VOSD's Sacramento Report: End of Session Madness

Government

Sacramento Report: End of Session Madness

Republican Sen. Joel Anderson can be quite conservative on certain issues – he was a strong opponent of the aid-in-dying bill, for example. But he also seems to regularly partner with Democrats on bipartisan measures. He memorably joined Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez on her diaper affordability measure.

Sacramento Report logoThis week, his bipartisan bill to require law enforcement agencies to get a warrant before accessing people’s emails and other digital information, passed through to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. It was co-authored by Democratic Sen. Mark Leno, and had strong backing from the ACLU of California.

On top of Anderson, the bill had support from another surprising San Diego source: the San Diego Police Officers Association. After lots of lobbying, several statewide law enforcement agencies switched their positions on the bill from opposition to neutral – but the SDPOA was the only law enforcement group in the state to actively support the measure.

Jeff Jordon, vice president of the San Diego Police Officers Association, told me in an email that the group got the hard sell from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on civil liberties in the digital world.

“The SDPOA moved to support because the bill provided clarity in an area where ambiguity existed previously, while not significantly impacting police operations, and it is consistent with the SDPOA’s stance on privacy rights that we have consistently expressed in other policing policies like body worn cameras,” Jordon said.

Just how clutch was SDPOA’s support?

“To have police on the ground who are working on these issues every day to also voice their strong support was important for legislators to hear,” said Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties policy director for the ACLU of California.

“It was a major victory when all the main California law enforcement associations – the sheriffs, the district attorneys, the police chiefs – decided to stop opposing the bill. SDPOA went further,” said Dave Maass, an investigative researcher for the EFF.  “Rather than just step out of the way of reform, SDPOA got behind the bill and helped push it through the Legislature, alongside civil liberties groups, tech companies, and journalism organizations. Too often, these battles pit law enforcement professionals against public advocates. SDPOA showed that privacy and public safety are not mutually exclusive interests.”

Goodbye Tribal Law, Hello SANDAG

Legislators passed a flurry of bills in the closing days of the legislative session, so you might have missed an obscure one meant to help out the San Diego Association of Governments.

The bill, SB 374, should make it easier for the regional planning agency to build a $16 million project that would double as a place for buses to make short stops between runs, and provide office space for the agency as part of a building that would include offices, retail space and possibly new homes.

The project had been vocally opposed for years by Little Italy residents. SANDAG’s board has since decided it’ll go south of there, at one of two sites at the corner of A and Union Streets.

The bill was passed using a maneuver known as “gut and amend.” It allows lawmakers to delete the contents of an existing bill and replace it with an unrelated provision. (Here’s Sara breaking down how it works on “Politically Speaking.”) In this case, the bill originally dealt with tribal gaming law, and was replaced with the SANDAG  changes.

The process is often criticized because it circumvents the full legislative process, making it hard for the public to get a sense of what’s in the bill.

Sen. Ben Hueso introduced this gut-and-amend bill, and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins was its principal coauthor.

The change in this case will let SANDAG use its preferred contracting method to build the project. Previously, SANDAG could only use a “design-build” process – where a single company wins the contract to cover every phase of it, rather than bidding out each step independently – when building transit stations. This project, since it doesn’t include an actual transit stop, wouldn’t have fit the bill.

Design-build construction is seen as a more efficient process, but still has critics who say it limits competition by bundling all elements of a project with one contractor.

– Andrew Keatts

The Big Two

I can’t really explain where things stand in Sacramento better than KQED’s John Myers and Marisa Lagos: “The hardest, most controversial proposals are almost always left until the very end.”

Arguably the two biggest questions on the table this week as Friday’s deadline to pass bills loomed were ambitious measures addressing climate change, and lawmakers’ scramble to fund traffic and road repair efforts.

The outlook’s not great for either. Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Gov. Jerry Brown admitted defeat on one crucial piece of SB 350, a provision to reduce gasoline use. The same day, Atkins said “transportation funding would be pushed over until the fall — after lawmakers have concluded their regular work,” according to KQED.

Out Comes the Veto Pen

I think I jinxed Sen. Ben Hueso.

The same day I noted that he’d scored a legislative hat trick, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a separate Hueso bill that would have forbid the general counsel for cities and counties from directly supervising internal auditors.

