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Sen. Kamala Harris says she hasn't considered running for president

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Despite swirling speculation, California's U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris said she’s not giving “any consideration” to running for president in 2020.

Harris was appearing at the annual Code Conference hosted by the tech news site Recode in Rancho Palos Verdes on Wednesday night when site co-founder Kara Swisher asked if she had eyes on the White House.

“I’m not giving that any consideration. I’ve got to stay focused,” said Harris, a Democrat who was elected to the Senate in November after serving as California's attorney general. After she won the seat vacated by former Sen. Barbara Boxer, Harris quickly gained a reputation as a potential presidential candidate in 2020.

Harris took questions from Swisher alongside Laurene Powell Jobs, a philanthropist and the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Though she brushed off the presidential rumors, Harris urged Democrats to try harder to make convincing arguments on issues such as climate change instead of just criticizing those who disagree with them.

She told the audience at the posh Terranea Resort where the conference is being held that it would be a mistake to dismiss the concerns of Americans who supported Trump in the November election. She said the issues that concern them — good jobs and the future of their families — are the concerns of all working-class Americans.

“There is a healthy number of people in our country who are feeling displaced, rightly,” Harris said. “I think we have to deal with that.” 

Still, Harris dished out plenty of jabs at the Trump administration. She criticized Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions for “resuscitating the war on drugs” and told him to “leave Grandma’s medical marijuana alone.” Harris also criticized the Trump administration’s more hard-line immigration policies, and said she was concerned about allegations of collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.

“These are serious times. These are not issues we can just sit around with a glass of Chardonnay debating and philosophizing about,” Harris said. “The decisions that are being made right now are impacting real human beings.”

Watch the entire interview:

California LegislatureCalifornia politics

Trump wouldn't release his tax returns, so lawmakers move to make it mandatory for California's primary

 (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Legislation to require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns in order to gain a spot on California's presidential primary ballot won passage in the state Senate on Wednesday, but only after a tense debate that largely centered on President Trump.

Senate Bill 149 was approved on a strict party-line vote, 27-13. The bill now moves to the state Assembly, and was one of the last bills debated during a marathon session at the state Capitol to consider bills before a Friday deadline for action.

The bill would require presidential candidates to file copies of their income tax returns with state elections officials for the five most recent taxable years. Failure to do so would mean their name wouldn't appear on California's presidential primary ballot. The legislation was introduced in December, in the wake of Trump's refusal to disclose his tax returns during the 2016 campaign. The president has continued to reject calls for the information.

"He's shaping international policy which could enrich himself, and the American public has no way to know," state Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) said of Trump during Wednesday night's floor debate. "This legislation will help make transparency great again."

Republicans denounced the bill as another in a long line of efforts by Democrats in the Legislature to lash out at the election of Trump and the defeat of Hillary Clinton.

"I get it that some people hate Trump," state Sen. Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) said. "We've got to move ahead. We've got to get over it."

Tensions flared after Anderson tried to amend the bill on the floor — first, to require statewide and legislative candidates to also release their tax returns, and then to require a birth certificate from candidates who want access to the state's primary ballot. Both were rejected by Democrats.

A legislative analysis of SB 149 said some legal scholars believe the plan, which would be the first of its kind in the nation, would pass muster with the U.S. Constitution. Nonetheless, the analysis concluded that it would probably be challenged in court if signed into law.

California Legislature

California Senate moves forward with bill that would overhaul Los Angeles County MTA

Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) proposed to revamp the Los Angeles County MTA. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) proposed to revamp the Los Angeles County MTA. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

The state Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would expand and reshape the agency that oversees mass transit in Los Angeles County.

Opponents of the measure include Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, the city and county of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

The bill by Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) was sent to the Assembly for consideration after squeaking by with a 22-11 vote in the Senate.

The measure would expand the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board from 12 to 15 members. It would also reduce the number of county supervisors on the board from five to two, remove the appointment of two public members and increase Los Angeles City Council member appointments by the mayor from two to five.

“This will allow for proportional and fair representation,” Mendoza told his colleagues, adding that the board currently is made up of "haves and have-nots fighting to get their share.”

Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) opposed the measure because he said he saw it as Sacramento meddling in local policymaking.

But Sen. Scott Wilk (R-Palmdale) supported SB 268.

“Too much power is concentrated in too few people,” he said of the current board.

State government

Single-payer healthcare is popular with Californians — unless it raises their taxes

 (Rich Pedoncelli / Associated Press)
(Rich Pedoncelli / Associated Press)

Almost two of every three Californians in a new statewide poll said they like the idea of a single-payer, government healthcare system, but far fewer support the idea if it includes a tax increase.

The poll released Wednesday night by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found that 65% of adults surveyed support the creation of a single-payer state healthcare program to cover all of the state's residents, and 56% of likely voters approved of the idea. Opinion was sharply divided between Democrats (75% support) and Republicans (66% oppose) who were surveyed.

The single-payer proposal under consideration in the state Capitol, Senate Bill 562, assumes at least $50 billion in new taxes to fund the healthcare system. Asked about taxes, support drops to 42% of the adults surveyed and 43% of likely voters. While a majority of Democrats in the PPIC poll continued to support the idea if it means more taxes, support drops substantially among unaffiliated "independent" voters.

The state Senate is expected to consider the single-payer bill before the end of the week. A legislative analysis put the estimated total cost of a new healthcare system that covers all Californians at $400 billion, while an analysis released on Wednesday by supporters provided a $331-billion estimate. The pending legislation by state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) does not identify what taxes would be raised but makes the enactment of the plan contingent on a full funding proposal.

California Legislature

Knowingly exposing others to HIV should no longer be a felony, state Senate says

The Senate voted to no longer make it a felony for HIV-positive people to donate blood or semen without telling the blood bank they are infected. (Toby Talbot / Associated Press)
The Senate voted to no longer make it a felony for HIV-positive people to donate blood or semen without telling the blood bank they are infected. (Toby Talbot / Associated Press)

The state Senate on Wednesday voted to no longer make it a felony for someone infected with HIV to knowingly expose others to the disease by having unprotected sex without telling his or her partner about the infection.

The crime would be downgraded to a misdemeanor, and the bill would also apply to people who donate blood or semen without telling the blood or semen bank that they have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, or have tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, the precursor to AIDS.

The measure, which next goes to the Assembly for consideration, was introduced by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who said it is unfair to make HIV/AIDS the only communicable disease given such harsh treatment by prosecutors.

“These laws are irrational and discriminatory,” Wiener told the Senate, adding that the current felony status is “creating an incentive not to be tested, because if you don’t know your status you can’t be guilty of a felony.”

The measure was widely opposed by Republican lawmakers including Sen. Joel Anderson of San Diego.  "If you intentionally transmit something that is fundamentally life-threatening to the victim, you should be charged and go to jail," he said.

Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Murrieta) said, “My friends, it’s not a gay issue. It’s a public health issue. We shouldn’t allow someone to play Russian roulette with other people’s lives.”

Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), a physician, voted for the bill and argued that it undermines public health to imprison those with HIV under the current law.

Hillary Clinton: 'I was the victim of a very broad assumption I was going to win'

Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that she has no plans to run for office again, but she plans to remain involved in civic life, particularly helping the Democrats' efforts to regain control of the House in 2018.

“I'm not going anywhere,” Clinton said at the annual Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes. “I have a big stake in what happens in this country. I am very unbowed and unbroken about what happened because I don’t want it to happen to anybody else. I don't want it to happen to the values and the institutions I care about in America.

“And I think we’re at a really pivotal point,” she said. “And therefore I'm going to keep writing and keep talking and keep supporting people who are on the front lines of the resistance."

The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee said she woke up on election day expecting to win. Clinton told the gathering that she was responsible for every decision the campaign made, though she did not believe they caused her surprise loss. She attributed that to several things, including alleged Russian interference in the election and “weaponizing” stolen information and fake news. She also pointed a finger at the Democrats for falling behind the GOP in using technology and data to target voters, the media for covering her e-mail controversy "like it was Pearl Harbor," misogyny and the high expectations many had for her candidacy.

