Good morning, California.

“During the firefight, the gunman began shooting with only his back exposed to me. I recall in that moment thinking that if I were to shoot him in the back, I would be the next officer in the news, being scrutinized for my actions.”—Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Julie Robertson, describing a 2018 shootout that left her partner dead, as she testified Tuesday on police use-of-force legislation.

Emotional hearing on police shootings

Salena Manni, fiancee of Stephon Clark, holds one of their two children during a protest over police shootings last year.

A 9-year-old boy told about growing up after his father was killed by a cop. A sheriff’s deputy told of surviving a gunfight that left her partner dead.

After a highly charged, three-hour hearing, legislation intended to prevent police shootings cleared its first hurdle Tuesday, CALmatters’ Laurel Rosenhall reports. Witnesses packed the committee room and spilled into the Capitol hallway.

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a San Diego Democrat, is carrying Assembly Bill 392:

“It is designed to change the culture of policing.”

Among facts she cites:

  • Officers killed 172 people in California in 2017, and half of the deceased had no gun.
  • Police kill more people in California than in any other state, at a rate 37 percent higher than the national average per capita.
  • Five of the 15 police departments nationally with the highest per-capita rates of police killings are Bakersfield, Stockton, Long Beach, Santa Ana and San Bernardino.

The bill seeks to permit use of deadly force if officers deem it’s necessary to defend against the “threat of imminent death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another person.” That’s a stricter standard than current law, which says officers must reasonably fear for their lives.

Emotion was evident among legislators:

Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove, a Los Angeles Democrat and a stepmother to black children: “I don’t want any of us to live in fear.”

Republican Assemblyman Tom Lackey of Palmdale, a 28-year California Highway Patrol veteran: “That hesitation will result in a loss of life.”

Rosenhall is tracking the bill in her podcast, Force of Law, and writes that the measure will likely change as it moves through the Legislature.

USC scandal comes to Sacramento

USC has agreed to a $215 million class-action lawsuit settlement.

Nicole Haynes, captain of the University of Southern California track team in 1995, recalled going to the student health clinic with terrible abdominal pain—and becoming a victim of Dr. George Tyndall.

  • On Tuesday, she told her story to an Assembly committee considering legislation by Democratic Assemblyman Eloise GĂłmez Reyes of San Bernardino. Reyes’ bill would give Tyndall’s patients who opt out of a $215 million class-action lawsuit settlement against USC an additional year to file their own civil claims stemming from decades of alleged sexual abuse by the gynecologist.

Haynes, now 44 and living in Redondo Beach, said she didn’t understand what the doctor was doing at the time, but realized he had abused her when the story of Tyndall’s alleged sexual misconduct against hundreds of victims broke in the L.A. Times a year ago.

  • As Haynes told her story, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris of Laguna Beach teared up, telling me later:

“I want to believe the world is full of good. Sometimes the facts show otherwise.”

USC is opposing to bill. It passed its first committee.


What Newsom gained in El Salvador

Gov. Gavin Newsom at the Divina Providencia Hospital in San Salvador, El Salvador. AP Photo/Salvador Melendez

Gov. Gavin returns to California later today after a four day fact-finding trip to El Salvador. Here are a few facts he said he found:

  • The gang-ravaged Central American country has pockets of prosperity, thriving businesses, a decreasing homicide rate—and a thriving surf scene
  • The economic fortunes of the country is tied to our own, with U.S. remittances making up 22% of the country’s gross domestic product.

Newsom called the trip a resounding success. As CALmatters’ Elizabeth Aguilera and Ben Christopher report, whether you agree with that all depends on what you think the goal of the trip was to begin with.

If the trip was intended to shift terms of political debate, Newsom’s foray into foreign travel got minimal national coverage, and did not earn a Trump tweet, perhaps because the president was busy purging the Department of Homeland Security.

Dan Schnur, a former GOP consultant: “More than any single day or news story, what Newsom is after is the cumulative effect to build an overall contrast. Unfortunately, Kirstjen Nielsen got in the way of this story.”

