Capitol Alert AM Newsletter

Big budget vote today + Jail homicides + New senators

Good morning, California. Stay cool this weekend, drink some water, wear some sunscreen. See you Monday morning.

The Assembly and Senate start session an hour later than usual this morning at 10 a.m.


The Legislature is scheduled to vote on the 2019-2020 state budget today, 48 hours ahead of deadline. We see you bleary-eyed budget trailer bill writers. May you get all of the sleep this weekend.

What’s got everyone talking? Undocumented families, clean water activists and workplace equality advocates found a voice in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first budget deal. He didn’t get everything, but he got a lot.

Health care — The health care expansion for undocumented Californians earned a victory for lawmakers and advocates looking to build on the state’s coverage of undocumented minors. Newsom’s deal appropriates $98 million for the coverage.

Fresh H2O — Clean water advocates also have reason to celebrate. Though Newsom’s water tax to fund safe and affordable water initiatives didn’t make the cut, lawmakers included $130 million to finance clean water projects. They also committed to more drinking water projects through 2030..

Family leave — The deal increases California’s paid family leave policy from six to eight weeks.

Womp womp Newsom’s move to eliminate diaper and tampon taxes expires after two years.

While Newsom’s May budget proposal totaled $213 billion, the final cost is projected to hit $214.8 billion, according to the Department of Finance.

Catch up on budget coverage here.


Homicides in California county jails are on the rise almost everywhere except Los Angeles. That’s one of the key findings from the second installment of The Sacramento Bee and ProPublica yearlong investigation into how California prison reforms changed county-run lockups all over the state.

Here’s the lede on today’s piece from Jason Pohl and Ryan Gabrielson.

Deadly violence surged in county jails across California since the state began sending thousands of inmates to local lockups instead of prisons, the result of a dramatic criminal justice transformation that left many sheriffs ill-equipped to handle a new and dangerous population.

Since 2011, when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to overhaul its overcrowded prisons, inmate-on-inmate homicides have risen 46 percent in county jails statewide compared with the seven years before, a McClatchy and ProPublica analysis of California Department of Justice data and autopsy records shows.

Killings tripled and even quadrupled in several counties.

The increase in violent deaths in jails began soon after California officials approved sweeping reforms called “realignment” in response to the court ruling. The result has meant the conditions in many jails now mirror those in the once-overcrowded prisons, with inmates killing each other at an increasing rate.

Inmates have stabbed, bludgeoned or strangled their cellmates, moved bodies and wiped away blood before guards noticed, autopsy reports show. Staff at the jails have missed several of the crimes entirely, only finding the bodies hours later.

Here’s the full story, ‘Hellbent’ on killing: Homicides surge in overwhelmed California jails.

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It’s a full house!

Senators Lena Gonzalez and Brian Dahle officially joined their Senate colleagues on Wednesday, rounding out the chamber to a complete 40.

Gonzalez, a former Long Beach councilwoman and a Democrat, takes the seat of Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. Dahle, a Bieber Republican and former assemblyman, filled the vacancy left by Ted Gaines, who now sits on the state Board of Equalization.

The two lawmakers arrived just in time to vote on the state budget today.


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.