A cocktail sign above a bar in Sacramento. Photo by Shawn Hubler for CALmatters
A cocktail sign above a bar in Sacramento. Photo by Shawn Hubler for CALmatters

In summary

Newsom rejects ‘Trump insurance.’ Anti-vax battle turns bloody. UAW official involved in Tesla fight is charged with corruption.

Good morning, California.

For a rundown of the bills that made it to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk and some that stumbled, please check out CalMatters’ bill tracker here.

Newsom rejects ‘Trump insurance’

Gov. Gavin Newsom

Breaking with the Democratic-controlled Legislature, Gov. Gavin Newsom has sided with farmers and water agencies by rejecting legislation aimed at blocking the Trump administration from rolling back endangered species protections.

Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins pushed forward with votes on what is the most significant legislation she ever authored, the so-called Trump insurance bill, knowing Newsom opposed it. 

The bill sought to lock in place clean water, air and labor law that existed on Jan. 19, 2017, the day before President Donald Trump took office. Most important, Atkins’ bill would have locked in Endangered Species Act provisions. 

Trump is seeking to roll back endangered species protections and increase water deliveries from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to Central Valley farmers.

On Saturday, Newsom signaled he would veto the bill if it reaches his desk, saying it would not “provide the state with any new authority to push back against the Trump administration’s environmental policies, and it limits the state’s ability to rely upon the best available science to protect our environment.”

Atkins answered by saying she is “strongly disappointed.”

For my report on the events, please click here

For a deeper look at Atkins’ legislation by CalMatters’ Julie Cart, please click here.

An anti-vaxxer’s moment

Sen. Richard Pan, the likely target

After days of protests in the Capitol, an anti-vaxxer in the gallery above the Senate threw what appeared to be blood onto the Senate floor late Friday, splashing several lawmakers and disrupting the upper house on the last night of the session, CalMatters’ Ben Christopher reports.

  • “That’s for the dead babies,” the woman yelled, typical of the over-the-top rhetoric that has infected vaccine debate. 

California Highway Patrol officers, who provide security at the Capitol, arrested Rebecca Dalelio, 43, of Boulder Creek. She was released Saturday morning after posting $10,000 in bail. The Senate completed its work early Saturday morning in a committee room.

Sen. Steve Glazer, Orinda Democrat, was among those who was splashed. His seat mate, Sen. Richard Pan, Sacramento Democrat, authored the vaccination bill and was the likely target.

On Saturday, Glazer tweeted from a doctor’s office: “Thankful that none of my Senate colleagues appear hurt and we finished our work.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom last week signed legislation overhauling rules regarding how doctors issue medical exemptions to parents who don’t want to have their children vaccinated.

  • For CalMatters reporter Elizabeth Aguilera’s report on what the legislation says, please click here.
  • Opponents are threatening lawsuits and referendums to try to overturn the law.

Tesla, UAW and $40-a-glass scotch

Tesla’s factory has been a focus of union organizing.

Federal authorities charged a top United Auto Workers union official with embezzling union funds on lavish trips with other union leaders to Palm Springs and Coronado between 2014 and 2018.

Who: Vance Pearson, 58, was arrested in Missouri on Friday as part of a corruption investigation into the union that began in 2015. Pearson was responsible for UAW efforts in California. Another subject of the investigation, Gary Jones, who was elected UAW president last year, previously oversaw California organizing efforts.

Why it matters: In 2017, the union lobbied the Legislature to include a provision in a major cap-and-trade bill aimed at pressuring Tesla as it sought to organize workers at Tesla’s Fremont factory.

  • CalMatters’ Judy Lin: “Labor unions got lawmakers to insert two sentences into a cap-and-trade funding bill requiring automakers to be certified ‘as fair and responsible in the treatment of their workers’ before their customers can obtain up to $2,500 from California’s clean vehicle rebate program.”

Democratic Sen. Connie Leyva of Chino argued for the provision in 2017, saying California shouldn’t want companies to succeed at the expense of workers.

Little did she know: In 2017 and early 2018, union leaders were in Palm Springs buying four-figure meals at LG’s Prime Steakhouse and Johnny Costa’s Ristorante, $40 glasses of 18-year-old scotch , and $1,720 worth of cigars at the Tinderbox cigar store, The Detroit News reports.

The Desert Sun added this detail: $20,000 in green fees at Indian Canyons golf resort. 

