Photo illustration

In summary

Newsom signs bill allowing college athletes to sign endorsement deals. Plan to expand Shasta Dam falters. Former state officials enter cannabis business.

Good morning, California.

“Fortunately, the people of our state believe in science and want our communities to be protected.”—Sen. Richard Pan’s spokeswoman, Shannan Velayas, to The L.A Times on polling showing wide support for a new law cracking down on bogus medical exemptions for parents who don’t want their kids vaccinated. 

Support, by the numbers:

  • 90% of Democrats
  • 82% of no party preference voters
  • 73% of Republicans
  • 88% of younger voters, more than any other age group

Newsom’s slam dunk

Screen shot of LeBron James holding a copy of NCAA-related legislation on “The Shop”

With basketball great LeBron James cheering him on, Gov. Gavin Newsom appeared on James’ “The Shop” to sign legislation that promises to allow college athletes to receive money from endorsement deals.

Newsom signed the bill on Friday but delayed the announcement until Monday to allow for “The Shop” to release it online, CalMatters’ Felicia Mello reports.

Newsom told James and his team: “I don’t want to say this is checkmate, but this is a major problem for the NCAA.”

Newsom predicts lawmakers in other states will introduce similar bills and college athletes will benefit.

This game’s in the refrigerator:

  • James tweeted to his 43.7 million followers a clip of the episode, and declared: “You the man Governor Gav! Appreciate you as so many many more as well!”
  • The minute-long clip had been viewed 1.6 million times by Monday afternoon.

Missing from the episode: The bill’s authors, Democratic Sens. Nancy Skinner of Berkeley and Steven Bradford of Gardena.

  • No harm, no foul: “She’s elated,” Skinner’s spokesman, Robert Gammon, said.

Skinner and Bradford faced formidable opposition from the NCAA, University of California, California State University, USC and Stanford. They contend the bill will disrupt college sports. 

The bill passed 39-0 in the Senate and 73-0 in the Assembly, with a smattering of legislators not voting. 

For Mello’s analysis of what the bill does and doesn’t do, please click here.

Setback in big water project

Shasta Dam
Lake Shasta is the source of much of California’s water (photo by Gov. Jerry Brown).

A plan to enlarge Lake Shasta to provide more water for Central Valley farms was dealt a significant setback Monday when one of the main advocates halted plans to study the project’s  environmental impact.

It’s complicated: 

  • The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation under the Trump administration dusted off plans to raise the height of Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet, a $1.4 billion project. 
  • That would increase Shasta reservoir’s capacity and make more water available, as detailed by The New York Times.
  • Uncle Sam expects a matching commitment from California. 
  • The state itself opposes the project, but not the Westlands Water District, which provides water to farms in Fresno and Kings counties.

Enlarging Lake Shasta could damage the McCloud River, which flows into Shasta. State law protects the McLoud as a wild and scenic river.

Westlands decided to embark on an environmental impact report to test whether the project would, in fact, damage the McLoud.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra sued to block Westlands from undertaking that report. Westlands lost in the courts

On Monday, Westlands General Manager Tom Birmingham told me Westlands had no choice but to drop plans to complete the environmental impact report. Westlands could conduct a different type of analysis, but that will delay the project.

  • Birmingham: “It certainly has created a lot of uncertainty.  How it will affect the Bureau of Reclamation, I don’t know.”

The federal official overseeing the project did not respond to my call.

The emerald revolving door

Marijuana has become big business for former state officials.

More than two dozen former officials in California, including former Attorney General Bill Lockyer, are working for the burgeoning marijuana business, The L.A. Times’ Patrick McGreevy reports.

  • Lindsay Robinson, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association: “There is an opportunity to make a lot of money. It’s dynamic and exciting.”

Most have taken jobs as board members, lobbyists and consultants since 2016, when voters legalized the commercial sale of weed.

Notable ex-officials include:

  • Former L.A. Mayor and Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa.
  • Former Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Republican from Costa Mesa.
  • Several former aides to Govs. Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom, and ex-legislative staffers, who helped write cannabis regulations.

Meanwhile: The California Department of Public Health reported Monday the 101st case in California of a vaping-related hospitalization. Almost all people hospitalized said they vaped cannabis products.

Newsom is riding high

Voters approve of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The latest poll results provide evidence to what Californians see: Gov. Gavin Newsom is the anti-Trump.

The UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll shows California voters approve of Newsom’s job performance by 60%-39%. That number ticked up from 57% in June. 

The first-term Democratic governor’s standing is especially strong among voters 18-29. They approve of his performance by a 69%-30% margin.

By contrast: Trump’s disapproval among California voters sits at 69% , and 82% of younger voters disapprove of the president’s performance.

Commentary at CalMatters

Grisel Ruiz, Immigrant Legal Resource Center: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a chilling proposal earlier this year to double detention capacity in California with 5,600 new beds, all near the offices where it processes people for arrest. If built, these facilities will further entrench incarceration for generations to come. That’s one reason why Gov. Newsom should sign AB 32. It would provide a critical check on this underhanded move.

Dan Walters, CalMatters: Having acted twice to protect California’s children, Gov. Gavin Newsom can have a trifecta by signing legislation to mandate later school starting times.

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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.