KEEP TABS ON THE LATEST CALIFORNIA POLICY AND POLITICS NEWS
Good morning, California. It’s Friday, November 13.
Some fights aren’t over
California still has 1.2 million votes left to count from last week’s election, but the 2022 ballot is already taking shape — and some potential measures may fight 2020 battles all over again.
When voters approved Proposition 22 — exempting Uber and Lyft from a state labor law requiring most companies to reclassify independent contractors as employees — some lawmakers saw an opportunity to overturn the law itself. Assemblymember Kevin Kiley, a Rocklin Republican, said he plans to introduce a bill in January to repeal the law, known as Assembly Bill 5. If that fails, he said he may try to put it on the 2022 ballot.
- Kiley: “I think voters emphatically rejected the premise of AB 5. If people are going to deny the efforts to repeal the rest of AB 5, they will have to answer why they are defying the will of the voters.”
- Ben Grieff of Evolve California, a nonprofit that advocates for tax reform: “We’re really close to having a majority of California voters agreeing with us. It took us 42 years to get to this point and so if it takes another two to four years to get to where we want to be, then that’s what it is.”
Also likely to land on the 2022 ballot: A referendum on California’s flavored-tobacco ban, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Aug. 28. Three days later, the tobacco industry filed a referendum request.
Speaking of referendums, voters this year rejected Prop. 25, overturning a 2018 law that would have replaced California’s cash bail system with an algorithm assessing a person’s flight risk. But that fight, too, is far from over. The state Supreme Court could hear a case challenging the constitutionality of cash bail as soon as next month — meaning the justices could order their own reworking of the bail system.
- San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju: “I don’t think we needed Prop. 25 to defeat the bail bonds industry — (this case) can do it.”
The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Thursday night, California had 991,609 confirmed coronavirus cases and 18,108 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.
Other stories you should know
1. Prop. 19 passes
Prop. 19 passed late Wednesday night, when the Associated Press called the race with 51.1% of voters in support and 48.9% against. One of the most complex measures on the ballot, Prop. 19 gives older Californians a big property tax break when buying a new home and curtails a separate tax break residents may receive when inheriting homes from parents and grandparents — though questions about its implementation remain. New revenue will be divided between schools, local governments, the state and firefighting agencies using a complex formula. Prop. 19 was one of two ballot measures that would modify Prop. 13, the landmark 1978 measure that capped property taxes. The other, Prop. 15, failed by a close margin.
- Jeanne Radsick, president of the California Association of Realtors, Prop. 19’s major backer: “Voters passed Prop. 19 because it is a win-win for California, providing needed housing and tax relief for seniors, wildfire victims and generating much-needed revenue for schools, fire districts, cities and counties.”
- Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association: Prop. 19 “will wipe out an important source of economic advancement for California families that work hard to provide a better life for the next generation.”
2. Oregon posts workplace outbreaks. CA doesn’t
California and Oregon were both lauded for their swift responses to the pandemic — but they’ve since taken widely divergent approaches to tracking and reporting workplace outbreaks, CalMatters’ Laurence du Sault reports. Oregon uses a centralized system that lists the names and addresses of every known business with at least 30 employees and five or more positive COVID-19 cases, while California lets each of its 58 counties decide how to track and report outbreaks. Health experts say centralized, publicly accessible data could help California gain control of the pandemic: This week, it became the second state to hit 1 million coronavirus cases as 11 counties backslid into more restrictive reopening tiers.
- Dr. Melissa Perry, a George Washington University epidemiologist: “It immediately paints a patchwork quilt picture of data. Very incomplete, very selective.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom in September signed a bill that requires employers to notify employees of potential COVID-19 exposure at work, but a provision that would have required workplace outbreaks be publicly reported was struck amid pushback from business groups, who called it a “name and shame” tactic.
3. School reopenings on hold in 3 counties
Schools planning to reopen in San Diego, Sacramento and Stanislaus counties must now put their plans on hold after the three counties regressed into the state’s most restrictive tier Tuesday — a development likely to widen educational inequities between private and public school students. Around 84% of private school students in San Diego County are attending school in-person to some degree, compared to 32% of public school students, according to new data from the San Diego County Office of Education. Similarly, in Sacramento County, reopening waivers have primarily been granted to private schools — including the school Newsom’s children attend. The trend also holds true in Los Angeles, which has never been able to make it out of the most restrictive tier. Until recently, the county granted a maximum of 30 reopening waivers per week, a limit that dissuaded some districts from applying for them.
- Darin Brawley, superintendent of Compton Unified School District: “How do you explain that to your community, if only one school gets approved? It’s an untenable situation that can create a hostile dynamic among the parents.”
4. Jobless Californians sink without benefits
California’s embattled unemployment department has gotten its backlog of claims down to 543,000, but problems persist. In an effort to crack down on fraud, the agency temporarily suspended more than 300,000 Bank of America debit cards — but thousands of innocent claimants were caught in the crossfire, losing their only lifeline amid the pandemic. CalMatters’ Orlando Mayorquin talked to three Californians who are struggling to stay afloat as a result.
- Leigh Holguin, 50, who currently lives in an RV in Eureka: “We’re slowly sinking. It’s like we’re in a boat with a hole and we’re using a teaspoon to bail out the water.”
- Reidun Saxerud, 33, surviving on $58 per week in Los Angeles: “I’ve felt for a long time, about 10 years now, that we’re on the edge of a massive revolution and this might finally be the time.”
- Ron Adams, 41, homeless in Riverside: Two months ago, Adams had a place to call home for the first time in nearly a year. After his bank account was frozen, he found himself on the street again.
Monday, Nov. 16 from 1-2pm: The Future of Work: A Q&A With California Mayors. CalMatters talks with mayors around the state about how they plan to confront their communities’ most pressing issues during the pandemic. Register | Submit Your Questions
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Once a bastion of California Republicanism, Orange County is now purple with a stubborn conservative streak.
Mixed results: California women this year exceeded expectations in congressional races but failed to build on recent momentum in the state Legislature, write Steve and Susie Swatt, lead coauthors of Paving the Way: Women’s Struggle for Political Equality.
Time for housing reform: Los Angeles should legalize duplexes, triplexes and quads in single-family neighborhoods, argue Chris Blakney of ECONorthwest, Monique King-Viehland of the Urban Institute, and Alan Greenlee of the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing.
Other things worth your time
Two Moms 4 Housing organizers have become elected officials. // Vice
Mayor Garcetti, facing daunting challenges in LA, could seek exit in Biden White House. // Los Angeles Times
UC doesn’t have to refund students fees for reduced services, court rules. // San Francisco Chronicle
San Diego Housing Commission over a month late in sending COVID-19 rent relief. // inewsource
Dying California patients denied justice amid COVID-related court delays. // NBC Bay Area
In Burbank schools, a book-banning debate over how to teach antiracism. // Los Angeles Times
Santa Clara judge creates ‘gold standard’ for mental health courts. // Capitol Weekly
Supervisors delay approval of mental health facilities after two hospitals raise concerns. // Bakersfield Californian
California is trying to jumpstart the hydrogen economy. // New York Times
Car and truck sales still down in California, but numbers are improving. // San Diego Union-Tribune
See you Monday.
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