He concludes the decision could help California chart its own path on many issues, including restricting auto emissions, despite Trump administration efforts to strip that power from California.

Why an evangelical is barnstorming California

Franklin Graham, the evangelical son of the late Rev. Billy Graham, is touring California urging a conservative revival in time for the June 5 primary.

Graham, who praises Donald Trump and attributes his victory to God’s will, called it coincidence that his Central Valley tour coincided with the election. But his trip clearly is political. The New York Times quoted him at the Rose Bowl saying progressive “is just another word for godless.”

The Fresno Bee quoted Graham in Fresno: “Our country is in trouble. Your state’s in trouble – you know that. But there are things that we can do. You know God hears prayer.”

Sacramento-based consultant Rob Stutzman told me: “He’s preaching to the choir. As a conservative and a Republican, this does nothing to expand the goals of conservatives or Republican politics. As a Christian, it makes God and the gospel look offensive.”

Money matters: The trip has a financial component. California may have a smaller percentage of people who are born-again than many other states. But because of its size, California is the second largest source of revenue for Graham’s ministries.

Who’s watching the watchdog?

On Tuesday, one week before the June 5 primary, Fair Political Practices Commission Chair Jodi Remke announced she’s quitting effective Friday, raising questions about the ability of what will now be a four-member commission to enforce campaign finance laws.

Not long ago, California’s Fair Political Practices Commission was praised for its aggressiveness as a watchdog over campaign money, and a counterpoint to the Federal Election Commission, which is mired in partisan infighting.

Lately, the FPPC has been fractious and Remke has been on the losing end of votes. The commission is expected to vote Monday a restructuring that would have weakened the chair’s power. Remke, who is taking another state job, won’t be at the hearing to cast a vote.

Remke made clear what she thought of the proposal, saying at a recent hearing that lobbyists, candidates and donors view “the proposal as a benefit to them. I think it’s extremely problematic what is being proposed.”

The LA Times detailed how tempers flared between Commissioner Brian Hatch and Remke at a recent hearing:

Remke called a 10-minute break for tempers to calm after she threatened to declare Hatch out of order over what she called personal attacks.

‘You’re out of order,’ Hatch responded.

Legacy: Jerry Brown promoted the 1974 initiative that created the FPPC in the wake of the Watergate scandals. That signature achievement helped propel him to the governor’s office then. Now, as he prepares to end his time as governor, Brown will need to turn his attention back to the agency one last time.

A familiar ring

Eric Early, a Republican running for attorney general, sued Tuesday claiming Attorney General Xavier Becerra is ineligible to hold the post because the Stanford-educated lawyer’s license to practice was not active during his two-plus decades in Congress.

Early: “The law must be applied equally to everyone, no matter how politically inconvenient.”

Sounds familiar: In 2006, Jerry Brown, a Yale-educated lawyer, was an inactive member of the bar running for attorney general and his Republican opponent sued, citing the same law. That suit failed. As they say, the rest is history.

Please email or call with tips, suggestions and insights, [email protected], 916.201.6281. Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.