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Former State Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) wants a recount after her election loss.
Former State Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) wants a recount after her election loss. (Marc Martin / Los Angeles Times)

Days after Democrat Tom Umberg took the oath of office as the winner of the state’s 34th Senate District seat, Orange County elections officials said Friday that Republican incumbent Janet Nguyen’s camp has asked for a partial recount of the tally in their portion of the district.

Districtwide, Umberg has 3,088 votes more than Nguyen, a Garden Grove resident, but Nguyen received two more votes than the challenger in Orange County — 118,125 for Nguyen to 118,123 for Umberg.

The district also includes part of Long Beach in Los Angeles County, which put Umberg, a former state assemblyman from Santa Ana, over the top in the Nov. 6 election.

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  • California Democrats

Gavin Newsom will be sworn in as California’s next governor in an outdoor ceremony on the steps of the Capitol next month. 

New details on the Jan. 7 inauguration were released Thursday and suggest a wider range of festivities than the last, no-frills gubernatorial induction.

The day before the inauguration, Newsom and his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, will hold a children’s event at the California State Railroad Museum.

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  • State government

Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom has hired a civil rights attorney to head legal affairs as he continues to shape the starting roster of his new administration. 

Catherine E. Lhamon currently serves as the chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a position former President Obama appointed her to in 2016.

As Newsom’s in-house lawyer, a legal affairs secretary traditionally advises the governor on legislation and judicial appointments, crafts guidance for the executive branch and oversees pardons and paroles, among other duties.

  • State government

California Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom is expected to hire a seasoned legislative staffer as his top liaison with the Legislature. 

Anthony Williams will serve as Newsom’s legislative secretary, according to sources close to the transition. The move brings Williams, a director of government relations for Boeing Co., back on the state payroll. 

Williams was previously policy director and special counsel to former California Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg before going to work for Boeing. He also served as principal consultant to former Senate Pro Tem John Burton. 

Northern California’s recent wildfires have burned homes at a greater pace than developers are building them, deepening a housing shortage that already has left millions struggling to find affordable places to live.

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State Sen. Benjamin Allen (D-Santa Monica)
State Sen. Benjamin Allen (D-Santa Monica) (Kirk McKoy)

A new bill would allow the state to issue bonds and borrow money from investors to finance projects that reduce wildfire risks in California. 

State Sen. Benjamin Allen (D-Santa Monica) introduced the Wildfire, Drought and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2020 as another tool the state can use to offset a pattern of increasingly destructive and deadly blazes. 

“This year’s deadly wildfires, on the heels of last year’s catastrophic events and a devastating multi-year drought, clearly demonstrate that the impacts of climate change are here now and we need to be prepared,” Allen said in a statement. “This legislation sets a course to reduce the impacts of rising global temperatures and invest in necessary measures to protect communities.”

  • California Legislature
  • California Democrats
(Daniel Acker / Bloomberg)

After years of trying, two California lawmakers are once again attempting to eliminate sales taxes on diapers and tampons.

Democratic Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher of San Diego and Cristina Garcia of Bell Gardens have reintroduced bills to exempt purchasers from paying sales tax on the products.

“Every baby needs diapers,” Gonzalez Fletcher said in a statement about Assembly Bill 66. “The fact that we tax diapers is unfair and it’s a burdensome tax that hurts working class and middle class families.”

  • Ballot measures
  • California Legislature
The Capitol building in Sacramento.
The Capitol building in Sacramento. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

California’s elected tax collection board was troubled by allegations of botched handling of funds, excessive spending on furniture and nepotism before it was stripped of many of its duties last year by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature.

Now, one lawmaker wants to abolish the state Board of Equalization, and shift its remaining duties to an agency of civil service employees.

Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-North Hollywood) introduced legislation on Monday that would ask California voters in 2020 to amend the state Constitution to eliminate the elected board, which was created in 1879.

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  • California Legislature
A bicyclist passes by construction in downtown Los Angeles.
A bicyclist passes by construction in downtown Los Angeles. (Christina House / For The Times)

Low-income housing developments in California could receive a continued infusion of public subsidies under proposals unveiled this week by state lawmakers.

Multiple new bills call for new funding for low-income housing through a revival of an urban redevelopment program and by increasing tax credits to fund new projects. Legislators have failed to pass versions of the same measures in years past, but have new hopes because Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom campaigned on spending more money on housing. They also point out the state budget’s bottom line remains strong.

“Our housing crisis is dire and persistent, and our state must be just as aggressive and persistent in order to solve it,” Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) said in a statement. “With a new governor and an extraordinary budget surplus, now is the time to make significant, ongoing investments in affordable housing.”

California law gives children who inherit their parents’ homes a tax break that keeps their property taxes low — even if the heirs don’t live there.