In Rare Bipartisan Effort, California Legislature Extends California’s Cap and Trade Program
Early this week, state lawmakers approved a 10-year extension for California's cap-and-trade program. Cap and trade provides flexibility and a favorable market based approach for achieving the required reductions in greenhouse gasses. The legislation will continue the program until 2030. The extension was necessary to provide clarity and predictability to assist companies in complying with the required reductions. The legislation was fiercely opposed by some in the environmental community who say it is not aggressive enough for progressive California. Several Democrats who voted against the measure felt it did not go far enough in pushing for command and control climate change policies...
California Ranked as 6th Largest Economy in the World - Honing in on 5th Place Slot
In rankings released by Palo Alto economist Stephen Levy, head of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, California’s economy ranked sixth in the world in 2016. The state has seen that ranking climb since 2010 when it was 10th and 8th in 2014...
Governor Signs 2017-18 Budget
Governor Brown signed the 2017-18 on Tuesday, opting not to utilize his line-item veto power. As such, the $125 million budget passed by the Legislature earlier this month remains intact. According to Brown, this budget provides money to improve infrastructure, pay down debt, invest in schools, fund the earned income tax credit and provide health care for millions of California...
Study Raises Questions about Minimum Wage Increase
A study released this week by the University of Washington analyzing the minimum wage increase in Seattle has found that jobs and work hours fell for the city’s lowest paid employees after the minimum wage was raised to $13 there last year. The study shows that jobs and hours for those workers declined faster in Seattle than in surrounding control areas where the minimum wage did not increase...
SB 562 (Lara): Single Payer – Shelved
Late last week, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced that SB 562 (Lara), which would have created a Single-Payer healthcare system in California, would not advance to a policy hearing in the Assembly, essentially ensuring that the measure would not be acted upon this year. Rendon called the bill “woefully incomplete,” noting that even Senators who voted for SB 562 noted fatal flaws in the bill. The bill failed to address several critical issues including financing, delivery of care, cost controls, and necessary action by the federal government to make SB 562 a reality...
DTSC Releases SCP AA Guide
A key component of the Safer Consumer Product Program and associated regulation is the Alternatives Analysis (AA), which entails a robust review of the chemical of concern(s) compared against any potential alternatives for a host of potential life cycle impacts. In order to help facilitate the conducting of such AAs, the Department of Toxics Substances Control (DTSC) has prepared and finalized its first iteration of its Alternatives Analysis (AA) Guide. The Guide is intended to be an evergreen document that will evolve as DTSC’s and stakeholders’ thinking, processes and science evolve...
House of Origin Deadline Passes, Updates on Significant Bills
The mid-point in the legislative process, last Friday was the House of Origin deadline in the Legislature whereby all measures had to move into the opposite house in order to remain active in 2017. The week saw a flurry of activity and some major upsets, largely focused on a few contentious environmental measures that were defeated and are now considered two-year bills. While considered dead for the year, all two-year bills are eligible for reconsideration in January when the Legislature reconvenes for the 2018 session...
Assembly Democrats Form Progressive Caucus
In an effort to bolster the party’s left flank in the California Legislature, nearly two dozen Assembly Democrats have signed on to form a Progressive Caucus. The ideology, according to the group, is that the members “value people more than money.” The caucus hopes to be a divergence from the informal group of centrist, business-aligned Democrats known as the Mod Caucus, that have been a pivotal bloc of votes on bills on taxes and environmental regulation...
PPIC Poll – “Californians and Their Government”
The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) recently released a new poll focusing on critical issues relating to how the public and likely voters view their government...
Board Announces Adoption of Drug Take-Back Regulations
The State Board of Pharmacy recently announced the formal adoption of regulations establishing requirements for pharmacies that wish to establish prescription drug take-back services. While pharmacies are not required to provide drug take-back services under the board’s regulations, for those that do the regulations establish requirements that are based upon U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) requirements. With the rampant problem of prescription drug abuse, the board hopes to increase options for the public to safely dispose of unwanted, unused, or out of date medications. In addition to reducing the supply of prescription drugs available for misuse or abuse, providing collection receptacles and/or mail-back envelopes for customers also helps protect the environment...
Tax Increases Could be on the Horizon
Despite California voters adopting multi-billion tax increases in November through the passage of Proposition 55 (12-year extension of the Prop. 30 personal income tax increases), Proposition 56 ($2 tax imposed on each pack of cigarettes), and Proposition 64 (which includes several tax increases on marijuana and marijuana products), the Legislature continues to propose new tax measures....
