Good morning, California.

“My son had his whole life to live and he was only 6. That’s all I can say.”—Alberto Romero, San Jose father of Stephen Romero, who celebrated his sixth birthday last month at Legoland, and was killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday, as quoted by NBC Bay Area.

What California can’t control

Gilroy shooting assault rifle WASR 10
The semiautomatic rifle used in the Gilroy shooting cannot be legally sold in California.

The assault rifle that 19-year-old Santino William Legan used at the Gilroy Garlic Festival Sunday to kill three people and wound more than a dozen others was bought in Nevada — legally under Nevada law. But nothing about the purchase would be legal in California.

  • Weapons outlawed in California can’t be purchased out of state and simply brought in, thanks to 2014 legislation authored by Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo when he was in the Assembly.
  • The semi-automatic assault rifle used in Sunday’s shooting looks like an AK-47 and its sale is prohibited in California.
  • California also bars gun sales to people under 21 under legislation by Sen. Anthony Portatino, Democrat from La Cañada Flintridge. So had Legan bought his gun in this state, it would have been illegal.

Big Mikes Gun & Ammo of Fallon, Nev., acknowledged on Facebook that it sold the rifle to Legan on July 9: “We are a small home business, we sell to people who we think are upstanding citizens to promote safe sport shooting.”

Big Mikes’ website lists the model sold to Legan as one of the “Top selling firearms.” Price: $698.99

A 2017 graduate of Gilroy High School, Legan was living in Nevada, The Mercury News reported. It’s not clear he had established legal residency there. 

Killed in the massacre were Stephen Romero, 6, and Keyla Salazar, 13, of San Jose, and Trevor Irby, 25, of New York. Legan died as well, shot by police.

Pro-gun groups sued last month in federal court in San Diego to invalidate the law barring sales to under-21 buyers. They’ve also sued to end California’s assault rifle prohibition.

  • Attorney General Xavier Becerra: “We can’t control what other states do.”

Denying generic drug access

Pills pour out of a prescription medication bottle that lays on its side onto a kitchen counter as a strong morning light filters in through a window. Several other pill bottles stand out of focus in the background.
California sued drug makers under state antitrust laws as federal enforcement lags.

Drug makers will pay California $70 million to settle allegations that they conspired to keep more affordable, generic versions of medications off the market in order to keep drug prices high, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Monday.

Invoking state antitrust law — something state attorneys general are doing more often now as federal antitrust enforcement has been lagging — California had accused three pharmaceutical companies of “pay to delay” practices that denied Californians access to generic Provigil, a narcolepsy drug, and Lidoderm, which relieves pain from shingles medication.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, based in Israel, is paying the bulk of the money over its slow walk of generic Provigil to market. In separate settlements, Becerra said Teva also conspired with Ireland-based Endo Pharmaceuticals and San Jose-based Teikoku Pharma to slow the generic version of the Lidoderm pain patch.

  • Becerra: “These dark, illegal, collusive agreements that drug companies devise not only choke off price competition but burden our families and patients — they force every Californian to shoulder higher prices for life-saving medication.”

Becerra is urging passage of Assembly Bill 824 by Assemblyman Jim Wood, a Democrat from Healdsburg, which would enhance the state Department of Justice’s ability to attack “pay to delay” arrangements.

Opposing Wood’s bill are pharma heavyweights Biocom and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

  • Biocom: “This bill usurps jurisdiction of finding and prosecuting of anti-competitive behavior from the Federal Trade Commission and inserts the State of California into this role.”

Food stamp cut to slam California

Antoinette Martinez does her weekly grocery shopping at FoodMaxx, and worries that new proposed Trump administration cuts to food stamp eligibility will make it harder for her to stretch her food budget. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
The Trump administration proposes to cut to food stamp eligibility.

A Trump administration proposal to end 3.1 million Americans’ eligibility for food stamps could hit hard in California, where the cost of housing has skyrocketed and legislators have raised the minimum wage, CalMatters’ Jackie Botts reports.

