One of two people leading state Sen. Ricardo Lara’s transition as California’s newly elected Insurance Commissioner worked until last month as the Sacramento lobbyist for a major drug maker that is the subject of an investigation by the Department of Insurance that Lara soon will head.
Lara, a Democrat from Bell Gardens, will be sworn in as Insurance Commissioner on Monday, succeeding Dave Jones, who was termed out.
In December, Lara issued a press release announcing that Michael Martinez would help lead his transition to the 1,300-employee department. That release described Martinez, a former insurance department official and aide to Gov. Jerry Brown, as “currently working in California’s life sciences sector.”
The release neglected to elaborate on the work Martinez did in the life sciences sector and it didn’t identify his employer.
In a separate public filing with the Secretary of State, Martinez disclosed that until December, he had been a lobbyist for the Foster City-based pharmaceutical company, Gilead Sciences. Read More
You know what they say: If at first you don’t succeed, run to be the chair of a major California political party.
Perhaps that explains the case of two runner-ups from the 2018 election season. State Sen. Kevin de León of Los Angeles—the former Senate Democratic leader who in November failed to unseat a fellow Democrat, veteran U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein— says he’ll decide within a few weeks whether to run for chair of the California Democratic Party. That follows former Republican gubernatorial candidate and state Assemblyman Travis Allen, who was defeated in the June primary and later announced he will be running to be the next leader of his party.
In a telephone conversation today with CALmatters, de León said that he has been asked to take up the California Democratic Party’s mantle by “a lot of activists and elected officials” within the party and is giving the matter serious thought. “My phone has been blowing up,” he said. He declined to say who has been calling and texting without first getting their permission to share that information.
De León won the endorsement of the party’s executive council for his Senate challenge last July. He ultimately lost to Feinstein in the general election by more than 8 percentage points.
If he does decide to run, de León would be seeking to replace Eric Bauman, who resigned in late November after being accused of sexual harassment. Allen hopes to replace current California Republican Chairman Jim Brulte, who decided not to seek re-election. Read More
Early childhood education. A top-tier national ranking for K-12 per-pupil spending. A data system that would track kids from nursery school through state universities.
California’s Legislature won’t reconvene until 2019, but the Christmas wish list for public schools is already long and pricey. On the first day of session, Democratic lawmakers introduced two major education bills, calling for nearly $40 billion more in state spending on schools.
Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom publicly supports many of the same education initiatives being pushed by legislators. But he’s also said he plans to “live within our means” and follow Jerry Brown’s frugal example. Whether the economy—and the Democrats’ legislative mega-majority—will comply is an open question.
In any case, as California rings rings in a new administration, here’s a guide to some of the big-ticket education items lawmakers will likely debate next year. Universal preschool
Why it matters: State leaders view spending more on preschool and other early childhood programs both as a key to improving learning outcomes for disadvantaged students and as a powerful anti-poverty program. Read More
Californians may have just voted overwhelmingly for more of the same—boosting Democratic majorities in both chambers of the Legislature and replacing one Democratic governor with another for the first time since the 1880’s—but many are still eager for major changes to state policy. And a majority are downright pessimistic about California’s future.
Half of all respondents, and 60 percent of respondents identified as likely voters, predicted that children growing up today in California will face a bleaker financial future than their parents. That impending decline could arrive sooner than we think. Asked if California should expect an economic downturn in the next year, respondents were split. And like the state’s economic growth, that optimism was not evenly distributed: majorities of coastal city residents foresee good times ahead, while pessimism clustered in the Inland Empire and Central Valley.
The number of Californians who believe “the good times might be over” was “decidedly different than even a few weeks before the election,” said Mark Baldassare, president of the institute.
The rising pessimism could be the result of a waning stock market or news of the county’s still-unresolved trade war. But a general sense of economic anxiety is also in keeping with a long-term trend since the last decade’s Great Recession, he said. Read More
Update: Newsom advisor Jason Kinney registered as a lobbyist with Axiom Advisors on January 28, 2019.
The week Gavin Newsom was elected governor, three Sacramento lobbyists quit an influential firm where they’d been partners for many years. Two filed paperwork to launch a new lobbying shop. The third, Jason Kinney, de-registered as a lobbyist and immediately became a key member of Newsom’s gubernatorial transition team.
The next week, billed as Newsom’s senior advisor, Kinney shared the stage with three state regulators at a huge cannabis conference in Las Vegas. The event was sponsored by Axiom Advisors, the new lobbying firm Kinney’s former partners had just launched, and WeedMaps, a marijuana advertising website that was a client at their prior lobbying firm and is now represented by Axiom. The Axiom logo shone on a screen above the stage.
And when Kinney introduced himself to the roomful of marijuana entrepreneurs, he quickly mentioned Kevin Schmidt—his former partner now lobbying at the new firm.
“Right after the passage of decriminalization and legalization in Colorado and Washington, then-Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom walked into an office and said to a bunch of us—(including) Kevin Schmidt, who was working in the lieutenant governor’s office at the time, who is here in this audience—he walked in and said, ‘California is going to be next,’” Kinney recounted, “‘And we are going to do it.’” Read More