Gov. Jerry Brown scored a major political victory last week when the Legislature voted to renew California’s signature climate change program for another decade.
With his reputation as a global environmental leader at stake, Brown had ramped up his lobbying to a fever pitch to sway skeptical lawmakers. Negotiations continued at a furious pace until the final days, with everything from a sales tax exemption on equipment purchases for electric power companies to a suspension of the state’s controversial fire prevention fee on rural property owners dangled at lawmakers to secure the desired two-thirds supermajority.
In the end, a handful of Republicans joined most Democrats to approve the legislation, which will extend cap-and-trade, California’s market-based system for reducing industrial greenhouse gas emissions, through 2030.
Now Brown gets to celebrate the fruits of his labor, when he signs Assembly Bill 398 at 11 a.m. on Treasure Island in San Francisco. He will be joined by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed the original measure authorizing cap-and-trade at the same spot in 2006, as well climate ally Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, who authored the bill.
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Notably not scheduled to attend is Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes, who helped broker a constitutional amendment on spending cap-and-trade revenue and other changes that delivered seven GOP votes in the lower house. Though he attended a victory lap press conference with Brown after AB 398 passed last week, he has since received intense backlash for supporting the bill from conservative members of his party.
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BUFFY THE FUNDRAISING SLAYER: Because of the most recent changes to legislative term limits, there appear to be only three open races, with no incumbent running, out of the 80 Assembly seats up for re-election next November. Expect most of the political attention to instead focus on several swing districts where Republicans will try to regain some of the ground they lost in 2016 and Democrats will try to expand their supermajority. Competition could still be fierce for the rare political real estate that is available, however, such as the 15th Assembly District. Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, plans to vacate the liberal East Bay seat after four years in a bid for state schools chief, and five Democrats have already thrown their names in the ring to take his place. Former Obama administration staff member Buffy Wicks, who announced her campaign on May 30, recently tried to set herself apart from the pack early by touting a strong first fundraising report: more than $200,000 through the end of June, a figure that her campaign says is higher than all but one non-incumbent Democrat during the same period in the 2016 election cycle.
WORTH REPEATING: “If the millennials wanted me to do it, I’d do it.” – Rep. Maxine Waters, the Los Angeles Democrat who is a constant critic of President Donald Trump, on whether she would consider running for president in 2020
LITE GOV SKIRMISH: California’s lieutenant governor does ... well, not much. But that hasn’t stopped a rush of candidates seeking to replace Gavin Newsom when he terms out in 2018. The latest is Gayle McLaughlin, a former mayor of Richmond, who entered the race in June touting herself as the “corporate-free” choice for voters. McLaughlin is currently embarked on a nearly two-week “organizing tour” of Southern California that takes her this evening to a meet-and-greet in Northridge. Yesterday, she stopped by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s district office to protest his decision last month to shelve a universal health care bill in the Legislature. Tying her campaign to the grass-roots energy that propelled Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, McLaughlin is also pushing for free college education and a fracking ban. She criticized the cap-and-trade deal last week as a handout to oil companies.