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Just blocks from the state Capitol where legislators have crafted arguably the toughest gun control laws in the country, at least two shooters early Sunday morning killed at least six people and injured another 12 in Sacramento’s worst mass shooting in history. It’s sure to intensify questions about what elected officials can do to curb rising gun violence and crime before concerned Californians vote in the June 7 primary.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who’s abroad on a family vacation, said the country must end its “scourge of gun violence.” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg called for tougher laws on assault rifles, though it wasn’t immediately clear what types of guns the shooters used.

Attorney General Rob Bonta — a progressive Democrat who’s gearing up for one of the most closely watched primary races against tough-on-crime independent Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert and Republicans Nathan Hochman and Eric Early — emphasized that he’s in the business of keeping Californians safe.

Newsom, Bonta and Democratic lawmakers recently introduced a package of gun control bills. But those efforts may not be enough to comfort Californians still reeling from mass shootings last month at a Sacramento church and last year at a San Jose railyard, or the houses of worship that recently received state funds to install bulletproof windows and hire armed guards.

And there’s no clear consensus on the best way to address gun violence. While some are calling for a beefed-up law enforcement presence, others, like Sacramento City Councilmember Katie Valenzuela, who represents the downtown district where the mass shooting occurred, said that wouldn’t necessarily stop the violence.

Sam Paredes, who runs Gun Owners of California, told the Sacramento Bee that lawmakers’ “knee-jerk reaction is to go after guns,” when the real issues driving gun violence may be mental, economic or medical.

It’s a debate playing out across the state and one sure to heighten in coming months, with San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin facing a recall election on June 7 and discontented Los Angeles County voters collecting signatures to oust District Attorney George Gascón. Against that backdrop, the progressive prosecutors’ two regions are also grappling with the best way to handle spiraling drug addiction and homelessness.

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The coronavirus bottom line: As of Thursday, California had 8,494,005 confirmed cases (+0.05% from previous day) and 88,207 deaths (+0.1% from previous day), according to state data. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

California has administered 72,844,876 vaccine doses, and 74.5% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated.

Note: The California Department of Public Health announced Friday that, starting today, it will transition to publicly reporting COVID-19 data just two days a week on Tuesdays and Fridays.

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1. Court: Corporate diversity law unconstitutional

Illustration by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters; elements via iStock

California’s controversial law requiring publicly traded companies headquartered in the Golden State to diversify their boards is unconstitutional, a Los Angeles County superior court judge ruled Friday. The brief ruling doesn’t explain the judge’s reasoning for striking down the measure, which requires some 700 companies to have at least one board member from an “underrepresented community” — including those who identify as LGBTQ, Black, Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islander or Native American — by the end of 2021, and more in subsequent years. The ruling marks a significant win for Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group also challenging California’s law mandating women on corporate boards.

  • Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton: “This historic California court decision declared unconstitutional one of the most blatant and significant attacks in the modern era on constitutional prohibitions against discrimination.”
  • The Secretary of State’s office, which is empowered to charge noncompliant companies, didn’t respond to a request for a comment Sunday.

In other equity news: California’s poorest residents — who earn less than $30,000 annually and qualify for state tax credits — make up nearly 50% of the estimated 1 million people from whom the state intercepted 2021 tax refund money to pay off debts, such as parking tickets, college tuition, child support and court fees, the Los Angeles Times reports. Advocates say it defies logic for the state to give its poorest residents money in the form of tax credits, only to snatch it back by garnishing their tax refunds: It’s like trying to “plug a bleed on one end while another end is still an open wound,” said Courtney McKinney, a spokesperson for the Western Center on Law & Poverty.

2. California environment roundup

State officials found only traces of snow during the April 1 snowpack survey at the Sierra Nevada’s Phillips Station. Photo by Kenneth James, California Department of Water Resources

California saw a torrent of environmental news on Friday and over the weekend. Here’s what you need to know:

3. A bellwether special election

Georgette Gómez speaks at a San Diego and Imperial counties Labor Council drive-in rally in San Diego on Nov. 3, 2020. Photo by Sam Hodgson, The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP

Tomorrow, the polls close in four special elections for seats vacated by California policymakers caught up in the “Great Resignation.” One of the special elections is for the U.S. House of Representatives seat formerly held by GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, for which six candidates are competing. But if you want a vision of California’s political future in 2022, you’d do well to consider the special election for the South San Diego Assembly seat vacated by labor powerhouse Lorena Gonzalez. Oodles of special interest money are flowing into the race, with much of it concentrated on two Democrats — labor ally Georgette Gómez and business-friendly David Alvarez, CalMatters’ Ben Christopher reports.

  • Where’s all the money coming from? As Ben reports, contribution records filed with the state reveal a few surprises, including the first sign of a new, aggressive electoral strategy by the ridesharing giant Uber, plus some surprisingly big donations from a single towing company in Sacramento.

In other election news: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti may not have enough support among U.S. Senate Democrats to be confirmed as ambassador to India, Axios reported Sunday night.

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CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: As Newsom rolls out numerous new programs and expands existing ones, is California biting off more than it can chew?

School reaction to lesson involving the N-word went too far: In leading a classroom discussion about the evolution of language, a Sacramento-area teacher said the offensive word. Now some parents and the school district wrongly want to take away her teaching credential, argues Ginger Rutland, a former Sacramento Bee editorial writer.

Other things worth your time

Sacramento city school district strike ends, students will return to class today. // CapRadio

Opinion: Gavin Newsom needs to be smarter about how he shuts down California prisons. // San Francisco Chronicle

Another L.A. juvenile hall facility fails state inspection. // Los Angeles Times

A small court with a big mission: A second chance for criminals with mental illness. // San Diego Union-Tribune

Editorial: Villanueva saga just gets odder, more destructive. // Los Angeles Times

18 in alleged Fresno fentanyl trafficking ring face federal charges. // Los Angeles Times

McClintock: Sole California Republican voting to decriminalize weed. // Sacramento Bee

Licensed cannabis businesses in Santa Ana, Los Angeles raided over unpaid taxes. // Orange County Register

This Bay Area school is reinstating its mask mandate after a COVID-19 spike. // San Francisco Chronicle

Some Sacramento CA ICUs report having no COVID-19 patients for first time in two years. // Sacramento Bee

Californians warned about risk from British Columbia oysters. // Associated Press

Progressive business tax plans gain steam in Oakland, but business group calls idea ‘ruinous’ for jobs. // San Francisco Chronicle

Elite Oakland private school battles neighbors over expansion: ‘It’s just too many kids.’ // San Francisco Chronicle

4 L.A. County cities file legal challenge against state housing bill. // Daily News

San Diego to vote on new eviction moratorium. // San Diego Union-Tribune

USC gives honorary degrees to Japanese American students incarcerated in war camps. // Los Angeles Times

Conservationists seek monument status for California mesa. // Los Angeles Times

That time Russia swooped in to bail out a California state park. // San Francisco Chronicle

Oakland A’s Howard Terminal ballpark plan faces environmental lawsuit. // Mercury News

How an East Oakland grassroots effort is using $28 million to help residents tackle climate problems. // San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco’s bottle recycling program blasted by advocates: ‘It’s absurd.’ // San Francisco Chronicle

Feral pigs cause mounting environmental damage in California. // Los Angeles Times

California peregrine falcon finds partner after mate’s death. // Associated Press

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...