• The governor also vetoed Sen. Marty Block’s SB 456, which would have made school firearm threats a specific crime. Brown said the bill was redundant, since “the offensive conduct covered by this bill is already illegal.”

That’s as much a rebuke of San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis as it is of Block – Dumanis sponsored the bill.

• After Brown gave a fiery press conference on climate change Wednesday, the governor gave an extra little treat to tired reporters by doling out a surprise veto on a bill that banned drone owners from flying over private property without permission. (Huffington Post)

Billz II Lawz

Brown signed more measures from San Diego legislators into law this week:

• Measures by Sen. Ben Hueso require landlords to notify tenants about pesticide use, and set standards for drinking water.

• A bill by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez protects homeowners who install synthetic turf from the wrath of their HOAs.

• A bill by Sen. Marty Block bolsters protections against elder abuse. The press release for this measure includes the phrase “two degrees of consanguinity.” So, there’s that.

Coming Soon: Cultural Districts

In this week’s Culture Report, Kinsee Morlan gave a rundown on AB 189, which passed the Assembly this week and if signed by the governor, would task the California Arts Council with running a new program to create cultural districts – places like NTC at Liberty Station or Barrio Logan that are teeming with galleries, grassroots art projects or both:

“Basically, when you see a state cultural district, you’re going to know there are galleries, museums, cultural community events and more,” said Meredith McNamee, a legislative assistant to one of the bill’s authors, Assemblyman Richard Bloom. “It’s a way for communities to recognize where their cultural districts are. The state will give them this designation that gives them a sense of legitimacy and then the community itself can build on that. The designation could be used to recognize more polished areas, but the goal of the program is to recognize the unpolished areas — the places that don’t already have this worked out.” …

If signed into law by the governor, the Arts Council will begin implementing the program sometime in 2016.

The Big Education Questions

Mario Koran has a great primer on some of the big education issues swirling in PTA meetings, in the Legislature and in California courtrooms. We’re going to drill in on some of those issues with Assemblywoman Shirley Weber next week. Weber has introduced several bills this session that, taken together, would radically reimagine education in the state. Some have already been shot down, but others are still alive. Here’s how Koran described a loaded moment earlier this session in which Weber tried to sell her colleagues on a bill that would require evidence of student progress be used in teacher evaluations:

In the end, Weber’s colleagues applauded her boldness, then shot down the bill.

A year later, we are still grappling with these same questions. This is the main issue: How we can we build better teachers, attract more of them and get those people in front of more kids?

Here’s how to hit up the event.

 The L.A. Times gave a strong endorsement to Weber’s bill that would require law enforcement agencies to collect racial data on who they stop.

Lawmakers: Rah, Rah, Make Cheerleader Pay Law

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez joined 18 other lawmakers across the country in signing a letter asking NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to stop shortchanging cheerleaders. Earlier this year, Gonzalez passed a bill that guarantees better pay – or at least minimum wage – and working conditions for professional cheerleaders. The letter mentioned lawsuits filed by cheerleading squads across the league and said that the new California law could either be emulated by legislators around the country in a piecemeal approach to solving the problem – a similar bill inspired by Gonzalez’s measure has already been introduced in New York – or the NFL could just step up and do the right thing by instituting its own policy.

 On a related and equally important note, Gonzalez and I were both in the audience at Taylor Swift’s recent San Diego concert, where Omi performed his hit song “Cheerleader.”

Potent Quotables

I’m just gonna leave these here for ya.

And, if you thought those were good, check out Legislative Bingo – which is a real thing. (Sacramento Bee)

Golden State News

 Don’t look now but law enforcement and union groups seem to actually agree on a way forward for legal pot. So why hasn’t it happened yet? (San Francisco Chronicle) Meanwhile, legislators reached an agreement this week on regulating medical marijuana. (Sacramento Bee)

 California officials are in for a fun change of pace: pivoting from water rationing to preparing for mudslides and floods. (New York Times)

 Almonds have come full circle – we’re back to being OK with them. (Los Angeles Times)

 This series of maps shows how California stacks up against other countries on a number of measures – we’ve got the roughly the same GDP as Italy, for example, and are about as big as Iraq. (Vox)

Government!

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