Billionaire Democratic political activist Tom Steyer on Monday announced his support for Proposition 67, a ballot measure that will let voters decide whether to uphold or overturn a 2014 law imposing a statewide ban on plastic bags.
The ban on single-use plastic bags in grocery stores was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, but a trade group opposing the ban was able to qualify a referendum in early 2015, putting the law before voters this November. Voters who choose “yes” will be ratifying that law.
Steyer is a politically powerful environmentalist and former hedge fund manager who has spent millions to elect Democrats. He joins a slew of environmental groups, like the Surfrider Foundation, that support the ban.
The state Assembly on Monday approved new safety standards for charter buses in reaction to a 2014 accident that killed eight Los Angeles-area high school students on a trip to visit Northern California colleges.
The 2014 accident occurred when a tractor trailer drifted across the median of Interstate 5 near Orland and hit the charter school bus, disabling the bus door and causing diesel fuel from the truck to spray into the bus and ignite.
The bill by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) would require that charter bus vehicles designed to carry 39 or more passengers and made after July 1, 2020 be equipped with emergency lighting that will turn on in the event of a collision.
Relatively no part of California state government is more complex than the way public schools are funded, so much so that it used to be said only two people knew how the complex funding formulas worked.
One of those people, Rick Simpson, is retiring as a top staffer in the Legislature after 38 years.
Simpson announced his retirement on Monday, to take effect when the Legislature adjourns at the end of the month.
Pharmaceutical companies have contributed more than $16 million this month to oppose a ballot measure that aims to limit the price the state pays for prescription drugs.
The contributions were reported in campaign finance filings Friday.
Earlier last week, state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) announced he would pull his drug pricing transparency bill. With Hernandez’s legislation, SB 1010, out of the picture, the fight over regulating prescription drug costs has shifted to the ballot measure, Proposition 61.
The Senate on Monday will take up a bill by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) that seeks to expand overtime pay for farmworkers in California.
Although the bill is likely to pass in the liberal upper house, a showdown is expected among Gonzalez's colleagues in the Assembly, where demographics have changed, but powerful agricultural interests remain.
Supporters of the bill say it would correct a wrong inflicted on farmworkers nearly eight decades ago, when they were first excluded from a federal law implementing minimum wage and overtime standards. Opponents say it will saddle farmers with higher costs and spur growers to leave the state.
With less than two weeks to go in the state's legislative session, the big item still on the agenda for Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers is extending California's climate change goals beyond 2020.
But mounting pushback is coming from a number of lawmakers, particularly Democrats in the Assembly, who are arguing that climate change programs must to do more for poor communities of color. Their criticism that has become increasingly pointed.
For months, powerful interest groups battled behind the scenes at the state Capitol over a plan to require new disclosure over the price of prescription drugs. But the bill was officially killed this week, the victim of amendments crafted in private that weakened its efforts at transparency.
On this week's California Politics Podcast, we discuss the collapse of talks over drug price transparency and how it might impact a Nov. 8 ballot measure on the same topic.
We also take a close look at the latest negotiations on a new climate change law and some of the clashes it's sparked between Democrats.
A casino operator has hired former Rep. Gary Condit's firm to lobby the state Legislature at a time when the legislative panel overseeing gambling issues is chaired by Condit’s son-in-law.
Condit is a founder of BBC Public Affairs, which a state filing shows was hired Aug. 2 by the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians in Temecula to lobby in Sacramento on “utility/energy” issues. The hire came just before Condit's son-in-law, Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced), proposed changes to his bill legalizing Internet poker in California in a way that specifically addressed concerns by Pechanga.
A Pechanga representative, Jacob Mejia, said there is no relationship between the hiring of BBC and the tribe’s efforts to get Gray to change his bill. He said the tribe hired one of Condit's partners -- Kelly Boyd -- before she joined the former congressman in starting a new lobbying firm.