Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday California is joining a suit to block Trump administration new immigration policy.

In summary

Battle heats up on independent contractors bill. State aims to lure back film producers from anti-abortion states. Democrats take gun fight to the bank.

Good morning, California.

“Children don’t become subhuman simply because they are migrants.”—Attorney General Xavier Becerra, appearing with Gov. Gavin Newsom Monday, to announce California has joined 18 other states suing the Trump administration over a rule allowing for indefinite detention of migrant children and their families.

  • It’s California’s 57th legal challenge against Trump.
  • Newsom: “We’re reacting to this unprecedented assault on the rule of law and due process in this country.”

Focusing on future of work

Uber driver Luke Rivera rallies in support of AB 5 in July.

Lobbying is intensifying over the biggest employment bill of the year, the so-called Dynamex bill that could turn 2 million independent contractors into employees.

Assembly Bill 5 by Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego faces a pivotal vote Friday when the Senate Appropriations Committee will decide whether to hold it, or, more likely, let it to proceed to a vote of the full Senate.

The labor-backed measure will affect Uber and Lyft, and much of the gig economy. 

  • Uber and Lyft drivers plan to converge on Sacramento in a union-backed demonstration of support for Gonzalez’s bill.
  • Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are among the Democratic presidential candidate who support Gonzalez’s bill. 
  • Lyft has enlisted former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer.
  • Harris’ brother-in-law, Tony West, is Uber’s general counsel
  • Labor unions released a study Monday conducted by the UC Berkeley Labor Center finding that independent truck drivers could be hindering the state’s climate change goals. 

Contract truck drivers have the lowest compliance rate with clean vehicle regulations at 61%, compared with 83% for large firms that employ their truck drivers, the study says.

The California Trucking Association argues that independent truck drivers have been investing heavily in new equipment to comply with clean truck standards as a condition of vehicle registration starting in 2020.

Why now: The Senate Appropriations Committee will decide Friday whether to hold the bill or, more likely, allow it to go to the full Senate for a vote.

Taxes and abortion

Lawmakers want to lure film companies back to California from anti-abortion states.

California already gives $330 million a year in tax credits to production companies that film movies and television shows in this state.

Now, state lawmakers seem prepared to spend another $50 million a year to lure film companies back to California from states where lawmakers have voted to restrict abortion rights.

The bill by Assemblywoman Luz Rivas, a Democrat from North Hollywood, singles out the anti-abortion states of Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Louisiana.

  • Rivas: “These are the same states that have systematically lured film production from California.”

Georgia, in particular, has become Hollywood-South, reporting a 1,500% increase in production spending since 2005 and 980% growth in production-related union membership from 2005 to 2015.

Essay question: To obtain the film tax credit, filmmakers would need to provide “a narrative statement describing how they share California values in regards to women’s reproductive rights,” Rivas said at a legislative hearing earlier this month.

History: As introduced, Rivas’ bill was a noncontroversial matter related to transportation. In that form, the Assembly approved it 76-0. Rivas gutted the bill in the Senate to add the film tax-credit expansion.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will decide this week whether Rivas’ measure and scores of others die for the year, or which proceed to a vote by the full Senate.

Skepticism: The Legislative Analyst’s Office last month reported that studies show film tax “incentives do not help states establish a new local film industry or create lasting economic development.”

Guns and money

Democrats are targeting banks that do business with the state in the fight over guns.

California’s Assembly Democrats voted Monday to urge banks doing business with California to consider “exiting the gun sector” by no longer lending to gun makers.

Pushed by Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove, a Los Angeles Democrat, the measure is aimed at Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Union Bank, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo & Co., each of which does substantial business with the state.

  • Kamlager-Dove: “This is about putting a different kind of skin in the game.”
  • Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, a Riverside County Republican: “This bill is extortion.”

The Assembly Concurrent Resolution stops short of demanding banks doing business with the state cease lending to gun makers. It doesn’t have the force of law and must be approved by the Senate. But it’s also an example of California seeking to extend its influence beyond state boundaries.

A legislative staff analysis explains: 

  • “If major banks refuse to extend credit to gun manufacturers, borrowing costs for gun manufacturers would likely increase, which could reduce industry investment in additional capacity or new business lines. Such a result could reduce the proliferation of guns not only in California but also across state lines.”

The vote was 50-18. One Democrat, Jim Frazier of Discovery Bay, joined Republicans in voting no. Seven moderate Democrats and two Republicans did not vote.

Sexual orientation and work

The rainbow flag or gay pride flag, is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender pride. It originated in California, but is now used worldwide.
California is trying to protect the LGBTQ community from workplace discrimination.

California long has prohibited workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. But federal law doesn’t, and won’t any time soon.

On Friday, the Trump administration filed a Supreme Court brief siding with Christian business owners and Republican-controlled states, arguing that the federal Civil Rights Act’s “prohibition on discrimination because of sex does not bar discrimination because of sexual orientation.”

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is on the opposite side, signing onto a brief filed last month by Democratic attorneys general.

  • Becerra’s statement: “How can it be that in 2019 we still are debating whether members of the LGBT community deserve to be protected from workplace discrimination because of who they love or because they are transgender?”

Trump’s brief notes Congress failed to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to explicitly make illegal workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Trump’s brief fails to note the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives in May approved the Equality Act to prohibit discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender people.

The Trump administration opposes that measure, as does the GOP-controlled Senate.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in October in cases involving gay men, Gerald Bostock and Donald Zarda, who were fired once their orientation became known, and a transgender woman, Aimee Stephens, who was fired from a Michigan funeral home.

P.S. On Monday, Taylor Swift used her appearance on the MTV Video Music Awards to call on Republicans to support the Equality Act.

Federal housing aid is elusive

Image via Flickr
The “Gimme Shelter” podcast explores Section 8 housing vouchers.

Most California families eligible for federal rent subsidies—in the form of Section 8 housing vouchers—don’t receive them because there aren’t enough to go around.

On this episode of “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast,” CalMatters’ Matt Levin and the Los Angeles Times’ Liam Dillon home in on the Section 8 issue.

Among the take-aways: Even if you’re lucky enough to get a housing voucher, you may have a tough time convincing a landlord to accept it. One study found that 76% of Los Angeles landlords refused to accept housing vouchers.  

Levin and Dillon interview Sen. Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles Democrat who is carrying a bill that would ban landlords from discriminating against Section 8 recipients.

Landlord lobbyists argue bureaucratic delays and lengthy inspection and approval processes from public housing authorities would make compliance with the law difficult. They also fear higher insurance rates.

The Gimme Shelter podcast was listed as one of Capitol Weekly’s 100 most influential non-politicians in the state. 

An oversight: Over the weekend, Levin wrote about the phenomenon of millennials still living with their parents. I neglected to include a link. It’s worth a read; please click here.

Commentary at CalMatters

Kish Rajan, CALinnovates: The California Public Utilities Commission has become the largest and most powerful regulating agency in the state, bar none. That’s not good, not for the Public Utilities Commission, the entities it regulates, and, most importantly, not for the people of California. California needs to bring the commission, created when Hiram Johnson was governor, into the new century.

Dan Walters, CalMatters: Changes in the Capitol’s political atmosphere with more Democrats means legislation that once could not be enacted is alive and kicking.

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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.

Judy serves as hub editor of the California Divide project, a five-newsroom collaboration covering economic inequality. Prior to editing, she reported on state finance, workforce and economic issues. Her...