“I was the victim of a very broad assumption I was going to win,” she said, adding that she always expected the race to be close.

Trump responded on Twitter, saying that Clinton still refused to accept that she lost because she was a "terrible candidate."

Clinton, who has increasingly jabbed President Trump, including at last week’s commencement address at Wellesley College, blasted his reported plan to pull out of the Paris climate accord as “really stupid” because of the economic implications. She described his personality as “impulsive” and “reactive.” 

And she joked about his peculiar overnight tweet about “constant negative press covfefe,” saying she thought it was “a hidden message to the Russians” to laughter from the audience.

Going forward, Clinton said that she believes that it was “realistic” for Democrats to retake the House in 2018, notably by focusing on Republican congressional districts she won — including seven in California. She sounded less optimistic about the Senate.

Updated at 6:06 p.m.: This post was updated to add President Trump's response to Clinton's remarks. 

This post was first published at 5:41 p.m.

California Legislature

California lawmakers take aim again at establishing statewide rules for drones

A drone flies in the middle of the Lucerne Lake dry lake bed in the Mojave Desert. (Los Angeles Times)
A drone flies in the middle of the Lucerne Lake dry lake bed in the Mojave Desert. (Los Angeles Times)

A state senator from Santa Barbara is taking another shot at establishing statewide regulations for the use of drones after the budding industry thwarted her efforts to pass similar legislation last year.

Senate Bill 347, introduced by Democratic Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, would limit disruptive drone use near private property and prohibit the weaponization and reckless operation of the unmanned aerial vehicles. It also would require pilots to obtain insurance and to license, register and mark the aircrafts per federal regulations.

The bill moved out of the Senate on Wednesday with a 26-13 vote. It heads to the Assembly for consideration.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Jackson urged support for what she called comprehensive drone legislation, saying California needs "common-sense rules that provide certainty for everyone and keep the public safe."

"Washington is not going to be acting on this issue very soon," she said, citing a federal appeals court decision that this month found the Federal Aviation Administration doesn't have the authority to regulate the use of drones by hobbyists. 

Debate has raged in recent years over just where federal authority begins and ends. And Jackson's attempts at drone legislation last year were blocked amid opposition from lobbyists who argued against creating a patchwork of laws that varied by state.

Under Jackson's new proposal, violations would be punishable by a fine of up to $250 or a misdemeanor, and the California Department of Transportation would be tasked with developing liability insurance requirements.

It has the support of the California State Assn. of Counties, the League of California Cities and the Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Assn, but it once again faces tough industry opposition.

2018 electionCongressional races

Emilio Huerta, undaunted by 2016 loss, is back to challenge Rep. David Valadao

 (Sarah D. Wire / Los Angeles Times)
(Sarah D. Wire / Los Angeles Times)

Bakersfield lawyer Emilio Huerta came more than 13 percentage points short of winning California's 21st Congressional District seat in 2016, but he plans to try again in 2018.

Huerta, 59, blames his loss to Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) on inexperience and a rash of negative ads at the end of the campaign.

“We learned a lot in the last campaign. As a first-time candidate there was certainly a lot to learn and I think we did a good job,” Huerta said Wednesday.

The son of labor icon Dolores Huerta, he has worked for the United Farm Workers union — which his mother co-founded — throughout the Central Valley district.

Huerta said Valadao's vote for the Republican healthcare plan shows he's "ignoring Valley residents" needs because it would end the expansion of the MediCal program, which many of the district's residents use for healthcare.

“It’s going to be a pretty significant issue," he said.

He is the first Democrat to announce a bid for the seat.

Democrats are heartened by the fact that, while Valadao won the seat with 56.74% of the vote, the district has continued to trend Democratic in voter registration and chose Hillary Clinton for president with 54.72% of the vote.

“That tells me that there were die-hard Democrats, committed Democrats that vote, Democrats that were not convinced that my campaign should be supported and I think a lot of that has to do with me being a first-time candidate,” Huerta said.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has made the seat a target for 2018.

The majority-Latino district includes parts of Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties.

