At long last, the 2016 election is over, which means California lawmakers finally have some time to kick back, relax and see the world. Dozens of them are headed across the globe in the coming weeks for informational trips, before arriving back in Sacramento on Dec. 5 for the start of the new session.
The Independent Voter Project’s Maui conference, which kicked off yesterday at the $360-a-night Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel, is an annual favorite. The five-day event brings together legislators, who receive thousands of dollars in airfare, hotel rooms and food, with dozens of corporate sponsors for policy discussions and schmoozing.
The conference is a perpetual lightning rod for criticism about the coziness between lawmakers and the interest groups that have business before them, including pharmaceutical maker Eli Lilly, the Pacific Gas & Electric Co., oil companies, the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, and the correctional officers’ union. (Find a complete list of this year’s sponsors here.) Organizers defend it as an opportunity for casual, bipartisan conversations that don’t happen around the Capitol.
IVP board chairman Dan Howle said he is hoping to expand and follow up on the conference with a series of one-day summits back in Sacramento next year. Though the event normally attracts more than 20 legislators to Hawaii, Howle said there are fewer than a dozen planning to attend this year because of conflicts with a possible lame-duck special session on transportation funding and other travel opportunities. He would not disclose their names.
One of those other opportunities is a trip to the Czech Republic and Germany to learn about their use of renewable energy, organized by the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy. The San Francisco-based group, which counts energy, oil and technology companies, labor unions, water agencies and environmental organizations among its members, usually sponsors a couple of these “study travel programs” for legislators each year.
Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, is leading the delegation, which also includes Sens. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont; Assembly members Rocky Chávez, R-Oceanside, Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, Chad Mayes, R-Yucca Valley, Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, and Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg; and executives from construction trades, Shell, Comcast and the Natural Resources Defense Fund.
Participants left for Europe last Friday and will be there through Nov. 21, visiting energy grid infrastructure and meeting with government officials, utilities executives and business leaders.
Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon is leading a trade delegation to China to discuss economic collaboration and “assure our global trading partners that California is still open for business.” His office said Rendon paid for the trip out of his campaign funds, but could not provide an itinerary or the names of other members of the delegation. The twelve-day trip lasts through Nov. 22.
WORTH REPEATING: “I do think people frequently overlook the power of celebrity.” – Former Gov. Gray Davis, who saw Arnold Schwarzenegger replace him in a recall, on Donald Trump’s election
BRIDGING THE DIVIDE: After a slow start, the Associate Degree for Transfer seems to be taking off in California. Created by the Legislature in 2010, the program has developed pathways to smooth the difficult transition between community colleges and the California State University system, which too few students are able to make and even fewer do in a timely manner. Last year, nearly 31,000 students received the degrees, which also guarantee admission to a CSU campus and are designed to allow them to finish their bachelor’s in just two more years. The California Community Colleges Board of Governors will receive an update on the program at its meeting today, which starts at 9 a.m. at the chancellor’s office on Q Street.
ANOTHER ELECTION: State government’s biggest union wrapped up a strike authorization vote on Friday and SEIU Local 1000 is expected to report the results this week. The union is trying to draw a bigger raise than the 3 percent hike Gov. Jerry Brown is offering for its more than 90,000 members. A yes vote doesn’t mean the union will actually strike, but could increase its leverage at the bargaining table.
BY THE NUMBERS: Here are the latest results, as of Friday evening, in the California races that have yet to be called:
Assembly District 27 (San Jose): Ash Kalra (D) 52.5 percent, Madison Nguyen (D) 47.5 percent
Assembly District 40 (Rancho Cucamonga): Assemblyman Marc Steinorth (R) 52.2 percent, Abigail Medina (D) 47.8 percent
Assembly District 60 (Corona): Sabrina Cervantes (D) 52.2 percent, Assemblyman Eric Linder (R) 47.8 percent
Assembly District 65 (Fullerton) : Sharon Quirk-Silva (D) 50.8 percent, Assemblywoman Young Kim (R) 49.2 percent
Senate District 29 (Diamond Bar): Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang (R) 50.9 percent, Josh Newman (D) 49.1 percent
Congressional District 7 (Sacramento suburbs): Rep. Ami Bera, (D) 50.6 percent, Scott Jones(R) 49.4 percent
Congressional District 49 (North San Diego County): Rep. Darrell Issa (R) 51.1 percent, Doug Applegate (D) 48.9 percent
Proposition 53, to restrict revenue bonds: No 51.5 percent, Yes 48.5 percent
Proposition 66, to speed up executions: Yes 50.9 percent, No 49.1 percent
CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to outgoing Assemblyman David Hadley, R-Manhattan Beach, who turns 52 today. He lost reelection last Tuesday to Democrat Al Muratuschi.