Image by Sergey Tinyakov via Thinkstock

In summary

California warns of THC risks for babies. Proposed rule calls for zero-emission trucks. No-party preference voters must choose primary ballot.

Good morning, California. Judy Lin here, filling in for Dan Morain, who is on assignment this week.

“I’m excited by whatever the next budget brings and whatever programs we get to introduce because I think we’re being proactive and creative.” —California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye on seeking another 12-year term, as reported by The Recorder’s Cheryl Miller

  • Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her in 2010.

Cannabis linked to birth complications

A posted Proposition 65 warning sign behind a coffee mug at a Starbucks coffee shop in Burbank, Calif. File photo by Damian Dovarganes, Associated Press
Expert scientists say THC is developmentally toxic.

Pregnant women should be warned about THC risks in their babies. That decision was handed down Wednesday by a panel of expert scientists meeting in Sacramento.

  • The state Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee voted 8-1 to label THC – the high-inducing chemical in marijuana – as developmentally toxic.
  • Scientists based their decision on studies that link cannabis to low birth weight, early deliveries, infant mortality or cognitive or health problems with children. The cannabis industry argued there hasn’t been enough research. They warned the move could make them targets of lawsuits.
  • Aydin Nazmi, professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, was the lone vote against warning labels. He said he didn’t believe there was enough evidence.

Oh, and cannabis smoke is toxic. The same panel of scientists voted unanimously to label cannabis smoke toxic. Dan Morain has previously reported on the rising number of Californians hospitalized due to vaping-related illnesses.

  • “There’s no ban on the use of chemicals. It’s a right-to-know law that provides, in some cases, for people to make their own personal decision about what products to use,” said Sam Delson, a spokesman for the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

Expect more warning labels. Under Proposition 65, California requires foods, products and even places to have warning labels with that familiar phrase “known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

  • THC and cannabis smoke immediately go on the Prop. 65 chemicals list. However, there’s a one-year grace period for labeling, and the state could tailor a special warning if it chooses.
  • Pot joins alcohol, tobacco, gasoline and even Subway sandwiches.

Air board tackles polluting trucks

Trucks drive past power lines along I-5 outside of Patterson.
A proposed rule would pave the way for zero-emission trucks.

California’s clean air enforcers are expected to weigh a controversial new rule tackling truck tailpipe pollution Thursday, CalMatters’ Rachel Becker reports

The proposed rule, called the Advanced Clean Trucks regulation, calls on major truck manufacturers to sell zero-emission vehicles in the state. 

  • Sales requirements for certain vehicles, like zero-emission vans and semis, start at 3 percent in 2024 and climb to 15 percent in 2030. 
  • Other vehicles bigger than a Ford F-350 — like delivery trucks, work trucks and garbage trucks — start at 7 percent in 2024 and climb to 50 percent by 2030.

The proposal is the first of its kind for trucks, and faces criticism from all sides. 

  • Environmental groups and a handful of legislators say the rule doesn’t push manufacturers hard enough to put more electric trucks on the road. 
  • Manufacturers say the rule could force them to supply trucks that fleet owners aren’t ready to buy. 

Mail those primary ballot selections

No-party preference voters must do a little work to vote in the presidential primary.

Are you a no-party preference voter who casts ballots by mail? Well, Secretary of State Alex Padilla wants to remind you to mail in your ballot selection for the presidential primary by the new year.

  • The American Independent, Democratic and Libertarian parties allow California’s 5.4 million no-party preference voters to participate in their March 3 presidential primary elections.
  • But to do so, no-party preference voters will have to complete a postcard with a party selection.

Speaking of voting, it looks as if two political families are vying for the same seat.

  • Lisa Calderon, the stepmother of Assemblyman Ian Calderon, has filed to fill the southeast Los Angeles County seat he has decided to vacate, reports Hannah Wiley of The Sacramento Bee. But Sylvia Rubio, sister to Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio and Sen. Susan Rubio, will challenge Calderon.

New findings against PG&E

Jockeying continues for control of PG&E.

A state audit finds that PG&E “consistently and significantly” shifted money away from burying power lines underground, likely delaying and inflating the costs of these types of projects, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Meanwhile, jockeying continues over control of PG&E as Bloomberg reports how a group of bondholders is lobbying Gov. Gavin Newsom to reject PG&E’s restructuring plans.

Newsom faces a Friday deadline to sign off on that plan, which includes roughly $25.5 billion in settlements with fire victims, insurers and state and local governments. The governor isn’t revealing his hand.

  • “We’re trying to solve for California’s best interest,” said Newsom spokesman Nathan Click.

El Cajon’s Chaldean story

Wedad Schlotte, vice president of the San Diego chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, helps lead a protest in solidarity with the people of Iraq. (Photo by Claire Trageser)

In the majority white San Diego suburb of El Cajon, a community of Chaldeans is bringing change to restaurants, clothing stores and jewelry shops.

The persecuted ethnic minority from Iraq is pushing for progress in California, reports Claire Trageser of KPBS in the latest installment of our California Dream project.

Video: Online privacy law

online data privacy california
California’s new privacy law takes effect Jan. 1.

In just a few weeks, California will have the strictest online data-privacy law in the country. Users will get new rights, and business will get new responsibilities. What do you need to know?

Watch as CalMatters video journalist Byrhonda Lyons and reporter Laurel Rosenhall explain the new privacy law in a minute.

This video is a part of a CalMatters series explaining laws that go into effect Jan. 1, 2020. You can watch the full playlist here. To subscribe to CalMatters’ YouTube channel, please click here.

Commentary at CalMatters

Austin Brown and Dan Sperling, UC Davis:  Imposing fees on electric vehicles in California could reduce their sales by 10–24%. The result would be a small increase in transportation funding at the expense of the long-term benefits that electric vehicles deliver for individuals and for society. The upshot is that imposing new fees won’t solve our transportation problems. It will only make them worse.


Erratum: In Tuesday’s newsletter I referenced AB 51 as a ban on arbitration agreements. The bill prohibits forcing arbitration agreements as a condition of employment.

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

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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...