Capitol Alert

August legislative priorities + DMV dodges audit + Migrant detention protest

California legislative leaders discuss wildfire issues

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Senate leader Toni Atkins discussed the California wildfire liability issue at the Sacramento Press Club on Aug. 8, 2018.
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Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Senate leader Toni Atkins discussed the California wildfire liability issue at the Sacramento Press Club on Aug. 8, 2018.

WHAT’S ON TAP?

California’s legislative leaders have named their top priorities for the last month of session: Bail reform and wildfires.

Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon highlighted key issues pending in the state Legislature at a Sacramento Press Club luncheon on Wednesday.

The leaders avoided offering stances on wildfire proposals, including Gov. Jerry Brown’s push to change the law around property damage liability, as some of the worst blazes in history burn California communities.

Rendon unequivocally stated that “we are not going to bail out PG&E or anybody else.”

But he passed when asked to explain his position on Brown’s controversial proposal that would rewrite the wildfire liability laws and lessen a utility company’s risk of facing property damages in civil cases.

“I think that’s something that the working group is going to look at and I really don’t want to get ahead of their work,” Rendon said.

When asked about Assembly Bill 33, which would allow the state to issue bonds paid off by ratepayers to cover wildfire property damage claims from wildfires in 2017, he said he doesn’t “take public positions on bills until they get out of the Appropriations Committee.”

Atkins similarly balked.

“I agree wholeheartedly with the speaker that you have to let that process work and we as leaders cannot get ahead of that process,” Akins said. “It really undermines the conversation, the discussion that our colleagues are seriously trying to have.”

Legislation to reform the money bail system was put on hold last year as lawmakers agreed to work with Gov. Jerry Brown and court officials to fix laws that many argue unfairly discriminate against the poor who cannot afford to pay for their release.

Atkins and Rendon indicated that the issue could be resurrected and brought up again in the Legislature’s final weeks.

“I’m hoping to move away from the cash bail system, arguably whether or not we do that right away or whether we do that incrementally, that’s something we will decide in the next few weeks,” Rendon said.

Atkins said it’s been difficult for stakeholders to agree.

“At the end of the day we need to do what’s right by people who are really disadvantaged and are the least likely to be able to pay,” Atkins said. “We know that it disproportionately affects some communities over others and I think it’s just an issue of social justice.”

Stay tuned. As Atkins put it: “Whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, we have learned here that there’s nothing like the last minute to get things done.”

AUDIT AVERSION

The Department of Motor Vehicles narrowly avoided an audit request into the department’s handling of wait times during a Wednesday hearing. Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, fell one vote short of having his proposal approved. He blamed Gov. Jerry Brown’s silence on the issue as the main contributor to lawmakers’ inaction. The DMV previously told lawmakers the audit would be a “strain” on resources that would hurt the department’s ability to focus on wait time issues.

COMMUNITY LEADERS PROTEST MIGRANT DETENTION

Local immigration activists are gathering outside the Capitol at 10:30 a.m. today to protest family separation and migrant detention policies. At the protest, they will highlight recent comments made by Congressman Jeff Denham, R-Turlock. Denham recently praised detention facilities, saying he’d even be willing to have his children stay there.

DRIVER’S ED, PART DEAUX

State Sen. Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, is joining the California Highway Patrol from 9-11 a.m. on Friday to promote a free driver safety refresher course aimed at helping people on the road who are at least 55 years old.

TWEET OF THE DAY

John Cox (@TheRealJohnHCox) My take - “Every hour in line at the DMV is time away from a job or family. Not auditing the DMV in light of blatant mismanagement is exactly why Californians need help.”

INFLUENCER OF THE DAY

How should California cultivate top-notch educators? Influencers have plenty to say.

“California needs to focus on recruiting a diverse pool of teachers and administrators and provide them resources, training, and time to become outstanding teachers well qualified to lead even our toughest to reach children to academic success.”

Les Simmons, Pastor at South Sacramento Christian Center

MUST-READ: ‘California is burning:’ Democratic group attacks McClintock on wildfires

OPINIONATED

Dan Turner, a retired Cal Fire employee, says the wildland-urban interface has reached historically high levels with wildfires and holistic solutions, determined by all stakeholders, are in order.

Dan Walters wonders: Is Jerry Brown saving his Supreme Court pick for someone really close to him?

TOONED OUT

Jack Ohman delves into QAnon.

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