With a quarter-million Californians evacuated from their homes and wildfires so far claiming nine lives, President Donald Trump today took to Twitter and inflamed tensions—blaming California for causing the fires by mismanaging its forests and threatening to cut off federal funds.
Although he approved the state’s request for a state-of-emergency declaration—freeing up funds to help the massive firefighting effort and recovery—the president couldn’t miss the opportunity to aim a derisive shot at the nation’s largest “Resistance State.”
There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2018
California notched another legal victory Thursday in its bid to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, as a federal appeals court agreed with the state’s attorney general and the University of California that the Trump administration cannot dismantle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is the first federal appeals court to rule on the fate of the Obama-era program, which provides two-year permits for some 800,000 Dreamers, allowing them to work and study in the country.
About one in four Dreamers live in California, according to Attorney General Xavier Becerra. He called Thursday’s ruling “a tremendous victory for everyone who is a believer in the American dream.”
The ruling upholds an injunction filed by a federal district court in January preventing Trump from ending DACA. Justice Department lawyers had argued that President Obama illegally overstepped his authority when creating the program, and that Congress should decide Dreamers’ fate.
But the appeals court found that the executive branch has long used deferred action for certain groups of immigrants in order to better manage scarce enforcement resources. Programs like DACA “enable DHS to devote much-needed resources to enforcement priorities such as threats to national security, rather than blameless and economically productive young people with clean criminal records,” the judges wrote. Read More
Speaking against the backdrop of a busy morning freeway, California officials this morning reaffirmed their opposition to a Trump administration proposal to roll back automobile fuel efficiency standards—noting the state had just filed 415 pages of comment strenuously objecting to the federal plan.
That plan would unravel two instruments critical to California’s climate change policies: The previously-agreed upon benchmarks for car makers to roll out vehicles that consume less gas, and the legal right of the state to set its own auto emissions standards.
The federal rules change, which is not yet finalized, calls for freezing fuel-efficiency standards in 2020 at an average 35 miles per gallon. California had led negotiations that established more ambitious cuts and those rules were formalized in the waning days of the Obama administration.
The officials—Gov. Jerry Brown, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Air Board chairwoman Mary Nichols—were equally dismissive of the decision to eliminate California’s longstanding waiver, which allows state officials to set car emissions standards that are more stringent that those imposed by federal regulators.
Nichols provided the morning’s most comprehensive takedown of the federal government’s justification for changing course, saying, “What they are proposing not only doesn’t make sense from its own logic, it’s poorly argued, poorly organized, not based in fact and illegal.” Read More
An Orange County Superior Court judge has ruled that California’s “sanctuary state law” conflicts with Huntington Beach’s rights as a charter city, throwing some protections for undocumented immigrants into question in 120 cities throughout the state.
Senate Bill 54 or the California Values Act, authored by state Sen. Kevin de León, a Los Angeles Democrat who is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, doesn’t actually make California a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. Rather, it puts limits on the amount of work state and local government officials can do to expedite ICE enforcement.
Though many California cities support the law, arguing it makes immigrant communities less afraid to report crimes and promotes trust in local institutions, dozens of other municipalities have adopted resolutions opposing it in principle. Huntington Beach, in coastal Orange County, was the first to take its challenge to court.
Judge James Crandall did not issue a legal opinion about the case, but granted a writ of mandate, ruling that the state cannot enforce its sanctuary law there, based on Huntington Beach’s status as a charter city.
Charter cities are organized under their own municipal codes, rather than under the state’s general law. One hundred twenty-one of California’s 482 cities share the designation, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Jose, San Diego and San Francisco. Read More
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Education’s delay of rules meant to protect student loan borrowers from predatory practices was “arbitrary and capricious,” granting a legal victory to the state of California and borrowers who say their colleges defrauded them.
If upheld, the ruling could make it easier for students like the tens of thousands of Californians left in the lurch when for-profit chain Corinthian Colleges abruptly closed its doors to recoup their investments.
Corinthian’s 2015 collapse prompted the Obama Administration to issue new rules the following year allowing groups of students to apply for federal loan forgiveness en masse if their college closed, misled them or broke the law. The so-called “borrower defense rules” were hailed by consumer advocates and criticized by representatives of the for-profit college industry, who said they would put small vocational schools out of business.
The Trump administration has repeatedly pushed back implementation of the rules, and in August proposed a new plan that would make each individual borrower prove that their college knowingly lied to them in order to have loans discharged.
But Judge Randolph S. Moss agreed with the complaint filed by a pair of student borrowers, joined by the attorney generals of 19 states including California, that the department illegally “failed to offer a reasoned basis” for the shift in policy. The two sides are scheduled to meet in court Friday to discuss remedies in the case. Read More
California’s push to pass the nation’s strongest net neutrality protections—and bring back Obama-era rules undone by the Trump administration—advanced today, one step in a high-stakes tech battle that’s being waged from here to Washington.
