Good morning, California.
“Oh my God, if I knew that, I would be Jesus himself.”—Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, author of Assembly Bill 392 to limit police use of deadly force, responding to a question about the bill’s impact from Brian Howey, producer of CALmatters’ Force of Law podcast.
Restricting police use of deadly force
Democratic Assemblywoman Shirley Weber speaks after the passage of her bill.
Without a single no-vote, the California Assembly on Wednesday approved legislation that could limit police use of deadly force and give California one of the strongest standards in the nation, CALmatters’ Ben Christopher reports.
- Assembly Bill 392 by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a San Diego Democrat, started as one of the year’s most contentious pieces of legislation. Law enforcement lobby groups dropped their opposition after an accord was worked out last week.
- The vote was 67-0, with 13 members not voting. The Senate likely will support the measure.
Weber called the bill part of a “400-year challenge” for racial justice, and dedicated the bill to her two grandsons.
The L.A. Times: Weber “made a commitment that I never want to have ‘that conversation’ with them,” referring to a common talk African-American parents have with children about how to handle police interactions to avoid violence.
Republican Assemblyman Tom Lackey, a former California Highway Patrol officer, choked up as he spoke about a former colleague who used lethal force while on the job, and committed suicide. He voted for the bill, as did eight other Republicans.
Lackey: “In my entire elected experience, never has a bill consumed my thinking as this has.”
Proponents believe California could have the strictest use-of-force standard in the country, if the measure is signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, as seems likely. Some advocates contend the bill is too watered down. Courts will sort out the meaning of new standards.
Health care agenda
Several health care-related bills are working their way through the Legislature.
California’s Democratic legislators continued their push to expand health care for poor people, as tracked by CALmatters health reporter Elizabeth Aguilera.
A few examples:
- The Senate and Assembly approved bills to expand state-funded health care for low-income adult undocumented immigrants. Children already are covered. One bill by Sen. Maria Elena Durazo of Los Angeles would cover undocumented immigrants ages 19-25 and 65 and older.
- Sen. Richard Pan of Sacramento is carrying Senate Bill 65 to provide state-funded subsidies for middle-income people who don’t receive help with the cost of health insurance. To pay for those subsidies, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed imposing a state-only individual mandate charging people $695 a year if they fail to buy health insurance.
- Pan is holding his legislation to create a state individual mandate but intends to push to have the mandate included as part of the state budget being negotiated now. If approved as part of the budget, the measure would take effect July 1. Here’s Aguilera’s story detailing the issue.
- Senate Bill 600 by Sen. Anthony Portantino, Democrat from La Cañada Flintridge, which would require insurers to provide fertility preservation when a medical treatment may cause infertility, is on its way to the other chamber. The goal is to provide clarity on this coverage because health insurers have historically denied such coverage for patients.
Democrats aren’t pushing single-payer, Medicare-for-all legislation, for now. But they are making clear that health care is a high priority.
A hedge against Trump
A "Trump insurance" bill cleared the state Senate.
As the Trump administration rejects climate change science and seeks to roll back clean air standards, the California Senate approved “Trump insurance” legislation Wednesday that would lock in place for Californians many federal environmental, public health and labor standards that were in place on the day before Trump took office.
Sounds familiar: Similar legislation stalled in the Assembly last year.
- Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins emphasized the significance, substance and symbolism of Senate Bill 1 by carrying it herself and making it the first bill of the session to be introduced.
If Trump succeeds in, say, limiting the federal endangered species act, Atkins’ bill would require the state to maintain protections that existed on Jan. 19, 2017, the day before Donald Trump took the oath of office.
- Her bill would authorize anyone to sue to enforce the pre-Trump standards, if Uncle Sam restricts the right to sue.
- On the chance that Trump wins a second term, SB 1 would cease to enforce pre-Trump standards starting on Jan. 20, 2025.
Backers include organized labor and environmental groups. Opponents include organizations that have embraced many of Trump’s environmental stands: Western States Petroleum Association, Western Growers, Agricultural Council of California, Association of California Water Agencies, California Forestry Association, California Association of Realtors and the California Chamber of Commerce, among others.
The bill passed on a party-line vote, with all 28 Democrats aligned with their leader, and all 10 Republicans voting no. It heads to the Assembly.
FSB Core Strategies: Public Affairs. Ballot Campaigns. Legislative & Regulatory Fights
Assemblyman Rob Bonta's childcare bill has been approved by the Assembly.
By a 70-0 vote, the California Assembly has approved and sent to the Senate legislation authorizing officeholders and candidates to use campaign funds for childcare during campaign events and when politicians are performing official duties.
Assembly Bill 220 by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, an Oakland Democrat, is intended to encourage parents to run for office. It would allow campaign money to be used for daycare, babysitting, nannies, childcare-related transportation, food and drink, and before- and after-school programs.
Private school tuition would not be authorized.
Parole hearings at San Quentin are held behind these doors.
After a closed hearing at San Quentin State Prison, a two-member panel of the Board of Parole Hearings deemed Chan “John” Lam, the brother-in-law of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, suitable for release from prison.
- Lam, 33, was one of five people convicted in connection with the Christmastime 2003 murder of 19-year-old Matthew Sievert in Sacramento.
- I detailed the crime and its aftermath in this story.
The crime occurred 11 years before Rendon and Lam’s sister married. Rendon has never met Lam face-to-face.
Then-Gov. Jerry Brown granted Lam’s clemency petition last November, reducing his sentence to 16 years to life from its original 26 years to life. That made Lam eligible for parole. Lam has never been disciplined in prison and has gained an education and job skills.
- Lam has more hurdles before he is released from prison, including final approval by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Details of the Wednesday hearing are not known. Without explanation, a parole board hearing officer denied me access to the hearing, even though the Board of Parole Hearings’ executive director approved my request to cover it. Word apparently was not communicated to the hearing officer. Things happen.
Commentary at CALmatters
Jay Obernolte and Sharon Quirk-Silva, assembly members from Big Bear Valley and Fullerton: New Assembly rules provide the chairs of committees with the discretion to arbitrarily decide whether to set a bill for hearing or not, without any justification. While most committee chairs are even-handed and set all the bills that have been referred to them, this is not always the case. The saying, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” applies.
Dan Walters, CALmatters: The battle over California’s “gig economy” is underway in the Legislature, and a new front has been opened in the California Public Employees Retirement System.
See you tomorrow.