Capitol Alert

#MeToo bills down to the wire + Delgado picks the Senate + Schools chief debate recap

New state Sen. Vanessa Delgado discusses ‘whirlwind’ day

Vanessa Delgado, D-Montabello will be the shortest-serving state senator in more than a century, serving just 112 days. Delgado discusses what her first day at the Capitol was like and explains why she decided to resign as Montabello's mayor.
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Vanessa Delgado, D-Montabello will be the shortest-serving state senator in more than a century, serving just 112 days. Delgado discusses what her first day at the Capitol was like and explains why she decided to resign as Montabello's mayor.

#METOO BILLS

Four bills related to the #MeToo movement are making their way through the Legislature during this final month of session, and efforts to keep them in the public eye are mounting. A group of lawmakers and advocacy groups will hold a rally at 10 a.m. today on the north steps of the Capitol to advocate for greater workplace protections.

Here’s what’s on the table:

  • Senate Bill 1300 — Requires employers with at least five workers to provide sexual harassment training for all employees. It also bars employers from requiring workers to sign a non-disparagement agree as a condition for employment, raises or bonuses. STATUS: Narrowly passed Senate, on Assembly suspense file, to be taken up in Assembly Appropriations Committee on Thursday.
  • Senate Bill 224 — Clarifies that sexual harassment victims can bring civil claims against elected officials, lobbyists, investors and movie producers. STATUS: Unanimously passed Senate, on the Assembly floor.
  • Senate Bill 1038 — Holds an employee personally liable for retaliatory act in connection with an act of harassment that is perpetrated by the same employee. STATUS: Narrowly passed Senate, on the Assembly floor.

  • Assembly Bill 1870 — Extends from one year to three years the deadline to file harassment claims. STATUS: Passed Assembly, on Senate suspense file, to be taken up in Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday

SHORT-SERVING SENATOR

“It’s been a whirlwind since I got here at 8 a.m,” says Vanessa Delgado, the newest 112-day addition to the California Senate.

After winning a special election for Senate District 32 last week, Delgado explored legal options to try to retain her seat as Montabello’s mayor. After learning that would not be possible, she decided to accept the spot in the California Senate.

“The attorneys looked at some case law to see if there was precedent for this sort of situation, but it’s unique,” Delgado said. “We decided in the end that it was in the best interest of everybody to make sure we did this in a clean way. I really feel like, as public servants, we have to be at such a high ethical standard, and I just didn’t want to go there.”

Rather than go to court, she decided to go the Capitol, where, on her first day on Monday, she felt overwhelmed and excited. Packing into a confined office on the fourth floor with an empty desk and spare sandwiches, her staff looked to get Delgado off and running.

She will be the shortest-serving state senator in more than a century, according to Alex Vassar, legislative historian for the California State Library. Delgado was sworn in on Monday and will serve until Dec. 3, though her actual time voting in the Senate will likely end in a few weeks when this year’s legislative session concludes. Even though she won the special to serve out former Sen. Tony Mendoza’s term, she lost the primary in the race for a full, four-year term, so she won’t be on the ballot in November’s general election.

Delgado said her staff is already identifying bills to sponsor or help move forward during this last month of session. She said she is most passionate about issues surrounding housing and homelessness. She also embraces her place in the history books.

“To me, it’s a challenge,” she said. “How much can I get done in such a short amount of time? I take it as a challenge and an honor.”

SUPERINTENDENT RACE

Alexei Koseff writes…

This year promises another competitive race for California superintendent of public instruction. The primary for the nonpartisan office, which oversees education policy in the state, has attracted more than $12.5 million in outside spending from teachers’ unions and wealthy individuals who want to overhaul the public school system. Tony Thurmond, a Democratic Assemblyman from Richmond, and Marshall Tuck, a former school executive in Los Angeles, met in Davis on Saturday for a candidate forum hosted by the Youth Power Summit, answering questions from students of color.

THURMOND: Sharing his own experience of childhood adversity — he says he might have ended up in prison if not for strong mentors — Thurmond spoke about closing the “school-to-prison pipeline.” He is carrying a bill this session that would tax private prisons in California to fund about $25 million in grants annually for preschool and after-school programs. Thurmond wants to cut back on school expulsions that can leave students feeling like they have no options. He said he would work with the Legislature and the governor to increase education funding, including for universal pre-kindergarten and free community college.

TUCK: With a focus on equity for minority and poor students, Tuck wants to conduct an audit of all public schools in the state to find differences in course offerings, attendance, suspensions and expulsions that need to be addressed with policy changes. He said he would interpret California’s school funding formula differently, directing more money to needy districts with high teacher turnover so that they can pay higher salaries and attract better instructors. Tuck, who narrowly lost the contentious 2014 superintendent of public instruction race, also emphasized the need for universal pre-kindergarten to level the playing field for all students.

KEY DIFFERENCE: Both Thurmond and Tuck largely sidestepped a question about charter schools at the forum, other than to say they support a ban on for-profit charters. But this is one of the issues driving the big spending in the campaign. Thurmond wants a “pause” on new charters while the state figures out how to make up for the funding they have drained from traditional public schools. Tuck, who ran a charter chain in Los Angeles for several years, has been at odds with California’s teachers’ unions over his lighter regulatory approach, as well has his willingness to challenge the state’s hiring and firing practices.

SHOULD ANIMAL-TESTED COSMETICS BE BANNED?

That’s the question state Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, is raising at a 1:30 p.m. rally and news conference today on the west steps of the Capitol. She’s promoting her bill that would ban the sale of animal-tested cosmetics in California starting in 2020. Actress Alicia Silverstone will also be in attendance.

TOP 100 LIST

Capitol Weekly is hosting its annual reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. today to unveil its list of 100 influential people (besides lawmakers) shaping California politics. The event will be held at Sacramento’s Sutter Club, and tickets cost $100.

TWEET OF THE DAY

State Sen. Richard Pan (@DrPanMD) — “’Twitter asked that members of its safety team not be identified, for fear of them becoming targeted by internet trolls.’ Why are Twitter’s leaders afraid of experiencing what too many face on social media? #StopBullying #Resist #AlternativeFacts”

INFLUENCER OF THE DAY

As wildfires continue to rage, what are California’s biggest environmental challenges? Influencers have plenty to say.

“Water! Antiquated infrastructure and inefficient water management policies. We are using old water policies and systems and not adequately adjusting to the real impacts of climate change.”

Renata Simril, President and CEO of LA84 Foundation

MUST-READ: It’s an election year, and California’s campaign watchdogs are busy fighting among themselves

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OPINIONATED

The Bee’s Editorial Board argues the California Department of Motor Vehicles is now a scandal.

The Ed Board also criticizes Assembly Bill 84 — a bill it claims will “open the floodgates to special interest money in legislative races.”

The Ed Board believes the pressure is on for Sacramento to do something about the city’s worsening affordable housing crisis, but Mayor Darrell Steinberg and the City Council to do so responsibly.

Jeff Adachi, public defender in San Francisco, says a bail reform bill has been gutted.

Allan Zaremberg, president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce, believes California lawmakers must stop chaos on independent contractors.

John Carlon, co-founder and president of River Partners, says restoring floodplains and rivers will be a benefit for all California residents.

Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, thinks California is leading the way in confronting climate change.

Cesar Diaz, legislative and political director of the State Building and Construction Trades Council, believes building projects that promote sustainability are constructive.

TOONED OUT

Jack Ohman worries about what Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is doing in California forests.

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