Good morning, California.
“And now onto the Promised Land — Colusa County.” — Gov. Jerry Brown, signing the final bill in his final term as governor Sunday night, preparing to move to his family spread.
CA mandates women in the boardroom
2017 Women's March in Sacramento.
Gov. Jerry Brown approved a first-in-the-nation requirement that California-based corporate boards include women, capping a year of national protest over gender discrimination and sexual harassment. It was one of a fistful of #MeToo bills.
- Brown cc-ed the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, which voted last week to recommend U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the full Senate, despite a Palo Alto professor’s claim that Kavanaugh once sexually attacked her.
- Brown also addressed critics’ claims that the mandate is constitutionally dubious.
Brown’s signing statement: “I don’t minimize the potential flaws that indeed may prove fatal to [this bill’s] ultimate implementation. Nevertheless, recent events in Washington, D.C.—and beyond—make it crystal clear that many are not getting the message.”
Other #MeToo bills signed by Brown will:
- Prohibit secret settlement agreements in sexual assault, sexual harassment, and workplace discrimination cases. Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein used such nondisclosure agreements to hide his conduct. (Author: Sen. Connie M. Leyva, Chino Hills Democrat.)
- Expand training to prevent sexual harassment to more businesses in the state. (Sen. Holly Mitchell, Los Angeles Democrat.)
- Give victims of sexual assault up to a decade to sue for civil damages. (Assemblyman Marc Berman, Palo Alto Democrat.)
- The author, San Diego Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, contended employers use arbitration to hide sexual harassment. The governor said the bill clearly violated federal law.
#MeToo’s impact: In his 16 years as governor, Brown often sought to restrict the right to sue. His decisions in this final year, which add legal tools for victims of sexual harassment, illustrate the movement’s political, social and legal power.
A net neutrality declaration of war
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The toughest version of net neutrality ever enacted also was signed into law Sunday. The Trump administration responded by suing in federal court in Sacramento to block the law.
- Legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown follows the Trump-appointed Federal Communications Commission’s decision to scrap national internet consumer protections by the Obama administration.
- Consumer advocates say new FCC rules give too much power to internet service providers such as AT&T. The Trump administration says only the federal government can regulate the internet.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a statement on Sunday: “We have a duty to defend the prerogatives of the federal government and protect our Constitutional order.”
The new state law follows California’s air quality playbook, using outsized market influence to defy yet another Trump rollback of Obama-era consumer protections.
- Approved over the objections of major telecommunications corporations, California’s net neutrality rules promise to ensure online information is treated equally and that providers cannot play favorites or block content they don’t like.
Sen. Scott Wiener, the bill’s author: “I’m extremely grateful for the governor’s support. The Internet is at the heart of our economy, our democracy, our health care and our public safety. The internet is not a luxury.”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called California’s law “radical,” “anti-consumer” and “illegal” in a recent speech.
- Backers: The California Catholic Conference, major tech companies, young voters and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
- Foes: Expect the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, which represents internet service providers, to sue, too.
Speaking of tech, 5G arrives today
Verizon crew installing a 5G node.
The first possibilities of 5G wireless arrive today for consumers in Los Angeles and Sacramento—not to mention for cable television providers and city governments, who might not think the picture is so pretty in 5G.
Remind me: 5G networks, short for fifth generation, promise wireless connection speeds up to 100 times faster than current cable.
- Autonomous cars, robotics, and instant downloads are among the implications—along with a lot more infrastructure.
- Short 5G wavelengths require far more antennas and towers, closer together and closer to users. It’s going to be expensive, and it’s already creating fights.
- Rollouts for AT&T customers are planned for later this year and next year, including in parts of L.A., San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco.
Static already: The Federal Communications Commission voted last week to cap at $270 the amount that cities can charge telecommunications companies such as Verizon to lease publicly owned utility poles to install their wireless technology, which can be the size of refrigerators.
- Some California cities charge 10 times that sum for access to the poles.
Ronald Berdugo, League of California Cities: “The $270 cap amounts to billions of dollars in subsidy for the wireless industry, an industry that does not need any subsidies, without requiring that they deliver an actual public benefit, such as lowering the price of their subscription plans or returning those savings to their customers.”
No guns til 21, and more
The legal age for most people to buy a gun will rise to 21 next year in California. The bill, by La Cañada Flintridge Democrat Sen. Anthony Portantino, was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday.
- Brown signed several new gun controls in the wake of recent mass shootings, including new training requirements for gun purchases, a ban on rapid-fire bump stocks, and lifetime bans on gun ownership for anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence or involuntarily admitted more than once a year to a mental health treatment facility.
Also big, and signed over weekend:
- Increased transparency for law enforcement in the wake of the Stephon Clark shooting, including timely release of body cam footage and a bill making investigation records public in police shootings and confirmed cases of sexual assault or lying by police.
- A major revision to the “felony murder” rule by which people who participate in a crime that results in death can be charged with murder. The bill’s author, Berkeley Democratic Sen. Nancy Skinner, says the rule falls hardest on women and young people. Prosecutors vow to challenge the change.
- An easier legal standard for state legislators to live outside their districts. (The author was Sen. Steve Bradford, a Gardena Democrat who succeeded Rod Wright after Wright was convicted in 2014 of felony perjury and voting fraud for residing outside the lines.)
- Three smoking bans for state beaches and parks. (Disappointed authors were Democrats Sen. Steve Glazer of Orinda and Assemblyman Marc Levine of San Rafael.)
- Later last calls for bars in several big California cities. (“I believe we have enough mischief from midnight to 2 without adding two more hours of mayhem,” Brown wrote of the bill by San Francisco Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener.)
- Permission for health clinics at state university campuses to distribute abortion pills. (Sen. Connie Leyva, a Chino Democrat.)
Also, in administrative action, ICYMI: The California Air Resources Board voted Friday to insist that car makers meet California emissions standards if they intend to sell vehicles here.
- Translation: California won’t back down on Trump administration efforts to roll back air quality.
Hector De La Torre, Air Resources Board member: “We have rights and we’re going to exercise those rights to the hilt.”
For a roundup on the fate of more closely-watched bills this session, check out CALmatters’ bill tracker here.
Commentary at CALmatters
Daniel Sperling: California has the potential to create radically different—and vastly better—transportation that will be less expensive for travelers, less costly to taxpayers, less polluting, and less energy- and land-intensive while providing far greater mobility. The next governor will be key to that future.
Dan Walters: The next governor and the Legislature will have to stabilize current school finances before giving any thought to the 32 percent funding increase advocated in the Stanford/PACE report.
We want to know what you think
We at CALmatters want to improve our service to our readers. Please let us know what you think by taking a few minutes to fill to this survey. Your answers will help inform what we do.
Thank you for your help.
See you tomorrow.