Capitol Alert AM Newsletter

Two-for-one housing bill faces hearing + Becerra’s day in court + Gig economy battle heats up

Top of the Tuesday morning, readers. Friday marks the start of a month-long break for the Legislature. But we’ll still be around. So what would you like to see more of while things slow down a bit in the Capitol? Send tips, feedback, suggestions, ideas and hiking trail suggestions my way:


Ahead of the house-of-origin deadline in May, a bill to impose rent caps on certain housing narrowly passed the Assembly floor after its author, Democratic Assemblyman David Chiu of San Francisco, accepted amendments necessary to get it through his chamber.

The legislation was modified to prohibit rent increases by no more than 7 percent plus inflation, to sunset in 2023 and to exclude property managers with 10 or fewer units. The updated version earned rescinded opposition from the California Association of Realtors, but still squeaked past the super Democratic majority with only 43 votes in support.

The association has since rolled back its neutral stance on the bill, and is asking for a vote against the measure today when it heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee for its next hearing.

That’s because Chiu tucked in additional tenant protections last week, taken from a measure the Assembly failed to vote on in May. The amendments include elements of Assembly Bill 1481, a proposal written by Assemblymen Tim Grayson, D-Concord, and Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, in conjunction with Chiu’s effort.

That bill would have protected tenants from eviction without “just cause,” meaning they’d have had to violate the lease or failed to pay rent before getting thrown out. Though the association initially said it would support an amended version of the eviction bill as well, it said it rescinded its neutral stance unless it’s fixed “to appropriately balance tenant protections and private property rights.” When I asked where the legislation falls short, the association did not respond.

The Realtors group now joins the California Apartment Association in efforts to stop the bill as it stands. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:30 this morning in room 112.


Attorney General Xavier Becerra will be in the U.S Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit today in New Orleans with a group of attorneys general from 20 states and Washington, D.C.

The coalition is scheduled to argue against Texas’ effort to end the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama’s signature legislation that extended health insurance to all Americans by requiring them to purchase coverage under the individual mandate.

The Lone Star State joins 20 states in challenging the constitutionality of the law, and a Texas federal trial court previously ruled in their favor.

Becerra’s office challenges the position as “legally incorrect and dangerous to our healthcare system.”

Today, California and its allies are expected to argue the following:

  • Dismantling the law would cost between $150 and $350 billion over the next decade.
  • More than 12 million people covered by Medicaid would be affected, as well as 12 million seniors who can afford prescription drugs under Medicare. Another 133 individuals with pre-existing conditions, including nearly 20 million kids, also face changes to their insurance should Texas prevail.
  • California stands to lose a portion of $702 billion in federal funding to finance public health insurance.

“Our argument is simple: the health and well-being of nearly every American is at risk,” Becerra said in a press statement. “Healthcare can mean the difference between life and death, financial stability and bankruptcy. Our families’ well-being should not be treated as a political football. We’ll see the Trump administration in court to make sure it isn’t.”


Ahead of its next hearing tomorrow morning, rideshare and delivery drivers are scheduled to protest against Assembly Bill 5 at the Capitol this afternoon.

The drivers belong to the I’m Independent coalition, which is collectively arguing against the effort to codify a court decision that classifies independent contractors as employees.

“Surveys consistently show that overwhelmingly independent contractors want to stay independent and prefer it over traditional employment citing flexibility as their top reason,” the coalition said in the event’s press release.

The group is also arguing that by becoming employees, workers will lose flexibility to make their own schedule, attend school or work other jobs. Major opponents of the bill include Uber and Lyft.

But Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, the bill’s author, said executives of the apps rake in millions while they avoid paying their employees benefits and fair wages.

“Uber and Lyft need to stop lying to their drivers. These billion dollar corporations represent the worst of greed,” Gonzalez said. “Yet, (executives) insist their business model doesn’t work if they have to abide by basic labor laws like minimum wage and overtime.”

The coalition is asking for a solution to AB 5 that instead “preserves flexibility while improving labor protections and security for the gig economy.” The group wants workers to determine what benefits they need. It’s also asking for support in developing a representative association and help getting more transparency about driver pay and earnings.

Members will advocate for their proposals today at 12:30 p.m. on the West Steps.


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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.