State government

Gov. Jerry Brown and Democrats say Trump is going 'backwards' if he pulls out of Paris climate pact

Gov. Jerry Brown warned Wednesday that a decision by President Trump to withdraw the United States from a 2015 global climate change agreement could be "tragic," and vowed to keep California's ambitious efforts in place and on track.

"Here we are, in 2017, going backwards," Brown said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "It cannot stand, it's not right and California will do everything it can to not only stay the course, but to build more support — in other states, in other provinces, in other countries."

The governor also criticized efforts to the president to dismantle climate change initiatives launched by former President Barack Obama.

"Trump is going against science. He's going against reality," the governor said. "We can’t stand by and give aid and comfort to that."

News that the president had either made the decision to pull the country out of the Paris Accord on climate change or was on the verge of doing so drew swift condemnation from California leaders. Brown and other top lawmakers attended the talks in late 2015 that resulted in the international agreement, and insisted on Wednesday that it would not hurt the state's own efforts to sharply curtail greenhouse gas emissions.

"As with so many other matters, from human rights to healthcare, the Trump administration has continued to surrender our nation's longstanding role as a global leader," Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said.

Others pointed out that a decision to remove the United States from the agreement would leave it in rare company among other nations. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted that such a decision by Trump would be more than just "dumb + destructive."

Brown, who leaves Friday for a weeklong visit to China to encourage more climate-change cooperation, predicted any decision to step away would suggest the country's priorities aren't clear.

"It sends a very muddled message," the governor said during an interview in his state Capitol office. "Is the message [that] we like dirty cars and gas guzzlers? And we're going to have a coal future? That can't happen."

And Brown again suggested that California's experience on the issue offers a road map for others.

"If we want to retain and enhance manufacturing, we have to do what California is doing, in clean energy and clean technology," he said. "That's the future of jobs, the future of sustainability. And we better get on board. And California will be right there with the best of them."

California in Congress

This Orange County congressman's immigration town hall turned chaotic and led to three arrests

The majority of calls into Rep. Lou Correa's Orange County congressional office are about immigration worries and what the Trump administration's enforcement policies mean for Correa's many Latino constituents.

“There’s a lot of fear in my district,” he said.

So the freshman Democrat has held seven town halls, all focused on immigration and explaining immigrants' rights. They've been peaceful, with representatives from groups such as the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles and the Mexican Consulate invited to help Correa answer questions.

But as the crowd of about 100 people gathered at Santa Ana's Delhi Center on Tuesday evening, Correa knew this time would be different.

“We had some people there, probably a dozen of them, that immediately had signs that were not complimentary to yours truly,” he said.

Two women arguing about immigration issues had already gotten into an altercation outside the town hall. They were cited for assault and battery, and barred by police from going inside.

Correa told the crowd inside he would give a short presentation about immigration policy coming out of Washington and then have a question-and-answer session.

About a dozen people were having none of it. Some of the most tense moments came when Correa started talking about green card holders who served in the U.S. military and have since been deported.

"Ma'am, I'm trying to be courteous here," he said as a woman kept speaking over him.

“As soon as I started speaking, it became very clear they were not going to let me speak,” Correa said Wednesday. “They just got louder and louder.”

Video of the town hall posted on social media shows people in the crowd yelling "Americans first" and "Illegals have no rights."

Correa repeatedly asks them to let him speak. "Are you guys going to cooperate, or am I going to have to ask you to leave?" he said.

About 15 minutes in, as some in the crowd continued to shout and their attention turned to berating a group of counter-protesters, Correa declared the meeting over.

A handful of people circled around Correa as he tried to leave, yelling "Shame, shame" and "You guys all want welfare." One woman's voice can be heard repeatedly yelling "Coward!"

Police emptied the room amid chants of "USA." The crowd streamed into the parking lot, where confrontations quickly started between supporters of President Trump and others who appeared to be focused on Native American rights.

Videos posted on social media show men shouting at one another, their faces so close their noses are practically touching. Police officers kept trying to separate the groups.

(Warning: The video below includes language that some readers might find offensive.)

