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  • Politics podcast

On an issue where the stakes were already high, California elected officials have ramped up their criticism of a promised crackdown on illegal immigration and lack of action on Capitol Hill in solving the problem facing hundreds of thousands of young residents.

This week’s California Politics Podcast takes a closer look at threats by President Trump’s administration to conduct raids in search of those in the country illegally, and the political stalemate over the status of so-called Dreamers.

We also discuss the likely measures which will earn a spot on the November statewide ballot. And we examine whether statewide races for positions other than governor or U.S. senator will be able to break through by the time of the primary election in June.

  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats

California billionaire Tom Steyer announced recently that he won’t be running for U.S. Senate or governor this year. But that certainly doesn’t mean he’s stepping out of the political spotlight.

Speaking to protesters at the Women’s March in Chicago, Steyer urged the crowd to get more politically involved.

“This year is different. This year we have to be more purposeful,” said Steyer, wearing a white sweatshirt with the words “NEED TO IMPEACH” emblazoned on the front. “Because in 10 months, there are going to be 435 congressional seats up … and that means we are going to have to be more organized, we are going to have to be engaged, and we are going to have to go to the polls and flip those seats.”

  • California in Congress

As Democrats and Republicans each try to blame the other party (and President Trump) over what looks likely to be a government shutdown, look no further than California’s delegation for the split. 

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) retweeted a critical post from Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2013, when Republicans led a 16-day shutdown in their failed bid to repeal Obamacare.

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra filed a friend-of-the-court brief Friday to support mandatory union fees for public employees.

The brief was filed in opposition to the case of Mark Janus, an Illinois state employee who objects to paying fees to a union that supports collective bargaining that affects him. His case is being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Becerra’s brief asserts that collective bargaining serves important state interests and that cost-sharing among employees represented by the union is an integral part of the collective bargaining system.

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
  • Governor's race
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (Jenna Schoenefeld / For The Times)

The California Professional Firefighters on Friday endorsed Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for governor, praising Newsom’s support for firefighters while he served as mayor of San Francisco.

The union, which represents 30,000 first responders in California, also took a subtle shot at one of Newsom’s Democratic rivals in the governor’s race, Antonio Villaraigosa. While Villaraigosa served as mayor of Los Angeles, the city fire department underwent a period of steep budget cuts and staff reductions as the city struggled financially during the recession, drawing criticism from the city’s firefighters union.

“At a time when California faces a grave and growing threat from fire and other natural disaster, it’s essential that the next governor offer more than lip service to public safety,” Lou Paulson, president of California Professional Firefighters, said in a statement released Friday. “Throughout his public life, Gavin Newsom has built a record of standing up for public safety and the men and women on the front lines, even in tough times. He has earned our endorsement.”

  • State government
A customer test sniffs the cannabis at the MedMen dispensary in West Hollywood this month.
A customer test sniffs the cannabis at the MedMen dispensary in West Hollywood this month. (Eugene Garcia/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

A citizens panel that is helping to set rules for the marijuana industry in California has agreed to examine the impact of taxes that some growers and sellers have complained are too high.

The state Cannabis Advisory Committee, after lengthy debate, also decided Thursday to create a subcommittee to look into how legalized marijuana affects public health and young people.

Three weeks after the state began permitting medical and recreational marijuana firms, some 710 licenses have been issued by the state Bureau of Cannabis Control for distribution and sale, and 2,036 other applications are pending.

(Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein gave conflicting signals Thursday about how she will vote on a short-term spending bill to keep the government open.

The bill passed the house Thursday evening but will face a tighter margin in the Senate, where Republicans need at least some Democrats’ votes to get the 60 needed to pass the bill.

On Tuesday, Feinstein’s staff said she planned to vote “no” unless Congress reaches a deal to address the legal status of people brought to the country illegally as children. And Thursday morning, Feinstein’s office released a statement affirming that position.