Newsletter: Essential Politics: California readies to send a climate change signal to Trump administration

Essential Politics

The California Legislature is scheduled to vote today on a revamped cap-and-trade system that would extend the life of a program that sends yet another signal to the Trump administration about where the state stands on environmental issues.

But it’s not clear the support is there to renew the state’s signature climate change program, even with the changes hammered out over weeks of negotiation. This weekend, champions of the measure were still working on lining up the votes.

I’m Christina Bellantoni. Welcome to the Monday edition of Essential Politics.

The first test will be an Appropriations hearing Monday morning. We’ll cover the action as it happens on our Essential Politics news feed.



As Melanie Mason and Liam Dillon explain, the effort to secure a longer lifespan for cap-and-trade was never going to be easy. To protect from legal challenges, Gov. Jerry Brown wants a two-thirds vote to authorize the program, which means scrounging a supermajority across party lines and disparate interest groups. Mason and Dillon take you through the key players in the debate, from outside influences such as agriculture interests to the lawmakers who may cast pivotal votes.

Over the course of the week the story evolved, with housing advocates pushing for a vote on their pivotal issue as well.

There’s also the obvious legacy question for Brown, who spent several hours in a committee hearing Thursday jotting down questions after his own energetic testimony.

At Thursday’s state Senate Environmental Quality Committee hearing, Brown put on full display his emotional, tenacious side to advocate for the future of the environment. Brown has long battled climate change with a religious zeal, and fighting for the survival of cap and trade in the state will require the governor to use all the political skills he can marshal, George Skelton writes in his Monday column.


On the one hand, there were no further substantial revelations about President Trump’s family or campaign related to Russia, although his son’s meeting dominated the Sunday shows.


On the other, new polling released Sunday confirmed how deep the hole is that Trump finds himself in six months into his presidency. It also offered some warnings to his Democratic opponents, David Lauter reports. The new Washington Post/ABC News survey found that Americans by 36%-58% disapprove of Trump’s performance in office, a significantly worse grade than the public has given any other president at this point in his tenure since modern polling began in the 1940s.

For his part, Trump bashed the poll and continued to focus on Hillary Clinton while laying low this weekend.

Meanwhile, in California, protesters and counter-protesters faced off at Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

As for the meeting Donald Trump Jr. had with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, it turns out as more details emerge that there’s a California connection.


The former Soviet military counter-intelligence officer who met with Trump’s son, son-in-law and campaign manager in June 2016 had previously lobbied Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) at least twice about U.S. relations with Russia.


As the chairman of the committee charged with overseeing the executive branch, Vista Rep. Darrell Issa was once known as President Obama’s toughest critic. Now the richest man in Congress has found himself with protesters at his door, no committee to lead, and a tough race expected in 2018.

Sarah Wire has the story on the shaky line the nine-term congressman has had to walk, reassuring his conservative base that he’s not moderating his positions while showing the growing number of independents and Democrats in his district that he’s not as partisan as people think.



Seema Mehta reports that top gubernatorial candidates Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa share more than major personal downfalls when they were mayors of San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively. They also share top advisers who know the dirt on their rivals’ affairs as well as their temperament.


The new Senate Republican healthcare bill won’t be put to the test anytime soon. Sen. John McCain will undergo surgery and recover at home in Arizona, leaving the Senate with too few votes. So Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delayed consideration of the new measure.


The move comes as Americans learn more of the details about the plan, which would effectively eliminate the coverage guarantee by allowing health insurers to once again sell skimpier plans and charge more to people with preexisting health conditions who need more comprehensive coverage, Noam Levey reports.

Take a look at the plans in depth and compare them for yourself.

We’ll be covering this closely all week on Essential Washington.



The speaker of the California Assembly is unapologetic for his decision to sideline the year’s closely watched single-payer healthcare bill, calling it “lacking in virtually every respect.”

On this week’s California Politics Podcast, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Los Angeles) talks with John Myers about some of the early challenges in his time leading the lower house of the Legislature. Those have included the difficulty of creating a consensus-based leadership structure in a house more used to top-down decision-making.


-- Olympic gold medalist, reality-television star and transgender activist Caitlyn Jenner is pondering a run for U.S. Senate from California, Mehta reports.


-- State Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate John Chiang seems most in his element talking about financial statistics and state finances. But this weekend, Mehta reports that he’s taking his actuarial skills to Comic-Con, where he will speak on a panel about the fiscal fallout of a superhero battle in a municipality involving the likes of Superman.

-- Could Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra join Trump in the fight to defend DACA? It depends.

-- Without trust between immigrants and police, crimes won’t be reported, victims of crime told California lawmakers.

-- LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told Senate Democrats that “all of us are less safe” with more aggressive immigration enforcement.


-- Becerra goes to court to defend a state program helping unaccompanied minor immigrants.

-- State lawmakers advanced a bill that would make “stealthing” sexual assault but questioned whether it’s enforceable.

-- You can now legally break into a hot car to save a dog (or any animal) in California, if you call authorities first. But the law leaves some questions about a rescuer’s own protections. Read the breakdown Colleen Shalby put together.

-- A lawsuit alleges the state is trying to sabotage the initiative to repeal the gas tax increase in California.


-- California corrections officials want to know what you think about the state’s new parole guidelines.

-- A new statewide program for police officers to collect traffic stop and other data to combat racial profiling is getting delayed by six months.

-- With state legislators from L.A. County divided, a panel recommended a plan to expand the Board of Supervisors from five to seven members via a statewide ballot measure. The proposal still has a long way to go.

-- L.A. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Porter Ranch) officially introduced articles of impeachment on the House floor last week. Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green was the only other member to sign on to his proposal to impeach Trump.


-- Democratic candidate Mai Khanh Tran, a pediatrician hoping to unseat GOP Rep. Ed Royce of Fullerton, got a nod from Emily’s List last week. The only other candidate the pro-abortion rights group has endorsed so far in California is Katie Porter, who’s taking on Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine).

-- And Royce is picking up another challenger: Navy veteran and lottery-winner-turned-philanthropist Gil Cisneros has formally entered the race, bringing with him an early endorsement from liberal PAC VoteVets, Christine Mai-Duc reports.


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