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Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), center, wants the Legislature to reexamine how it pays out harassment settlements.
Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), center, wants the Legislature to reexamine how it pays out harassment settlements. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

As the California Assembly prepares to have its first public hearing Tuesday afternoon on how it handles sexual harassment and discrimination complaints, one Democratic lawmaker says he wants to see changes in how settlements from Capitol complaints are paid.

Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) is urging his colleagues to examine how to decrease the burden of settlement payments on taxpayers.

“Why should taxpayers be on the hook for sexual harassment payouts, while wrongdoers walk away with no financial accountability? The State Assembly and the Joint Rules Committee should consider ways to recover financial damages from proven violators directly,” McCarty said in a statement.

  • California in Congress
(Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)

Now that the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee has agreed to step aside over sexual harassment allegations, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) is hoping to take his place on the committee that would play a major role in potential presidential impeachment hearings.

The current ranking Democrat, John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), agreed to step down Sunday after 23 years in the committee post, but he has not officially vacated his leadership position.

Lofgren, a former immigration lawyer serving her 12th term, is the third most-senior Democrat on the committee, but she’s long made it clear that she doesn’t intend to cede the gavel to the second most-senior Democrat, New York’s Rep. Jerrold Nadler. Politico reported that Lofgren warned Nadler over the summer that she’ll pursue the ranking seat, and her staff said Tuesday she remains interested.

  • California in Congress
  • 2018 election
  • California Republicans
  • California Democrats

Democratic leaders spoke out against the GOP tax plan on Monday, arguing it would disproportionately harm Californians, benefit the wealthy and impact the state’s infrastructure and affordable housing.

“We’re here to raise the alarm on behalf of Californians everywhere that the Republican tax plan is a terrible deal for America,” said Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles), noting the version of the bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would raise taxes on all California families by $12.1 billion in 2027. “We see our state has the most to lose under this plan.”

Gomez, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and officials with the Los Angeles Metro and a real estate group pointed to several provisions they said would especially hurt the state’s residents, including the elimination of deductions for state and local taxes, and for earthquake and fire losses. They also warned about the plan’s cap on mortgage interest and property tax deductions, and other provisions that would impact affordable housing and transportation projects.

  • 2018 governor's race
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, right, endorses Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for governor on Monday.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, right, endorses Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for governor on Monday. (Phil Willon / Los Angeles Times)

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg on Monday endorsed Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for governor, calling him a deep political thinker and praising his two terms as San Francisco’s “bold, innovative mayor.”

Steinberg, a former state Senate president, praised Newsom’s business background and commitment to helping California workers transition to the new economy, including his support for education and training programs.

“He will make us proud. He will be energetic. He will be unafraid,” Steinberg said at small news conference in Sacramento. “There is no one better qualified or better prepared to deal with the challenges of a modern economy.”

  • California Legislature
Kevin de León
Kevin de León (Los Angeles Times)

Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said Monday’s decision by the Senate Rules Committee to remove Democratic Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) from his leadership posts is just the first step toward an investigation of sexual harassment allegations against the lawmaker.

“Today, the Senate Rules Committee showed that no lawmaker is immune from our zero-tolerance harassment policies,” De León, who chairs the committee, said in a statement after the unanimous vote. ‘’This is only one important step — the next is a full, independent investigation led by outside experts, with publicly reported findings.”

De León, who shared a Sacramento house with Mendoza until the Senate leader moved out two weeks ago, has said he was unaware of complaints that Mendoza had invited a female Senate fellow to their house to go over her resume or that Mendoza had asked her to stay with him in a hotel room during a political fundraiser, which she did not do.

  • State government
A protected bike lane on Reseda Boulevard in Northridge.
A protected bike lane on Reseda Boulevard in Northridge. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Bike lanes, mixed-use residential and commercial construction near transit and other development projects might get easier to build in California after regulators on Monday released a long-awaited overhaul of the state’s environmental law.

Regulators say the proposed changes, which modify rules under the California Environmental Quality Act or CEQA, will help the state meet its ambitious goals to combat climate change. That law requires developers to disclose and minimize a project’s impact on the environment.

One key section of the proposal modifies how developers analyze traffic

  • California Legislature

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said the decision by his Democratic colleague, Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, to resign Monday “underscores the seriousness of the allegations against him.”

Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) announced Monday morning he would resign effective immediately after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment.

Rendon said in a statement the resignation would not end the focus on misconduct that was sparked six weeks ago by an open letter signed by more than 140 women alleging a culture of widespread harassment in California politics.

  • California Legislature
  • California Democrats

Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra announced Monday he will resign “immediately,” one week after multiple women alleged he sexually harassed them.

Hours before The Times published a report last week in which six women accused him of making unwanted sexual advances, Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) announced he would resign on Sept. 1, 2018.

In a statement Monday, he said he decided to accelerate his resignation, which he said was his “original intention.”

  • California Legislature
Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) was suspended Monday from leadership positions pending an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment.
Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) was suspended Monday from leadership positions pending an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

The Senate Rules Committee voted Monday to strip state Sen. Tony Mendoza of his leadership positions, including chairmanship of the banking committee, pending the outcome of an investigation into sexual harassment allegations by three women against the Democratic lawmaker from Artesia.

Holding an emergency meeting before the Senate resumes regular session in January, the bipartisan, five-member Rules Committee voted without comment to suspend Mendoza as chairman of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and as a member of the state Commission for Economic Development and the California Workforce Development Fund. 

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), who chairs the Rules Committee, said recently that the suspension, and plans to hire an independent, outside law firm to investigate complaints of sexual harassment, are necessary to increase the safety of employees and protect whistleblowers.

  • 2018 election
  • California Republicans
  • 2018 governor's race
Assemblyman Travis Allen, left, and businessman John Cox.
Assemblyman Travis Allen, left, and businessman John Cox. (Genaro Molina / Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

The two top GOP candidates for governor will meet for their first debate in the Inland Empire just after New Year’s Day.

Assemblyman Travis Allen and businessman John Cox will face off on Jan. 4 at a gathering of the Redlands Tea Party Patriots, said John Berry, a spokesman for the group.

The 90-minute debate will take place at the Mill Creek Cattle Company restaurant in Mentone and is open to the public. The candidates will make opening statements and field questions from local activists and audience members about issues such as the recent gas-tax increase and the state’s top-two primary system, Berry said.