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Essential Politics: Trump’s Texas moment of truth

The size and seriousness of a natural disaster can change the trajectory of political debate. But what’s happening in flood-ravaged Texas is extraordinary and would test even the most even-keeled presidential administration.

That’s not what most have seen in the first seven months from President Trump.

Good morning from the state capital. I’m Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers, and as California rescue officials head to the Lone Star state lend a hand, it’s far from clear just how much worse things will get there before they get better.

And into the region on Tuesday flew the president.

TRUMP’S LOOK AT TEXAS

Our colleague Hailey Branson-Potts had a great line in her coverage of Trump’s trip to Corpus Christi — that he was greeted by "a mix of well-wishers and protesters, both thrilled and furious he was here."

For a president who’s rarely skipped an opportunity to take a victory lap, his tone in speaking with Texas elected officials on Tuesday was more subdued.

"We’ll congratulate each other when it’s all finished," Trump said.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is promising up to 30,000 troops are prepared to assist in response to Harvey’s aftermath.

As always, we’ll keep track of the latest political implications of the storm’s aftermath on our Essential Washington news feed.

And of course, helping those in need tops everything else. Here’s how you can chip in.

WEDNESDAY’S POLITICAL ROUNDUP

-- "All options are on the table," said the president, after North Korea launched a missile that flew over the northernmost region of Japan.

-- Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is taking some heat for a vote he took four years ago against helping victims of a different storm.

-- Trump offered an emphatic defense on Monday of his pardon for former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio during an event with the president of Finland.

-- Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday said President Trump should work to unite and heal the country.

-- The man now embroiled in the Trump-Russia investigation was once an FBI informant.

-- Hillary Clinton’s book tour will bring her to the campus of UC Davis in October. Oh, and this time she’s also going to Wisconsin.

2018 BALLOT: ALL EGGS CAGE-FREE?

While it’s been awfully quiet for most of the summer when it comes to groups eyeing a California ballot measure next fall, a high-profile effort was introduced on Tuesday.

And this one is all about your grocery store shelves: a measure to require, among other things, all eggs sold in the state be "cage free."

The initiative’s language, drafted by the Humane Society of the United States, addresses the group’s concerns that 2008’s Proposition 2 — which required hens to have more room in their habitats -- did not achieve the right conditions for farm animals, including pigs and calves.

LEGISLATURE INCHES TOWARD A HOUSING DEAL

As the clock ticks toward the final day of this year’s legislative session in Sacramento, no issue is bigger or more closely watched than the handful of bills designed to take a first stab at California’s housing crisis.

On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders agreed to support a $4-billion housing bond for the 2018 ballot.

On Tuesday morning, key legislation was amended to give cities and counties more control over housing dollars. But some Democrats in the Assembly whose votes are needed to pass that bill remain undecided.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is joining with mayors of other large California cities at the state Capitol later today to press for action.

FROM THE COURT FILES

There have been two notable court rulings this week that could have major impact on local politics across the Golden State.

In Sacramento, a judge nixed a law that would have allowed public, taxpayer financing of some local political campaigns in California.

Elsewhere, the California Supreme Court appears to have dealt a setback to those who believe tax increases to finance school, transit, road and other specific improvements must be approved on local ballots by a supermajority of voters. Though the effect of the ruling is unclear, legislative Republicans are expected later today to roll out a plan to revamp the law.

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

-- A survey commissioned by a UC Davis research institute said 61% of voters don’t like the new state law that would allow counties to switch almost all of their voting to absentee ballots.

-- The University of California is under pressure to cancel an event next month headlined by conservative activist Milo Yiannopoulos after recent violence on and around the Berkeley campus.

-- Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger lauded fellow Republican Chad Mayes on Monday, after Mayes lost his state Assembly leadership post for backing cap-and-trade legislation championed by Democrats.

-- A state Senate committee called on police on Tuesday to treat violent acts by white supremacist groups as terror attacks.

-- The violent approach of “antifa” groups sparks some soul-searching within the anti-Trump community.

-- With roughly $1.4 billion in cap-and-trade funding up for grabs this year, a group of state senators said Tuesday much of the money should be used for incentives to phase out diesel trucks, buses and other vehicles. "It’s time to ditch diesel," said Berkeley state Sen. Nancy Skinner.

-- The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to end a ban on the sale of “ultracompact” firearms, rolling back the rule in the face of legal threats from gun rights groups.

-- In what they called a civil act of disobedience, immigrant advocates on Tuesday held a prayer service in the governor’s office to support "sanctuary state" legislation.

-- The future of national healthcare policy has inspired two new challengers for Rep. Jeff Denham. Small business owner Virginia Madueño and emergency room nurse Sue Zwahlen each have announced bids for the state’s 10th Congressional District.

-- A new endorsement in the race for governor, as Rep. Karen Bass threw her support behind former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in next year’s contest.

LOGISTICS

Essential Politics is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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john.myers@latimes.com

Follow me on Twitter at @johnmyers and listen to the weekly California Politics Podcast

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