A Capitol showdown over drugs

On behalf of The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board, welcome to The Take, your opinion-politics newsletter. Please sign up for it here.

Today, we focus on the big fight over transparency in drug pricing – a national issue on which California could end up a leader – and the reasons for Sacramento’s slow fire response. We also check in with our sister papers in the swing state of North Carolina. They unload on Donald Trump, after he invited yet more controversy with his out-of-line remark about the Second Amendment. The wisecrack isn’t playing well, generally.

Take that

In December, Gov. Jerry Brown, talking with our David Siders, decried the “wide open” gun laws in Nevada and Arizona, and said they’re a “gigantic back door through which any terrorist can walk.”

Sure enough, on Wednesday, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval came out against Question 1, the measure on Nevada’s Nov. 8 ballot that would require background checks for all gun purchases in the Silver State.

“He has concerns that this measure would dilute the legitimate rights of law-abiding Nevadans and that it does not actually address the complex issue of keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals,” Sandoval’s spokeswoman said.

The Michael Bloomberg-backed group, Everytown for Gun Safety, is advocating for the measure, and it seems so simple. But as our friend Nevada journalist Jon Ralston explains, “finding a Republican (in Nevada) who favors a gun control measure is as easy as finding a Democratic constitutional officer.”

Take a number: $425 billion

In the last year, spending on prescription medication is up 12 percent, to a national total of some $425 billion. Why? Are we sicker? Are drug ingredients scarcer? Hard to know. But maybe the 33 drug companies lobbying to kill Sen. Ed Hernandez’s SB 1010 have an idea.

Our take

Editorial: Sacramento’s firefighters union is starting a full-court press to beef up its ranks.

Joe Mathews: Ventura County is showing that growth limits have a downside.

Rosa Aqeel and Kim McGill’s Soapbox: Legislation by Sen. Holly Mitchell, Ricardo Lara and Bob Hertzberg, and Assemblywoman Shirley Weber would help end criminalization of youths.

John Santry’s view: Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson misses the mark with her Coastal Commission legislation. He’s responding to our recent editorial, which takes a more positive view.

Their take

San Diego Union-Tribune: Jerry Brown’s Proposition 57 is proving to be a debacle. Californians deserve better from their leaders.

L.A. Times: Gun activists displayed legislators’ addresses on a blog. The speech may be legal, but it’s creepy and reprehensible.

Charlotte Observer: Donald Trump is uniquely unqualified – and these folks would know.

Raleigh News & Observer: Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, should repudiate Donald Trump, once and for all.

National Review: Parts of Trumponomics deserve praise. But on taxes, Donald Trump offers an incoherent program, a dog’s breakfast of proposals obviously engineered with an eye to nickel-and-diming his way to victory.

Syndicates’ take

E.J. Dionne Jr.: Donald Trump confronts common decency in Pennsylvania.

Leonard Pitts Jr.: One nation, divided by our versions of reality.

John R. Lott Jr.: Media’s interpretation of Donald Trump’s remark is ridiculous.

Noah Feldman: Donald Trump’s Second Amendment line is protected speech.

Thomas L. Friedman: Donald Trump’s dangerous wink to gun rights supporters.

The Trump follies

Donald Trump tried hard – really, really hard – to stay on message Wednesday, bashing Hillary Clinton over a new round of State Department emails that raised questions about the Clinton Foundation. But those side issues, they just won’t quit.

He insisted again that he was joking about urging “Second Amendment people” to stop Clinton from becoming president. He beat back a report from CNN that Secret Service agents had a talk with his campaign about the matter – and, given his history of incendiary comments, that it wasn’t the first such meeting, according to Politico.

“No such meeting or conversation ever happened,” Trump tweeted.

Yet, the Republican nominee was conspicuously silent during the three hours a man named Steve (not one of his economic advisers) spent scaling Trump Tower in Manhattan, armed with suction cups. Police said the 20-year-old wanted a meeting with Trump. Too bad Trump was hosting a rally in Steve’s home state of Virginia.

After smashing several windows, one officer leaned out, grabbed Steve’s wrist and asked: “Sir, will you come with me?” Steve said no, and they yanked him inside. – Erika D. Smith, @Erika_D_Smith