Good morning, California.

“I hear it everywhere I go. The party needs new blood, new ideas and new energy.”— East Bay Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell, telling The San Francisco Chronicle’s Phil Matier and Andy Ross that he’s thinking about running for president.

They write that Swalwell has been on national television 233 times this year. But who’s counting?

Can cities block pot deliveries?

Cities are protesting cannabis delivery services.

City officials and cops are protesting a proposed rule that would permit deliveries of marijuana to any city in the state, including those that have sought to ban commercial cannabis sales.

Jog my memory: Backers of Proposition 64, the 2016 initiative that legalized recreational weed sales, maintained that local officials would be able to ban the product from within their borders. Local control was among the selling points.

Shortly after its passage, delivery companies began lobbying for the authority to provide doorstep service. A 68,000-plus word bill pushed through as part of the 2017 budget last June included a sentence:

“A local jurisdiction shall not prevent transportation of cannabis or cannabis products on public roads by a licensee transporting cannabis or cannabis products.”

The state’s new Bureau of Cannabis Control included that language in a proposed rule last month. The League of California Cities blasted the proposal in a press call on Monday.

Covina Mayor Walt Allen said his City Council voted 5-0 against allowing dispensaries or delivery services: “This is going to open a Pandora’s Box. … We just want to be able to utilize our own local control.”

The bureau is seeking comments on the rule at a public hearing today at 10 a.m. in downtown Los Angeles. The comment period on the proposed rule ends in two weeks.

Money matters: Eaze Solutions, probably the biggest player in delivery services, has spent $241,000 on lobbying the Legislature and regulators since 2017 when recreational marijuana became legal.


Advertisement

Strategic. Persuasive. Effective. Working at the intersection of business, politics and policy.


Supreme Court: Yes, interest rates can be too high

A payday lender.

The California Supreme Court stepped in Monday where the Legislature hesitates to tread, ruling that high-interest loans aimed poor people could be illegal if the rates are “unconscionable.”

Remind me: The Legislature caps interest rates on loans of $2,499 or less. But as has happened in past years, lenders’ lobbying this year killed five bills to curb high-interest loans on sums of $2,500 or more, CALmatters’ Antoinette Siu recently reported.

In oral argument before the Supreme Court in June, the attorney who represented the lender, CashCall, said state law permitted lenders to charge whatever the market would bear, the LA Times noted.

Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar begged to differ, writing in a unanimous decision: “Can the interest rate on consumer loans of $2,500 or more render the loans unconscionable? … The answer is yes.”

Courts would have difficulty pinpointing the precise point at which an interest becomes unconscionable, Cuéllar said.

“But that is no reason to ignore … that courts have a responsibility to guard against consumer loan provisions with unduly oppressive terms.”

What’s next: The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had asked the California court to determine whether state law would allow a loan to be voided if the interest rate is unconscionable. The case, De La Torre vs. CashCall, returns to the 9th Circuit.

The Legislature, meanwhile, probably will take up the issue again next year as it has in the past.


Advertisement

It's time to make behavioral health solutions a top priority in California.


Poverty in California is getting better, except where it isn’t

California has the nation’s highest poverty rate when you consider the state’s high cost of living. But the number of people living in poverty here has dropped since the beginning of the decade, CALmatters data reporter Matt Levin writes.

There were nearly 600,000 fewer impoverished Californians in 2016 than in 2011, the Public Policy Institute of California found. That’s the good news. But the decline in the overall poverty rate masks geographic differences. Major swaths of California have seen no decline in poverty.

Short-timer senator sworn in

Montebello Democrat Vanessa Delgado took her seat in the state Senate Monday where she will serve until December, the shortest tenure for a state senator in more than a century, CALmatters’ Laurel Rosenhall writes.

Long story short: Delgado finished third in the June primary for the Senate seat, so she failed to qualify for the general election in November. But in an odd twist, she won a special election last week for the same seat. The special election was called to fill out the term of former Sen. Tony Mendoza, who resigned in February amid a sexual harassment investigation.

Delgado, a bouquet of flowers on her desk, was casting votes Monday: “This is an unexpected result, but it’s what the voters decided.”

She will continue to vote for the three weeks left in the session and then return to Montebello where she is a developer. She was Montebello mayor but had to give up that seat to join the Senate.

Why it matters: Republicans thought they could win the seat, and spent $80,000 on the special election. In theory, the district could swing to a Republican. The Republican candidate, attorney Rita Topalian, had lost a 2014 Assembly race in the area by fewer than 1,900 votes. That she lost to Delgado in the special election last week does not bode well for GOP chances in November. Topalian will face Democrat Bob Archuleta in November

Walters: DMV is a hot mess, and it’s not alone

CALmatters commentator Dan Walters notes that legislators from both parties bashed the Department of Motor Vehicles. But Democrats refused to order an audit of the department after Gov. Jerry Brown promised to fix the mess. The problem raises the broader point of what the state can and cannot do.

Walters: “If DMV is a hot mess, how could the state possibly run a $400 billion single-payer health care system that Brown’s almost certain successor, Gavin Newsom, and other Democratic politicians so stridently advocate?”

Commentary: Betty Yee is fortunate; Pots law are lax

Guest commentator Kevin Sabet writes in CALmatters new commentary forum: Controller Betty Yee and her husband, whose car was rear-ended on July 13 by a motorist who allegedly was high on cannabis, “were unfortunate victims of California’s lax attitude toward pot.”

We welcome commentaries focused on California state policy. Please see our guidelines here.

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.