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  • California Legislature
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A judge on Monday dismissed the federal government's claim that U.S. law trumps two California laws intended to protect immigrants who are in the country illegally, affirming his ruling last week that California was within its rights to pass two of its three so-called sanctuary laws.

U.S. District Judge John Mendez rejected the U.S. government's argument on two of the laws that the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government pre-eminent power over states to regulate immigration. The Trump administration argued that California is obstructing its immigration enforcement efforts.

As he did in last week's decision, Mendez ruled Monday that the federal government could proceed with its attempt to block part of a third California sanctuary law, which prohibits employers from allowing immigration officials on their property without warrants.

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(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

A prominent environmental group took legal action Monday to block Proposition 9, the proposal to split California into three states, from the fall ballot.

The challenge, filed with the California Supreme Court, asserts that the proposal is too sweeping in its nature to have been placed on the ballot under the same provisions used to enact traditional laws.

"In seeking to remove this initiative from the ballot, we are asking the court to protect the integrity of both the initiative process and our state constitution,” Carlyle Hall, an attorney representing the group, said in a written statement. “Proponents should not be able to evade the state constitution simply by qualifying a measure as one thing, when it is so clearly another."

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Inmates at San Quentin State Prison.
Inmates at San Quentin State Prison. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

California voters will decide whether to increase penalties for some crimes while expanding the collection of DNA from those convicted of nonviolent offenses under an initiative that earned a place Monday on the 2020 ballot.

The initiative by the group Crime Victims United of California was determined by the secretary of state’s office to have enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

“This will make California safer,” said Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), a key proponent of the initiative who spent 30 years with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

  • Ballot measures
  • California Legislature
Construction crews conduct repairs in San Francisco last year. A measure to repeal a gas tax increase is on the November ballot.
Construction crews conduct repairs in San Francisco last year. A measure to repeal a gas tax increase is on the November ballot. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

In the two weeks since an initiative qualified that would repeal an increase to the gas tax, construction companies, labor groups and civic organizations have poured $3.7 million into a campaign against Proposition 6, campaign records show.

Although the total raised by supporters of the gas tax is $11.8 million, backers of the repeal initiative on the November ballot say they have raised more than $1 million in recent months, bringing their total haul to $3.2 million.

“Unions and the highway construction industry have their own stake here, given the $50-plus billion in road building and repair costs, and they are not about to roll over,” said Larry Gerston, professor emeritus of political science at San Jose State University. He said a reasonable expectation is that $50 million to $75 million will be raised for the Nov. 6 election “given the self-interest on both sides and the amount raised to date.”

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  • Ballot measures
  • 2018 election
A home is under construction in Irvine.
A home is under construction in Irvine. (Don Barletti / Los Angeles Times)

Last week, the deadline passed for proponents of California initiatives to pull their measures off the state’s November ballot. But that hasn’t stopped one powerful interest group from hoping it can still strike a deal with lawmakers.

The California Assn. of Realtors collected enough signatures from voters to qualify an initiative that would allow homeowners older than 55 to take a portion of their Proposition 13 property tax benefits with them if they move to a new home. The measure will be listed as Proposition 5 on this November’s ballot.

The Realtors are still interested in having state legislators put forward an alternative measure instead, one that might help clear some of the opposition to their plan. The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Office has estimated the change, should voters approve Proposition 5, would cost local governments and schools a combined $300 million a year, with that figure rising over time to $2 billion annually. Labor groups, including the California Professional Firefighters, are opposed over fears it’s too much money.

  • State government
Marijuana on display at the Harborside dispensary in Oakland. Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday named members of a new cannabis appeals panel.
Marijuana on display at the Harborside dispensary in Oakland. Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday named members of a new cannabis appeals panel. (Mathew Sumner / AP Photo)

Six months after California began licensing growing and selling marijuana, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday appointed the first members of a new Cannabis Control Appeals Panel to consider objections from those denied permits or those facing penalties for violating regulations.

The governor gets to name three of the five members of the panel and on Tuesday appointed county prosecutor Sabrina D. Ashjian of Fresno, college lecturer Diandra Bremond of Los Angeles, and a staff attorney for the governor, Adrian Carpenter of Plumas Lake.

The other two appointments will be made by the Senate Rules Committee and the speaker of the Assembly.

Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders on Monday announced plans to improve disaster preparedness and develop policies to better deal with the wildfires that are plaguing California, citing the historic fires that hit the state last year.

For the first six months of this year, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has battled wildfires on 53,000 acres, compared with an average of 23,000 acres over the same time in previous years, officials said. On Monday, firefighters were working to control a wildfire in Yolo County that had grown to 44,500 acres overnight.

Legislation to step up planning was sent to a conference committee for consideration, according to a statement from Brown and Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate and Assembly.

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  • California Legislature
Ely Fernandez of Honduras is questioned after being detained for crossing the border illegally in March with his 5-year-old son, Bryan.
Ely Fernandez of Honduras is questioned after being detained for crossing the border illegally in March with his 5-year-old son, Bryan. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Members of the California Assembly on Monday urged an end to the Trump administration’s immigration efforts that separated children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, saying the issue is one of humanity and not partisan politics.

“Generations down the line will remember those who allowed and advocated for the separation of children from their mothers,” Assemblywoman Eloise Gomez Reyes (D-Grand Terrace) said during debate on the Assembly floor.

The resolution, which carries no force of law, singles out President Trump and U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions. It urges “compassion and decency” in the enforcement of immigration laws, and offers a reminder of procedures that exist for those declaring asylum.

  • Politics podcast

California’s fall ballot may be on the long side — a dozen propositions will be considered by voters — but it could have been longer, if not for blockbuster deals struck in Sacramento.

On this week’s episode of the California Politics Podcast, we take a look at the negotiations that pulled sweeping privacy and tax initiatives off the ballot and the decision by some of the nation’s largest paint companies to abandon their proposal too.

We also take a quick look at the proposals that voters will consider on Nov. 6. And we assess some of the key political impacts of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling last week on public employee union fees.