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Sacramento Report: Two Housing-Focused Lawmakers Won’t Weigh in on Rent Control

Sen. Toni Atkins, left, and Assemblyman Todd Gloria / Photos by Dustin Michelson and the California Assembly

Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of San Diego’s state and local leaders came together to endorse Prop. 1, an affordable housing bond that is one of the least controversial measures on the statewide ballot.

Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assemblyman Todd Gloria, two lawmakers who’ve focused on housing issues throughout their career, were part of the group.

But when it comes to a far more divisive attempt to rein in housing costs – Prop. 10, which would allow local governments to institute rent control measures – neither lawmaker is willing to take a stand.

“Affordable housing is a critical issue that we are grappling with in California and is something that I care deeply about. That is why the Legislature passed a package of 15 housing bills last year that included a healthy mix of funding to create affordable housing opportunities and regulatory reform to spur new, smart housing growth,” Atkins told me in a statement. “The November ballot also includes Prop. 10, which would allow local governments to adopt rent-control ordinances – in essence, regulating how much landlords can charge tenants for renting an apartment or house. I have taken no position on Prop. 10 and encourage all Californians to read their county voter guide carefully so they may make an informed decision on this proposition.” (Emphasis mine.)

Atkins has said in the past that she generally opposes rent control. But when a fellow lawmaker introduced a rent control measure, she similarly declined to state a clear position: “I have not traditionally supported rent control,” Atkins told the Sacramento Bee early this year. “That being said, there’s a big difference between a reasonable 3 to 4 percent increase versus the 30 to 40 percent increases we’re seeing.”

Gloria, too, declined to wade into the debate.

“At this point, Todd is neutral,” Gloria’s spokesman Nick Serrano told me in an email.

Anderson Reprimanded Over Bar Threat

The Senate Rules Committee this week released an investigation that substantiated many of the allegations against San Diego Sen. Joel Anderson, related to an incident in which a lobbyist accused him of threatening her in a bar.

Investigators from the law firm Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher found that Anderson appeared drunk at a Sacramento bar on the night of the incident last month, that he gave the lobbyist an uninvited shoulder massage and eventually grew hostile and yelled “I oughta bitch slap you” to her, at which point other people physically intervened.

The Rules Committee sent Anderson a letter of reprimand telling him “Your behavior was completely unreasonable.”

Anderson sent out a brief statement: “As the report states, at issue was the context of our conversation. The investigation doesn’t substantiate all the wild claims reported in the press, and I stand by my original statement.” In his earlier statement, Anderson said the threatening remarks were not directed at the lobbyist, and that the incident was a misunderstanding.

Sen. Pat Bates, the Senate Republican leader, praised the report.

“It is encouraging that the person who filed the complaint felt empowered to come forward. The behavior exhibited in this incident will no longer be tolerated. The decision to issue a reprimand in this case is warranted and appropriate,” she said in a statement.

Why Two Pot Bills Failed

Pot is a work in progress.

The legal industry hasn’t produced the high level of crime opponents envisioned, at least in San Diego, but officials admit there’s work to be done to make sure the system operates as intended.

Some of the most high-profile bills this year aimed at improving the legal marijuana industry died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which considers the fiscal impact of legislation and is chaired by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. She spoke to me about several of those bills at a recent panel.

SB 930 would have established a state banking system for marijuana businesses that have been forced to deal exclusively in cash because of the federal government’s ban. One of the major complaints was that the bill wouldn’t completely shield banks or private insurers from federal intervention.

Gov. Jerry Brown “had no appetite” for the banking bill in his last year of office, Gonzalez said. Instead, she encouraged proponents to begin working early with Gavin Newsom, the Democratic frontrunner for governor who’s expressed interest in the idea, according to the Los Angeles Times.

AB 2069 would have extended workplace protections for prescription drug users to those holding medical marijuana cards. Although it got support from SEIU and the United Food and Commercial Workers, some — including the California Chamber of Commerce — argued the bill prevented employers from maintaining a drug-free environment.

Gonzalez had a slightly different perspective. With opioid prescriptions, doctors help determine what type of state an employee might be in and whether that employee can operate certain tasks at certain times.

But medical marijuana prescriptions aren’t like other prescriptions, Gonzalez said, and the bill didn’t ensure that the people who really need medical marijuana to function don’t get fired.

There was also an attempt this year to let parents administer medical marijuana to children on school campuses. Although it passed the Assembly, Gonzalez had similar problems with that bill because it didn’t require a specialist or pediatrician to be consulted first.

