Capitol Alert

Battle over charter schools + Rendon joins drinking water plan + Would you like a receipt?

Rise and shine, California. Nearly halfway done with two full weeks of #HouseofOrigin sessions. Enjoy the three-day weekend. See you again Tuesday!

Both chambers gavel in at 9 a.m. I have my snacks (and sweater for the Assembly!) ready to go.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is speaking at the 94th annual Sacramento Host Breakfast this morning at 8:40 at the Sacramento Convention Center. The event brings together 1,400 financial, educational, legislative and agricultural leaders for an opportunity to “exchange views, establish and renew friendships and create statewide atmospheres of good will.”


As the California Teachers Association hosted its #RedForEd Day of Action on Wednesday, the Assembly heard the first of a handful of controversial measures that would support traditional public schools by targeting charter institutions and alternative teaching models.

Assembly members spent more than an hour debating the CTA-backed Assembly Bill 1505 before its author, Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, spent another hour whipping the ayes needed to gain a majority vote. AB 1505 ultimately passed the floor on a 43-19 vote, after a handful of Democrats jumped on board to ram the measure through.

The proposal gives districts and boards of education more power to reject a charter application if they determine that its opening would have a negative impact on local public schools.

The showdown targeted on-the-fence Democrats who said they worried the bill would pit parents against each other and thrust school children into a political fight that leaves everyone a loser.

O’Donnell reiterated that he was open to amendments for an appeals process, saying he wants the reform efforts “to be fair,” after several of his colleagues said they wouldn’t support the measure without his promise to compromise.

Either way, Wednesday was a likely indication that O’Donnell’s bill faces several hurdles ahead.

Another charter-targeted effort by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, is also likely to face a floor vote this week. McCarty’s measure, Assembly Bill 1506, establishes a cap on the number of charter schools in local districts.

And the since-amended “Teach for America bill” — Assembly Bill 221 — will face its litmus test on the floor soon, if its author Cristina Garcia can rally the support needed to get the controversial proposal to the Senate.

AB 221 first targeted the alternative teaching nonprofit before the Bell Gardens Democrat accepted amendments that removed explicit reference to the organization. The bill now prohibits schools from generally entering into third-party contracts, like with TFA, unless those teachers commit to staying in the classroom for five years.

Catch up — ABs 1505 and 1506 are part of a legislative package that includes Assembly Bill 1507, which is already in the Senate. AB 1507 requires a charter school to be within its district’s boundaries. The bundle of bills inspired hundreds of charter advocates to flock to the Capitol in early March to protest the efforts during an Assembly Education Committee hearing.


Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, signed on as a co-author to Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia’s Safe Drinking Water for All Act on Wednesday.

With Rendon on board, and with a Senate bill establishing a water fund having passed its floor on Wednesday, the Legislature appears poised to help Newsom make good on a promise to deliver clean H2O for the 1 million Californians living without it.

The act, Assembly Bill 217, creates taxes on water, fertilizer, dairy and confined animal facilities to establish a funding stream for safe drinking water projects. Last year, Rendon opposed a similar measure that would have created a “voluntary tax” to fund water system improvements.

“Speaker Rendon’s co-authorship of AB 217 further builds towards a historic opportunity in the next month to solve California’s drinking water crisis once and for all,” the Coalition for a Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund said in a statement. “With Governor Newsom and both houses of the Legislature committed to passing an ongoing, sustainable source of funding for safe drinking water, we are closer than ever to ensuring every California child, family and community has access to the most basic of human rights — safe water.”

Garcia, a Democrat from Coachella, previously told The Bee that he worked with his legislative colleagues to ensure the act is “equitable, sustainable, and reflects the unique needs of regions throughout our state.”

“Our state’s safe drinking water crisis is a matter of public health urgency impacting our families, students, and most vulnerable communities,” Garcia said.


First the straws, now (maybe) the receipts. Assemblyman Phil Ting’s, D-San Francisco, Skip-The-Slip bill is up for a floor vote today.

Ting’s Assembly Bill 161 would prohibit stores from printing paper receipts unless a customer asks for one. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law last year by Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whitter, that made straws available only upon request policy last year.


Former First Pets Cali and Colusa Brown were back at the Capitol yesterday for “bark-to-bark” meetings.

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Hannah Wiley joined The Bee as a legislative reporter in 2019. She produces the morning newsletter for Capitol Alert and previously reported on immigration, education and criminal justice. She’s a Chicago-area native and a graduate of Saint Louis University and Northwestern.