Capitol Alert AM Newsletter

Lara’s industry-repped lunch + Rent control + Expanding CA’s gun control law

State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, authored Senate Bill 174, which would amend existing state law to allow the appointment of any resident over the age of 18 to a civil office regardless of citizenship or immigration status.
State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, authored Senate Bill 174, which would amend existing state law to allow the appointment of any resident over the age of 18 to a civil office regardless of citizenship or immigration status. aseng@sacbee.com

Top of the Tuesday morning to you, California. Been pretty quiet around here lately, huh? Just a few protests, last-minute bill changes and end-of-session noise.

Both chambers gavel in at 10 a.m.

‘RELATIONSHIP BUILDING’

Following a summer marked by headlines scrutinizing donations to his campaign and decisions he’s made in his department, records obtained by The Sacramento Bee show Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara had sought contributions from the insurance industry and partied with one of its lobbyists after winning his election last year.

Three months after taking office, Lara scheduled a March 12 lunch with insurance company executives with pending matter before his department, according to records I obtained through a California Public Records Act request.

A memo to the commissioner said the meeting had a specific purpose: “Relationship Building to benefit Ricardo Lara for Insurance Commissioner 2022.”

Executives “will be joining you for a relationship-building lunch in support of your Ricardo Lara for Insurance Commissioner 2022 campaign,” Lara fundraising consultant Dan Weitzman wrote in the memo.

Weeks following the lunch, Lara broke a campaign pledge not to accept industry money for his election. In April, he accepted more than $50,000 in campaign donations from insurance representatives and their spouses. Some of the money came from out-of-state donors who ties to one of the companies scheduled to be represented at the lunch.

You can find my full report here.

WHERE ARE WE ON RENT CONTROL?

As the most controversial measures of the 2019 session slowly get voted on, only a few outstanding mega bills remain.

One is tenant protection measure Assembly Bill 1482.

Assemblyman David Chiu’s effort to impose a statewide rent cap was endorsed by Gov. Gavin Newsom late last month. The deal now includes capping rent increases to 5 percent plus inflation on certain buildings. The San Francisco Democrat also strengthened the bill earlier this summer to include a “just cause” eviction provision to protect tenants from being thrown out if they haven’t violated their lease.

Despite earlier neutrality from stakeholders after a round of amendments, including from the California Association of Realtors, the bill is likely to head to Newsom’s desk without industry support.

In an Aug. 30 statement, association president Jared Martin said AB 1482 “will not incentivize production of rental housing or help more people find an affordable place to live” and “discourages new rental housing.”

“CAR has been working with the bill’s proponents for several months with a common purpose — to achieve a balance promoting tenant protections and private property ownership,” Martin said. “California tenants and property owners deserve nothing less. Because our consensus language was not included, we will be opposing AB 1482.”

THIRD TIME’S A GVRO CHARM?

A bill to expand the pool of people who can petition a court for a gun violence restraining order is on Newsom’s desk.

Assembly Bill 61 would allow employers, coworkers and school staff to request a court to issue an order to someone who is considered to pose a dangerous threat to his or herself and others.

The bill would take effect in September 2020 and passed on a 51-15 approval, with Republicans voting against the measure.

The American Civil Liberties Union is also opposed to the measure.

‘‘The ACLU of California does not oppose gun control measures that regulate the acquisition or use of guns – so long as those regulations contribute to public safety and do not raise civil liberties issues,” according to a quote in the bill analysis. “Additionally, we do not oppose laws that authorize protective orders to remove guns from people who pose a risk to themselves or others, provided there are nondiscriminatory criteria for defining people as dangerous, and a fair process for those affected to object and be heard by a court.’‘

The proposal is Assemblyman Phil Ting’s third attempt at expanding who can ask a judge to take away someone’s gun for up to a year. Former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the San Francisco Democrat’s previous attempts, though Ting’s office said it’s looking to Newsom’s openness to gun control laws as hope for its passage.

“There’s no question in my mind that California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order law is a powerful tool that helps save lives. With school and workplace shootings on the rise, it’s common sense to give the people we see everyday a way to prevent tragedies,” Ting said in a statement following the vote.

TWEET OF THE DAY

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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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