“If we’re going to give cannabis the respect it deserves as a medicine, we have to move towards figuring out … protocols of treatment,” she said.

Jesse Marx

New Laws, Light at the End of the Tunnel Edition

Friends, we’re getting close to the end of these bill signing recaps for the year. I, for one, will always treasure this time we’ve spent together.

Here are the bills Brown signed into law from San Diego-area lawmakers so far this week. Brown has until Sunday to sign or veto new laws.

  • SB 970 by Atkins requires hotel and motel employees to undergo training on how to spot signs of human trafficking.
  • SB 1086 by Atkins deletes the sunset clause on a law that provides an extended statute of limitations for workers’ compensation death benefits payable to the survivors of public safety officers who die as a result of work-related cancer or other specified diseases.
  • SB 1097 by Sen. Ben Hueso requires the Department of Public Health’s report regarding the effectiveness of appropriate lead poisoning case management efforts to include additional data and information.
  • SB 1109 by Sen. Patricia Bates requires prescribers of an opioid to a minor to discuss risks with the minor’s parent or guardian before issuing the initial prescription, and institutes other warnings related to youth opioid prescriptions.
  • SB 1155 by Hueso expands access to interpreters during small claims court proceedings.
  • SB 1292 by Hueso requires the Center for Health Communities to update the 2009 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures Report in California to quantify the burden of Alzheimer’s disease on black, Asian-Pacific Islander, Latino and women patients, all of whom experience significantly higher disease prevalence rates.
  • SB 1367 by Atkins requires the San Diego River Conservancy to establish the San Diego Rivers Watershed Consortium Program.
  • SB 1440 by Hueso requires the California Public Utilities Commission to consider adopting specific biomethane procurement targets or goals.
  • AB 1248 by Gloria affirms students’ rights to wear religious or cultural paraphernalia during graduation ceremonies.
  • AB 1584 by Gonzalez requires law enforcement to have a court order, warrant or consent from both the minor and their parent or legal guardian before collecting a DNA sample. The bill was inspired by a Voice of San Diego story revealing that the San Diego Police Department used a loophole to collect juveniles’ DNA despite state laws limiting the practice.
  • AB 1894 by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber expands access for qualifying college students to food assistance programs.
  • AB 1933 by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein revises CalRecycle’s organic waste and recycling grant program funded by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to include the recovery of food for human consumption and food waste prevention.
  • AB 2103 by Gloria sets minimum training standards for applicants of concealed carry weapons permits.
  • AB 2193 by Maienschein requires OBGYNs to screen mothers for maternal mental health conditions like postpartum depression.
  • AB 2428 by Gonzalez grants community health centers the option to incorporate additional locations within a certain radius of their existing licensed facilities under a single license.
  • AB 2836 by Gloria requires the UC regents to establish a systemwide Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Implementation and Oversight Committee.
  • AB 2878 by Assemblyman Rocky Chávez adds family engagement to the state priorities that must be addressed by school district, charter school and county office of education local control and accountability plans.
  • AB 3022 by Gonzalez retroactively grants diplomas to deported high school seniors.
  • AB 3176 by Assemblywoman Marie Waldron makes changes to state law regarding the removal of Indian children from their families and their out-of-home placement in order to conform to changes to federal regulations governing the Indian Child Welfare Act.

And the Vetoes …

Though Gonzalez had a good week with bill signings, Brown also vetoed three of her bills. Gloria and Atkins each had a bill vetoed as well.

AB 479 by Gonzalez would have required doctors to consider a specific list of impairments when determining a worker’s disability for the purpose of worker’s compensation when that worker suffers from breast cancer. Brown has vetoed several similar attempts by Gonzalez – but this time he threw in a consolation prize: He ordered a study of the issue. Read the veto message here.

AB 900 by Gonzalez would have allowed the California Victim Compensation Board to compensate human trafficking victims for lost income. Read the veto message here.

AB 2496 by Gonzalez would have established people who work for janitorial companies as permanent employees, not independent contractors. Read the veto message here.

AB 3131 by Gloria would have required law enforcement agencies to get a local governing body’s OK before acquiring military surplus equipment. Read the veto message here.

SB 1125 by Atkins would have changed Medi-Cal reimbursement requirements for patients who visit certain clinics for two visits in a single day. Read the veto message here.

Golden State News

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