This is Essential Politics, our daily look at California political and government news. Here's what we're watching right now:
- Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislators went to Concord Thursday to tout their transportation package, which they unveiled Wednesday at the state Capitol.
- Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León amended his "sanctuary state" bill Thursday morning to allow law enforcement to notify federal immigration officials about the release of violent felons.
- Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones hosted a community forum on immigration Tuesday, where the guest speaker was the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
A month after proposing a single-payer healthcare system for California, State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) announced Tuesday he'll run for state insurance commissioner in 2018.
Lara is one of four Democrats who has filed papers to begin fundraising for a possible candidacy. In his announcement, Lara said strong leadership is needed at a time when President Trump is seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
"I'm running to be California's next state insurance commissioner because I believe at my core that California needs a strong defender, and a counterpuncher, who will stand up to fight our bullying President, Donald Trump, and his increasingly reckless federal government on issues from healthcare access to economic security and more,” Lara said in a statement.
In addition to proposing a single-payer system for the state, Lara, who is the son of immigrants, won approval for legislation that provides healthcare coverage for children who are in the state illegally. He has also pressed for coverage for adult immigrants willing to pay for their insurance.
Lara, 42, graduated from San Diego State University with a double major in journalism and Spanish. He served in the Assembly for two years before winning election to the state Senate in 2012. He has served as chairman of the California Latino Legislative Caucus and is vice chairman of the California Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus.
Other prospective candidates who have filed fundraising papers for the insurance commissioner race include former Democratic Assembly members Susan Bonilla and Henry Perea, and Paul Song, a Santa Monica radiation oncologist and former leader of the California progressive group Courage Campaign.