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State officials have enlisted counter-culture comedian Cheech Marin to help educate Californians that if they want to start a business to grow, distribute or sell marijuana they have to register their business with the state.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla has created an online portal for cannabis firms to register and conduct other business with the state, including registering trademarks and converting non-profit entities into for-profit companies.

California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control will begin issuing licenses to firms for growing and selling cannabis on Jan. 2, but one requirement is that they first register their business with the secretary of state.

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
(Rachel Payne for Congress)

As 2018 approaches, the roster of challengers looking to unseat Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is already at a dozen candidates.

Rachel Payne, a former Google executive who now heads up two Southern California-based technology firms, announced Monday that she’s running against the 15-term Republican from Costa Mesa.

In a video posted to her website shortly after she announced, Payne focused on job security and stagnant wages, saying it was important to ensure “everyone has an opportunity to play the game” in a rapidly changing economy.

  • California Legislature
  • Politics podcast
  • Sexual harassment

Only two people — both men in the state’s Gold Rush era — have served as the leader of both houses of the California Legislature.

A third person, a woman, will join that elite list early next year.

On this week’s California Politics Podcast, we discuss the selection of Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) to be the new Senate president pro tem. Atkins left her post as Assembly speaker less than two years ago.

(Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

Renewing his criticism of President Trump’s stance on climate change as he traveled to Paris for an international meeting, Gov. Jerry Brown said on Sunday that the president’s agenda has a “reckless disregard” for the seriousness of the problem.

“Nature is not a political game. Nature is the ground on which we stand, it's the air which we breathe,” Brown said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” “The truth of the case is that there's too much carbon being emitted, that heat trapping gases are building up, the planet is warming and all hell is breaking loose.”

The governor left on Sunday for an event marking the two-year anniversary of the Paris Climate Accord, a summit whose final agreement was praised by Brown but rejected by Trump this past June.

  • State government
  • California Legislature
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

California’s landmark law to require new disclosure of prescription drug prices was challenged in federal court Friday, with the pharmaceutical industry accusing state officials of trying to “dictate” national healthcare policy.

If successful, the lawsuit by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America could either delay or derail implementation of what supporters predicted would be a major improvement in the transparency of drug pricing. The industry effort argues the state law is unconstitutional.

“The law creates bureaucracy, thwarts private market competition, and ignores the role of insurers, pharmacy benefit managers and hospitals in what patients pay for their medicines,” said James Stansel, the trade group’s executive vice president, in a written statement.

Lobbyist Pamela Lopez accused Assemblyman Matt Dababneh of sexual misconduct.
Lobbyist Pamela Lopez accused Assemblyman Matt Dababneh of sexual misconduct. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A lawyer for Sacramento lobbyist Pamela Lopez wants the state Assembly to detail how the investigation into her client’s sexual misconduct claim will be conducted, saying Lopez needs assurance that politics won’t influence the final conclusion.

Lopez filed a formal complaint letter with the Assembly Rules Committee on Monday, saying Assemblyman Matt Dababneh (D-Woodland Hills) followed her into a bathroom, masturbated in front of her and urged her to touch him.

She said she decided to name him in public after Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), chairman of the Rules Committee, urged sexual harassment victims in the Capitol community to come forward, promising a neutral and unbiased investigative process. 

  • 2018 governor's race
John Chiang
John Chiang (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

California gubernatorial candidate John Chiang wants to tackle the state’s housing affordability crisis by spending billions more on low-income development and offering greater financial incentives to cities that permit new building.

“The housing shortage in this state is a drag on our economy and is a barrier to climbing the socioeconomic ladder for thousands of families in California,” Chiang said in a statement.

Chiang, the state treasurer, released the plan on his campaign website Friday. The policy changes he wants to make include:

  1. Promoting a $9-billion bond to help fund new low-income housing development and an additional $600 million in annual spending through a low-income housing tax credit. Chiang said these proposals would be on top of the $4-billion housing bond that will appear on the statewide ballot in November 2018. California’s low-income housing spending needs have been estimated conservatively at $15 billion a year.
  2. Offering local governments more sales tax revenue and transportation funds if they approve more housing. This is an effort to change the state’s tax system, which currently provides more tax revenue to cities that approve more hotel and office development than housing.
  3. Modeling new state laws after programs in Massachusetts and New York City. The Massachusetts law allows the state to override local decisions to deny low-income housing projects if a city is behind on its housing goals. The New York City law provides property tax breaks to apartment developers who reserve a certain portion of their project for low-income residents.
  4. Creating a state rapid rehousing program to help the homeless with short-term rental assistance and with utility and security deposits.
Marijuana in jars at MED X, a pot dispensary on Century Boulevard in South L.A.
Marijuana in jars at MED X, a pot dispensary on Century Boulevard in South L.A. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Just weeks before California begins issuing licenses to businesses to sell marijuana for recreational and medical use, the state on Friday began accepting applications electronically through a new online system.

The state Bureau of Cannabis Control is accepting applications for commercial marijuana licenses for retailers, distributors, micro-businesses, testing laboratories and cannabis events, according to Lori Ajax, chief of the bureau.

“Today’s launch of our online licensing system is the culmination of many months of hard work by our dedicated team,” Ajax said in a statement. “Now that applications are coming in, we can officially move one step closer to issuing California’s first state licenses for commercial cannabis activity.”

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
Sam Jammal, a Democrat running against Rep. Ed Royce, is one of four congressional challengers Democracy for America has endorsed.
Sam Jammal, a Democrat running against Rep. Ed Royce, is one of four congressional challengers Democracy for America has endorsed. (Courtesy of Sam Jammal for Congress)

More than four dozen Democrats are already running for seats in the 10 GOP-held congressional districts the minority is eyeing in California ahead of the midterm elections. Many left-leaning groups have avoided picking favorites, choosing instead to attack incumbents while they wait for the heated primaries to play out in June.

Democracy for America, the progressive political action committee started by Howard Dean, is doing things differently.

On Friday, the group announced endorsements in four California districts: 

  1. Bryan Caforio, running against Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale)
  2. Sam Jammal, running against Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton)
  3. Laura Oatman, running against Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa)
  4. Mike Levin, running against Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista)
  • 2018 election
  • 2018 governor's race
Republican candidate for governor, John Cox, speaks to attendees of the Santa Monica Republican Women Federated Gubernatorial forum in October.
Republican candidate for governor, John Cox, speaks to attendees of the Santa Monica Republican Women Federated Gubernatorial forum in October. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox on Thursday blamed the Democrats in Sacramento for California’s most serious ills, including high levels of poverty and unaffordable housing costs.

Cox, speaking at the Public Policy Institute of California in San Francisco, promised to tamp down the clout of special interests and apply “common sense” and conservative fiscal discipline to put California back on the right path.

“This state under the current one-party crony rule has become unaffordable, especially for the middle class,” Cox said.