'Trump insurance’ environmental bill

Senate President Pro Term Toni Atkins

Besides filing lawsuits, California Democrats are approving tougher laws to thwart the Trump administration.

On Tuesday, a state Senate Committee approved legislation by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins decreeing that California would adhere to environmental, labor and public health laws as they stood on Jan. 19, 2017, the day before Trump was sworn in.

  • Atkins’ bill would protect laws related to endangered species, labor and clean water and air.
  • It also would bar importation into California of parts of lions, elephants and other supposed trophy animals, as the Trump administration repeals such bans.

Democratic Sen. Henry Stern of Canoga Park: “There is a deficit of trust with Washington. … I wish we didn’t have to have an insurance policy.”

Republican Sen. Andreas Borgeas of Fresno warned that the measure would open a Pandora’s box and could be used to drive agriculture out of California.

  • Environmentalists and the California Labor Federation support it. Major farm groups, the oil industry, builders and timber companies oppose it.
  • The bill has several more hurdles. Given the Legislature’s Democratic majority, chances of its passage are high.

More 'Trump insurance'

The California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education oversees for-profit colleges.

Democratic legislators are seeking to shore up Obama-era consumer protections against abuses by for-profit colleges, CALmatters’ Felicia Mello reports.

The Trump administration has sought to roll back those protections. Democrats have no fewer than seven bills to ensure oversight of for-profit colleges. 

Assemblyman Marc Berman, a Democrat from Palo Alto: “Because we cannot rely on the U.S. Department of Education to solve this problem, California must step up to protect our students.”

  • Berman is carrying a bill that would provide regulation of for-profit colleges that seek to establish nonprofit arms.
  • Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Eggman of Stockton is carrying legislation to deter for-profits from targeting military veterans, whose GI Bills are a tempting target.
  • A bill by Assemblyman David Chiu of San Francisco would require for-profits to show that their degrees lead to gainful employment.

Lobbyist Scott Governor, representing the for-profit University of Phoenix, said in a letter to lawmakers the gainful employment bill “sets a dangerous precedent that could lead to a patchwork of state-based bills.”

Oil, hardhats and a wedge issue

The oil industry and its workers are combating a number of bills.

California’s oil industry and unionized building trades workers are teaming up to combat legislation that they say threatens the industry and the jobs it provides.

  • More than 100 oil workers, many of them earning $100,000 a year, came to the Capitol to buttonhole legislators Tuesday, and gathered for lunch at the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California with oil industry lobbyists.
  • Trades council president Robbie Hunter told the crowd that if legislators over-regulate oil in California, the demand would be filled by refineries in India and wells in Saudi Arabia, where there are no strict environmental standards.

Hunter: “We’re going to stand our ground. We’re going to fight.”

This year’s bills would:

  • Impose an oil severance tax.
  • Require that the state fully transition to zero-emission vehicles by 2040.
  • Ban new drilling within a half-mile of a residence, school, childcare facility, playground, hospitals or health clinics. That bill by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, a Democrat from Rolling Hills Estates, would significantly restrict drilling in Beverly Hills and Long Beach.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association, attended the lunch: “It’s really important that we all join together and have a common voice of reason, and a voice that balances the economy and environment, and economic prosperity.”

Wedge issue: The fight over oil divides the Democratic constituencies of environmentalists who seek to restrict carbon-based fuels and end fracking, and building trades union leaders, who generally are aligned with Democrats.

Commentary at CALmatters

Sharon Quirk-Silva, a Democrat who represents Assembly District 65 in northern Orange County: Taxing water, food and other essential needs would limit their affordability and betray our collective resolve that no one should be denied the essentials for health, sanitation and freedom from hunger and thirst.

Dan Walters, CALmatters: The California Chamber of Commerce has been remarkably successful for two decades in defeating or neutralizing bills it places on its annual list of “job killers,” but the Capitol’s ambiance is changing and continuing that record may be more difficult.

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.