Capitol Alert AM Newsletter

About that menstrual cup + Stalled bills + Lara says he paid his own way

California state Senate President Toni Atkins, of San Diego, right, flanked by Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove, left, addresses the members of the Senate in one of the Senate committee hearing rooms after a woman threw red liquid from the public gallery in the Senate chambers, in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. The woman was taken into custody and with authorities investigating the substance thrown, Senate leadership decided to finish their work in the committee room. Friday is the last day of this year’s legislative session. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
California state Senate President Toni Atkins, of San Diego, right, flanked by Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove, left, addresses the members of the Senate in one of the Senate committee hearing rooms after a woman threw red liquid from the public gallery in the Senate chambers, in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. The woman was taken into custody and with authorities investigating the substance thrown, Senate leadership decided to finish their work in the committee room. Friday is the last day of this year’s legislative session. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) AP

Happy Monday morning, California! Staying up until 3 a.m. for the last night of session reminded me why I don’t stay up until 3 a.m.

RECAP

Friday night was ... memorable. Here’s our recap of this year’s final night of lawmaking in the Capitol.

  • The Senate began smoothly enough, and quickly passed a bill that would cap interest rates on mid-sized loans at 36 percent.

  • The night changed after a vaccine protester threw a loaded menstrual cup from the balcony at lawmakers, prompting a swift evacuation and a three-hour delay while leadership navigated logistics. That meant moving 40 senators to a committee room large enough to finish business. “Menstrual cup” required a lot of explaining ... just read here.
  • Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, pulled her attempt to defy President Donald Trump by locking in Obama-era environmental policies across the finish line. She overcame opposition from California water interests to gain a 26-14 for Senate Bill 1. The next morning, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he’d veto it.
  • Among other higher-profile bills that passed: legislation to increase abortion access on campus, a Dynamex-decision exemption for newspaper carriers and later school start times.

CONFIRMATION

Last week, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara’s campaign spokeswoman confirmed to The Sacramento Bee that Lara paid for his own trip to London for a New Years Eve party that Sacramento lobbyists also attended.

Remind me — The party came seven days before his inauguration as the state’s top insurance regulator. As Facebook photos emerged that showed lobbyists also attended the event, The Bee reported on the party and Lara’s knowledge of a lunch meeting organized to benefit his campaign. Lara campaign spokeswoman Robin Swanson did not answer questions about who paid for the Londont trip before the story ran. After publication, Swanson said Lara financed the trip himself.

“I also want to confirm that then-Senator Lara paid his own way for the trip to London,” she said.

DELAYS

Gov. Newsom’s desk is stacked. But some bills will have to wait until next year for his signature.

Needed negotiations ⁠— State Sen. Scott Wiener hit the pause button last week on legislation to require the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to house transgender inmates according to their identity and where they perceive themselves to be safest.

Senate Bill 132, now a two-year item, would also have required corrections staff to record and refer to the individual using their pronoun of choice, in both written and verbal communication.

The coalition backing the bill said legislation is needed to help transgender inmates who face increased risk of violence, including rape and assault, and to protect women who are particularly vulnerable when housed in male facilities.

But Wiener said more time is needed to craft a deal with CDCR on an issue that “takes time to get it right.” He continued that he’s “highly confident” the stakeholders can find a compromise Newsom will sign off on next year.

Closing time ⁠— Wiener’s original push to keep bars open to 4 a.m., watered down by an hour in the Assembly, also stalled. The San Francisco Democrat was hard at work until, well, around 3 a.m. on Saturday whipping the votes. But it failed on a 29-15 vote. At this point we’ve heard too many “last call” jokes, but consider this my add on.

⁠Not even considered — Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and state Sen. Ben Allen were also working the floor on Thursday and Friday to get the votes needed for their single-use packaging bill that never had its chance for a floor vote before the Legislature adjourned.

For your radar ⁠— The Public Policy Institute of California announced last week that Karen Skelton and Helen Iris Torres are joining its board. Skelton is the founder of political and strategic consulting firm Skelton Strategies and Torres is the CEO of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality.

The institute also announced that 12-year board members Ruben Barrales and Donna Lucas stepped down last week.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

September 15 — Blanca Rubio, D- Baldwin Park

September 16 — Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego

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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