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Read about the latest decisions at the state Capitol and how they impact your life (Fridays)
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and Sen. Ben Hueso, who share many of the same constituents, don’t share a lot of the same views when it comes to Uber.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez weighed in on a NorCal controversy this week when she joined four other legislators calling for the resignation of UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi.
Katehi is at the center of an evolving crisis about her participation on corporate boards – including for-profit school DeVry University – that paid her hundreds of thousands of dollars on top of her state salary.
Katehi has resigned from the DeVry board and apologized, but students and lawmakers remain unhappy with the lapse in judgment, at a time when many are struggling to pay for college, and would like to see her step down. Other lawmakers are starting to make similar pleas.
Gonzalez also last week introduced a bill, AB 1727, to help “gig economy” workers like those Uber drivers who can now take you to Tijuana. Known as the California 1099 Self-Organizing Act, the legislation would allow independent workers who do their work based on a technology platform (like the Uber app) to have some employment rights, including negotiating as a group. It stops short of unionization, but would give gig workers the chance to collectively negotiate terms with employers.
“California has led the way in innovating our economy through technology, and our laws must catch up to that innovation in order to do right by the workers in this state,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “This bill ensures that the millions of Californians who aren’t treated as employees, including workers in the evolving gig economy, simply have the option to organize and collectively bargain for better pay and working conditions for themselves for the work that they perform.”
Another San Diego legislator, one with many of the same constituents as Gonzalez, is less friendly toward Uber: Liam Dillon wrote this week about Sen. Ben Hueso’s family ties to the taxi industry and whether those tied have influenced how he deals with ride-share companies. Dillon also talked about it on KPBS because he just can’t quit San Diego.
Gonzalez got a plum appointment this week from the new speaker of the Assembly, Anthony Rendon. She now has the distinction of being the first Latina to chair the state Assembly Committee on Appropriations.
Toni Atkins, back to being a regular assemblywoman (though she now gets to keep the title speaker emeritus), had her AB 1795 clear the Assembly Health Committee this week. That bill would close some serious gaps in health care for low-income women facing cervical and breast cancer. Currently, those women only qualify for a maximum of 24 months of care, depending on the type of cancer, and can’t have mammograms covered if they are under age 40, even if cancer is suspected.
Atkins said the law “makes no sense,” during a press event on the Capitol steps last week.
“This is an arbitrary line drawn in the program and there is no good reason for it … AB 1795 would fix that.”
Atkins also had a big week on the animal welfare front – joining in on a press conference in San Diego to laud SeaWorld’s decision to end its captive orca shows, and getting the Assembly budget subcommittee endorsement on the governor’s request for almost $1.8 million to implement AB 96, an ivory sales ban bill she passed last year.
“I want to thank the members of the budget subcommittee, as well as the governor, for agreeing that we need money to fight the illegal sale of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn,” Atkins said in a statement. “Without enforcement funding to back it up, a law is just a law. These resources will allow the state to hire a new team of specialists trained to stop the sickening tusk and horn trade and help save these animals from extinction.”
Assemblymember Brian Maienschein also made news on the animal welfare front, when he was named Legislator of the Year by PawPAC, an advocacy organization for animals. He’s the first Republican to ever get the award.
“It is an honor to be recognized as ‘Legislator of the Year’ by PawPAC for my work to help animals in California,” said Maienschein in a statement. “I remain committed to ensuring that animals get the care and protection they need. I am proud to be recognized as a champion for the safety of animals and their owners in times of crisis.”
Last year, Maienschein wrote AB 494, which allows pets to be included in civil restraining orders, and AB 316, which lets vets from other states work in California when needed.
Atkins wasn’t the only one who weighed in on SeaWorld’s big decision to end captive orca breeding, though her praise of the move is interesting, because she declined to publicly support a bill introduced in 2014 that would’ve required SeaWorld to do many of the very things it announced it will do this week.
The author of the 2014 bill, Assemblyman Richard Bloom, appeared at a press conference with Atkins Thursday.
“Bloom said he will introduce a bill to codify SeaWorld’s self-imposed ban on captive orca breeding,” writes the Union-Tribune. “Notably, Bloom has retreated from his demand in 2014 that killer whales be held in large sea pens instead of inside the park.”
• With roughly a bajillion proposals vying to make it onto the November ballot, the cost of gathering signatures is skyrocketing. (CalMatters)
• A series of aerial photos taken last year “capture California at its most diminished — from drought, from wildfire, and from human profit.” (CityLab)
• Californians are downright giddy that their votes in the presidential primary might actually matter for once. In San Diego, the possibility of a Trump presidency might be fueling an increase in citizenship applications. (Sacramento Bee, KPBS)
• A new audit says CalTrans road work leaves the door open to waste, fraud and abuse. (Sacramento Bee)
• The EPA rejected a state plan to cut smog because it wouldn’t go far enough. (L.A. Times)