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675 posts
  • State government
  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment
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  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment
Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore)
Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A bill to extend whistle-blower protections to Capitol staffers that had been repeatedly shelved in previous years cleared the Legislature on Monday and is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

The legislation by Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) would protect legislative employees who report legal or ethical violations, including sexual harassment, by fellow staff or lawmakers.

“No one should have to decide between keeping their job and reporting abuse,” Melendez said while presenting the measure, Assembly Bill 403, on the Assembly floor. It passed on a 74-0 vote to applause in the chamber.

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  • California Legislature
State Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys)
State Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A state senator from Los Angeles wants to increase taxes on legal, consulting, accounting and other service work and use the money to cut other taxes and upgrade state infrastructure. 

State Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) has introduced versions of the legislation for years in a bid to help insulate the state from boom-and-bust cycles in revenue drawn from relying heavily on income tax payments from the wealthiest Californians.

His current proposal, Senate Bill 993, is different from prior failed attempts because the recent federal tax overhaul provides new urgency to address California’s tax structure, Hertzberg said in a press release.

  • California Legislature
A state lawmaker wants to allow marijuana products to be sold and consumed at temporary special events including festivals.
A state lawmaker wants to allow marijuana products to be sold and consumed at temporary special events including festivals. (Los Angeles Times)

A state lawmaker wants the state to relax its policies prohibiting organizers of festivals and other special events in California from allowing marijuana sales and use unless the event is at a county fairground.

Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) said Monday he introduced a bill on behalf of the city of Oakland, which wants marijuana sales to be allowed at its annual Art and Soul Festival this summer.

“These events support local economies and small businesses,” Quirk said in a statement.

Paul Gann, left, and Howard Jarvis, the author of Proposition 13, hold up their hands.
Paul Gann, left, and Howard Jarvis, the author of Proposition 13, hold up their hands. (Associated Press)

A proposed November 2018 ballot initiative to increase property taxes on commercial land could add $6 billion to $10 billion to state coffers annually, according to a report by the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office.

The proposal would make a dramatic change to rules implemented by California’s landmark Proposition 13 ballot measure that capped how much property tax bills could increase. Under the new measure, the state would receive more tax dollars from commercial and industrial properties by assessing them at their current market value, an effort known as “split roll” because existing tax protections on homes would remain in place. The new revenue would go to local governments and public schools.

While the amount of tax dollars raised by the proposal would be significant, the report from the legislative analyst included warnings. The revenue would depend heavily on the health of the state’s real estate market and could therefore be volatile. Similarly, raising property taxes on businesses could cause firms to leave or choose not to relocate to California, the report said.

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  • California in Congress

As the highest ranking Democrat on the House Select Intelligence Committee, Burbank’s Rep. Adam Schiff has been the face of the Democratic opposition in the Russia investigation for months.

Schiff is front and center once again thanks to a Monday morning tweet in which the president accused him of leaking classified information and calling him “desperate to run for higher office.” 

The tweet could be a response to the congressman’s appearance Sunday on ABC’s This Week. Schiff called the Nunes memo, which criticizes the FBI investigation into Trump’s associates and their possible ties to Russian meddling in the 2016 election, a “political hit job on the FBI."

There is something worse than seeing your political party lose — yet again — the race for one of California’s most prominent offices.

  • Politics podcast

Even after last week’s disclosure of dozens of records of sexual harassment investigations from the past decade, the most important questions about workplace harassment at the state Capitol may still lie ahead.

On this week’s California Politics Podcast, we discuss the broader implications of lawmakers releasing new details about sexual harassment investigations since 2006 — namely, whether advocates for new rules and additional oversight now have a better sense of what’s likely to work.

We also review the newly filed campaign cash reports from major candidates in the races for governor and U.S. Senate. While it’s still early in both races, the tallies show one candidate in each race with a sizable advantage.

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  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment
Sen Rod Wright resigned in September 2016 in a voter fraud case.
Sen Rod Wright resigned in September 2016 in a voter fraud case. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Former state Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) was given a “stern admonishment” in 2010 by the Senate Rules Committee for repeatedly using coarse and vulgar language that offended a female staffer, according to a newly released letter from Darrell Steinberg, then leader of the Senate.

Wright said Friday that spoken-word poetry got him in trouble.

The Senate paid $120,000 in 2010 to settle a claim by Fahizah Alim, who alleged she was sexually harassed by Wright  in 2010. At the time, The Times reported that Alim’s attorney, John Poswall, said Wright’s actions included inappropriate comments to Alim “over some period leading up to her ultimately leaving that office.”

State Sen. Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado Hills)
State Sen. Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado Hills) (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Two years ago, state Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Rocklin) asked his chief of staff to resign after hearing that the man had been accused of sexual harassment, but later put the aide on the payroll of his political campaign.

Steve Davey left Gaines’ legislative staff in 2015 after a complaint was made that a female subordinate felt uncomfortable with his treatment of her, which included unwanted physical contact, according to documents released Friday by the Senate. The complaint filed said that on two occasions, Davey put his arm around the staff member when they were at public events. Davey also yelled at her in front of others, according to the complaint.

Gaines issued a statement Friday that said he took the accusations seriously when he heard about them in December 2015 from personnel officials.