Santa Ana Police Department spokesman Anthony Bertagna said a man struck a Trump supporter on the head with a pole bearing an anti-fascism flag. He was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, Bertagna said. 

The man was brought to police headquarters, and a group of about 10 people followed along to protest, he said.

Shortly after, the town hall peacefully resumed in a different room with a much smaller crowd, Correa said.

Several California members of Congress have held similar immigration-specific town halls or workshops in the last few months as questions swirl about changes to federal immigration policies and enforcement.

The purpose of the town halls is to "let people know how to follow the law, let them know their legal rights and responsibilities,” Correa said. Protesters have characterized it as teaching people who are in the country illegally how to avoid deportation and get federal benefits.

Antonio Villaraigosa questions whether a state single-payer healthcare system is affordable in California

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigosa said he supports universal healthcare but advocates for a state-sponsored single-payer system may be “creating false expectations” given the enormous costs involved.

The former Los Angeles mayor, speaking on KPPC’s "AirTalk" with Larry Mantle on Wednesday morning, said California’s top priority should be to replace the estimated $20 billion in federal money the state may lose for healthcare programs if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

The comment came after Mantle asked Villaraigosa if he supported a bill in the California Legislature that would create a single-payer health system for California. According to a legislative analysis, the cost of the proposed healthcare system would be $400 billion annually.

Villaraigosa said he supports the ideal of single-payer health care but was skeptical about California being able to afford a state-run program. Supporters first have to explain how the state can pay for it, he said.

To afford the program, California also would need waivers from the federal government so it can use Medicare and Medi-Cal funds, which is not likely given the state’s hostile relationship with the Trump administration, he said.

Villaraigosa also chided Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democratic rival in the 2018 governor’s race, for voicing his support for a state single-payer system.

“Let’s not sell snake oil,” Villaraigosa said.

In March, Newsom said he plans to propose a universal healthcare system for the state modeled on a city program he supported while he was mayor of San Francisco.

California Legislature

California plan for 100% renewable energy by 2045 clears key hurdle

Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) (David Butow / Redux Pictures)
Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) (David Butow / Redux Pictures)

California will receive all of its power from renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, by 2045 under legislation that passed the state Senate on Wednesday.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) touted his bill, Senate Bill 100, as the most ambitious program in the world.

“Clean energy is the future,” De León said. “SB 100 ensures that California leads into the future.”

The measure would also speed up the state’s goal of reaching 50% renewable energy, changing the deadline from 2030 to 2026.

SB 100 passed over objections from Republican senators. Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Temecula) criticized the measure as government getting ahead of technological capacity.

“What if we can’t make that mandate that we’re putting into law today?” Stone said. “What it’s going to do is drive up electricity bills for our businesses.”

De León’s bill now moves to the Assembly.

California Legislature

A new proposal on California's cap-and-trade program emerges as vote is delayed

Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced), left. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced), left. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A coalition of business-friendly Democrats is detailing their own ideas for cap and trade, a centerpiece of California's fight against global warming, the latest bid in a crowded field of efforts to extend the program.

Cap and trade requires polluting companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas emissions, and lawmakers have been considering a push from Gov. Jerry Brown to extend the program beyond 2020.

The new plan would force the program to sunset in 2025, earlier than previous proposals from other lawmakers. It would also direct revenue from the program toward improving air quality and helping agricultural and trucking companies lower their emissions by replacing aging equipment.

The plan is also aimed at keeping costs down for industries regulated by cap and trade, allowing them to support green projects known as offsets instead of reducing their own emissions.

“California must continue to lead the world by implementing a strong climate policy that ensures both a healthy environment for future Californians and growth in all sectors of our economy," Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) said in a statement.

The pro-business Democrats' plan is the fourth such effort announced by various factions within the state's ruling Democratic Party this year with two others emerging from the Assembly and one from the Senate. The plans offer varying degrees of changes to the existing program, either to prioritize pollution reductions in disadvantaged communities or eliminate offsets. Republican lawmakers also have said they want to be part of the cap-and-trade debate

Brown has pushed for a two-thirds supermajority vote of the Legislature to extend the program by the state budget deadline next month. But Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said at a Wednesday news conference that that wasn't going to happen.

