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Gov. Jerry Brown formally mobilized 400 California National Guard members Wednesday for transnational crime-fighting duties, thus preventing any effort by President Trump to have the troops focus on immigration enforcement on the Mexican border.

The governor announced that federal officials have agreed to fund the plan he announced last week — a mission to “combat criminal gangs, human traffickers and illegal firearm and drug smugglers” in locations around California, including near the border. The order Brown signed makes clear that the troops will not be allowed to perform a broader set of duties as envisioned by Trump’s recent comments.

“California National Guard service members shall not engage in any direct law enforcement role nor enforce immigration laws, arrest people for immigration law violations, guard people taken into custody for alleged immigration violations, or support immigration law enforcement activities,” the order read.

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  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment

A California bill would prohibit employers from requiring workers to use private arbitration to settle disputes, a practice that critics say shields improper workplace conduct from public view.

The bill by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) would bar businesses from making employees, when they are hired, waive their future rights to take any harassment, discrimination or other claims to court.

“Arbitration can be a highly effective dispute resolution method when both parties can choose it freely, when both parties are equal,” Gonzalez Fletcher said at a news conference on Wednesday. “It is far less successful when the more powerful party forces the other to accept those terms, especially as a condition of employment.”

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Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), flanked by Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands) and Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) speak about DACA legislation
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), flanked by Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands) and Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) speak about DACA legislation (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Jeff Denham says at least 240 of the 430 current House members have signed onto his resolution to hold votes on four immigration bills, and he hopes House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and President Trump are paying attention to the show of support.

But, the Republican from Turlock and his allies said Wednesday that they are not yet willing to commit to forcing Ryan’s hand through a little-used procedural move called a discharge petition; they acknowledged there’s no guarantee that all of 47 Republicans and 193 Democrats House co-signers will back them up if they try to force the issue.

“I’m sure that it is something that will be discussed in the coming weeks. You should not need a discharge petition. When you can show the overwhelming majority of the House, the support of it, you should not need a discharge petition, but it is something we would talk about in the future,” Denham said. “It is far too early to talk about next steps.”

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
Gil Cisneros speaks during a forum at Fullerton College in January. In all, six Democrats are running to replace Rep. Ed Royce.
Gil Cisneros speaks during a forum at Fullerton College in January. In all, six Democrats are running to replace Rep. Ed Royce. (Kent Nishimura)

National Democrats are inching closer to weighing in on the race to replace retiring Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton).

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Wednesday added Gil Cisneros, a Democrat running for the Orange County seat, to its national “Red to Blue” program, which highlights particularly strong campaigns in crucial districts.

The only other California Democrat on the Red to Blue list is T.J. Cox, running against Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford).

  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats
  • U.S. Senate race
Tom Steyer, left, and California state Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).
Tom Steyer, left, and California state Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles). (Getty Images; Los Angeles Times)

Billionaire Democratic activist Tom Steyer is endorsing state Sen. Kevin de León in his insurgent challenge to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and did not rule out funding an outside effort to boost De León’s chances.

“I think he’s the kind of young progressive that reflects California and would be a very strong advocate for our state nationally,” Steyer said in an interview on Tuesday, pointing to De León’s efforts on issues such as immigration, climate change and gun control while he was the state Senate leader. “I know him well and he’s a friend. We share a lot of values.”

Steyer, who flirted with running for the Senate seat, did not criticize Feinstein as he has in the past.

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The California Public Employees' Retirement System building
The California Public Employees' Retirement System building (Max Whittaker / Getty Images)

As part of a shift toward less optimistic expectations for investment returns to pay for government worker pensions, board members of the California Public Employees Retirement System voted Tuesday to require an almost $6.3-billion payment from the state budget in the fiscal year that begins on July 1.

The action, which could receive final approval on Wednesday, reflects a gradually higher annual contribution to public employee pensions by the state and from local governments across California. In 2016, CalPERS approved a half-percentage point decrease in its official estimate of the long-term investment return on its $353.3-billion portfolio. That shift was designed to happen over several years, in hopes it would lessen the financial shock of shifting more of the costs onto government employers. The highest costs are also, in part, a reflection of increases in the size of the state’s payroll.

The state’s CalPERS payment will be about $450 million more than the total paid in the current fiscal year and more than double what it was only a decade ago.

  • State government
Marijuana on display at a dispensary in Los Angeles.
Marijuana on display at a dispensary in Los Angeles. (Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images)

The state issued a warning Tuesday that businesses holding licenses to sell marijuana could face penalties if they participate in unlicensed temporary events away from their stores, including on Friday, April 20, which has become an annual celebration for counterculture groups.

The warning was issued ahead of 4/20 by the state Bureau of Cannabis Control. Since Jan. 1, the bureau has issued more than 700 state licenses to sell marijuana for medical or recreational use.

The bureau has issued 47 temporary event licenses to groups that are limited to holding the marijuana celebrations on county fairgrounds that have authorized such events with city approval.

Los Angeles Police Department recruits at a graduation ceremony in April
Los Angeles Police Department recruits at a graduation ceremony in April (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Some major law enforcement groups signaled Tuesday they are willing to support making part of police officer disciplinary records public, a dramatic departure from their past positions.

Local and national attention on police shootings and misconduct has led law enforcement organizations to reconsider their blanket opposition to proposals that would give public access to some internal disciplinary investigations of officers.

“We're going to be open to supporting efforts that would allow for some records to be released,” said Ryan Sherman, a lobbyist with the Riverside Sheriff’s Assn.

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  • California Legislature
  • California Democrats
Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove prepares for the oath of office from Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon with her husband, Austin Dove.
Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove prepares for the oath of office from Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon with her husband, Austin Dove. (California Assembly Democrats)

Two weeks after winning a Los Angeles special election, the newest member of the California Assembly says she hopes to focus on reforms to the state’s criminal justice system during her time in Sacramento.

Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles) took the oath of office on Monday, filling one of three vacant seats representing Los Angeles County in the lower house. The Democrat, a former community college trustee and legislative staffer, thanked her mentors in remarks from the Assembly rostrum.

“So many women, and in my life so many black women, have paid in giving me the kind of morals and integrity and grit that is required to fight on behalf of people that you know, and people that you don’t know,” she said.

Aaliyah Smith marches with her cousins.
Aaliyah Smith marches with her cousins. (Jazmine Ulloa / Los Angeles Times)

Her father, uncle, a cousin and two older brothers. Those are some of the family members 16-year-old Aaliyah Smith has lost to gun violence. Then there are her friends.

Jermaine Jackson Jr., 27, was shot and killed in 2016 while he painted over graffiti in San Francisco. Toriano “Tito” Adger, 18, was shot there a year later at a bus stop. He called Smith, who was nearby, and warned her to run. She made it inside a library moments before the crack of gunfire.

Last week, Smith was among hundreds who gathered in Sacramento for annual National Crime Victims’ Rights Week events, where calls were issued for a new approach to criminal justice and public safety in California, one that puts survivors at the center of policy. But a debate is brewing over what that entails.