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Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia), left, talks last year about a pending bill with Sen. Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado Hills).
Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia), left, talks last year about a pending bill with Sen. Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado Hills). (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Just hours before a Republican lawmaker will seek a Senate vote to expel him over sexual harassment allegations, state Sen. Tony Mendoza on Wednesday offered his most detailed denial of wrongdoing yet, distancing himself from lawmakers accused of inappropriately touching women.

He called on his colleagues to wait for the results of an investigation before seeking additional sanctions.

Republican Sen. Andy Vidak of Hanford plans to seek a vote on a resolution to expel Mendoza, while Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) has asked Mendoza to take a leave of absence pending the results of an investigation, a request Mendoza has denied.

  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment
Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, left, and Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, R-Escondido.
Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, left, and Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, R-Escondido. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

California legislative leaders announced Wednesday that the state Senate and Assembly will for the first time work together to examine how sexual harassment complaints are handled in the Capitol.

The joint committee, led by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) and Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), will look at procedures to better protect victims of misconduct. Critics of the Legislature’s current process have often pointed out that the two houses have their own policies to handle complaints, causing confusion and inconsistencies for people who work in the Capitol.

The announcement comes as legislators return to the Capitol for their first day of work in 2018.

  • California in Congress

President Trump has nominated Marie Royce of Fullerton to be assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs.

Her husband, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over the State Department, including education and cultural programs.

An aide on the foreign affairs committee said the congressman was not involved in the appointment and that oversight of the State Department will not change if Marie Royce is approved by the Senate. She isn’t the first spouse of a senior member of Congress to be picked to join the Trump administration. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles)
California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) (David Butow / For the Times)

Californians might soon be able to make donations to the state in an effort to blunt the effects of the federal tax overhaul recently signed by President Trump.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) is planning to introduce legislation that would allow Californians to count a portion of their tax bill as a donation, which would circumvent the federal GOP’s tax plan’s cuts to state and local tax deductions. Charitable donations remain deductible on federal taxes.

“For every dollar that a Californian sends as a charitable contribution to California, you can write that off,” De León said in an interview with CNN Wednesday. “It’s legal. It’s legitimate.”

  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
(Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Jackie Speier says she isn’t jumping into California’s governor’s race, despite former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s assertion that the Hillsborough Democrat was weighing a run.

Brown wrote in his San Francisco Chronicle column Sunday that, “My phone has been lighting up with messages that Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier is spending the New Year’s weekend in Palm Springs with her advisers and mulling a possible run for governor.”

Speier, who has served in the House since 2008, denied interest in joining the race through a spokesman Wednesday.

  • State government
  • California Legislature
  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Republicans

Republican gubernatorial candidate Travis Allen on Tuesday urged President Trump and U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to sue California over the state’s immigration policies.

"The California legal system is broken, the California political system is broken. That’s why we truly need Washington to hear this message and come to California, sue California, take them to Supreme Court, and let's get the Constitution enforced because there’s a lot of Californians here that want to be protected," Allen, a state assemblyman from Huntington Beach, said in an interview on Fox News. “Until we get a new governor in the state … we could actually use some help from the national guys.”

Allen made the remarks during a discussion about California’s new “sanctuary state” status on an episode of “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

Taking a jab at Gov. Jerry Brown, President Trump’s top immigration chief on Wednesday said he was preparing to “significantly increase” his agency’s enforcement presence in California because of last year’s passage of a landmark “sanctuary state” law.

“California better hold on tight,” Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said on Fox News. “They are about to see a lot more special agents, a lot more deportation officers.”

The comments were the latest salvo between Trump immigration officials and California leaders over the law that took effect Jan. 1.

  • State government
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra.
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra. (Ronen Tivony / TNS)

California police departments receive few formal complaints of racial profiling or other bias and find even fewer of them to be true, according to newly released data from Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra.

Nearly three-fourths of the 451 law enforcement agencies surveyed by Becerra’s office reported no complaints in those areas in 2016.

Police agencies statewide reported they had received 553 complaints of racial, nationality, sexual orientation, disability or other bias, with 388 of those based on race or ethnicity. 

  • Congressional races
  • California in Congress

The fight to define the effects of the new tax law is continuing with new ads that target four vulnerable California Republicans.

The six-figure ad buy from the American Action Network, a nonprofit with ties to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), will run on television and online through January. They are tailored to Reps. Jeff Denham of Turlock, David Valadao of Hanford, Mimi Walters of Irvine and Steve Knight of Palmdale. 

The ads feature a couple, Fortino and Bertha Rivera of Santa Ana.

  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment
(Los Angeles Times)

Both houses of the California Legislature will convene Wednesday afternoon for the formal beginning of an eight-month session to craft a state budget and consider hundreds of proposed laws.

And they will do so with three fewer lawmakers, two having resigned after being accused of sexual harassment.

The national conversation over sexual misconduct —  including the decision by women in California politics to decry what they call a culture of harassment around the state Capitol —  has taken place during the almost four months in which the Legislature has been in recess.