Governor signs Right-to-Die bill

Oct 6, 2015

An intense emotional saga that began last year with a young newlywed receiving a diagnosis of terminal disease ended yesterday with the Governor’s signature on a right-to-die bill that allows terminally ill patients the option to end their lives with lethal drugs.  Brittany Maynard died last year in Oregon, where she had relocated to take advantage of that state’s Death With Dignity law. Her plight inspired California lawmakers to introduce similar legislation, which Brown approved yesterday.  From John Howard, Capitol Weekly:


“Gov. Jerry Brown, in one of the most emotional moments of his long political career,  signed into law a bill allowing people near death to end their lives with lethal drugs supplied by a physician. ‘The crux of the matter is whether the state of California should continue to make it a crime for a dying person to end his life, no matter how great his pain or suffering,’ Brown wrote in his official signing message.


“…Before her death, Maynard personally urged the governor to sign it and her supporters distributed a videotaped message in which she called for support for the bill.


“In the end, the governor wrote, ‘I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death. I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill.  And I wouldn’t  deny that right to  others,’ wrote Brown, whose church considers suicide a sin.”


The governor also signed a bill allowing charities to partner with sports teams to hold raffles in which the charity receives a lower share of the proceeds than is currently allowed.  Jeremy White, Sacramento Bee:


Senate Bill 549 allows professional teams to hold in-game raffles in which the winning ticket holder takes home 50 percent of the proceeds, with the rest going to charity. Current California law authorizes charity raffles but dictates that at least 90 percent of the ticket sales must go to the cause.


“Supporters said SB 549 would spur more giving by allowing teams to turn to captive audiences of fans attending games… But a group representing California nonprofits opposed the legislation for offering a special deal to sports-affiliated organizations.”


A poll of 1500 registered voters commissioned by Californians for Water Security has found strong support for the governor’s twin tunnels plan.  Tim Herdt, 95% Accurate:


“[The] polling firm EMC Research reports that ‘a solid majority’ of voters support the plan after being read a brief description, and that support increases after they have been read a fuller explanation and a summary of pro and con arguments.


“’55 percent of voters support the California Water Fix,’ it says. ‘Support for the Fix is high across political and ideological subgroups of voters and across most regions of the state.’


“After voters were read ‘an explanatory statement’ that frames the issue, support jumped to 79 percent,  the memo says. After hearing a back and forth of region-specific pro-and-con arguments, support remains high, at 68 percent.”


As a growing number of workers rely on “gig-economy” jobs (read: Uber, Lyft, Postmates, etc), some healthcare startups have begun to offer insurance plans targeted at on-demand workers.  Christina Farr, KQED:


Stride Health is a startup health insurance broker service, which makes recommendations about health plans that are tailored to people’s needs. The company offers web and mobile services to assist customers once they’ve purchased a health plan, including premium payment reminders and guidance on whether they qualify for subsidies. Stride Health also shows customers how much scenarios, like asthma or heart disease, would affect their out of pocket costs.


“San Francisco-based Stride Health is one of many startups taking advantage of new opportunities created by the Affordable Care Act and the perceived failings of the federal and state marketplaces for individuals to buy health insurance. It is unique, however, in targeting gig economy workers… Uber, Postmates and Taskrabbit, three of the largest gig economy companies, market Stride Health’s service to their workers.”


While sharing economy companies that originated in California are “disrupting” the nature of employment, a more subtle shift is occurring in clean energy production, emanating not from Silicon Valley, but from SacramentoBeth Gardner has the story in the New York Times:


“’It’s hard to overstate the importance of California in terms of renewables,’ said William Nelson, head of North American analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. ‘It’s like an experiment in terms of how quickly we can add solar to the grid.’


“Fifteen years after an energy crisis, caused partly by deregulation and market manipulation, brought blackouts and price spikes, the shift has been remarkably smooth, many analysts say. Even without counting the big contribution from home solar generation, 26 percent of the state’s power this year will come from clean sources like the sun and wind, Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates. The national average is about 10 percent.


“Contracts already in place virtually guarantee that the state will reach its goal of getting 33 percent of electricity from renewables by 2020, a number that does not include most home generation. And at the rate California has been going, a new target of 50 percent for 2030 is within reach, Mr. Nelson said.


“’It’s kind of a quiet revolution,’ said Daniel Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. ‘Nothing weird or strange has happened, electricity prices haven’t shot up or down.’”


A report released by California Women Lead and the League of California Cities Women’s Caucus finds that women are still underrepresented in Golden State politics.   Ed Coghlan, Fox and Hounds:


“’Only two of the 12 largest cities have women as mayors,’ said Rachel Michelin, executive director and CEO of California Women Lead, a bipartisan group working to empower and elect more women in California…


“In partnership with League of California Cities Women’s Caucus, the group released an update to their report on the status of women in city government, which showed a net gain of 21 more women on city councils compared to the previous report.


But, there’s also been a decline in women serving in the state legislature. Michelin also pointed out her regret over Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) stepping down as Assembly Speaker and Kristen Olsen (R-Modesto) leaving her minority leadership role in the Assembly. Both are being replaced by men.”


One woman has taken a prominent place in California politics – longtime San Francisco Chronicle newsie Carla Marinucci will be heading up Politico’s new  Playbook California newsletter, which launches this week.  Tony Biasotti interviews Marinucci about the new gig for Columbia Journalism Review.


And, we end on a sad note today – we lost two longtime California political figures of high stature last week: Congressman Don Edwards passed away Thursday at 100, and Allan Hoffenblum, co-founder of the well-respected California Target Book died at 75


They will be missed.