Good morning, California. It’s Thursday, January 7.

State, congressional leaders respond

As a violent mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday — temporarily preventing Congress from certifying the Electoral College votes to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory — protests broke out at California’s Capitol building in Sacramento and in cities including Los Angeles, Huntington Beach and Bakersfield.

The unrest led Gov. Gavin Newsom to cancel a Wednesday press conference and condemn the violent events that forced lawmakers in Washington to remain under lockdown for hours as gunshots rang out and gas masks were dispersed. One demonstrator — a San Diego woman — was fatally shot inside the U.S. Capitol. 

  • Newsom: “Our congressional delegation should never have to fear for their lives to represent Californians.”

The response of California’s congressional delegation — 42 Democrats and 11 Republicans — was mixed. Numerous Democratic members called for Trump to be impeached. Virtually every representative denounced the attack on the Capitol, with the notable exception of Rep. Devin Nunes. The Tulare Republican, to whom Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Monday, did not issue a public statement. GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield described Wednesday’s events as “unacceptable and un-American,” even as he expressed doubts about the integrity of the November election.

  • McCarthy in a Wednesday appearance on Fox News: This may help people “think about the challenges … that have transpired when it comes to the integrity of our election. Let’s solve that, so the frustration we watched today does not continue into the next election.”

Many of California’s state assemblymembers and senators also censured the Capitol attack, though Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove, in a since-deleted tweet that she later said was sent while incomplete, alleged that the demonstrators were not Trump supporters but members of Antifa. She later condemned the mob’s actions as “unacceptable and un-American.”

Before the Capitol attack, two of California’s 11 congressional Republicans — Reps. Tom McClintock and Young Kim — had pledged to vote to uphold the Electoral College votes. But when the House voted late Wednesday night on whether to overturn Arizona’s slate of electoral votes, McClintock was the only California Republican to vote against doing so. In favor were Reps. McCarthy, Nunes, Ken Calvert, Mike Garcia, Darrell Issa, Doug LaMalfa and Jay Obernolte. Reps. Kim and Michelle Steel didn’t vote; Kim was getting tested for COVID-19, while Steel was quarantining after testing positive for COVID-19. (Rep.-elect David Valadao couldn’t vote; due to a recent positive COVID test, he hasn’t yet been sworn in.)

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The coronavirus bottom line: As of Wednesday, California had 2,482,226 confirmed cases (+1.2% from previous day) and 27,462 deaths (+1.7% from previous day), 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.


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1. Impact of Georgia Senate races

President-elect Joe Biden with Raphael Warnock, right, and Jon Ossoff, left, in Atlanta on Jan. 4, 2021. Photo by Carolyn Kaster, AP

In other national news that affects California, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff clinched Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. With the Senate now equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will serve as tiebreaker — giving the California Democrat the opportunity for far more visibility than most vice presidents. And California’s new senator Alex Padilla — who will take over Harris’ seat — may have a greater chance of passing major legislation than he would have had as a member of the minority party.

Warnock and Ossoff’s victories also increase the probability of the Senate confirming Xavier Becerra as Biden’s health and human services secretary — meaning Newsom will have the rare chance to appoint California’s next attorney general on the heels of two other high-level appointments. And with Democrats controlling the presidency, House and Senate, Newsom and the state Legislature may see more success in pushing through aspects of their progressive agenda.

2. Newsom proposes $600 stimulus, rent relief

Demonstrators protesting rent payment in Oakland on Dec. 5, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Newsom on Wednesday unveiled a batch of budget proposals aimed at providing economic relief for low-income Californians, a day after releasing a $4.5 billion business and jobs recovery plan. The new proposals include:

  • Giving $600 to roughly 4 million Californians earning less than $30,000 annually, a state version of the $600 stimulus checks recently approved by the federal government.
  • Extending California’s eviction moratorium, which is set to expire at the end of the month. Lawmakers have proposed extending the moratorium until the end of the year.
  • Expediting the distribution of $2.6 billion in federal funds for low-income renters and small landlords.

Newsom wants lawmakers to act on the proposals immediately upon returning to Sacramento on Monday, in addition to approving nearly $1 billion for small-business relief and housing. The governor is set to release his 2021-22 budget in full on Friday, kicking off months of negotiations with the Legislature before a final budget is passed in June.

Meanwhile, lawmakers unveiled several of their own pandemic-related proposals Wednesday, including a bill to make it easier for seniors and people with disabilities to apply for food stamps and a bill to invest $2.6 billion in grants for small businesses and nonprofits.

3. Insights into California’s housing crises

Illustration by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

I have some sad news for you: After spending three years covering housing for CalMatters and co-hosting the beloved podcast “Gimme Shelter,” Matt Levin is heading to NPR’s Marketplace to pursue a job in public radio. But he’s leaving us with five takeaways he thinks every Californian should know about housing politics and policy. Check them out here.

  • There isn’t one housing crisis — there are actually three.
  • The rise of telework will likely dilute demand to live in major cities — but that doesn’t mean their death is imminent.
  • There’s a fundamental dividing line in housing politics: whether you think one more unit of market-rate housing is good or bad.
  • The state construction workers’ union has way more influence than you think it does.
  • Newsom deserves credit for his progress on homelessness and tenant protections. But on the housing production side, policy has trailed rhetoric.

CalMatters commentary

Time for Legislature to lead: Lawmakers must get to work and stay at work despite the pandemic. The governor, although well-intentioned, is incapable of fixing problems on his own, argues Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron.

The need for reproductive reparations: It’s time for Newsom and the Legislature to prioritize reparations for women who were sterilized against their consent by California institutions, writes Janelli Vallin, a UCSF researcher.


Other things worth your time

Ten congressional candidates sue Newsom over alleged election fraud. // Center Square

California Supreme Court takes step toward abolishing cash bail at hearing. // San Francisco Chronicle

Los Angeles officials allowed dozens without medical credentials to get COVID vaccine early. // Los Angeles Times

California schools need more than Newsom’s $2 billion to reopen, superintendents say. // Sacramento Bee

In a first, Black men to lead both public safety panels in California Legislature. // Associated Press

Price tag for huge new dam project in Santa Clara County nearly doubles to $2.5 billion. // Mercury News

Former Oakland building inspector accused of bribery fined $55,000 by ethics commission. // Mercury News

Inside Los Angeles’ rule-flouting underground party scene. // Los Angeles Magazine


See you tomorrow.

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Note: The newsletter was updated to reflect why Reps. Kim and Steel didn’t vote.


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Emily Hoeven writes the daily WhatMatters newsletter for CalMatters. Her reporting, essays, and opinion columns have been published in San Francisco Weekly, the Deseret News, the San Francisco Business...