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Sacramento Report: San Diego Democrats Protest Federal Immigration Suit

Assemblyman Brian Maienschein says more money is needed to help frail elderly, California sends cease-and-desist letter to pot delivery app and more in our weekly roundup of news from Sacramento.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher and Assemblyman Todd Gloria march in Sacramento against attempts by the Trump administration to end California’s so-called sanctuary policies. / Courtesy of Assemblyman Todd Gloria’s office.

Assemblyman Todd Gloria and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher stood side by side Wednesday in a Sacramento protest of the federal government’s lawsuit against California for its protections for immigrants.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in town to announce the lawsuit and reiterate President Trump’s opposition to California’s so-called sanctuary policies. The lawsuit accuses the state of undermining federal immigration enforcement.

“Immigration law is the province of the federal government. It’s in the Constitution,” Sessions said Wednesday. “The (state) laws are harmful to Californians and they are especially harmful to our law enforcement.”

Gloria and Gonzalez Fletcher, both San Diego Democrats, showed their support for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, policy and other immigrants. DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers, came to the U.S. illegally as children.

“California’s pro-immigrant policies are not radical, they’re right,” Gloria said in a statement. “Protecting California’s immigrant communities is not extreme, it’s doing our job as public officials to keep our residents safe.”

Gonzalez Fletcher said in a statement that Sessions was “fear-mongering and slandering the entire state of California.”

“He seems to take sadistic pleasure in attacking immigrants and the rest of our most vulnerable populations,” Gonzalez Fletcher said. “As usual, he and his boss are pandering to the ugliest, most hateful corners of this country for the sake of scoring political points.”

State Sen. Ben Hueso, chairman of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, also attended Wednesday’s rally.

“I continue to support policies and programs that protect the interests of all Californians, including the civil rights of our immigrant community,” Hueso said in a statement. “We succeed in California because of our diversity, and we will continue to stand up for our residents — even in the face of threats from federal authorities.”

Not all members of San Diego’s delegation disagreed with Sessions and the federal lawsuit. Assemblyman Randy Voepel, a Santee Republican, called the lawsuit “an unfortunate” and “necessary step” to bring the state’s immigration laws in line with federal law.

“I have consistently voted against California’s efforts to formulate our own immigration policy, due to my concerns that it would conflict with federal laws and policies,” Voepel said in a statement. “Accordingly, this lawsuit does not surprise me one bit.”

Gov. Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra have vowed to fight the Trump administration and the lawsuit, arguing that the state’s sanctuary policies are within the boundaries of the 10th Amendment. By limiting the information that public and private entities can pass along to immigration agents, Becerra said, California is not intruding on the federal government’s jurisdiction.

“We’re in the business of public safety, not deportation,” he tweeted.

A Call for More Elderly Care

California needs more money to take care of its growing population of frail elderly with conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

That’s the thinking behind a new bill from Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, a San Diego Republican. AB 2025 would authorize a bond issue of $200 million for the construction and renovation of day care facilities for those with chronic medical, cognitive or behavioral conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. The Elders Living with Dignity, Empathy, Respect and Support Act of 2020 would also allow people to remain in their homes longer and avoid the cost of full-time institutionalization, Maienschein said.

“You will allow a child or caregiver to take care of their parent longer,” Maienschein said by phone Wednesday.

Those 65 and older made up 13.6 percent of California’s population, or about 5.3 million people in 2016 — a 26 percent increase from 2010, according to census data.

If approved by state lawmakers, the bond measure could appear on the 2020 ballot.

The bill has been referred to the Assembly’s Standing Committee on Aging and Long-term care.

State Is Targeting Pot Delivery App

Score one for San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate — sort of.

In January, he asked City Attorney Mara Elliott to crack down on Weedmaps, an online platform that connects buyers of marijuana with sellers regardless of whether they have a license. Although Elliott balked at the suggestion, similar complaints have come from officials across the state.

The California Bureau of Cannabis Control and the city of Sacramento recently sent letters to Weedmaps’ parent company asking that it stop allowing illegal marijuana sellers to advertise. One official complained this week to Marijuana Business Daily: “I know that they’re violating the law and wish they would stop, and so does pretty much every other person who has my job in cities up and down the state.”

The Irvine-based Weedmaps and the state are reportedly in “talks.” A spokesman for the company declined to comment.

Cate, on the other hand, was pleased with the news, telling Voice in a statement, “It is important we start out the enforcement process of this industry on the right foot. I will continue to work with the State and our City to allow the safe, legal, and regulated access to cannabis which has been adopted by our council.”

California law requires that marijuana advertisers cite their license number. Weedmaps, however, sees itself as more of a media company and the information provided on its website as content rather than advertising, meaning it could attempt to shield itself from liability through Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act.

Dustin McDonald, Weedmaps’ vice president for government relations, was critical of San Diego’s legal marijuana marketplace in a recent op-ed, arguing that the city is imposing unrealistic limits on the number and types of operators, costing jobs and tax revenue.

— Jesse Marx

Election Season Officially Begins

Today marks the official deadline for major party candidates to file with the San Diego County Registrar of Voters. However, eligible incumbents in most contests may file until 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Most San Diego-area state lawmakers are up for re-election this year, with the exceptions of state Sen. Toni Atkins, whose term ends in 2020, state Sen. Joel Anderson, who is termed out, and Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, who is running for U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa’s seat.

All state Assembly members and half of all state Senate seats are up this year.

The Sacramento Report will have the full list of candidates who filed by deadline in next week’s report.

Golden State News

California health insurance premiums could soar in the next year, a report predicts. (San Francisco Chronicle)

 Legal analysts are predicting that Sessions’ lawsuit against California will land in the U.S. Supreme Court. (Los Angeles Times)

 The state’s political watchdog approved a record number of settlements for ethics and campaign violations last year. (Los Angeles Times)

Living in a car in San Diego with three children. (KPBS)

Eleni Kounalakis aims to become California’s first elected female lieutenant governor. (KQED)

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