Celebrating rare cooperation between California and the Trump administration, Gov. Jerry Brown and federal officials on Friday marked the start of a more than $1.3-billion project to convert the Caltrain service between San Jose and San Francisco from diesel to electric trains.
The Brown administration, which has disagreed with Trump over issues ranging from climate change to immigration, joined congressional Democrats in aggressively lobbying the White House and U.S. Department of Transportation for federal funding of the project when it appeared to be in jeopardy.
"Today, we are recognizing a successful train [project]," Brown said at the ceremony at the Millbrae Caltrain station. "It's about the future. It's about clean air. It's about efficiency, speed. It's about not sitting on the freeway for a couple of hours bumper to bumper."
"We served our people and did our jobs as legislators by rolling back taxes, cutting regulations and protecting Californians from higher costs," wrote Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley and Assemblyman Rocky Chavez of Oceanside, two of the eight Republicans who voted for the legislation on Monday.
A California Democratic Party commission reviewing allegations of voting irregularities in the election of a new leader is expected to announce its findings on Saturday.
Democratic organizer Kimberly Ellis, who narrowly lost the race for party chair to Eric Bauman, formally challenged the election results in June. Ellis blamed her 62-vote loss on possible ballot stuffing and other voting improprieties.
Earlier this month, the party’s compliance review commission inspected the nearly 3,000 ballots cast by Democratic Party delegates and found 223 ballots that required further review — 104 were cast for Ellis and 119 for Bauman.
Following a spate of Democrats announcing runs in the 48th Congressional District, GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher now has a challenger from his own party.
Orange County businessman Stelian Onufrei, a Romanian immigrant who owns a construction business, announced Thursday that he's running against the Costa Mesa Republican.
In a statement, Onufrei, 52, called Rohrabacher an "entrenched career politician" who has "become a political lightning rod." Much of that controversy has stemmed from critiques on the left, particularly over Rohrabacher's long-held belief that the U.S. should normalize relations with Russia.
Under a ballot measure filed Thursday, California's landmark Proposition 13 property tax breaks would be extended to young homeowners who sell their residence and buy a new one.
The proposal, which aims for a spot on the November 2018 statewide ballot, would allow homeowners of any age to carry a portion of their existing property tax rate across county lines when they purchase a new house. Homeowners often are reluctant to switch houses, given that Proposition 13's cap on annual property taxes ends once they sell and move somewhere else.
"A lot of people kind of feel locked into their properties," said Alex Creel, a lobbyist for the California Assn. of Realtors, who filed the proposed initiative. "This will free up those folks."
Fallout continued Thursday over Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes' support for the cap-and-trade extension, with one of his top lieutenants resigning her leadership position in protest.
Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, from Lake Elsinore, was among the majority of Republicans who voted against the bill Monday because of concerns that it would increase gas and energy costs for Californians. In total, eight Republicans joined most of the Democrats backing the measure.
“Californians are struggling to make ends meet, and unfortunately, what I have witnessed by the Assembly Republican Leader is a dereliction of duty to preserve and promote the American Dream for every single Californian,” Melendez said in a statement.
Southern California Reps. Susan Davis, Alan Lowenthal and two other House members have been sued for displaying a rainbow flag in the hallway outside their Capitol Hill offices.
The plaintiff is Chris Sevier, an attorney who has an ongoing campaign against same-sex marriage and has also unsuccessfully sued states for the right to marry a laptop computer in order to try to make a point about rulings on same-sex marriage.
Besides Davis of San Diego and Lowenthal of Long Beach, Sevier sued Reps. Don Beyer of Virginia and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon. All are Democrats.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has made several trips to Moscow during his 15 terms in Congress.
But the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats canceled a publicly announced trip to meet with the Russian parliament last spring with little notice.
Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) told the Times on Wednesday that he decided not to go because he was worried the national focus on Russia would make it difficult to have serious conversations with Russian officials.
Under pressure from some party activists to step down, Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley met with his caucus for more than an hour Thursday and emerged saying he remains its leader.
“It’s all good. ... I'm the leader,” Mayes told reporters after the closed session meeting.
The unscheduled gathering of the 25-member Assembly Republican Caucus is not expected to relieve pressure on the leader who has been criticized for standing with Gov. Jerry Brown as he and six other Assembly Republicans voted to extend California’s cap-and-trade program.