675 posts
U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions rescinded a policy that had allowed states to license pot shops without federal enforcement
U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions rescinded a policy that had allowed states to license pot shops without federal enforcement (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

Days after California began issuing licenses for marijuana sales, state leaders were preparing Thursday for possible political and legal battles in response to a decision by U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to rescind a federal policy that has allowed dispensaries to operate without fear of prosecution.

Officials from the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown and California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said they are prepared to defend state laws including Proposition 64, the initiative approved by California voters in November 2016 that allows possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use.

“In California, we decided it was best to regulate, not criminalize, cannabis. Unlike others, we embrace, not fear, change. After all, this is 2018 not the 20th century,” Becerra said. “At the California Department of Justice we intend to vigorously enforce our state's laws and protect our state's interests.”

  • State government
Oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
Oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. (Los Angeles Times)

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday criticized plans by President Trump’s administration to expand offshore oil and gas drilling.

“For more than 30 years, our shared coastline has been protected from further federal drilling and we’ll do whatever it takes to stop this reckless, short-sighted action,” Brown said in a joint statement with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

The three Democratic governors said the president’s proposal, which would open up federal lease sales off the California coast for the first time since 1984, ignores prior harm from offshore spills and the need to reduce fossil fuel dependence in the face of climate change.

  • California Legislature
Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell)
Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Looking to combat the opioid abuse epidemic, a Silicon Valley legislator has introduced a slate of bills meant to clamp down on access to highly addictive prescription drugs.

Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) authored three measures meant to provide a better understanding of patients’ access to these medications, building on an existing state database tracking prescriptions in California.

“I don’t think there’s enough attention at the issue at hand, which is the system is not working,” Low said.

Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine)
Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)

The Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC hoping to defend vulnerable GOP members in the midterm, is setting up shop in a fifth California district. 

The group, which launched four other offices in California last year, recently added Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) to its program. Walters is one of the Democrats’ top targets heading into this year’s midterm, despite having won by 18 percentage points in 2016.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, which is endorsed by House GOP leaders, is trying to counteract the barrage of ads and protests from the left that have targeted GOP members, particularly on their votes to curtail the Affordable Care Act and pass the controversial tax bill. 

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), right, shakes hands with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), right, shakes hands with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. (Douglas Graham)

Central Valley Rep. Jeff Denham is being more open about his desire to lead the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“This is a committee I’ve really shown a great deal of leadership on, but as chairman I’ll be in a better position to fight for California’s needs as well as [needs] across the country,” said Denham, a Republican from Turlock.

Denham isn’t the most senior member of the committee, but the GOP weighs more than seniority in deciding who gets the gavel.

  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Faced with the threat of an embarrassing Senate vote to suspend him, state Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) agreed Wednesday to take a one-month paid leave of absence. 

Mendoza said he made the decision after a four-hour closed session with Senate Democrats who were considering a rare vote of suspension because of concern over allegations that he harassed three former aides.

“I thought that to accommodate that and to take away any appearance of impropriety or any appearance of giving any special influence, I have decided I will take a leave of absence for this month to allow the investigation to move forward,” he said, adding he will return Feb. 1 or when the investigation is completed, whichever comes first.

  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Gubernatorial candidate John Chiang’s longtime political advisor has resigned after new consultants were hired to change the direction of the race the state treasurer is running, a campaign official said on Wednesday.

The person, who spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity to freely discuss internal personnel moves, said Parke Skelton decided to leave the campaign after new consultants were hired around the end of the year.

“The campaign was planning on making a change in direction a little bit after the first of the year — ramp up the team, build capacity and bring in additional talent with the intention of collaboration,” the official said. “Somewhere along that line, Parke made the decision he wanted to resign. It’s unfortunate because that wasn’t the intention.”

  • California Legislature

Amid jubilant cheers and applause, Wendy Carrillo took to the Assembly floor for the first time Wednesday, thanking her parents in Spanish and pledging to work for every person who calls California home.

“I recognize that we must protect … our most vulnerable in our society and those whose voices ought to be amplified,” she said. 

The daughter of immigrants and a former radio show host, Carrillo became the newest member of the state Assembly after she won a special election in Los Angeles in December. She will serve out the term of former Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, who was elected to Congress last year in his own special election to replace Xavier Becerra, who was appointed state attorney general.

  • California Legislature
(PR Newswire)

A new bill in the state Legislature would prohibit the sale of any gasoline-powered car in California after 2040.

The measure, AB 1745, from Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) would only allow zero-emission vehicles to be sold after Jan. 1, 2040. Ting said the bill is necessary to meet California’s pollution reduction goals.

“California has long led the nation in promoting environmental protection and public health through visionary policies and technological innovations,” Ting said in a statement. “It’s time that we clear the path for emissions-free transportation and take significant steps to achieve our ambitious emissions reduction goals.”