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268 posts
  • State government
  • California Legislature
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

California’s landmark law to require new disclosure of prescription drug prices was challenged in federal court Friday, with the pharmaceutical industry accusing state officials of trying to “dictate” national healthcare policy.

If successful, the lawsuit by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America could either delay or derail implementation of what supporters predicted would be a major improvement in the transparency of drug pricing. The industry effort argues the state law is unconstitutional.

“The law creates bureaucracy, thwarts private market competition, and ignores the role of insurers, pharmacy benefit managers and hospitals in what patients pay for their medicines,” said James Stansel, the trade group’s executive vice president, in a written statement.

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Lobbyist Pamela Lopez accused Assemblyman Matt Dababneh of sexual misconduct.
Lobbyist Pamela Lopez accused Assemblyman Matt Dababneh of sexual misconduct. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A lawyer for Sacramento lobbyist Pamela Lopez wants the state Assembly to detail how the investigation into her client’s sexual misconduct claim will be conducted, saying Lopez needs assurance that politics won’t influence the final conclusion.

Lopez filed a formal complaint letter with the Assembly Rules Committee on Monday, saying Assemblyman Matt Dababneh (D-Woodland Hills) followed her into a bathroom, masturbated in front of her and urged her to touch him.

She said she decided to name him in public after Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), chairman of the Rules Committee, urged sexual harassment victims in the Capitol community to come forward, promising a neutral and unbiased investigative process. 

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  • 2018 governor's race
John Chiang
John Chiang (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

California gubernatorial candidate John Chiang wants to tackle the state’s housing affordability crisis by spending billions more on low-income development and offering greater financial incentives to cities that permit new building.

“The housing shortage in this state is a drag on our economy and is a barrier to climbing the socioeconomic ladder for thousands of families in California,” Chiang said in a statement.

Chiang, the state treasurer, released the plan on his campaign website Friday. The policy changes he wants to make include:

  1. Promoting a $9-billion bond to help fund new low-income housing development and an additional $600 million in annual spending through a low-income housing tax credit. Chiang said these proposals would be on top of the $4-billion housing bond that will appear on the statewide ballot in November 2018. California’s low-income housing spending needs have been estimated conservatively at $15 billion a year.
  2. Offering local governments more sales tax revenue and transportation funds if they approve more housing. This is an effort to change the state’s tax system, which currently provides more tax revenue to cities that approve more hotel and office development than housing.
  3. Modeling new state laws after programs in Massachusetts and New York City. The Massachusetts law allows the state to override local decisions to deny low-income housing projects if a city is behind on its housing goals. The New York City law provides property tax breaks to apartment developers who reserve a certain portion of their project for low-income residents.
  4. Creating a state rapid rehousing program to help the homeless with short-term rental assistance and with utility and security deposits.
Marijuana in jars at MED X, a pot dispensary on Century Boulevard in South L.A.
Marijuana in jars at MED X, a pot dispensary on Century Boulevard in South L.A. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Just weeks before California begins issuing licenses to businesses to sell marijuana for recreational and medical use, the state on Friday began accepting applications electronically through a new online system.

The state Bureau of Cannabis Control is accepting applications for commercial marijuana licenses for retailers, distributors, micro-businesses, testing laboratories and cannabis events, according to Lori Ajax, chief of the bureau.

“Today’s launch of our online licensing system is the culmination of many months of hard work by our dedicated team,” Ajax said in a statement. “Now that applications are coming in, we can officially move one step closer to issuing California’s first state licenses for commercial cannabis activity.”

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
Sam Jammal, a Democrat running against Rep. Ed Royce, is one of four congressional challengers Democracy for America has endorsed.
Sam Jammal, a Democrat running against Rep. Ed Royce, is one of four congressional challengers Democracy for America has endorsed. (Courtesy of Sam Jammal for Congress)

More than four dozen Democrats are already running for seats in the 10 GOP-held congressional districts the minority is eyeing in California ahead of the midterm elections. Many left-leaning groups have avoided picking favorites, choosing instead to attack incumbents while they wait for the heated primaries to play out in June.

