In summary

California losing more school days to disasters. Newsom takes on Trump over homelessness, takes steps to crack down on e-cigarettes.

Good morning, California.

“The legislation is credit negative for Uber Technologies, Inc. (B2 Stable) because Uber will face heightened litigation risks and business uncertainty related to its ridesharing and food-delivery businesses in California.”— Moody’s on Uber, as Gov. Gavin Newsom prepares to sign Assembly Bill 5, which will limit the ability of gig economy companies to use independent contractors.

‘Disasters days’ rob kids of school

California school closures occur with increasing frequency.

From climate-driven disasters to crumbling infrastructure and threats of mass shootings, modern dangers are sending California kids home from class in record numbers. The trend is only beginning to show up on lawmakers’ radar.

CalMatters’ Ricardo Cano reports that since the 2002-03 school year, public schools have closed 34,000 days because of emergencies. Rural areas, where roads are often poor, have been particularly vulnerable to closures. 

Fire and smoke are a major culprit. 

  • Before the 2015-16 school year, no California school reported losing 15 days or more to wildfires. Since then, shutdowns of that duration have happened at more than 70 California schools.

Fires and other disasters are only one cause:

  • Threats of violence have forced school closures in more than 1,100 schools, a nearly 1,000% increase, in the past five school years.
  • Cano identified at least 370 instances in which schools closed because of broken pipes, mold or asbestos, failing septic tanks or other problems with facilities. 

Schools in the Lake County community of Middletown lost five weeks to school closures in the four years since 2015, when the Valley Fire ravaged the district.

  • As fire follows fire, Cano reports, “each new trauma resurrects old ones.”

Anchoring the series—courtesy of Cano, CalMatters’ John Osborn D’Agostino and intern Mohamed Al Elew—is an interactive database of nearly two decades of school closures. To explore your schools, please click here.

Newsom vs. Trump on homelessness

Homeless tents line city streets in San Francisco.

President Trump no doubt will get a glimpse of California’s homeless crisis as he stops in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego to raise campaign money starting today.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has a suggestion for Trump: help end veterans’ homelessness in California by issuing 50,000 vouchers for rental subsidies.

Newsom released a letter to Trump seeking federal housing aid in the form of more Section 8 housing vouchers, and amplified the point for reporters on Monday:

  • “Those 50,000 housing vouchers that we’re requesting can eliminate all veterans that are out on the streets and sidewalks … and make a substantial dent in eliminating family homelessness.”

The president has been bashing California over the homeless crisis. While he attends fundraisers today, Housing Secretary Ben Carson will tour public housing in San Francisco, The Chronicle reports.

Trump and Carson could “eliminate veteran homelessness in the state … and family homelessness substantially with those 50,000 vouchers,” Newsom said.

  • Newsom: “That’s a pretty remarkable opportunity, if they’re sincere in their desires. If they’re insincere, and this is, God forbid, about something else, politics, not good policy, then they will reject it outright. And I hope that’s not the case.”

But politics are at play. Amping up the rhetoric, the Washington Post reported, White House economists on Monday said police could be used as part of an intensifying effort to address homelessness.

Newsom orders vaping crackdown

E-cigarettes use among middle and high schoolers rose 78 percent last year over the previous year. Federal data indicates more than 1 in 5 students now use them.
E-cigarettes use among middle and high schoolers rose 78 percent last year.

Lawmakers ended the legislative session without doing much on vaping. On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom stepped in.

CalMatters’ Ben Christopher reports that Newsom signed an executive order directing state regulators to crack down on the sale of vaping products to minors and peddled on the black market. 

The order notes that the problem is twofold: 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating 380 cases of pulmonary illness in 36 states. California health officials are investigating 67 cases.

  • Some products contain nicotine, which is addictive. 
  • Some contain THC, the psychoactive chemical derived from marijuana.
  • Both come in flavors aimed at young people.
  • CDC: “Most patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC.”

Newsom’s order directs the California Department of Public Health to develop public-awareness campaigns aimed at underage vapers, using $20 million from taxes on tobacco, e-cigarettes and cannabis.

  • Newsom: “It’s really unconscionable, folks that are producing those products they sleep at night knowing what they’re doing to destroy the health of a generation. The magnitude of what we’ve unleashed on the American public is yet to be determined.”

Initially, vaping was marketed as a way to inhale nicotine without risks associated with smoking. But nicotine content is significantly higher in vaping products than in cigarettes.

More than 20% of high school students reported vaping in 2018, almost twice the 2017 rate, Harriet Blair Rowan of Kaiser Health News reports. That translates to 3 million high school students using e-cigarettes in 2018, far more than smoke cigarettes.

Privacy fight pivots to D.C.

Photo of privacy advocate Alastair Mactaggart speaking in the Capitol
Privacy advocate Alastair Mactaggart

Unable to persuade California legislators to soften the state’s new privacy law set to take hold in January, many of the nation’s biggest corporations called on Congress to approve legislation that would preempt it.

Chief executives of Amazon, Salesforce, Visa, Citigroup Inc. and AT&T are among the 51 CEOs who signed the Business Roundtable letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders.

  • “We urgently need a comprehensive federal consumer data privacy law to strengthen consumer trust and establish a stable policy environment in which new services and technologies can flourish within a well-understood legal and regulatory framework.”

Timing: The letter is dated Sept. 10, the day it became apparent that tech companies were not going to gain major modifications to the California Consumer Privacy Act, which will take effect Jan. 1.

The Legislature approved five bills that clarify aspects of the act but left in place provisions limiting data collection for targeted advertising, Bloomberg’s Laura Mahoney reports.

San Francisco developer Alastair Mactaggart, architect of the privacy law, said California “could be a great model” for federal legislation.

  • “I would urge all members [of Congress] … to make sure California protections stay intact and federal law does not preempt California with some weaker standard.”

Politics: Pelosi is from San Francisco, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is from Bakersfield, and California has 53 members in Congress. Voters support privacy protections. That suggests corporations will have a tough time undermining the California Consumer Privacy Act.

Take a number: 15 million

President Donald Trump on the campaign trail. Photo by Michael Vadon
President Donald Trump

Republicans are snapping up tickets to attend President Donald Trump’s California fundraisers starting today in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego, Politico’s Carla Marinucci reports.

  • Los Angeles attorney Shawn Steel, a Republican National Committee member and a Trump bundler, tells Marinucci: “There’s a lot of love here for him.” 
  • San Francisco attorney Harmeet Dhillon, Steel’s Northern California counterpart: “I could have sold another $100,000 worth of tickets.”

Politico quotes “party insiders” who say the events could raise upward of $15 million.

Commentary at CalMatters

Katie Valenzuela and Leila Salazar-Lopez, California Environmental Justice Alliance: The California Air Resources Board is considering the Tropical Forest Standard. It is a risky investment. This carbon offset program would send money from polluters in California to subnational governments in other parts of the world in hopes that such investment will be sufficient to counteract the economic drivers of deforestation. The cost: continued pollution in our communities and irreparable harm to forest-dwelling communities around the world.

Dan Walters, CalMatters: During his campaign for governor, Newsom set a goal of building 3.5 million new units of housing by 2025. Nothing that occurred in the Capitol this year would even begin to make that happen.

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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.