Capitol Alert AM Newsletter

Summer break catch-up + What’s left to do + CSU faces $ questions

Happy Monday and welcome back, Capitol staff and members! We hope you enjoyed your break. Ready to get some bills signed?

The Assembly kicks off its return session at 1 p.m., the Senate an hour later.

WHAT DID I MISS?

Cue Thomas Jefferson’s solo in Hamilton.

We get it, you were on a break, but our reporters weren’t! Here’s a roundup of the major political stories we’ve covered in the last month.

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a slew of bills during the break, including one that would force President Donald Trump to release his tax returns to qualify for the state’s 2020 primary ballot. Trump didn’t like that. So now he’s suing.

  • There’s been a cloud hanging over the Department of Insurance since The San Diego Union-Tribune broke news that Commissioner Ricardo Lara accepted thousands from industry executives and their wives. There are Public Records Act requests now lined up for the release of his calendars, though we already know he met with the head of a company with pending matters in which Lara intervened. We expect those records by the end of August.

  • Second quarter lobbying reports were filed at the end of July. The top spender was the California Teachers Association, which spent $1 million per month from April to June. Their priorities include Assembly Bills 1505 and 1507, two crackdown measures that would stymie the growth of charter schools in California.
  • Then there’s Gilroy, the first of three mass shootings in a week that began in the California town on July 28. The event sparked another national debate over gun control, and grew more complicated as California grappled with the fact that its strict laws still couldn’t stop the killer from purchasing the gun legally in Nevada and carrying it over state lines. So what next?
  • California also secured a win as part of the $700 million settlement with the credit-monitoring company Equifax, which exposed the data of about 147 million people. Those people are entitled to up to $125, but they shouldn’t expect as much.

What’s left? Hundreds of bills still need approval, but these are the top ones to keep an eye on:

  • As mentioned above, the two charter bills will make a splash if they’re signed as is. Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, told The Bee he’s working with the governor’s office on amendments.
  • A controversial vaccines measure has been the talk of the town in recent months, because it zeroes in on medical exemptions offered to school children in California. If passed, Senate Bill 276 would increase oversight of the doctors administering the passes.
  • Sacramento is likely to become the next city that imposes a form of rent control. The news coincides with the Legislature’s consideration of Assembly Bill 1482, a recently amended measure that restricts rent increases and protects tenants against certain evictions.
  • A bipartisan-backed use-of-force measure will be signed any day now. Assembly Bill 392 is among the stars of this session, though it took quite a bit of compromise from law enforcement lobbyists and civil rights groups to craft a new deadly force standard.
  • Another divisive piece of legislation is Assembly Bill 5, which would codify a California Supreme Court decision to label independent contractors as employees in most cases. The pending measure would dramatically change the gig economy, which has some companies like Uber and Lyft in a panic, while some of their employees are begging for the bill’s passage.

HOW’D THAT HAPPEN?

After the state auditor found that the California State University system failed to report a $1.5 billion surplus, while it nearly doubled the cost of student tuition, a joint oversight hearing is scheduled today on the topic.

“The chancellor’s office ... did not disclose the surplus to the Legislature when it provided information about CSU’s available financial resources,” state Auditor Elaine M. Howle wrote.

System Chancellor Timothy White is expected to testify, according to the California State University Employees Union.

In the audit — The department also found that students on some campuses were paying as much as $236 per semester for parking permits, “largely to pay for the millions of dollars in annual debt payments (CSU) took on to finance the construction of new parking facilities.”

The auditor recommended that the chancellor’s office increase transparency by publishing how much tuition contributed to the surplus, and that campuses consider alternative transportation strategies before building new parking structures.

White said the report was misleading and misrepresented CSU’s practices.

“It is irresponsible to imply that these one-time funds could have been used in lieu of ongoing revenue sources, such as state funding or student tuition, for on-going costs,” White said in a statement. “Reserve funds are like a family savings account or the much acclaimed state of California’s Rainy Day Fund which is built up gradually over time and used to pay for one-time necessary expenses or protect against uncertainties – not ongoing expenses today.”

Audit, higher education and education committees are meeting in room 4202 when session adjourns.

VICTORY LAP

The National Asian American Coalition and the National Diversity Coalition are holding a “victory rally” and press conference this week in celebration of an end to a legal battle with the state government.

As reporter Sophia Bollag wrote last week, the California Supreme Court determined that the state misspent $331 million set aside to help homeowners.

Back it up — Groups sued the Brown and Newsom administrations after the state secured the money in 2012 as part of a nationwide settlement with several large banks. But instead of going to homeowners and renters, the money went toward paying off state debts from housing bonds.

Newsom has since announced that the money would go to nonprofits that help people with housing issues, though his office hasn’t said what organizations will get the millions.

“Families facing eviction and foreclosure should know their rights and have legal advocates who can fight on their behalf — especially at this moment when Californians are grappling with sky-high rents and huge housing costs,” Newsom said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the Legislature to move these important protections forward.”

Faith Bautista, president of the coalitions, will lead the rally and lay out action plans for how to disperse the millions, according to a press release on the event.

“We are here to advocate the interests and help realize the dreams of the minorities and low-to-middle income groups in the state of California to own a home,” the statement read.

Faith leaders, lawmakers and homeowners will also have a chance at the microphone.

The rally is scheduled to begin on the south side of the Capitol at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14.

Editing note: a previous version of this section misstated the date of the press conference. It will be held Wednesday, Aug. 14, not Monday, Aug. 12.

For your radar — The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations will be at the Capitol today in celebration of the fourth anniversary of August as “American Muslim Appreciation and Awareness Month.”

Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, is scheduled to present House Resolution 48, which reconfirms that commitment.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

August 9 — Sen. Brian Jones, R-Santee

August 10 — Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland

August 10 — Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, D-Los Angeles

August 10 — Sen. Steven Glazer, D-Orinda

August 12 — Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley

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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.
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