In summary

Privacy law will give consumers more control over their data. UC becomes more selective in admissions. California’s birth rate continues to fall.

Good morning, California.

#more dodger games”—Jon Fleischman, Republican partisan, tweeting in reply to Democratic Assemblyman Ian Calderon, who announced he would not seek another term, so he can spend more time with his wife and kids.

California’s landmark privacy law

online data privacy california
California’s data privacy law goes into effect in 30 days. (Photo illustration)

Come Jan. 1, Californians will gain greater control over their personal data, when a  landmark privacy law takes effect.

CalMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall breaks down what it means for you.

California in 2018 became the first state in the nation to pass a law giving consumers more control of their digital data. Companies are spending $55 billion to comply. 

What to expect: 

  • notices from companies that have updated their privacy policies
  • more ways of knowing what information is being collected
  • the right to request that businesses delete the data they have about you 
  • buttons on websites allowing you to opt out of having your data sold
  • an expanded right to sue over data breaches

What’s unclear: 

  • whether you’ll have to pay more for online services if you instruct companies not to sell your data
  • whether Gov. Gavin Newsom will make a serious proposal to compensate Californians for the value of their data

What’s ahead: 

  • Tech industry lobbyists hope Uncle Sam will preempt California with a national standard. That seems less than likely given the U.S. House of Representatives is led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, and the bill implementing the law was embraced by lawmakers from both parties.
  • Privacy advocate Alastair Mactaggart, the 2018 law’s main backer, is proposing an initiative that would go further for the 2020 ballot.

To read Rosenhall’s explainer, please click here.

UC becomes ever more selective

UC Davis egghead sculpture outside the university’s library

University of California campuses accepted 59% of its applicants in 2018, down from 78% of applicants in 2009, and the decline was even steeper for California high school graduates, The San Francisco Chronicle’s Nanette Asimove reports.

  • UCLA had the lowest acceptance rate: 14%, down from 22% in 2009, and just 12% of California’s high school applicants.
  • UC Berkeley offered admission to 17% of California high school applicants last year, down from 24% in 2009.
  • UC Merced, the newest campus, accepted 91% of applicants a decade ago, and 66% last year.

The report comes as UC considers scrapping SAT and ACT as an admission requirement, and as UC and the California State University System search for new leaders.

California’s declining birth rate

California’s births have fallen by 157,708 since 1990.

Mirroring and perhaps leading a national trend, births in California continued to decline in 2018, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

California’s 454,920 births represented a 3.5% decline from 2017 and were spread across all ethnic groups. The nation’s 3.79 million births represented a 1.6% decline from a year earlier.

California recorded:

  • 502,879 births in 2014
  • 531,959 in 2000
  • 612,628 in 1990

Teen mothers: California’s rate of 13.6 births per 1, 000 girls 15-19 was far below the national average of 17.4 in 2018. Ten states, nine of which are in the South, had teen birth rates greater than 25 per 1,000.

Older mothers: California’s rate of 63.8 births per 1,000 women ages 35-39 was fifth highest in the nation. California’s rate of 17.3 births per 1,000 women 40-44 was greater than all but Washington, D.C., and New York.

Ethnic breakdown:

  • Hispanics accounted for 211,271 births, 46.4% of California’s total, and 23.8% of the nation’s total. Texas was second with 179,142, or 47% of its total.
  • White parents accounted for 123,139 births, 27%.
  • Parents of Asian descent accounted for 68,444, 15% of California’s total and 28.4% of the nation’s Asian total. New York was second with 24,383.
  • Black parents accounted for 22,380 births, 4.9% of California’s total. Texas’ 48,144 births to African-American parents led the nation.

How a 2001 law expanded diversity

california, local government, diversity
The number of California cities to switch from at-large to district elections has spiked.

Making municipal governments more diverse was the goal in 2001, when lawmakers passed the California Voting Rights Act.

The theory: Make it easier to challenge “at-large” election systems, in which city council candidates must compete to win the most votes citywide. That, in turn, would encourage cities to elect representatives by district. And campaigns covering a smaller area would give more power and more representation to voters in ethnically concentrated neighborhoods.

It worked, according to a new UC Riverside study. More than 60 cities changed from citywide to by-district elections. 

The upshot: Cities with by-district elections saw the share of non-white members on their councils increase by an average of 10% over the next election cycle.

SCOTUS’ big gun case. Or not

bullets and gun on black velvet desk

The U.S. Supreme Court today will hear its first major gun case in almost a decade when it considers the constitutionality of what had been New York’s unusually restrictive gun law.

The issue: Whether people have a right to carry firearms outside their homes, and whether lower courts should view gun restrictions with extra skepticism.

New York City had banned the transportation of legally owned handguns outside the city. In July, after the U.S. Supreme Court decided to review the case, the city repealed the regulation, and argues the case is moot

Trump administration Solicitor General Noel Francisco, siding with gun advocates, contends the court should decide the broader issue, largely because the New York Rifle & Pistol Association, which brought the case, could collect attorneys’ fees if the justices rule in the gun owners’ favor.

The National Education Association, representing public school teachers and one of several groups that filed briefs in the case, cited some laws that would be in jeopardy if the justices side with gun advocates:

  • red flag laws that allow authorities to seize guns of people deemed by courts to be dangerous
  • safe gun storage laws
  • certain age limits on gun buyers
  • restrictions on carrying guns in and near schools

Since 2018, there have been 198 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 85 deaths and 150 injuries, Everytown for Gun Safety reports.

The case has implications for California’s restrictive gun laws, although Attorney General Xavier Becerra did not weigh in with a brief.

A Calderonless Legislature

Assemblyman Ian Calderon

For the first time in 38 years, the California Legislature will be without a Calderon.

Democratic Assemblyman Ian Calderon of Whittier last week announced he would not seek reelection in 2020, citing the needs of his family, which soon will include three children.

  • Calderon: “The one regret I’ve heard most from other parents I’ve asked is that they wished they had spent more time at home while their kids were young. This isn’t a regret I wish to share.” 

Calderon was 27 when he was elected in 2012. He got married in 2015, and became majority leader, which meant he oversees Assembly floor sessions.

Legacy: He became involved in entertainment and tax issues. A one-time member of the Long Beach State surfing team, he co-authored legislation declaring California’s official sport to be surfing.

His father, Charles Calderon, started the dynasty in 1982 when he was elected to the Assembly from Montebello. He lost a bid to become California attorney general in 1998, and returned to the Assembly from 2006-2012, the year Ian was elected.

Money matters: Calderon’s pay is $118,743 a year, plus per diem of $192 when the Legislature is in session. No word on what he will do after he leaves office. But ex-legislators find lucrative lives as consultants and lobbyists, as CalMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall reported in 2017.

New laws in 60 seconds, Episode 3

CalMatters video journalist Byrhonda Lyons, with help from Laurel Rosenhall, offers a 60-second video explaining new legislation imposing new rules on police use of deadly force. It’s the third in a video series on laws that will change in 2020.

To go deeper, please check out Rosenhall’s Force Of Law podcast, a seven-part series exploring California’s attempt to reduce police shootings.

Commentary at CalMatters

Dan Walters, CalMatters: The decline of California’s Republican Party has been dramatic, and the GOP seems destined to remain irrelevant.


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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.