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The California Legislature’s final act for 2020

The Assembly Transportation Committee meets in the Assembly Chambers where they can practice social distancing
The Assembly Transportation Committee meets in the Assembly Chambers where they can practice social distancing on May 4, 2020.
(Associated Press)

The California Constitution requires that most legislative business in the second year of a two-year session be concluded before the first day of September. Which means the final act of the Legislature for 2020 has arrived.

And what a remarkable, chaotic and uncertain year this has been for the Golden State and those who govern it.

The year of governing dangerously

This was, after all, a legislative session that was cut short — twice — by lawmakers either concerned by the spread of COVID-19 or when individuals in the two houses tested positive for the virus.

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When the final gavel falls in the state Capitol before midnight, hundreds of bills will have been sent to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom for action by the end of September. Both houses of the Legislature churned through the weekend and into the night on Sunday to consider bills on a variety of topics.

Bills moving through the state Senate did so with 10 of the upper house’s members debating and voting on bills from their homes. The lawmakers, all Republicans, were quarantined after attending an in-person gathering with Sen. Brian Jones (R-Santee), who tested positive for the coronavirus. And of all members to be sidelined, it was Jones — the most vocal critic in the spring of efforts to allow remote voting, who sought out a legal opinion that the practice could be illegal.

Here are a few of the bills that had cleared both houses by the time lawmakers adjourned late Sunday night:

Meanwhile, lawmakers appear to have struck a deal on one of the year’s most closely watched issues, a reprieve on evictions for renters who have run short on money during the pandemic. That proposal will be voted on Monday.

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But not all last-minute efforts came up successful. Lawmakers had to abandon a $3-billion bond proposal to fund wildfire, climate and economic recovery needs after significant opposition from utility companies whose customers would have to underwrite the effort with monthly fees.

Day 1 of California’s coronavirus colors

Newsom’s newest approach to control when California counties loosen their pandemic rules on businesses and services officially kicks off on Monday. Gone are the watchlists of counties with higher cases and limited hospital beds; in its place is a four-tiered system based on colors.

Purple is bad. Red is better. Orange is a little better still. Yellow is the best.

In reconfiguring the rules, it seems clear that the former system wasn’t working the way state officials wanted it to. The governor admitted as much in rolling out the news Friday.

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“We’re going to be more stubborn this time,” Newsom said in explaining what would be different in this iteration of monitoring and possibly loosening the restrictions.

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National lightning round

President Trump hopes violence at protests will generate a backlash against Democrats; opponents accuse him of inciting more violence with his rhetoric.

— Trump and Democrat Joe Biden have emerged from their nominating conventions, with each candidate believing he has a head of steam.

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— From Kimberly Guilfoyle‘s loud speech to accusations of illegal politicking, here are notable moments from the 2020 Republican National Convention.

— House Democrats say they will put up a fight in 2021 to end a long-standing ban on federal funding of abortion.

— The U.S. Postal Service isn’t the only staid federal agency to be drawn into a political battle this year. So is the Census Bureau.

Today’s essential California politics

— L.A. City Councilman Curren Price paved the way for big electronic billboards. Then $75,000 poured in for his reelection.

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— California reached a milestone Friday in its feud with Trump when Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra announced his 100th lawsuit against the administration, this time challenging changes in environmental rules.

— Millions of Californians who are out of work during the pandemic will soon receive a $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit retroactive to Aug. 1, state officials said last week.

— Newsom said that California has signed a contract with an East Coast medical diagnostics company to more than double the number of coronavirus tests that can be processed in the state.

San Diego Republican Party Chairman Tony Krvaric said last week that a 30-year-old video that contains images of him along with pictures of Adolf Hitler and swastikas was part of a smear campaign and does not represent who he is.

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