Now: Californians with wages of up to 200% of the federal poverty line can get food stamps, known as CalFresh here, as long as their net income after housing, childcare or medical costs falls under 100% of the poverty level.

The proposal: Trump seeks to limit recipients to 130% of the federal poverty line. Families who have savings or assets above a federal limit generally of $2,250 also would see their food aid cut.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the proposal would reduce fraud, save billions and move people away from “SNAP dependency.”

  • Jessica Bartholow of the Western Center on Law and Poverty, which is fighting the proposal: “There’s actually no evidence that making someone hungrier makes them less dependent on public benefits.”

The environment matters to voters

Oil rig off the California coast
California voters are watching presidential contenders’ stands on the environment.

Californians are ready to cast their votes and spend their money to fight climate change, CalMatters’ environmental reporter Rachel Becker writes, based on the last poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The partisan divide is stark:

  • 85% of Democratic voters in California believe global warming is upon us, as do 69% of women, 67% of Latinos and 64% of younger voters, compared with 31% of Republican voters.

On several measures, Latinos and younger Californians express more concern about the environment than the electorate as a whole. 

  • 61% of Latinos and 60% of voters 18-44 see air pollution as a threat, compared with 51% of all likely voters and 38% of Republicans.
  • 60% of Latinos and 52% of voters 18-44 are very concerned about the increasing severity of heat waves, compared with 47% of all voters, and 19% of Republicans.

The environment will play a role in the 2020 presidential election: 

  • 80% likely voters said presidential contenders’ environmental stances would be somewhat to very important to their votes.

Harris Watch

A new California poll shows U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris far ahead of former VP Joe Biden.

Sen. Kamala Harris leads the California 2020 presidential primary race among Democratic voters, but the contest remains in flux, new Public Policy Institute of California numbers show.

That’s probably bad news for Joe Biden, CalMatters’ Ben Christopher reports.

The poll surveyed Democrats and left-leaning independents who are likely to vote in California’s 2020 primary:

  • Harris: 19%
  • Warren: 15%
  • Sanders: 12%
  • Biden: 11%

Christopher: Other surveys have found that Biden’s appeal among Democratic voters is based on the perception that he is the most electable. Today’s poll putting him in fourth place puts a crack in that presumption.

The election is fluid: Earlier this month, Quinnipiac University’s poll placed Harris in the lead with 23% support, followed by Biden at 21%, Sanders at 18%, and Warren at 16%.

Trump Watch

Only 38% of California voters view President Donald Trump favorably.

By a 60-38% margin, likely California voters disapprove of President Donald Trump’s job performance, the latest Public Policy Institute of California survey shows. 

That has ticked up from January, when PPIC found 36% of voters approved of his performance, and 2017 when 34% viewed him favorably.

Trump’s hold is tightening on the shrinking number of California Republicans. In a past poll, 77% of Republicans approved of his performance. Now, 87% support him. 

The President’s approval-disapproval numbers are especially bad among:

  • Voters ages 18-44 , 64% unfavorable to 35% favorable.
  • Latinos, 68%-30%.
  • Women, 67%-31%.

Those numbers make clear the GOP in California will be unable to recover for years.

Commentary at CalMatters

Greg Lucas and Erin Berman, California State Library: A policy being adopted by LinkedIn Learning forces patrons to share their personal information to access a library resource. Doing so violates every possible definition of privacy and makes it antithetical to the values at the core of what libraries and librarians stand for. No wonder the American Library Association has expressed concern.

Dan Walters, CalMatters: California’s Unemployment Insurance Fund is the nation’s least solvent. Even a tiny economic downturn would drive it into the red.

We want to hear from you

Want to submit a guest commentary or reaction to an article we wrote? You can find our submission guidelines here. Please contact CalMatters with any commentary questions:

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...