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(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A slight majority of California voters oppose Proposition 6, the November ballot measure that would repeal increases to the state gas tax and vehicle registration fees to pay for improvements to roads, bridges and mass transit, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The statewide survey found that 52% of likely voters who were read the ballot title and label said they would vote against the initiative, 39% would vote in favor of the measure and 8% are undecided, said the nonpartisan research group headquartered in San Francisco.

Half of Republican voters said they would vote for the measure, while it garnered support from 42% of independents and 33% of Democrats, the survey said.

  • Governor's race
Gubernatorial candidates John Cox, left, and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom before a debate at UCLA in January.
Gubernatorial candidates John Cox, left, and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom before a debate at UCLA in January. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Voter support for Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox rose enough over the summer to cut front-runner Democrat Gavin Newsom’s lead in half, according to a new poll by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.

Newsom, California’s two-term lieutenant governor, still remains solidly ahead in the race, but Cox managed to pick up more support from independents and a smidgen of Democrats since July, the survey showed.

Those gains for Cox were enough to cut Newsom’s lead to 12 percentage points, compared with 24 percentage points in July.

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  • California Legislature
The gun department in a sporting goods store in Arlington, Va., in March
The gun department in a sporting goods store in Arlington, Va., in March (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed a bill that will make it harder for Californians to obtain concealed gun permits, but he vetoed a proposal that would have expanded the number of people who could petition the courts for an order removing firearms from those thought to be dangerous.

State law currently allows police officers and immediate family members to ask a judge for a “gun violence restraining order” that temporarily removes weapons from people deemed a risk to themselves or others.

On Wednesday, Brown vetoed a bill by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) that would have also allowed teachers, college professors, employers and co-workers to petition for a court order.

State Sen. Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) speaks at the Capitol in Sacramento in August.
State Sen. Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) speaks at the Capitol in Sacramento in August. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

State Sen. Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) was reprimanded by the Senate this week after an investigation found he probably threatened to “bitch slap” a female lobbyist, according to documents released on Tuesday.

Stephanie Roberson, a lobbyist with the California Nurses Assn., filed a complaint in August alleging that Anderson threatened and made harassing comments to her at a Capitol-area bar.

The resulting legislative investigation found that Anderson had consumed alcoholic drinks in the lead-up to the encounter and that during the course of his interaction with Roberson, he likely became “increasingly agitated.”

The campaign against an initiative that would repeal increases to California’s gas tax launched its first television ad on Monday, asserting that Proposition 6 will put the safety of motorists in jeopardy by taking away road and bridge repair funds.

Armed with more than $30 million in contributions from the construction industry, unions and others, the campaign made a major TV buy to begin airing the ads Monday on the broadcast stations in Los Angeles, as well as other regions of the state.

The campaign has tailored different versions of the ad to address issues in each area of the state in which it runs.

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  • Politics podcast

California’s fall election for the U.S. Senate, already a nasty intraparty fight between two Democrats, now finds itself another place where the debate over Judge Brett Kavanaugh is at center stage.

On this week’s podcast episode, we take a look at Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s central role in shepherding the allegation against the Supreme Court nominee. It is a role that her challenger, state Sen. Kevin de León, has sharply criticized.

We also look at some key bill signings by Gov. Jerry Brown, including his decision to back a reduction in the use of plastic straws and the sweeping $1-billion fire prevention proposal he signed into law last week.

  • State government
  • California Legislature
Dr George Ma draws blood from patient Ben Loya. Nearly three-quarters of his Chinatown office's patients are covered by Medi-Cal.
Dr George Ma draws blood from patient Ben Loya. Nearly three-quarters of his Chinatown office's patients are covered by Medi-Cal. (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

California will formally forbid the sale of short-term health plans and work requirements for those who receive subsidized healthcare, under laws signed on Saturday by Gov. Jerry Brown, with both proposals crafted as sharp rejoinders to efforts by the Trump administration.

Senate Bill 1108 by state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) will make clear that the purpose of Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid, is to provide healthcare to low-income Californians. Other benefits that could be offered by the state, such as work or housing assistance, would have to be voluntary, not a requirement in order to receive medical coverage.

As a left-leaning state that has embraced the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, California is unlikely to pursue work requirements for that program. But with the Trump administration backing efforts by a handful of states to impose such requirements, backers of the measure said it was important to enshrine in state law that California would not do the same.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday vetoed five bills to add to the DMV's workload.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday vetoed five bills to add to the DMV's workload. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

With the Department of Motor Vehicles under fire for hours-long wait times, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday vetoed five bills that would have given the agency new tasks, including a measure aimed at gauging the scope of the drugged driving problem in California.

“Reducing wait times in field offices and addressing the urgent needs of customers is the top priority,” Brown wrote in his veto message. “The programming required to implement these bills will delay the department’s ability to fully modernize its aging information technology systems.”

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Gov. Jerry Brown signs 15 housing laws in 2017 in San Francisco.
Gov. Jerry Brown signs 15 housing laws in 2017 in San Francisco. (Eric Risberg / Associated Press)

Earlier this week, the city of Cupertino approved a massive new housing, retail and office project on the site of a mostly empty mall.

The project had been stalled for years, and only moved forward with the help of new state legislation designed to force cities and counties to approve developments that met underlying zoning rules.

The decision in Cupertino, the home of Apple, is probably the biggest demonstrable effect so far of the package of 15 bills Gov. Jerry Brown signed in 2017, which were billed as the state Legislature’s most robust response to the state’s housing affordability problems in recent memory.

To hear Katie Porter tell it, she’s just your average Orange County mom, clipping coupons, shopping specials at the supermarket and puttering about with three kids in a Toyota minivan that’s pushing 120,000 miles.