Tesla, California’s only automaker, and UAW continue to battle.

P.S.: The UAW went on strike at General Motors plants early Monday.

Plastics prevail, for now

Lawmakers failed to agree on bill to limit plastics. Yolo County Landfill

With California’s recycling program in disarray, an ambitious push to make California the first state to stem the flow of plastic trash failed amid dogged industry opposition, CalMatters’ Rachel Becker reports.

Indicating votes were lacking, lawmakers adjourned without acting on two far-reaching recycling bills, which called for a 75% reduction in waste from disposable packaging and foodware, including forks, stirrers and cups, as well as glass.

  • Sen. Ben Allen, a Santa Monica Democrat, author of one of the bills: “We make a few changes and we make it happen in the new year.”

Environmentalists supported it. Two of California’s major waste haulers were on opposite sides, with Recology supporting it and Waste Management opposing it. Plastic and glass producers also opposed, contending it was unworkable.

For Becker’s complete story, please click here.

The Legislature and time

A cocktail sign above a bar in Sacramento. Photo by Shawn Hubler for CALmatters
A cocktail sign above a bar in Sacramento

School could start later, but closing time at bars in California will remain unchanged, 2 a.m.

The Legislature approved legislation to prohibit public middle and high schools from starting classes before 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., respectively.

Sen. Anthony Portantino, La Cañada Flintridge Democrat and the bill’s author: “Generations of children will benefit from starting later in the morning as we know that test scores, attendance and graduation rates all improve after shifting to a later start time.”

Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, Torrance Democrat: “If we adopt this bill, it’s going to impose the before-school, childcare expenses. It’s going to impose the busing expenses on already struggling school districts. We should leave it to local control.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom, father of four, has until Oct. 13 to sign the bill into law.

Speaking of time: The Assembly blocked legislation by Sen. Scott Wiener, San Francisco Democrat, that would have allowed bars in large cities to remain open until 3 a.m.

Urging a no-vote, Assemblyman Tom Lackey, Palmdale Republican and a former Highway Patrol officer: “Death will come because of this policy. I don’t know how you can reconcile that.”

The bill fell six votes short of the 41-vote minimum.

Kamala Harris watch

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris

To understand how Kamala Harris is running for president, you need to understand how she won her first race, The New York Times’ Matt Flegenheimer suggests.

  • “Ms. Harris is the one who knows how to hit hardest, friends say, because that is how you win in San Francisco.”

As Flegenheimer writes, she weathered her share of hits, including over her relationship in the 1990s with Willie Brown. It’d be worth your time to read about her days in politics.

Robert A. Jones, On California

Robert A. Jones, 1945-2019. Photo courtesy of Casey Jones.

Robert A. Jones, a former Los Angeles Times reporter and columnist, was an environmental writer before it became vogue.

In 1975, he detailed how banning of the short-handled hoe, fought so bitterly by farmers, turned out to increase production. Later, he informed readers that President Reagan’s first interior secretary spoke in tongues.

He wrote about efforts to save California condors, how toxins from farms that drained into Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge caused deformities in birds, and why expanding Redwood National Park mattered. 

In a grove of Northcoast giants, circa 1975, he took a minute to explain in his Tennessee lilt something about politics to a wide-eyed Humboldt State University student from the college newspaper. 

Much of what he wrote cannot be found online easily. But many are there, including his On California columns about Manzanar, and his vision for the state of Lettuce, and, later, about the death of Margaux—or was it Margot?—Hemingway. Or was it about L.A.?

After leaving The Times, Jones worked with developer Tom Gilmore on the iconic downtown Los Angeles’ restoration project, St. Vibiana’s Cathedral, and ran white water rapids.

Jones died last week, at 74. For a longer look, please read Doug Smith’s obituary in the L.A. Times by clicking here.

Commentary at CalMatters

Coley King, Venice Family Clinic: For those of us on the front lines delivering this care to people experiencing homelessness, we see that Los Angeles County and California are confronting more than just a homeless crisis. We are in the midst of a health care crisis. 

Dan Walters, CalMatters: Once again, California poverty ranks number one in the nation due partly to high costs for essentials like housing, gas and electricity.

Please email or call me with tips, suggestions and insights, dmorain@calmatters.org, 916.201.6281. Thanks for reading, please tell a friend and sign up here.

See you tomorrow.

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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.