Capitol Alert AM Newsletter

California’s sustainable development + Lara’s campaign contributions + Earthquake state of emergency

Good morning, California! Happy Wednesday, and thanks for starting your day with the Capitol Alert.


Several California regions cracked the top tier of 105 U.S. cities surveyed in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 report.

The winner? San Francisco, Oakland and Hayward.

The tri-city area scored an average 69.7 percent across the 17 categories used to measure how cities are meeting sustainable development milestones. Those goals include eliminating poverty, providing quality education, investing in infrastructure and combating climate change.

Others in the top 10 are the San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara region and the San Diego, Carlsbad area. Bakersfield brought in the Golden State rear ranked as 101st.

The report demonstrates “significant work” ahead, according to the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The 105 cities averaged a less than 50 percent achievement rate, which the organization said shows evidence of “substantial and rising inequalities of income, persistent poverty, unsafe physical environments, and of course, the continued emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to human-induced climate change and that threaten humanity.”

“These indicators should provide flashing red lights to communities around the U.S. to take actions at the local level to promote the (goals), and to advocate for sustainable development policies at the federal and state level as well,” said Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the network.


The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on Sunday that California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has recently accepted more than $50,000 in donations from insurance company executives

“The contributions are questionable because regulators are not supposed to accept donations from people with business before the agency,” investigative reporter Jeff McDonald wrote. “Previous insurance commissioners historically have declined to accept political donations from interested parties.”

The campaign contributions are not illegal, the paper noted. But Consumer Watchdog called on Lara to return the money and refuse future donations from industry representatives.

“To do otherwise would be a betrayal of the people of California,” wrote the nonprofit’s founder Harvey Rosenfield and executive director Carmen Balber.

“As insurance commissioner, you oversee insurance policies worth hundreds of billions in annual premiums paid by Californians,” they included in a letter to Lara. “Such decisions should not be made under a cloud of improper industry influence.”

Lara did not respond to questions regarding the contributions from the Union-Tribune, but said he was proud of his record and hoped to be “judged by the public policy decisions I make as they affect injured workers and their families.”


After two earthquakes rocked Southern California last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom called on President Donald Trump to declare a presidential emergency that would release federal funds for clean up efforts.

Trump approved that request on Monday and ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist in disaster relief.

There were no reported deaths or major emergencies, according to officials, but the rumbles left homes in rubble and broke gas lines that caused fires.

“California is grateful for President Trump’s approval of our request and the ongoing efforts of local, state and federal emergency responders to protect communities across the region,” Newsom said in a statement.


Kevin Liao is heading to the Midwest.

The press secretary for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon is leaving California for a new role on presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren’s Iowa campaign. Liao sent an email to reporters on Tuesday afternoon bidding the press corps a “farewell for now.”

The Bee Capitol Bureau wishes Liao a bon voyage, and extends its congratulations!

P.S. Please let your successor know the press corps really appreciates the pre-session document.

For your radar — Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, and Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, are holding a press briefing this afternoon to discuss Assembly Bill 5, the legislation that would codify the Dynamex ruling. The California Supreme Court determined last year that companies must consider workers “employees” unless they meet the three requirements that classify them as “independent contractors.”

The bill is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Committee on Labor, Public Employment and Retirement at 9:30 this morning. Gonzalez and Rendon will join a coalition of workers and business owners who support the measure after the hearing at 1 p.m. on the North Steps of the Capitol.


A not-so-warm welcome to the presidential party, via Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — “I am a bit tired of seeing billionaires trying to buy political power.”

Best of The Bee:

  • Transgender California prison guard receives $500,000 to settle discrimination case by Adam Ashton
  • California child sex abuse bill pulled amid opposition from Catholic church by Andrew Sheeler
  • How much would it take to get you to buy an electric car? California could increase rebates by Elizabeth Shwe

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.