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Good morning, California. It’s Thursday, October 1.
Newsom signs high-profile bills
As historic protests against police brutality and racism continue to sweep across California and the nation, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed into law a spate of racial and criminal justice legislation and several police reform bills — though the most ambitious police proposals never made it to his desk.
Among the bills to which Newsom gave his stamp of approval:
- A bill requiring the state Department of Justice to independently investigate some police killings.
- A bill banning law enforcement from using chokeholds and neck restraints.
- A bill closing California’s Division of Juvenile Justice, shifting the responsibility for youth offenders from the state to counties.
- A bill wiping away debt owed by parents for the costs of their children’s incarceration in the juvenile justice system.
- A bill establishing a reparations committee to recommend ways the state could compensate African Americans for slavery and its consequences.
- A bill mandating diversity on California corporate boards.
All of these were introduced before a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd in May, setting off a chain of protests that prompted both Newsom and lawmakers to promise sweeping reforms that would fulfill “our unique responsibility to the Black community.” Still, the most controversial policing proposals — including a bill to strip bad cops of their badges — stalled in the Legislature, and others were watered down.
- Newsom, as he signed the policing bills: “None of these bills are easy. But I think under the circumstances, the fact that we were able to get this far is a big deal.”
Now here’s a look at key bills Newsom vetoed Wednesday — the deadline to take action on bills from the legislative session.
- A bill that would have created pilot programs to remove police from the response to crises involving mental illness, homelessness, natural disasters and domestic violence.
- A bill that would have made ethnic studies a high school graduation requirement.
- A bill that would have closed a loophole in California’s school finance law by requiring districts to report unspent dollars intended for students who are low-income, foster youth or English learners.
- A bill that would have required hotel, airport and janitorial employers to first rehire workers laid off amid the pandemic.
The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Wednesday night, California had 810,625 confirmed coronavirus cases and 15,792 deaths from the virus, according to a CalMatters tracker.
Also: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. And we’re tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county.
President Donald Trump this week urged his supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully” — alluding to unfounded fears of voter fraud and prompting concerns of voter intimidation. For longtime political observers in California, it was a throwback to Orange County, 1988. Here’s more from CalMatters’ Ben Christopher.
Other stories you should know
1. Winds expected to fuel Glass, Zogg fires
The Glass Fire terrorizing Wine Country is likely to grow amid gusty winds, abnormally high temperatures and low humidity expected to slam the Bay Area and most of Northern California through Friday. This is unwelcome news for exhausted firefighters battling the 2% contained, nearly 50,000-acre blaze, along with 26 other major wildfires. It’s also unwelcome news for a region that has already seen more damage from four days of the Glass Fire than it did during the nightmarish fires that swept through in 2017.
The Zogg Fire in Shasta County, which has now killed four people, is also likely to be fueled by powerful winds. Also still growing: the monstrous August Complex fire, which has already burned a staggering 950,000 acres. Wildfires this year have burned nearly 4 million acres, double the 1.98 million that burned in 2018 — California’s previous modern-day record.
2. California lacks centralized suicide prevention response
Newsom recently signed a bill to create a state Office of Suicide Prevention, but noted there currently isn’t any funding for it — yet another roadblock as California attempts to establish strong centralized leadership on suicide prevention, something it’s lacked for years, CalMatters’ Jocelyn Wiener reports. The issue has taken on increased acuity amid the pandemic, which has driven up rates of anxiety and depression along with gun sales and substance abuse. And a Tuesday report from California’s state auditor found that school districts lack both the resources and policies needed to address climbing suicide rates among young people. Jocelyn takes us to Humboldt County in the northwestern corner of California, which has a much higher suicide rate than the rest of the state, to explore this small community’s challenges as well as its resilience.
3. California lacks top school nurse
California is one of 10 states that doesn’t have a state school nurse leader, exacerbating the logistical complications schools face as they seek to reopen amid the pandemic, CalMatters’ Ana Ibarra reports. The lack of centralized leadership has posed problems for school nurses juggling questions and concerns from parents, teachers and administrators, and left a vacuum when it comes to coordinating local, state and national guidelines. Meanwhile, more than half of districts in the state don’t have a school nurse, leaving untrained administrators to handle complex health recommendations in the absence of a state nurse consultant.
- Dr. Raelene Walker of the American Academy of Pediatrics: “Even outside a pandemic, having nurses on campus is essential. … I have patients who cannot attend school regularly because there is no nurse available in case something happens.”
4. California’s economic recovery
It will take more than two years for California’s economy to recover to pre-pandemic levels, assuming the federal government passes at least another $1 trillion stimulus package and a coronavirus vaccine is widely available in early 2021, according to a quarterly report released Wednesday from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. If those conditions aren’t met, the two-year forecast “is too optimistic,” economists wrote. The report predicts that California’s unemployment rate will average 10.8% this year, before dropping to 8.6% in 2021 and 6.6% in 2022. In February, before the pandemic hit, unemployment in California hovered around 3.9%.
California has a lot riding on another federal stimulus package. In June, Newsom and lawmakers struck a deal to cut state employees’ salaries and the UC and CSU budgets in order to plug a massive budget deficit — with the caveat that those cuts would be rescinded if the federal government supplied aid by Oct. 15.
Newsom on Wednesday urged President Donald Trump and the U.S. Senate to pass House Democrats’ proposed $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package.
- Newsom: “Now is not the time for ideology to stand in the way of guaranteeing a strong recovery. We need to collectively build back from the public health and economic crises that this pandemic has created.”
Oct. 3: How Prop. 22 Could Affect the Future of Work, a debate moderated by CalMatters economy reporter Lauren Hepler. Register here.
Oct. 6-14: CalMatters is hosting five “Props to You” events — virtual Q&As for you to ask all of your burning questions about the 12 propositions on California’s November ballot. Register here. Each event runs from 6-7pm.
- Oct. 6: Changing Prop. 13. Register | Submit Your Questions
- Oct. 7: How Tough On Crime Should We Be? Register | Submit Your Questions
- Oct. 8: Race and Civil Rights. Register | Submit Your Questions
- Oct. 13: Tech Battles. Register | Submit Your Questions
- Oct. 14: Wait, Didn’t We Vote On These Already? Register | Submit Your Questions
A time for collaboration: California law enforcement shares the desire of our elected officials and advocacy organizations to improve policing practices to better serve our communities, writes Brian Marvel, president of the Peace Officers Research Association of California.
Include Sikhs: California’s revised Ethnic Studies Model curriculum omits any meaningful representation of the Sikh American community, argues Pritpal Kaur, education director of the Sikh Coalition.
Other things worth your time
California’s unemployment department hired thousands, but didn’t fix core problems. // Sacramento Bee
Los Angeles’ poorest patients endure long delays to see medical specialists. Some die waiting. // Los Angeles Times
The LAPD has received a flood of calls about landlord-tenant disputes amid the pandemic. // Crosstown LA
As rats swarm California cities, Newsom bans popular poison to protect wildlife. // Sacramento Bee
The loss that’s killing the West’s wildlife. // The Atlantic
‘Army for Trump’ could descend on polling places. California is watching warily. // San Francisco Chronicle
See you tomorrow.
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