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Welcome to Essential Politics, our in-the-moment look at California political and government news. 

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Former state Sen. Rod Wright resigned in September 2014 after he was convicted of lying about living in his senate district.
Former state Sen. Rod Wright resigned in September 2014 after he was convicted of lying about living in his senate district. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Nearly four years after resigning upon his conviction in a voting fraud case, former state Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) has registered as a Capitol lobbyist.

Wright lists his only client as lobbyist and political consultant Richard Ross, who in turn advocates for clients including the California Applicants’ Attorneys Assn., Mercury Public Affairs, the California Business Roundtable and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 3299.

Ross said in an email Thursday that he retained Wright as part of an attempt to get language included in a state budget trailer bill “that would have held [the University of California] a little more accountable for its contracting out processes that result in widening gender and racial pay disparities for service workers.”

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President Trump holds up the executive order he signed to end family separations at the border.
President Trump holds up the executive order he signed to end family separations at the border. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

California is joining nine other states in filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration, alleging its family separation policy for immigrants in the country illegally violates due process, state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said Thursday.

The action was proposed a day after Trump signed an executive order requiring families detained under the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration be kept together.

“Children belong with their families, not alone and fearful in metal cages,” Becerra said in a statement. “We are filing this lawsuit because ripping children from their parents is unlawful, wrong and heartless.”

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The dome of the state Capitol glows in the early evening in Sacramento.
The dome of the state Capitol glows in the early evening in Sacramento. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A proposal to change leadership of California’s state campaign watchdog commission from a full-time position to a part-time job stalled Thursday when the panel deadlocked over the need for a new structure.

Two of the five members of the state Fair Political Practices Commission recently resigned amid a power struggle, and Commissioner Frank Cardenas said Thursday he is not willing to be one of the three votes needed to seek legislation to make the chairperson role part time.

Cardenas noted that the commission recently adopted a new committee structure to allow the four part-time commissioners normally on the panel to have more say in policy and personal decisions, and he wants to give that more time to work.

  • California Legislature
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

California voters no longer would have to scramble to find stamps for their ballots under legislation sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday for postage-free voting.

If signed into law, Assembly Bill 216 would require county elections officials to send prepaid postage envelopes with ballots mailed to voters. Californians frequently fail to put enough stamps on an envelope, or simply send a ballot back without any postage. Some of those ballots are ultimately delivered by postal officials.

Supporters said the changing length of ballots — in some elections stretching to multiple pages — can leave voters unprepared for determining how many stamps to use. While some counties already provide postage-paid envelopes to return ballots, most do not.

  • California Legislature
Gov. Jerry Brown will decide whether to put an initiative on the ballot that could put California on daylight saving time year-round
Gov. Jerry Brown will decide whether to put an initiative on the ballot that could put California on daylight saving time year-round (Elise Amendola / Associated Press)

Californians would be asked in a November ballot measure whether to end the biannual practice of moving their clocks ahead and back to comply with the Daylight Saving Time Act, under a bill the Assembly approved Thursday and sent to Gov. Jerry Brown for consideration.

“This bill creates a pathway for California to stay on daylight saving time year-round,” Assemblyman Kansen Chu (D-San Jose) told his colleagues before they voted 63-4 to approve his bill.

If an initiative is approved by voters, the Legislature would be given the power, with a two-thirds vote, to initiate an end to the practice of advancing the clock by one hour on the second Sunday each March, and moving the clock hands back an hour on the first Sunday in November.

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  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
(David Maung / European Pressphoto Agency)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi didn’t seem to mind much when Rep. Conor Lamb, a Democrat who won a special election in a previously strong GOP Pennsylvania House district, said he wouldn’t support her for speaker if Democrats regain the majority. 

More California candidates appear to be joining him. 

In a statement provided to Politico and the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, Democrat Gil Cisneros said “it’s time for new leadership” despite the San Francisco Democrat’s years of advocacy for California. Cisneros, running in the race to replace retiring Republican Rep. Ed Royce in Orange County, benefited from hundreds of thousands of dollars in primary spending by a super PAC tied to her, the House Majority PAC.

  • California Legislature
Proponents of net neutrality protest against Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai in Washington on May 5.
Proponents of net neutrality protest against Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai in Washington on May 5. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

An Assembly panel decided Wednesday to rewrite a proposed net neutrality bill over the objection of its author, Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who charged that the amendments gutted the bill and were adopted unfairly before he had a chance to testify at a public hearing.

Wiener told the Communications and Conveyance Committee that its changes would allow internet service providers such as AT&T and Comcast leeway to slow down some websites and provide fast lanes to websites that pay more, while charging websites and small businesses access fees.

"The amendments the committee adopted eviscerate the bill. It's no longer a net neutrality bill," Wiener told the panel after the approval of amendments submitted by the chairman, Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles).

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger celebrates the passage of Proposition 14, the open primaries initiative, June 9, 2010. (Rich Pedroncelli / AP)
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger celebrates the passage of Proposition 14, the open primaries initiative, June 9, 2010. (Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

Is California’s top-two primary system a “sell job” or has a “better political culture” emerged because of it? 

In one corner we have Los Angeles’ Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has some harsh words for the system voters picked back in June 2010.

In the other we have Silicon Valley Rep. Ro Khanna and Arnold Schwarzenegger, California’s last Republican governor, defending the wide open primary.

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  • California Democrats
 California state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) speaks at a 2017 news conference in support of the Dream Act.
California state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) speaks at a 2017 news conference in support of the Dream Act. (Damian Dovarganes, Associated Press)

As outcry escalates over the Trump administration’s policy of separating families caught illegally crossing the border, state Sen. Kevin de León is pressing Gov. Jerry Brown to end the California National Guard’s cooperation with the federal government.

Since April, the state National Guard has been working with federal immigration authorities after President Trump called on governors across the country to help enforce security along the southern border. Brown mobilized 400 service members for help fighting transnational crime, not enforcing immigration law, as Trump envisioned.

De León (D-Los Angeles), in a new letter, said that in light of Trump’s “zero tolerance policy,” which has resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents, “we can no longer tolerate using our state resources to support government entities that are inflicting inhuman trauma on people seeking refuge in accordance with national and international laws.”

  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom speak at a press conference in front of Homegirl Cafe on June 19.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom speak at a press conference in front of Homegirl Cafe on June 19. (Kent Nishimura)

Antonio Villaraigosa and Gavin Newsom, Democrats who clashed bitterly in the California gubernatorial primary, said their differences were behind them Tuesday as they pledged to work together to get Newsom elected governor in November.

“This wasn’t personal. Both of us love this state,” Villaraigosa told reporters after having breakfast with Newsom at Homegirl Café in downtown Los Angeles. “We grew up here, we want the best for our state and we both thought we had special qualities that would help us lead the state.”

Villaraigosa, who endorsed Newsom on election night after placing third in the June 5 primary, said the two men agree on crucial issues facing the state, notably the need to tackle poverty and homelessness, and to increase educational opportunities.