Good morning, California.

“Why did @EPAScottPruitt resign? A free press. Whistleblowers & unnamed sources. Public outrage. Also, everyone knows that Ritz Carlton moisturizing lotion is overrated and not worth the cost. Scott Pruitt using taxpayer funds to get that lotion was likely the final straw.” — Congressman Ted Lieu, Torrance Democrat and tweeter.

Judge upholds ‘sanctuary’ law, affirms states’ rights

Protestors outside the federal courthouse in Sacramento last month.

A federal judge’s decision Thursday upholding California’s so-called sanctuary policy is a significant victory for the state’s authority to govern its own affairs.

Remind me: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions came to Sacramento in March to announce the Trump administration was suing to invalidate three state laws approved last year to limit cooperation with federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants.

U.S. District Judge John Mendez struck down one law that restricted business owners from helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But he upheld two others, including the centerpiece, Senate Bill 54 by Sen. Kevin de León, a Los Angeles Democrat.

Mendez ruled that the 10th Amendment bars Uncle Sam from commandeering state and local authorities to do the feds’ job:

Without state and local law enforcement assistance, feds may have a tougher time enforcing immigration law. But “standing aside does not equate to standing in the way.”

Mendez briefly: The San Leandro native went to Stanford and Harvard law school. President George H.W. Bush appointed him U.S. attorney in San Francisco in 1992. President George W. Bush appointed him to the federal bench in Sacramento in 2008.

In his 60-page opinion dated July 4, Mendez said he was expressing no view on the soundness of the state policy, but did urge President Trump and Congress to set aside “polarizing politics” and solve the immigration issue.

P.S. Eric Holder, President Barack Obama’s first attorney general, helped write the main sanctuary law and filed a brief urging Mendez to uphold it.


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California-style net neutrality bill is revived

Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, flanked by Sen. Kevin de Leon (left) and Sen. Scott Wiener.

Democratic legislators announced Thursday they’ve worked out a California-only version of net neutrality, two weeks after the deal seemed doomed.

Jog my memory: Assembly Communications Committee Chairman Miguel Santiago, a Los Angeles Democrat, hijacked a bill by Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, intended to create a state version of net neutrality.

Wiener introduced his bill in response to President Trump’s Federal Communications Commission decision to scrap Obama administration rules intended to ensure full and free access to the Internet. The legislator argues that the state has the power to act if the feds fail to do so.

Fallout: Net-neutrality advocates flooded Santiago’s office with calls and emails.  CALmatters’ Antoinette Siu reported some crowd-funded a billboard in Santiago’s gentrifying downtown L.A. district with a none-too-subtle message:

“Miguel Santiago is helping Trump kill net neutrality.”

Details to come: Legislators said they won’t release the language of the accord until August, when the Legislature returns from summer recess. That would give telecommunications giants AT&T, Comcast and others less time to mobilize their opposition.

The facts behind the law developers love to hate

In a new installment of the California Dream project, done in partnership with CALmatters, Capital Public Radio’s Ben Bradford explores the impact of the law developers love to hate: the California Environmental Quality Act.

The law often is used to slow housing and other development.

More than a year ago, Redwood City approved a 20-unit affordable-housing project to be built by Habitat for Humanity near transit lines, in the heart of Silicon Valley. Now it’s stuck, largely because an attorney sued to block it.

Maureen Sedonaen, CEO of the Habitat for Humanity chapter: “We’re talking about 20 families being able to permanently stay in the Bay Area.”

Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the bill that created the law in 1970. Individuals  and environmentalists invoke the law to shape or block projects. Competitors use it as a weapon, as does organized labor when developers employ non-union workers.

Pruitt leaves, but the lawsuits remain

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt quit Thursday, under fire for overspending on travel and security, and cozy relations with industry. But his legacy lives on in California.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed or joined no fewer than 10 lawsuits over Pruitt’s actions, by the count of CALmatters’ Trump administration litigation tracker. The suits seek to block Pruitt from relaxing standards on pesticide exposure, methane gas releases, gas-mileage standards and more.

Next: Pruitt’s replacement, Andrew Wheeler, was Pruitt’s deputy and previously was an energy company lobbyist. President Trump predicted Wheeler “will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda.”

Walters: Jerry Brown did not solve the fiscal ‘mess’

CALmatters commentator Dan Walters takes issue with Gov. Jerry Brown’s claim that he has fixed California’s “fiscal mess.”

Spending has increased 50 percent on his watch, the state still faces $200 billion in debt and California still depends on a handful of wealthy people for much of its tax revenue.

Walters: “Brown could—and should—have championed a much-needed overhaul of the state’s tax system to reduce both the volatility and the impact of a new recession. But he refused to take on that difficult task. It could haunt his successors.”

Please email or call me with tips, suggestions and insights, dmorain@calmatters.org, 916.201.6281. Thanks for reading, please tell a friend and sign up here.

See you Monday.