In summary

Lawmakers look to expand definition of sanctuary state, for immigrants and guns. Child poverty rates released. Aid-in-dying drug prescriptions decline.

Good morning, California.

“I can’t give myself the luxury of not going to work. … My mother is sick and needs medicine, and I’m the only person who can pay her medical bills.”—Edgar Barrera, quoted in an L.A. Times story on how undocumented immigrants are dealing with President Trump’s threat to arrest and deport them.

This ‘sanctuary’ state

Assemblyman Rob Bonta.

As President Donald Trump threatens mass deportations of undocumented immigrants, California legislators press ahead with legislation that would toss monkey wrenches into the efforts.

Sounds familiar: Reacting to Trump’s election, California Democrats in 2017 passed so-called sanctuary state legislation limiting cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Now, they seek to go further:

  • Private prisons would be barred from operating in California. The bill includes private lock-ups used to detain undocumented immigrants.—Assembly Bill 32 by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, Oakland Democrat.
  • Private security guards would be barred from helping to arrest or transport individuals for ICE—AB 1282 by Assemblyman Ash Kalra, San Jose Democrat.
  • Private prisons would be required to notify the California attorney general whenever there’s a death in the facility. The state would have to issue a public report on the circumstances surrounding the death—Senate Bill 622 by Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, Los Angeles Democrat.

Durazo: “Deaths deserve some kind of investigation. ICE investigating themselves is not good enough.”

There’s a union angle. Correctional officers’ unions oppose private prisons. The Riverside Sheriff’s Association, which represents deputies and jailers, supports all three measures, writing: 

  • “Private actors owe a legally mandated fiduciary obligation and duty to maximize profits for shareholders. In contrast, our members are sworn to uphold the law.”

By the numbers: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security houses up to 5,700 immigration detainees in California, a legislative staff report says.

A different ‘sanctuary’ city

Needles Mayor Jeff Williams

Needles has declared itself a sanctuary for gun rights, saying liberal state lawmakers hold it hostage. In rural California, that feeling’s not unusual, CalMatters contributor John M. Glionna writes.

Tim Terral, a cable company worker and Needles city councilman, spearheaded the sanctuary city effort after he invited friends from the open-carry state of Arizona to a cookout, and they wouldn’t come. 

The reason: They couldn’t legally carry their firearms into California.

  • Terral: “With the gun resolution, I purposely chose the word ‘sanctuary’ to take a stab at all the liberals. It was a little jab in the eyes.”

Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, a Republican who represents the San Bernardino County town, plans to introduce a bill in December to give more local control to rural gun owners and allow for interstate reciprocity with firearms laws.

  • Glionna: “Republicans are a decided minority in the Capitol, and the chances are low that gun-rights proponents will get a carve-out.”

Child poverty rates

Los Angeles County has a 27.8% child poverty rate.

One in five California children lives in poverty, but rates are far higher in many California counties, the Public Policy Institute of California reports.

Los Angeles County had the highest child poverty rate in California, at 27.8%, followed close behind by Santa Cruz County, at 27.2%, and Santa Barbara County at 26.3%

El Dorado County had the lowest childhood poverty rate, 10.6%.

The Mercury News, digging into the Santa Cruz numbers, reports:

  • “Experts say the statistics can largely be traced to high housing costs. But Santa Cruz County’s median household income of $79,704 is much lower than Silicon Valley’s and San Francisco’s, partly because the area’s dominant industries are hospitality and agriculture.”

PPIC’s other findings:

  • 7.4 million Californians lived in poverty in 2016, little changed from 2015.
  • Without safety net programs, an additional 4.8 million Californians would be poor.
  • The deep poverty rate is unchanged: 2.1 million.
  • Hispanics have a poverty rate of 26.1%.
  • Immigrants’ poverty rate of 25.7% is 50% higher than the poverty rate for U.S.-born Californians, 16.8%.

New aid-in-dying stats

A 2015 law allows physicians to prescribe drugs to aid terminally ill people in dying.

The number of Californians who received prescriptions for aid-in-dying drugs fell to 452 in 2018 from 577 in 2017, the California Department of Public Health reports.

People who died after ingesting the physician-prescribed drugs also fell, down to 337 from 374 in 2017, the first full year in which people suffering from terminal illness could end their lives with physician-prescribed drugs.

Why? Opponents of the 2015 legislation obtained an injunction that blocked the use of the law for about six weeks. That injunction since has been lifted.

  • Sen. Bill Monning, a Carmel Democrat who helped push through the law in 2015: “My best guess is that it was the period of the injunction that most likely impacted the overall numbers of people in 2018.”

By contrast, Oregon, the first state to implement such a law, reported an increase in both deaths and prescriptions in 2018 over the prior year.

Capital Public Radio’s Sammy Caiola explores why the vast majority of individuals to use the law, 88.4%, are white.

Other stats:

  • 51% were female.
  • 80.1% had at least some level of college education.
  • 68.8% had some form of cancer.

Take a number: 6,229.1

Lake Tahoe has reached its maximum legal limit of 6,229.1 feet above sea level and has risen 8 feet since the beginning of 2016, when it hit a low point during California’s historic five-year drought, the Mercury News reports.

  • Mercury News: “This summer will be the third time in the last three years that the lake has come right up to the edge of its legal limit. The last times that happened were 20 years ago, in 1998, 1999 and 2000.”

Commentary at CalMatters

Assemblyman Adam Gray, Democrat from Merced: California classifies solar, wind and geothermal as renewable but inexplicably excludes the most well-developed renewable energy of all: hydropower. A state constitutional amendment would change that. Here’s why it’s needed.

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Dan Morain joined CalMatters in March 2018. He is the former editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee. Morain also spent 27 years at The Los Angeles Times, and has covered the Capitol since 1992.

Barbara is a master's student at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, where she studies new media. She holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from Sacramento State, where she served as editor...