Democracy for America, the progressive political action committee started by Howard Dean, is doing things differently.

On Friday, the group announced endorsements in four California districts: 

  1. Bryan Caforio, running against Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale)
  2. Sam Jammal, running against Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton)
  3. Laura Oatman, running against Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa)
  4. Mike Levin, running against Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista)
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  • 2018 election
  • 2018 governor's race
Republican candidate for governor, John Cox, speaks to attendees of the Santa Monica Republican Women Federated Gubernatorial forum in October.
Republican candidate for governor, John Cox, speaks to attendees of the Santa Monica Republican Women Federated Gubernatorial forum in October. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox on Thursday blamed the Democrats in Sacramento for California’s most serious ills, including high levels of poverty and unaffordable housing costs.

Cox, speaking at the Public Policy Institute of California in San Francisco, promised to tamp down the clout of special interests and apply “common sense” and conservative fiscal discipline to put California back on the right path.

“This state under the current one-party crony rule has become unaffordable, especially for the middle class,” Cox said.

  • State government
State Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) is chair of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, which commissioned the study.
State Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) is chair of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, which commissioned the study. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

The state’s primary environmental law governing development doesn’t block development from actually happening, according to a state study released Thursday.

The study examined, over five years ending in 2016, how state transportation, parks and other projects were handled under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. The law requires developers to disclose and often lessen their project’s effect on the environment before proceeding with construction. The study found that 1% of projects required detailed analyses under the law and less than 1% of them were sued.

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FOR THE RECORD, 4:45 p.m.: A previous version of this post said the study evaluated state housing projects. No housing developments were examined as part of the study.
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  • California Legislature
  • California Democrats
Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), right, walks hand in hand with her spouse, Jennifer LeSar, to the rostrum when she was elected as Assembly speaker in 2014. She will be the next leader of the Senate.
Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), right, walks hand in hand with her spouse, Jennifer LeSar, to the rostrum when she was elected as Assembly speaker in 2014. She will be the next leader of the Senate. (Associated Press)

State Senate leader Kevin de León said Thursday that the Senate Democratic Caucus is supporting Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) to take over for him as Senate president pro tem in 2018 after an election in January.

De León, a Los Angeles Democrat who has served as Senate leader for nearly four years, is stepping down from the leadership position as he runs against Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the 2018 election for her seat in the U.S. Senate.

“Four years ago, our caucus elected the first Latino leader in over a century to lead the California state Senate — and, next year, Sen. Atkins will become our first ever woman to be elected Senate leader,” De León said in a statement.

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  • California in Congress

American Action Network is pushing back on the onslaught of anti-tax plan ads in California with spots urging four Republicans who voted for the GOP tax bill not to change their minds.

The six-figure digital and TV ad buy from the politically active nonprofit with ties to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) encourages people to call and thank Reps. Jeff Denham of Turlock, David Valadao of Hanford, Steve Knight of Palmdale and Mimi Walters of Irvine for their votes.

Denham and Valadao have been on board with the tax plan from the beginning, but Knight and Walters have both wavered, saying they only voted for the House plan because they received assurances that the final bill would be better for their constituents.

(Reynold / EPA/Shutterstock)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) on Thursday criticized Republicans in the California delegation for approving a tax bill that eliminated the deduction for personal losses from wildfires, earthquakes and other natural disasters, but kept the break for victims of the recent severe hurricanes.

“They actually voted for that bill,” Pelosi said during her weekly news conference. “[The members] voted to discriminate against victims of fire. We certainly want to have the deduction for victims of hurricanes and the rest, but why are they doing this to our state?”

The Senate version of the tax bill modifies, but doesn’t eliminate, the fire and earthquake deduction so it can be claimed only in the case of a federally declared disaster. Many California fires do not get that designation. It is one of the items that has to be resolved in the final bill currently being negotiated.