Senators Introduce Juvenile Justice System Reform Bills
In a series of bills introduced this week, Senators Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) are supporting a plan that would significantly reform the criminal justice systems. In a press conference this week, the lawmakers introduced four bills modifying how children are treated in California’s justice system. If passed, these bills could do away with incarceration for children under 12 years old and ...
Senator Patricia Bates Elected as New Senate Republican Leader
In an expected move, Senate Republicans have appointed a new leader, Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel). With her available term limit not coming up until 2022, Bates could serve as minority leader for an extended period of time – longer than many recent leaders. Current leader, Senator Jean Fuller, will be termed out in 2018, and the vote to switch leadership will give ample time to transition and prepare for the next election cycle....
Newsom to Introduce Universal Health Care Plan as Component of Bid for Governor
Current Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom is reportedly drafting a plan to create universal health care in the state as part of his platform for his campaign in 2018. Newsom’s ambitious plan to rein in rising health care costs, expand universal access to people across the state regardless of income or immigration status, and preserve coverage for the estimated 5 million Californians who risk losing their insurance...
Tam Doduc, of Sacramento, has been reappointed to the State Water Resources Control Board, where she has served since 2005. Doduc served in several positions at the California Environmental Protection Agency from 2000 to 2005, including deputy secretary for environmental quality, assistant secretary for air and chemical programs, assistant secretary for agriculture and chemical programs and assistant secretary for technology certification...
2016 General Election Wrap Up
Upcoming Important Dates:
December 5th 2015-2016 Legislative Session Convenes
January 10, 2017 Governorâ€™s Budget Release
2016 General Election Wrap-Up
After a very heated, tense election cycle with national politics believed to be looming large over down-ticket races in California, the dust is beginning to settle this morning with significant policy changes ahead via the state initiative process and legislative Democrats poised to gain a two-thirds majority in the Assembly. Between the two major parties, over $29 million was spent in competitive California legislative races â€“ resulting in one of the most divisive and malevolent election cycles with accusations of racism, theft and destruction of opponentsâ€™ signage, harsh campaign messaging and more coming from all angles, even in inter-party fights.
Assembly Democratsâ€™ efforts, in particular, to gain a super majority was seemingly fruitful with three seats in range, pending final vote counts. Assemblyman David Hadley (R) currently trails former Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D), Assemblyman Eric Linder (R) trails Sabrina Cervantez (D) and Assemblywoman Young Kim (R) trails former Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D).
One of the most expensive legislative races in the East Bay between Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R) and Cheryl Cook-Kallio (D) failed to produce a change of hands for Democrats, despite each side spending upwards of $2.5 million and independent expenditures coming in at about $2 million on both sides.
Relative to inter-party fights, former Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D) regained his seat from Assemblywoman Patty Lopez (D); and Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown (D) has been unseated by Eloise Reyes (D).
In the Senate, Democrats have come up short of a two-thirds gain so far, but managed to hold on to three of their potential target seats. Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang (R) is holding a narrow lead against Democrat Josh Newman in the race to fill the seat vacated by termed-out Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff.
Overall, Democrats led in fundraising to the tune of roughly $21 million for their top ten races as compared to Republicansâ€™ $8.3 million in those races.
On the policy front, Californians have approved the use of recreational marijuana; affirmed a ban on single-use plastic bags; reformed, not repealed the death penalty; provided broad authority to the Governor and his secretary of the Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation to expand parole and credits for prisoners; and more. While a good number of the measures saw significant expenditures, Proposition 61 that would have capped drug pricing for veterans was the shining star in this regard with record spending on both sides. While the measure has been defeated at the ballot box, proponents are poised to again pursue legislation in 2017 that will likely be broader in scope and one of the biggest fights on the horizon.
As the dust continues to settle and the close races await confirmation of final vote counts, we now look to December 5th when the 2017-2018 Legislature will be sworn in to office. While some reports suggest a host of new moderate members will infuse the Assembly, the proof is in the pudding as we move into what is already shaping up to be a big year ahead on a number of policy fronts. A big unknown is how the two-thirds in the Assembly will play out â€“ will moderates feel empowered to stand together or will members fall in line with leadership and more progressive ideals? Time will tell... and weâ€™re waiting with baited breath...