The bill by Democratic Sens. Scott Wiener and Kevin de Léon survived intense negotiations to pass the Democratic-controlled Assembly with overwhelming support by a vote of 61 to 18. It goes back to the Senate for a final vote before the legislative session ends Friday. If passed, it would prohibit internet service providers from slowing or speeding content based on preference or extra payment.
“The core premise of net neutrality is that we get to decide where we go on the internet, as opposed to telecom and cable companies telling us where to go,” Wiener said in a statement.
SB 822 aims to protect an open internet by replacing the Trump administration’s repeal of federal protections established during the Obama administration in 2015. It is considered the strongest set of net neutrality provisions since Obama’s were rolled back in June, and would be enforced by California’s attorney general.
Wiener and de Léon’s proposal would ban internet companies from charging businesses access fees in order to reach its online customers. It would also prohibit “zero rating,” a practice in which providers charge consumers for accessing their competitors’ content, but provide a free data incentive for accessing their own content. Read More
Time is running out for California taxpayers trying to recoup a valuable tax deduction lost in the Republican tax overhaul.
Though two state workarounds remain in play as the Legislature enters the final days of the session, lawmakers have less than a week to legislate an alternative to new federal income tax rules that, among other things, set a cap of $10,000 on combined state and local income, property and sales tax deductions.
About a third of California taxpayers claim those state and local tax, or “SALT” deductions. They had no limit—and were a boon to taxpayers in high-tax states such as California—until the Trump administration targeted them last year.
Since then, California’s Democratic legislative majority has searched for a way around the deduction limit, proposing to give taxpayers the option of donating to the state or a nonprofit in exchange for a tax credit toward their federal and state taxes. It’s a gambit that other high-tax states, such as New York, are also exploring.
Last week, however, the Internal Revenue Service proposed a new rule that would mostly block any federal tax deductions, charitable or not, for state and local tax payments above the $10,000 limit. The IRS will accept comments through Oct. 11 and hold a public hearing November 5. Read More
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a federal records request today for information about the impact of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigrant children’s mental and physical wellbeing.
The Freedom of Information Act request seeks all records related to the creation of the policy and the federal government’s determination of its ability to care for the influx of children detained as a result of the policy.
The request follows a hearing last week in which federal health official Jonathan White said he warned the Trump administration of potential negative effects children could suffer if they were parted from their undocumented immigrant parents. “Separation of children from their parents entails significant harm to children,” said White. “There’s no question that separation of children from parents entails significant potential for traumatic psychological injury to the child.”
“Last week’s Congressional hearing shows that this President and his Administration received warnings about the impacts of the family separation policy and still acted,” said Becerra in a press release. “We must have answers and accountability. We all deserve to know what went into the federal government’s inconceivable decision to separate thousands of children from their families.”
Becerra’s request targeted the Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services departments, and included disclosure of senior staff communications—including memorandums, emails, and notes of meetings or calls regarding the “zero tolerance” policy. He specifically is pursuing internal communications from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and the current and former secretaries of Health and Human Services. Read More
Update: The Legislature passed, and Gov. Jerry Brown signed, SB 910.
Legislators in California appear ready to counter a new Trump administration move, this time on health insurance.
Last week, federal officials announced they would expand health insurers’ ability to sell so-called skinny insurance plans, short-term policies that offer only bare-bones benefits. Those plans also are called “junk” plans because of the dearth of conditions and ailments they cover—for instance, most don’t cover maternity care or cancer treatment, and some have high deductibles or exclude pre-existing conditions.
Less expensive because of the “skinny” coverage, the plans were launched under the Obama administration as a bridge to Affordable Care Act plans. They were limited to three months and could not be renewed.
The new federal rules allow low-benefit plans that don’t comply with ACA standards to last a year and be renewed for up to three years. Read More
A federal appeals court ruled today that President Trump does not have the authority to withhold federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities and counties.
Upholding a lower court decision, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the power to allocate federal funding belongs to Congress: “The Executive Branch may not refuse to disperse the federal grants in question without congressional authorization.”
Last year, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick III in San Francisco issued a national injunction against an executive order that Trump issued five days into his presidency. The president’s order directed that federal monies be withheld from “sanctuary” jurisdictions such as San Francisco.
San Francisco and the County of Santa Clara, which have declared themselves sanctuary jurisdictions, limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities, sued the Trump administration.
Orrick said Trump’s order was unconstitutional, violating the Separation of Powers doctrine and the Fifth and Tenth amendments. Read More