"Cap-and-trade is a very complex issue," De León said. "It's very arcane. We want to make sure we get it right."

De León said he hoped for a deal by the end of the year.

Congressional races

Richard Riordan endorses Robert Lee Ahn against Jimmy Gomez in L.A. congressional race

California Legislature

School districts would be prohibited from 'shaming' students whose parents haven't paid for school lunches

Students eat lunch at Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School in Los Angeles. (Christina House / For the Los Angeles Times)
Students eat lunch at Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School in Los Angeles. (Christina House / For the Los Angeles Times)

Students whose parents have not kept their school lunch bills current would no longer go through “shaming” that includes marking their hand so they cannot be served, under legislation approved Wednesday by the state Senate.

The measure by Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) would require school districts to ensure that any student whose parent has unpaid school meal fees is not treated differently, or delayed or denied a nutritiously adequate meal.

Hertzberg introduced the legislation after hearing of school districts taking lunch trays from students whose accounts were not current and throwing the food in the trash, embarrassing the students in front of their friends.

“No more shaming,” Herzberg told his colleagues. “Don’t visit the failures of the parents on their kids.”

The measure passed on a 39-0 vote and was sent to the Assembly for consideration.

California Legislature

Estimated cost for single-payer healthcare in California reduced by billions in analysis sponsored by supporters

RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director for the California Nurses Assn. touts a study showing a single-payer health plan could save state residents money. (Los Angeles Times)
RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director for the California Nurses Assn. touts a study showing a single-payer health plan could save state residents money. (Los Angeles Times)

With a state Senate vote possibly imminent on a single-payer health system for California, supporters Wednesday released a study estimating it would cut spending on healthcare in the state by 18% and cost tens of billions of dollars less than the state's estimate for the plan.

Extra costs could be covered by tax increases, according to the analysis sponsored by the California Nurses Assn./National Nurses United, the leading supporter of legislation.

A legislative analysis had estimated the cost of the proposed system to be $400 billion annually, but a study released by the nurses Wednesday estimates the yearly cost would be $331 billion as of 2017.

The estimate was made by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in a study partly financed by the nurses association.

State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) authored a bill that would provide a Medicare-for-all-type system and said the study shows the plan can guarantee health coverage for all Californians without the out of pocket costs that leave a third of all state residents underinsured.

“The good news is that California can get a lot more for our money,” Lara said at a Capitol news conference. "Families will pay less for healthcare.”

The study estimated the amount spent on healthcare will drop up to 9% for middle-class voters who are currently insured, and 5% for low-income residents.

Senate Bill 562 is eligible for a vote by the state Senate this week, although Lara said he planned to meet with supporters on how to incorporate the findings of the new financial report into the proposal. The financial review proposes to cover part of the cost of the single-payer system with a 2.3% increase in both the state sales tax and its gross receipt tax applied to California businesses.

The new plan could use public healthcare revenue sources that are currently covering some 71% of all healthcare funding in the state, including Medicare, MediCal and tax subsidies for healthcare, said Robert Pollin, the institute’s director.

Polon was an economic advisor to Gov. Jerry  Brown’s campaign for president and Lara said he hoped his involvement would convince Brown to support the legislation.

If the state can obtain waivers in all of the present areas of public health funding, it will provide $225 billion of the cost of a single-payer program.

“That means that the remaining $106 billion to fund Healthy California will need to be provided by new revenue sources in the state,” the study says.

The rosy picture was disputed by Rick Coburn, president of the California Association of Health Underwriters, who said abolishing the use of options delivered by private insurance companies would increase unemployment.

“Senate Bill 562 proponents assume federal funding will cover 70 percent of the annual $400 billion cost estimate,” Coburn said. “California has no authority over federal programs and cannot assume the federal government will grant the necessary waivers.”

The proposal is also opposed by Charles Bacchi, president and CEO of the California Association of Health Plans.

“This new analysis doesn’t change the fact that a single payer health care system is unaffordable and would be incredibly disruptive to the ninety percent of California’s residents who currently have health insurance,”  Bacchi said in a statement.

