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Read about the latest decisions at the state Capitol and how they impact your life (Fridays)
Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins is raising money for a lieutenant governor bid in 2026, Kevin Faulconer had a rough week and more in our weekly roundup of news from Sacramento.
Doordash and Grubhub are still pushing back fiercely against regulations imposed by lawmakers.
They recently filed suit against the city and county of San Francisco, the first jurisdiction to impose a 15 percent cap on fees charged to restaurants for their delivery services. San Francisco wasn’t the only city to do so – San Diego and other cities in the region like La Mesa have since followed suit.
The companies argue that San Francisco’s ordinance is punishment for their support of Prop. 22, passed in November, which exempts app companies from state labor laws. They argue that the law is an unconstitutional intrusion on private contracts and will harm restaurants more than it will help.
La Mesa and San Diego both implemented their own 15 percent fee caps earlier this year.
“Capping the per-order fees will ease the financial burden on struggling businesses in our community, will keep food delivery options accessible to consumers, and is an important step to protecting the livelihoods of our neighbors,” Mayor Todd Gloria said when he signed the executive action, City News Service reported.
That begs the question: Will those cities be targeted for legal action soon?
Jen LeBron, a spokeswoman for Gloria, didn’t comment on the prospect of a lawsuit but said that Gloria’s intention in enacting the cap was to help struggling local restaurants “as some of the third-party companies imposed commissions, fees, and service charges of 30% or more,” she wrote in an email.
Meanwhile, AB 286, a bill written by San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, made headlines when it was first introduced precisely because it would have taken the 15 percent fee cap a step further and imposed it statewide.
But that provision of the bill has since been removed. Now the bill prohibits apps from increasing the purchase price of items beyond what the restaurant has designated, and from retaining any of the tips designated for drivers.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is coming off some good weeks of press coverage in which reporters trumpeted his plan for homelessness uncritically and presented him as a low-key policy wonk.
This week, though, dealt Faulconer some setbacks, the most notable being that a Sacramento judge denied his campaign the right to use his preferred ballot title, “retired San Diego mayor.” Election code rules prevent candidates from using “former” to introduce a previously held role, so “retired San Diego mayor” was Faulconer’s attempt to navigate around that restriction. The fact that Faulconer is not retired, though – not from being San Diego’s mayor or from anything at all – meant that he lost that effort.
Meanwhile, prominent conservative Larry Elder was allowed onto the ballot after a judge deemed a law requiring candidates to submit their tax returns didn’t apply in this case. That means there’s at least one more Republican Faulconer must distinguish himself against.
Faulconer’s record in San Diego is also under a harsh spotlight. A new audit released late Thursday found “Faulconer and his staff withheld information from the City Council and misrepresented facts about multiple properties acquired by the city in public reports or presentations,” the Union-Tribune reported.
And while the California Republican Party is still determining whether it will endorse in the race (that hasn’t stopped businessman John Cox from declaring the process baked for Faulconer), one notable Republican went to bat for Faulconer this week.
Rep. Darrell Issa wrote in a letter to Republicans that he is supporting Faulconer over Cox. In the letter, he called Faulconer a “proven winner” and Cox “incompetent.”
Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins has a fundraising committee open for a lieutenant governor bid in 2026 and has been raising thousands of dollars from groups locally and from across the state and country.
Within the last month, groups including the Thoroughbred Owners of California, California Pawnbrokers Association PAC, the California Professional Firefighters and Barona Band of Mission Indians have donated thousands of dollars each.
Atkins was first elected in 2012 and will be termed out of the Legislature in 2024. The current lieutenant governor, Eleni Kounalakis, will be term-limited in 2026, assuming she wins re-election next year.
Meanwhile, Sen. Ben Hueso, who’s approaching his own term limits and in 2020 lost a bid for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, has a campaign account open to run for the state Board of Equalization in 2022.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a $6 billion broadband infrastructure budget bill, SB 156, to help provide a long-term approach to closing broadband infrastructure deficiencies still impacting rural and low-income communities across the county and the state.
“California has fallen woefully behind when it comes to ensuring universal broadband connectivity, leaving those most in need – families and small businesses as well as certain rural, urban and tribal communities without reliable Internet,” Arnold Sowell Jr., the executive director of California-based nonprofit NextGen Policy, wrote in a press release.
The bill allows the state to pour money into expanding access to high-quality internet connectivity across the state: It will allocate more than $3 billion to build, operate and maintain high-capacity fiber lines that carry large amounts of data at higher speeds over longer distances between local networks, $2 billion to set up last-mile broadband connections that will connect homes and businesses, a $750 million loan loss reserve to bolster local governments’ and nonprofits’ ability to secure financing for broader infrastructure. (It also creates a broadband advisory committee with representatives from across state government and others and a broadband czar position at the California Department of Technology.)
Over the course of the pandemic, people have needed the internet to access public health advisories, financial and job assistance, video conferencing calls for school and work, and delivery services. Connectivity and cost have left underserved populations behind and exacerbated disparities in economic and educational opportunities.
Forty-two percent of people who live in unincorporated parts of San Diego County have fixed broadband, compared with 97 percent of people in urban areas, according to the San Diego Association of Governments, a regional planning agency. Fifteen months into the pandemic, 22,000 students still didn’t have access to high-speed internet despite transitioning to online learning.
Local community activists have long underscored the impacts of the gaps of access to high-speed, reliable internet for non-White and poorer communities. They’ve also critiqued public officials for not taking quicker action to bridge the divide. Outside help has been especially crucial to getting families and students living in rural and tribal communities connected over the long term.
Terry Loftus, an assistant superintendent and chief information officer for the San Diego County Office of Education, previously told VOSD that state and federal governments need to make serious financial investments into infrastructure and broadband in the county’s backcountry to bring high-speed, reliable internet to the 22,000 kids without it.
– Kayla Jimenez