In summary

Kamala Harris is joining the governor today to rally against the Sept. 14 Newsom recall. So will President Joe Biden next week.

All politics is local — but all politics is national, too.

That’s the implication of Vice President Kamala Harris joining Gov. Gavin Newsom in the Bay Area today to rally against the Sept. 14 recall — and the message will only be reinforced next week, when President Joe Biden is expected to travel to California to campaign for Newsom. The governor, fresh off a string of weekend campaign events featuring Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, leveraged a Tuesday rally in San Francisco to hammer home the potential ripple effects of a successful recall.

  • Newsom: “The consequences of this election are profound. If they can take California, a progressive blue state, think about the impact that will have on Nancy Pelosi’s future … on the entire Biden agenda.”

By “they,” Newsom means Republicans – and, more specifically, recall frontrunner Larry Elder, whom he characterized as “to the far right of Donald Trump.” On Tuesday, a few hours after CalMatters published Ben Christopher’s story on Elder’s outreach to Asian and Latino voters, Newsom’s campaign sent a fundraising email from U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla that described Newsom as “one of the most pro-Latino governors in California history.” (Padilla became the first Latino to represent California in the U.S. Senate after Newsom chose him to replace Harris.)

Still, it’s unclear how much these endorsements from national figures will sway apathetic or undecided California voters. Darlín Meza, a 21-year-old Stockton resident, expressed skepticism about politicians in general. “What are they doing to help us? What are they doing to improve education?” Meza asked the Guardian. And get-out-the-vote efforts from Harris and Biden may seem distant and abstract to Californians who would rather seek political guidance from people they personally know and trust, such as faith leaders.

Nationalizing the recall may also obscure the experiences of Californians who signed the petition to oust Newsom precisely because of policies that impacted their local communities and daily lives. For the latest installment in CalMatters’ series “Building blocs: Key voters in California’s recall election,” Laurel Rosenhall talked to the “mad moms” so fed up with school closures and job losses that strategists say they were instrumental in gathering enough signatures to force a special election.

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The coronavirus bottom line: As of Monday, California had 4,307,960 confirmed cases (+0.2% from previous day) and 66,030 deaths (+0.1% from previous day), according to state data.

California has administered 47,444,715 vaccine doses, and 67.3% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated.

Plus: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. We’re also tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county and lawsuits against COVID-19 restrictions.

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1. Tracking laws-in-the-making

The California Assembly chamber on opening day of the 2020 legislative session. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

If your head is spinning from the barrage of bills state lawmakers are churning through before the legislative session ends Friday, never fear: CalMatters’ bill tracker is here. Our explainer — which will be updated frequently — breaks down the most controversial, significant or just plain interesting proposals that lawmakers have sent to Newsom’s desk. Among them: a bill that would require health insurance plans to make coverage available to their members’ dependent parents, a bill that would establish legal protections for prescribed burns, and a bill that would block employers from using secret settlements to prevent workers from speaking out about illegal harassment or discrimination. For more details, check out the tracker.

Ahead of the Friday deadline, lawmakers are also scrambling to craft an improved learning plan for COVID-quarantined students. The proposed changes follow a report from CalMatters’ Joe Hong that exposed cracks in new state laws governing independent study. But the revisions pose challenges of their own, Joe reports: While they would provide districts with more flexibility for the first 15 days of a student’s quarantine, after that point the old rules would snap back into place.

2. A more transparent Capitol

The California State Capitol. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

Who are the top leaders in the state Legislature on the environment? How liberal or conservative are the politicians who represent you? Today, CalMatters is launching Glass House: A California Legislator Tracker to demystify the 120 people representing all 40 million of us — and to hold them accountable. With this database, you can find out more about your representatives’ personal background, how they voted on key legislation, how special interest groups rate them and the policy areas they focus on, among other things. Bonus: When lawmakers are mentioned in a CalMatters story, their Glass House profiles will often be linked — allowing you to instantaneously email them and share your feedback. This could make a difference in how they vote — especially when they have to balance the public interest versus special interests.

  • CalMatters Editor-in-Chief Dave Lesher: “CalMatters’ mission is to help you understand what happens in state government and why — and a core part of that is showing you who these legislators are. Keep watching Glass House because we’ll be adding more features for you to learn about those making decisions for you.”

3. State reimagines health care for needy

A tent encampment in West Oakland. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
A tent encampment in West Oakland. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

California is on the cusp of a massive experiment: Over the next five years, it will invest nearly $6 billion in expanding Medi-Cal — the state’s health care program for the poor — to integrate medical care and social services for some of the state’s most vulnerable residents, California Healthline reports. The program will offer nontraditional services — such as a personal care manager to help patients find housing, pay bills, buy groceries and treat addictions — to the small sliver of Californians with the most complex and costliest conditions. The Newsom administration says this “whole person” approach will help the state simultaneously address its intertwined homelessness, drug addiction and mental health crises while saving taxpayer money. But experts caution that solutions may not come so easily.

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We are dedicated to explaining how state government impacts our lives. Your support helps us produce journalism that makes a difference. Thank you!

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CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: California’s high housing costs are driving away the very people we need to build more housing.

State’s environmental plan harms farmers: California’s approach to cutting greenhouse gas emissions has left agriculture to become collateral damage, argues Jamie Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Two cannabis bills threaten public health: Legalizing cannabis should not mean initiating and hooking more kids, or adding neurologically active and psychoactive substances to our food, writes Dr. Lynn Silver, director of Getting it Right from the Start — Advancing Public Health & Equity in Cannabis Policy.

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Other things worth your time

COVID testing was supposed to keep California schools safe. What happened? // EdSource

The man who started the movement to recall Newsom has COVID-19. // Sacramento Bee

California recall: A Q&A with the man who helped Schwarzenegger win the last one. // CNN

Scripps hospitals report single-day COVID death record. // San Diego Union-Tribune

COVID-19 outbreak hits Santa Rita Jail. // Mercury News

California could experience an intense fall fire season. // Washington Post

Insurance companies increasingly drop homes throughout San Diego County as fire risks rise. // KPBS Public Media

Judge blocks Northern California county’s water delivery ban to Asian pot farmers. // Sacramento Bee

Federal judge won’t dismiss ICE lawsuit in California // Fresno Bee

As homicides surged, Oakland’s premier anti-violence program went quiet. // San Francisco Chronicle

Land Park slaying suspect faces potential death penalty case. // Sacramento Bee

Sheriff Villanueva demotes high-ranking official trying to unseat him. // Los Angeles Times

Faulconer finances: He pays one company with campaign funds, receives income from another. // San Diego Union-Tribune

Does Orange County’s homelessness commission actually do anything? Activists say it’s hopelessly conflicted. // Voice of OC

Two Black developer groups are competing to redevelop the Oakland Coliseum. Here are their plans. // San Francisco Chronicle

See you tomorrow.

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