To ease the tax burden, the proposal would exempt the first $2 million in receipts for all businesses, meaning companies that average up to nine employees will have no gross receipts tax obligation. The sales tax would exempt spending on housing, utilities and food at home.

“What this new study proves is that we can finally achieve the dream of guaranteeing healthcare for all Californians, without the punishment of crippling out-of-pocket costs," said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Assn.

Meanwhile, the nurses association released a poll it sponsored that says 70% of Californians support the legislation and 58% remain supportive after hearing opposition arguments. The poll was conducted by the Tulchin Research firm, and involved the survey of 600 likely California voters.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. This post was updated with a statement by Charles Bacchi, president and CEO of the California Association of Health Plans.

This post was originally published at 11:35 a.m.

California Legislature

Senate fails to back bill to delay the Aliso Canyon reopening, but lawmaker will try again

California Legislature

California state Senate advances bill to ban smoking and use of e-cigarettes in government housing

The state Senate voted to ban the use of tobacco products in government housing projects for low-income residents. (Paul Hilton / European Pressphoto Agency)
The state Senate voted to ban the use of tobacco products in government housing projects for low-income residents. (Paul Hilton / European Pressphoto Agency)

Californians would no longer be able to use tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, in public housing and within 25 of those buildings under a measure approved Tuesday by the state Assembly.

Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) said the measure builds on a smoking ban approved last year for federal public housing projects by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In addition to applying the smoking ban to state housing, expansion to include e-cigarettes makes sure the law cover new technology in tobacco use. The bill takes effect by July 30, 2018. Wood said tobacco-related diseases cost taxpayers significant funds each year.

“This bill will save money but will more importantly save lives,” Wood told his colleagues before the vote.

The measure is opposed by the Western Center on Law and Poverty, which worries it will lead to more evictions.

California Legislature

Californians would not be able to buy more than one rifle a month under bill approved by state senators

Terry McGuire, owner of Get Loaded in Grand Terrace, shows a customer a Cobalt Kinetics BAMF rifle about a week after the 2015 shooting rampage in nearby San Bernardino. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
Terry McGuire, owner of Get Loaded in Grand Terrace, shows a customer a Cobalt Kinetics BAMF rifle about a week after the 2015 shooting rampage in nearby San Bernardino. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

Californians would be prohibited from buying more than one firearm in any 30-day period under a measure approved Tuesday by the Senate to reduce straw purchasing and circumvention of gun laws.

California already bars people from buying more than one handgun a month. The bill by Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) expands the limit to also cover long guns, including rifles and shotguns.

The measure, which next goes to the Assembly for consideration, seeks to address concerns that some people buy large quantities of guns and then sell them on the underground market to criminals and others not eligible to own guns.

“There is no need or reason why a person would need to purchase more than one gun a month,” Portantino said during the floor debate.

Republicans, including Jeff Stone of Murrieta, opposed the legislation.

“This is yet another example of the government trying to infringe on the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” Stone said.

Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Chico) said he has seen no proof that past gun-control measures approved by the state have made the state safer.

‘It’s more of the same that will not decrease violent crime,” Nielsen said.

California Legislature

California state senators want to stop the public from smoking at California beaches and parks

California Senate approved a bill banning smoking on state beaches and parks and sent it to the Assembly. (Associated Press)
California Senate approved a bill banning smoking on state beaches and parks and sent it to the Assembly. (Associated Press)

Californians would be barred from smoking or using electronic cigarettes in state parks and at beaches under a bill approved Tuesday by the state Senate.

Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Concord) said his bill would address the health problems caused by smoking but also the harm done to the environment by discarded cigarette butts and the fire danger posed by the practice.

“Cigarette butts contain more than 150 toxic chemicals and although small in size, have a huge negative impact on the environment and the animals that live in them,” Glazer told his colleagues.

A legislative analysis said the bill does not address the concerns raised by Gov. Jerry Brown when he vetoed a similar bill last year.

The veto message read, in part, “The complete prohibition in all parks and beaches is too broad. A more measured — and less punitive — approach might be warranted.”

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