Newsletter: Essential Politics: California sends Trump a nasty gram
The quietest spot in all of California today might be the historic state Capitol in Sacramento, now empty after the year’s long and tumultuous session of the Legislature ended at 2:34 a.m. Saturday.
A lot happened in the hours just before the final gavel fell in the state Senate and Assembly.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A ‘SANCTUARY STATE’
Perhaps no measure was more talked about in 2017 than the “sanctuary state” bill approved after midnight on Saturday to protect immigrants without legal residency in the U.S. As part of a broader push by Democrats to counter expanded deportation orders under the Trump administration, passage of the landmark legislation was reverberating within hours across the country.
The Trump administration and one prominent California sheriff sounded off in opposition over the weekend. Immigrant rights groups and other California law enforcement officials, though, call it a good compromise. Gov. Jerry Brown has said he will sign the bill into law.
BILLIONS FOR NEW HOUSING HELP
After two years of negotiations, lawmakers approved a package of bills aimed at addressing California’s housing affordability crisis.
The bills included a fund for low-income housing, paid for with a new $75 real estate transaction fee, a $4-billion bond measure on the June 2018 ballot and an attempt to ease local development regulations.
There was high drama on Thursday night, when a crucial Assembly vote took an hour to finalize after three Democrats held out on approving the real estate fee.
Why? One of the Democrats had an unrelated bill of his own that was stuck in the Senate.
That kind of political tension was everywhere in the final hours in Sacramento.
’THE OTHER HOUSE IS THE ENEMY’
There’s no shortage of political and ideological battle lines in the statehouse. But one of the oldest divides is institutional, the predictable squabbles between the 40-member Senate and the 80-member Assembly. Capitol veterans told Chris Megerian the tension has only grown worse this year.
EVEN CAPTAIN AMERICA COULDN’T SAVE THE RENEWABLE ENERGY BILL
A closely watched proposal to phase out using fossil fuels to generate electricity ran out of juice, with lawmakers giving in to opposition from unions representing electrical and utility workers. The defeat came even as three Hollywood actors from the Marvel “Avengers” series -- Chris Evans (Captain America), Mark Ruffalo (The Incredible Hulk) and Don Cheadle (Iron Patriot) -- called legislators’ offices urging them to pass the bill.
None of them were able to resuscitate Senate Bill 100.
It wasn’t the only green proposal that failed in the final hours. Senate Bill 49 would have made many federal regulations under attack by President Trump enforceable by state officials. The Assembly didn’t bring it up for a vote.
Progress was made, though, on a plan to spend cash from the cap-and-trade program, which lawmakers extended earlier this year. Brown quickly signed one of the measures on Saturday.
In the end, the Legislature ended its work much as it began -- with no shortage of jabs at Trump. As Melanie Mason and Jazmine Ulloa write, the “California versus Trump” dynamic was a complicated swirl of legislation -- both successful and stalled -- as well as court challenges and symbolic gestures that led to frank, personal exchanges among lawmakers.
It’s unclear what Brown will do with one push California lawmakers made for some electoral pressure on the president in 2020: bills to require presidential candidates to release their tax returns before getting on the California ballot, and moving the state’s primary to early March.
And as George Skelton writes, the productivity of California lawmakers yet again showed that the heavily Democratic Legislature knows how to get things done — in stark contrast to Congress. Skelton also offered his own take (and support) for the compromise over the “sanctuary state” proposal.
BILLS THAT WENT TO BROWN
-- Smoking pot or tobacco at California beaches could soon be illegal.
-- California taxpayers will be on the hook for up to $270 million if L.A.’s 2028 Olympics goes over budget.
-- Voters next year will weigh borrowing $4 billion to fund parks and water improvements.
-- Californians could be able to choose a third “nonbinary” gender option on their driver’s licenses.
-- Lawmakers said yes to an attempt to level the playing field for taxicabs in their battle with Uber and Lyft.
-- Pot edibles that look like gummy bears would be illegal to sell in California.
-- A bill to disclose more information about prescription drug prices that sparked a fierce battle between pharmaceutical companies and health insurers, labor groups and consumer advocates.
-- The first year of community college could be tuition-free for full-time students.
-- A bill that would help reduce California’s backlog of untested rape kits.
BILLS THAT FIZZLED OR WILL COME BACK IN 2018
-- A closely watched Internet privacy bill died in the final minutes of the legislative session.
-- A statewide ballot measure to expand the L.A. County Board of Supervisors barely made it through the state Senate, but faces tough odds in 2018 in the Assembly.
-- A bill requiring California middle and high schools begin their day no earlier than 8:30 a.m. was shelved.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR DACA
With the DREAM Act revived on Capitol Hill, Sarah Wire traces it back to its Los Angeles roots by talking with Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard.
Trump’s loyal supporters in Arizona aren’t the least bit upset he’s dealing with Democrats and might keep DACA in place.
And don’t miss Mark Z. Barabak’s column asking San Francisco liberals what they think about Nancy Pelosi “dealing with the devil.”
NATIONAL POLITICS LIGHTNING ROUND
-- Here’s what Trump will say at his first United Nations General Assembly.
-- Is Trump reversing himself on climate change policies?
-- Trump’s tweets and retweets, especially one of a doctored video showing him hitting Hillary Clinton with a golf ball, have caused another furor.
-- George Clooney and Ellen Page played the word association game with The Times. And yes, we asked them their quick reaction to “Trump.”
-- At the Emmys, “Saturday Night Live” scored big, with Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon winning for their portrayals of Trump and Clinton, respectively; former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made a surprise appearance.
-- Kurt Bardella, former spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, calls out Republicans for the lack of investigations into the Trump administration.
-- Pete Domenici, the former Republican senator from New Mexico, died at age 85.
Get the latest about what’s happening in the nation’s capital on Essential Washington.
THE KEY CONGRESSIONAL RACES OF 2018
It’s just plain math: If Democrats are going to stand a chance of winning back the House in 2018, they’re going to have to go through California. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting nine Republican-held seats in the Golden State, seven of which Hillary Clinton won over Trump last year. Christine Mai-Duc explains there are a number of reasons winning here could be harder than it looks, even with a surge of anti-Trump fervor and a bumper crop of qualified Democratic challengers.
Here’s a reminder of the 13 races that will make the difference in November 2018.
A reminder you can keep up with these races in the moment via our Essential Politics news feed on California politics.
-- This week’s California Politics Podcast recaps the biggest moments of the final debates in the Legislature.
-- Citing a conspiracy theory, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher blamed Democrats for the Charlottesville violence.
-- Rohrabacher is also still waiting to tell Trump what he learned at his meeting with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
-- Rep. Jimmy Gomez, California’s newest member of Congress, endorsed Mike Levin, one of two Democratic challengers so far looking to unseat Issa.
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