State Democrats remain short of the votes they need to pass a key part of the package of legislation aimed at addressing California's housing crisis.
Three Democrats in the Assembly told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday afternoon they remained undecided on Senate Bill 2, a measure that would add a $75 fee on many real estate transactions to fund low-income housing development.
SB 2 requires a two-thirds supermajority vote of the Assembly to pass. Assuming no support comes from Republican lawmakers, Assembly Democrats can't afford to lose any members of their caucus.
Sixty-one percent of voters said they didn't like the idea of switching to a system of "voter centers" and all-mail ballots, according to the poll released on Tuesday by UC Davis' California Civic Engagement Project.
"Voters are not initially receptive to vote centers," said Mindy Romero, the project's founder, during a presentation in Sacramento.
With negotiations heading down to the wire on California's so-called "sanctuary state" legislation, more than a dozen faith leaders poured into Gov. Jerry Brown's office Tuesday to show their support for immigrants who are in the country illegally.
In what they called "an act of civil disobedience," members of the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity peacefully occupied the space and held a prayer service. The group read Scriptures, sang songs and told stories of parishioners who they said were living in fear under the Trump administration's expanded deportation orders.
"Gov. Brown, join our service," said Sarah Lee, an organizer with Interfaith Movement. "We are here to stand with you in courage."
A cadre of Democratic state senators are pushing to spend nearly $1 billion over the next year to replace diesel trucks, buses and other vehicles with cleaner versions.
A chunk of the money would come from California's cap-and-trade program, which lawmakers agreed to extend last month. The program requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gases, and the state can use the revenue on initiatives that further reduce emissions.
"You are looking definitely at California's future," Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) said at a Tuesday news conference as nine trucks and buses, some powered only by electricity, lined up behind him outside the Capitol.
U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) endorsed Antonio Villaraigosa’s gubernatorial bid on Tuesday, arguing that his record of fighting for equal rights over the four decades she has known him demonstrates he would be the best candidate in the 2018 race to lead all Californians.
“What a governor he will be,” Bass said. “Antonio is working to lift up this state so everyone everywhere has equal opportunities. So good jobs are not just for people in Silicon Valley or Silicon Beach, but for everyone. So good schools are not just in wealthy neighborhoods, but for everyone, everywhere. So we are not a wealthy coast and a struggling inland, but one California [where] every single one of us has a chance to learn and earn.”
Bass is the third former Assembly speaker to endorse Villaraigosa, who also held that post before he was elected mayor of Los Angeles. The current speaker, Anthony Rendon, has backed Treasurer John Chiang for governor.
SB 2 from state Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) would charge a $75 fee on mortgage refinances and other real estate transactions and funnel the money to housing subsides. The fee, which would raise roughly $250 million a year, wouldn’t be charged on home or commercial property sales.
Under the changes made to the bill Tuesday, local governments will receive half the money in the first year to update blueprints that guide neighborhood development to speed up community planning. The state Department of Housing and Community Development would receive the remainder to fund homeless housing efforts. In later years, the state would award most of the dollars to cities and counties to finance the construction of low-income housing development.
For decades in California, local tax increases to finance school, transit, road and other specific improvements have needed to clear a high bar: a two-thirds super-majority of voters.
But a California Supreme Court ruling on Monday has led some to argue that's changed, making tax hikes easier to pass. The court decided that local tax proposals from citizen groups put on the ballot via initiative should be treated differently than those pitched by local elected officials. By that logic, the two-thirds threshold may no longer apply to tax initiatives, which now could possibly pass with a simple majority.
No consensus has emerged yet, however, on if the ruling is that far-reaching. The attorney who won the case said the voter threshold for tax increases has not changed.