Sacramento Report: San Diego the Trendsetter - Voice of San Diego

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Sacramento Report: San Diego the Trendsetter

The first of at least three laws based on programs started in San Diego passed this week. Plus, Jerry Brown out-Browns himself at a transportation press conference, lawmakers re-examine Prop. 39 and more in our Sacramento roundup.

We hear a lot about those Bay Area pioneers. They make cool new technologies and pass first-in-the-nation laws mandating soda warning labels and protections for workers.

But San Diego is poised to do some statewide trendsetting of its own. The first of at least three bills based on programs started in San Diego passed this week.

Sacramento Report logoAB 1403, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law, will let government agencies join with private companies and nonprofits to create legal arrangements called Joint Power Agreements in order to fund projects that serve the homeless.

San Diego-area Assemblyman Brian Maienschein modeled the law after Project 25, which he helped create. That program started out as a three-year pilot that brought together the United Way, the county, the San Diego Housing Commission and others to fund permanent housing for some of the highest users of emergency services. It slashed costs and has been held up as a model.

One of the big issues Project 25 ran up against was how to keep it funded beyond its three-year pilot period. It seems to have addressed that for now, but “AB 1403 does not impact Project 25 directly or identify a source of money to specifically fund the program. It merely creates options to be used however it best suits local governments to address issues of homelessness within their jurisdictions,” Maienschein’s spokesman Lance Witmondt told me in an email.

Two other bills modeled after San Diego ventures are still alive in the Legislature: AB 226, written by Speaker Toni Atkins and co-sponsored by virtually every member of the San Diego delegation, would pave the way for other locales to set up a dockside fisherman’s market like San Diego’s. And SB 450, sponsored by Secretary of State Alex Padilla, would allow every voter to receive a ballot in the mail and return it at any vote center in the county. It’s a similar system to the one created last year by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. Under that pilot program, all voters in San Diego County special elections get mail ballots.

Lawmakers Succeed at Making Laws

It’s that time of year where dozens of measures are being signed into law every week. Over the past week, Gov. Jerry Brown gave his stamp of approval to these bills from San Diego reps:

 Bills by Assemblyman Brian Jones that tighten safety measures at skate parks and extend powers for conservators caring for those with dementia.

 AB 359 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, which makes California the first state to require grocery stores to retain employees after a change in ownership. Brown included a signing message stipulating that it needs a fix to clarify “how the provisions apply if an incumbent grocery employer has ceased operations.”

Another Gonzalez bill signed into law gives probation departments more flexibility in meeting training requirements for new officers.

 A bill from Assemblywoman Marie Waldron offers protections to people who unknowingly entered into fraudulent marriages, such as a marriage to a person who was still married to someone else.

A Gray Cloud Over Green Jobs

The power of good journalism: Lawmakers instantly started demanding answers after a damning Associated Press story revealed Prop. 39, “a ballot measure to raise taxes on corporations and generate clean-energy jobs by funding energy-efficiency projects in schools,” hasn’t come close to delivering on its promises.

“Money is trickling in at a slower-than-anticipated rate, and more than half of the $297 million given to schools so far has gone to consultants and energy auditors. The board created to oversee the project and submit annual progress reports to the Legislature has never met,” the AP found.

One head-turning piece of the AP story: Tom Wright, who works at San Diego Unified, says in the story that the district hopes to get as much money as it can from the measure.

Lisa Halverstadt recently spoke with Wright as part of her examination of how the district has struggled to make its investments in solar power work. In that story, Wright admits “the district essentially had to press the restart button on its solar program” after one of its providers filed for bankruptcy, among other issues.

After the AP story broke, GOP lawmakers demanded oversight hearings and Democratic lawmakers who championed the measure said not enough time has passed to judge the results, and Dan Walters agrees with the latter.

The Road to Attention

A press conference about how to fund road fixes took a little detour and became a press conference about Gov. Jerry Brown.

Brown repeatedly dodged questions about whether he’d support some of the funding options on the table, which was, presumably, the whole point of the gathering. These quotes happened:

“As a brooding omnipresence, I stand above the fray here.”

“That’s kind of interesting to have a press conference and not provide you with what it is you’re seeking.”

Speaker Toni Atkins was far more down to business at the presser, but she didn’t get all that specific either.

“I am hopeful we can set aside rigid ideology and consider serious proposals that provide a new, fair funding stream that benefits all California communities,” Atkins said in a statement. Atkins has said in previous weeks that she’s open to new fees to fund road repairs.

And, finally, some reporters just have to go a little above and beyond to show you how dedicated they are the subjects they cover:

Golden State News

• The state Senate passed a bill raising the threshold for getting measures onto the ballot. (AP) One observer thinks it might be ripe for a Brown veto.

• The drought, combined with a building boom as the economy recovers, “is raising fundamental questions about just how much additional development California can accommodate,” the New York Times reports.

 “Students cannot take a test that does not exist”: That’s the logic behind the Legislature’s move this week to give students a reprieve from the high school exit exam after the state’s contract with the test administrator expired. (Sac Bee)

• State Sen. Joel Anderson hasn’t raised much money in his bid for county supervisor since he got a big $200K check from the county Republican Party. (inewsource)

• Assemblyman Rocky Chavez recited some Marvin Gaye on the statehouse floor.

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