Capitol Alert

Trade war hits California housing + Vaccine plot twist + The truckers are back + CAGOP gets a Texas toast

Construction workers build houses in The Groves subdivision on Lookout Drive in the Village 1 neighborhood of Modesto, Calif. on Thursday June 4, 2018.
Construction workers build houses in The Groves subdivision on Lookout Drive in the Village 1 neighborhood of Modesto, Calif. on Thursday June 4, 2018.

Happy Thursday, California. Having fun yet? We have just over a week until session ends.

Both the Senate and Assembly gavel in at 10 a.m.


Count President Donald Trump’s trade war as another factor driving up housing costs in California.

The California Building Industry Association estimates that tariffs on materials ranging from nails to counter tops are swelling the cost of a new home by at least $20,000.

That might not sound like a lot in a state where the median home price is over $600,000, but the BIA warns it could price out some potential buyers, particularly with tariffs on other products stretching family budgets.

“It is a tipping point for those families,” said Dan Dunmoyer, president of the association.

Read more on how the tariffs are affecting California home builders in this report by McClatchy’s Kate Irby. One builder in Modesto told her he’s steering customers to materials that aren’t subject to the tariffs.

“This created the perfect storm of the wrong kind,” said David Logan, director of Tax and Trade Policy at the National Association of Home Builders. “All the stars aligned for the worst outcome.”


Gov. Gavin Newsom isn’t so sure about a vaccines bill, after all.

In case you’re returning from a multi-month vacation and aren’t aware, Senate Bill 276 would hand vaccine oversight power to the California Department of Public Health to review and possibly revoke questionable medical exemptions.

Although Newsom previously indicated he’d sign the bill, he reversed course on Tuesday after the Assembly approved it during a floor vote.

Newsom would “only put his signature on a bill that reflects his values,” the governor’s chief strategist Daniel Zingale told reporters on Wednesday. The Senate’s on Wednesday approved SB 276 and sent the bill to the governor’s desk.

State Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, said the bill is necessary to close a “loophole” created four years ago, when a law he wrote eliminated personal beliefs as a valid reason to skip vaccinating school kids in California.

Since then, the medical exemption rate has quadrupled among kindergartners, to 0.9 percent. Though a small number, advocates for SB 276 said many of the exempted kids jeopardize the health and safety of sick children and babies who can’t get vaccinated.

So how’d we get here?

June 1 — During the California Democratic Party Convention early this summer, Newsom told a gaggle of reporters he wasn’t so sure about SB 276.

June 18 — Pan worked with Newsom’s office to expand federal vaccine guidelines to include more exemptions and clarify that doctors could issue up to five exemptions before triggering oversight by a physician-appointed review panel.

“We worked very closely,” Newsom said at the time. “The amendments reflect not only my concerns but also a number of key representatives whose job it is to carry out the law. This will make it workable and addressed some of my bureaucratic anxieties.”

September 3 — Following the Assembly’s surprise vote on Tuesday, the governor’s office issued a statement via Twitter that threw another plot twist into the mix.

“The governor appreciates the work the Legislature has done to amend #SB276,” the tweet said. “There are a few pending technical – but important – changes to the bill that clarify the exemption and appeal process that have broad support.”

Newsom is asking for another piece of legislation that would provide the following solutions:

  • Eliminate the penalty of perjury and retroactive counting provisions under SB 276.

  • Ensure the standard forms doctors would fill out to issue a medical exemption are protected from Public Records Act requests.

  • Give doctors the chance to present additional evidence to a review panel should their decisions be questioned.

  • Clarify the public health department will begin reviews in 2020 of schools under 95 percent vaccination rates and doctors issuing many exemptions.


With little more than a week left in session, all eyes are on what happens with Assembly Bill 5.

The proposal to codify a 2018 California Supreme Court decision that determined most independent contractors should be classified as employees has attracted both staunch opposition and enthusiastic support across the so-called “gig economy.”

Among the most vocal critics are truck owner-operators in California, who’ve argued the proposed law would jeopardize their freedom to contract with several companies.

After a round of amendments in last week’s Senate Appropriations hearing, construction drivers earned an exemption to now be able to contract directly as owner-operators with companies.

The new language also clarifies that owner-operators would be able to use their own truck if they became employees, and companies would be required to reimburse them for their expenses.

A coalition called the California Truckers Guild is still headed to the Capitol this morning in a last-ditch effort to stop the bill, which members said reverses “decades of accepted independence” that’s allowed them to “decide who they want to work for and when they want to work.”

Around 50 drivers are scheduled to meet with lawmakers at 9 a.m., and a convoy of 100 more will begin circling the Capitol two hours later, the press release for the rally stated.


Texas and California are not exactly...friends. (Trust me, it’s all I heard about last year covering Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign.)

But former Lone Star State Gov. Rick Perry is headed to the Golden State to deliver a keynote address tomorrow night at the three-day California GOP Fall Convention that kicks off in the morning.

The schedule touts a range of training opportunities, including seminars called: Trump Victory Leadership Initiative, Choosing the Right Candidate for the Right District and Surviving on Liberal College Campuses.


September 7 — Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles


How long has Newsom’s staff waited to be able to Tweet this out?

Best of The Bee:

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.