Newsletter: Essential Politics: Just as soon as California enacted a net neutrality law, Trump sued

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The lesson we’ve now learned about the political relationship between California and the administration of President Trump is one closely aligned with the third law of motion discovered by Sir Isaac Newton in 1686: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Certainly that’s what we saw on Sunday, after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a closely watched state law reconstituting the net neutrality rules scuttled by Trump in 2017.


The ink from Brown’s signature on Senate Bill 822 was hardly dry when the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed it’s taking the state to court.


The new law would prevent broadband and wireless companies from blocking or otherwise hindering access to internet content, and from favoring some websites over others by charging for faster speeds.

“Net neutrality means that we as individuals get to decide where we go on the internet as opposed to being told where to go,” state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), the bill’s author, said last month.

While most of the state’s fights with the president’s administration have begun here in California, this is the second high-profile effort — after a federal challenge to the sanctuary immigration law — that began in Washington.


The net neutrality law was one of 490 bills on which Brown took action over the weekend, with Sunday night being his constitutional deadline to sign, veto or allow legislation to become law without his signature. Scores more were considered last week.

Among the most notable that were signed:

-- For the first time, the public will have access to internal police investigations and video footage of shootings by police officers and other serious incidents.

-- California is poised to become the first state to require corporate boards of directors to include women, with Brown saying in a statement that even legal questions about the law shouldn’t stop an effort that he hoped would be heard in Washington.


-- Brown, who set a course early in his return to Sacramento to embrace criminal justice reforms, signed a law that ends the practice of charging some accomplices to a killing with the actual murder.

-- Bills inspired by the #MeToo movement became law, including one to prohibit settlement agreements that prevent the disclosure of facts related to sexual assault, sexual harassment or workplace discrimination. (Others were rejected by Brown, though, including an end to forced arbitration of harassment claims.)

-- Bills were signed to fast-track new stadiums for the Los Angeles Clippers and the Oakland A’s.

-- Most cosmetics tested on animals will soon be illegal in California under a new law signed Friday.

-- Hundreds of thousands of Californians convicted of marijuana crimes will be able to have felonies reduced to misdemeanors and lower-level offenses removed from their record.

-- Other laws were much more narrow in focus, including how to solve the custody of a pet during a divorce and an easing to strict residency requirements for members of the Legislature.


But a number of other high-profile bills were vetoed:

-- Brown refused to sign a bill allowing San Francisco to create safe zones for the injection of illegal drugs.

-- Breaking ranks with Democrats and abortion rights advocates, the governor vetoed a bill to require student health centers at California’s public universities to provide abortion medication by 2022.

-- Yet another attempt to limit smoking at state beaches and parks was rebuffed, with Brown writing in his veto message Saturday that the “third time is not always a charm.”

-- A measure that would have allowed some California taxpayers to dodge the effects of the Trump administration’s federal tax overhaul was turned away.

-- Two closely watched immigration bills were vetoed. One would have allowed any California resident, regardless of immigration status, to serve on a state board or commission. A second would have barred immigration arrests inside California courthouses.

-- Saying that there’s “enough mischief from midnight to 2 without adding two more hours of mayhem,” the governor refused to sign a bill allowing some cities to keep bars open until 4:00 a.m.


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In all, Brown vetoed a little more than 16% of the bills that were sent to him in 2018, one of his higher veto rates in recent years. And he can be sure that those vetoes will stick.

My Sunday column took a look at one of the less talked-about realities of governing in Sacramento: Legislators almost never vote to override a governor’s veto, even though they are clearly given that power in the California Constitution.

Rocking the boat, it seems, comes with too many consequences — though one wonders whether the next governor, who will take office with a seasoned Legislature, will receive the same deference.



The president isn’t seeking to “micromanage” the FBI’s new probe of sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, his spokeswoman said Sunday. But Democrats raised concerns that key lines of inquiry were being placed off-limits to investigators.

The new investigation, sparked by demands from two Republican senators, is scheduled to be completed by week’s end.

While female voices have echoed throughout the U.S. Senate demanding male senators justify their support for Kavanaugh, other women have spent hours calling Senate offices in support.

Meanwhile, the federal judge’s angry, partisan self-defense during Thursday’s Senate hearing left many observers questioning his judicial temperament.


-- Poland is offering the United States $2 billion and an “ideal location” for a permanent U.S. military base on its territory that it would call “Fort Trump.”


-- Can Rep. Beto O’Rourke awaken Texas’ Latino vote? His bid for the Senate, and to turn the state politically purple, depends on it.

-- As refugee resettlement has plummeted in the U.S. amid the Trump administration’s severe restrictions, advocates worry that sick refugees abroad who are awaiting U.S. entry could die before arriving.


-- The 7th Congressional District, which takes in the suburbs east of Sacramento, has seen a succession of vigorously fought House races. But this year is different, and help has been sparse for the GOP challenger.

-- Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, who faces federal charges of misusing campaign funds, remains ahead in his reelection bid, with some voters planning to support him even though they believe him to be guilty, according to a new poll.

-- After providing $1.7 million and getting a gas-tax repeal initiative on the November ballot, Republican congressional leaders and GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox are now conspicuously absent from the list of donors to the second phase of the campaign committee.


-- In Part 2 of our special report on the Next California, Melanie Mason looks at how, whether it’s fire or earthquake, mudslide or drought, a natural disaster is an inextricable part of the California experience. And it threatens to snarl the next governor’s plans.

-- And speaking of the governor’s race, Democrat Gavin Newsom heads into the final stretch of the contest with a mammoth financial advantage over Cox — almost 10 times as much money socked away.


-- A former California legislative aide filed a formal claim for damages against the state Friday, alleging two members of the Assembly — one of whom he accused of sexual harassment earlier this year — tried to pressure potential clients to not hire him.

-- State Sen. Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) was reprimanded by the Senate after an investigation found he probably threatened to “bitch slap” a female lobbyist, according to documents released last week.

-- A Los Angeles-area landlord is telling tenants that the company will cancel a new rent increase if a California rent control ballot measure fails in November, according to a letter obtained by a tenants activist.


-- This week’s California Politics Podcast looks at the latest polling and campaign cash numbers for the state’s marquee November races.


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