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Two years ago this month, The Times investigated one of the longest-lingering questions in California politics: Are some voters mistakenly joining a political party when what they really want is to be an electoral free agent?


After police killed an unarmed black man in Sacramento earlier this month, California legislators are poised to again try to loosen some of the nation’s strictest prohibitions on the release of officer shooting and misconduct investigations.

(Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images)

Former President Obama is heading to Beverly Hills in May to raise money for Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri in his first post-presidential fundraiser for a candidate, according to an invitation obtained by The Times.

The May 6 event is co-chaired by director J.J. Abrams, studio executives Jeffrey Katzenberg and Jeff Shell, sports executive Tim Leiweke, filmmaker Steven Spielberg and others.

As president, Obama appeared many times at L.A. fundraisers that raised millions of dollars for Democrats but sometimes caused traffic problems. Now that he is out of office, Obama will likely be traveling with a smaller entourage and security detail.

  • California Legislature

As the fight over California’s immigration laws intensifies, Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra on Friday released a policy guide for school officials that lays out how they can protect students from immigration enforcement on school grounds.

The guide details the steps school officials should take if federal immigration agents try to detain someone on campus, or if a child’s parents have been detained or deported. It also instructs schools on how to shield the immigration status of students and their family members, and illustrates the kinds of court records federal officials must present before entering campuses.

The policies are the result of a new state law that was part of a legislative package passed last year to safeguard immigrants here illegally from President Trump’s call for increased deportations.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions was asked Thursday by state treasurers to meet on federal marijuana policies.
U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions was asked Thursday by state treasurers to meet on federal marijuana policies. (Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

Four state treasurers including California’s John Chiang requested Thursday that U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions meet with them to find a way to allow banks to handle money from the marijuana industry in states that have authorized cannabis sales.

“This is not just a blue state phenomenon but includes purple and red states in every corner of our country,” they wrote in a letter to Sessions. “A majority of Americans now live in states where they have decided to legalize cannabis.”

Besides Chiang, who is running for governor, those requesting a meeting included the treasurers of Illinois, Oregon and Pennsylvania, as well as leaders of the marijuana industry.

  • U.S. Senate race
(Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call)

Former Vice President Joe Biden is endorsing Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s bid for a fifth full term in the Senate.

“She’s tenacious. She’s accomplished. And she’s exactly who we need in the Senate to stand up to this Administration and its Republican allies in Congress. Dianne is a dear friend, and I’m proud to endorse her re-election,” Biden said Thursday in a statement provided by Feinstein’s campaign.

Biden and Feinstein served together in the Senate, and Feinstein’s assault weapons ban was included in Biden’s Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
  • California Republicans
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) spoke at the Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting in Santa Ana Tuesday.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) spoke at the Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting in Santa Ana Tuesday. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

It’s not typical for a congressman to show up in person at a Board of Supervisors meeting. But that’s exactly what happened Wednesday, when Rep. Dana Rohrabacher spoke on a controversial matter the board was taking up Tuesday in Orange County: whether to join the Trump administration in suing California for its “sanctuary state” law.

“By making this a sanctuary city and a sanctuary state, we are doing nothing more than attracting millions of more people to come to this country,” Rohrabacher told the board. He added that a “flow of illegals” has diminished the quality of public schools, healthcare and housing for Californians. He also called immigrants in the country illegally “the greatest threat to the well-being” of county residents.

Rohrabacher’s words aren’t far off from talking points crafted more than a quarter-century ago during the campaign for Prop. 187, a ballot initiative that got its start in his coastal Orange County district and called for eliminating basic services such as healthcare and public schooling for immigrants in the country illegally. It passed, and helped propel Gov. Pete Wilson to the governorship, but was later struck down by the courts. It’s also received the brunt of the blame for the steep decline of the California Republican Party over the past couple decades.

Those young people who marched for gun control all over the country showed this: The unyielding firearms lobby is in deep trouble with the next generation.

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

With a federal legal fight over the state’s immigration laws pending, California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra released two information bulletins for law enforcement agencies on Wednesday, detailing their obligations and the new statistical data they must report to his office under state statutes.

The first provides guidance on the information that agencies must provide about their participation in task forces that involve federal agencies, as well as on the people they transfer to immigration authorities. The second describes the level of cooperation agencies are permitted to have with federal immigration officers as outlined in two state laws, the California Values Act and the Truth Act.

The Trump administration filed a federal lawsuit this month against California over state immigration laws passed last year, including the Values Act, known as the so-called sanctuary state law. It limits local law enforcement from holding and questioning immigrants for federal immigration agencies, as well as communicating information about their release dates.

  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Gubernatorial front-runner Gavin Newsom will not participate in any more debates until early May, a spokesman for his campaign said on Wednesday.

While it’s not uncommon for political candidates to scale back debate appearances when they’re ahead in the polls, the move is drawing criticism from his rivals.

"Any honest candidate wouldn't be afraid to debate the issues Californians care most about, but this is another reason why voters can't trust Gavin Newsom to lead this state as governor,” said Fabien Levy, a spokesman for state Treasurer John Chiang, another Democratic candidate in the race.