The Roundup

Jun 19, 2019

PG&E pays $1 billion

PG&E to pay $1 billion to local governments affected by wildfires


From the Chronicle's J.D. MORRIS: "Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has agreed to pay $1 billion to more than a dozen local government agencies affected by recent devastating wildfires, including last year’s Camp Fire."


"PG&E’s plan, announced Tuesday after days of mediation sessions in San Francisco, must still be approved in Bankruptcy Court and does not affect claims from individual residents or businesses who were victims of the wildfires."


"Still, the agreement marks the first major settlement reached by PG&E since it filed for bankruptcy protection in January, largely because of its looming liabilities after the past two wildfire seasons. State investigators in May found PG&E responsible for starting the 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history, and the utility’s equipment was also blamed for many of the wildfires that tore through Wine Country in 2017."


New state-run IRA for private sector opens July 1


ED MENDEL in Capitol Weekly: "A new state workplace retirement savings program, CalSavers, will open to an estimated 250,00 to 300,000 employers on July 1 — offering an automatic IRA payroll deduction for the 7.5 million California workers with no retirement plan on the job."


"The massive program, expected to handle billions in savings, is voluntary for employees. If they don’t opt out in 30 days, they are automatically enrolled. Once in the plan, they can opt out at any time, and then opt back in if they choose."


"For businesses with five or more employees, the program is mandatory. They must offer employees CalSavers, or a qualified retirement plan chosen by the employer, to avoid a penalty for repeated non-compliance of $750 per employee."


Tackling the state's wildfire recovery costs could cost as much as $50B under this plan


Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "Heading into a private meeting with Gov. Gavin Newsom and his staff on Wednesday, California lawmakers are floating an expensive plan to address wildfire liability costs and settle victims’ claims."


"During a panel discussion at the Sacramento Press Club on Tuesday, state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, teased a proposal that would create a catastrophic wildfire fund of up to $50 billion."


"He said utility companies would provide most, if not all, of the money for the fund, costing “anywhere between $24 billion and $50 billion."


California gun owners get ready. July brings several new firearm laws and regulations


Sacramento Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "This July, life will get a little harder for California gun owners."


"The California Department of Justice is set to implement strict new rules for the purchase of firearms and ammunition in the Golden State."


"Under a proposed emergency regulation, ammunition buyers would be required to show a federally compliant REAL ID, or else submit additional documentation like a passport, before a sale can be made."


Flipping climate-change deniers from political office


The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "When 11 scientists, cybersecurity experts and other technologists advanced to the general election in Virginia’s state house races this month, it marked a high-water mark for 314 Action, a political organization dedicated to electing more people with science, technology, engineering or math backgrounds. It was the largest number of 314-endorsed candidates — all Democrats — to win in any state since the organization was founded three years ago."


"It represent the growing aspirations for an organization whose name is name is a proud nerd nod to pi. As its website says, “Why 314 Action? Because pi is everywhere."


"It raised $5.2 million for candidates in the 2018 midterm elections, and hopes to raise $15 million to $20 million for the 2020 cycle. It wants to flip 25 House seats now held by “climate change deniers” — all of whom are Republican. It will also focus on races in state legislatures in Arizona, Texas and Virginia. And it is supporting Democrat Mark Kelly, a former astronaut and husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, in the race for the U.S. Senate seat in Arizona now held by Republican Martha McSally."


Californians divided over housing solutions


MARK DICAMILLO in Capitol Weekly: "The latest Berkeley IGS Poll finds a lack of consensus among Californians on a number of policy proposals relating to housing. But one issue that voters do agree on, at least in concept, is that limits should be imposed on new housing development in high-risk wildfire areas. Three in four voters statewide (74%) support this policy, while just 25% are opposed."


"When presented with three public policy actions aimed at making housing more affordable, voters are divided as to which would be most effective. The largest proportion (34%) chooses offering additional tax breaks and subsidies to lower and middle-income homebuyers as the preferred course of action. This compares to 24% who think building more multi-unit housing in urban areas and along public transit corridors would be the best method to make housing more affordable, while 17% select increasing the share of rental units under rent control in this setting. Nearly a quarter of voters (24%), including large proportions of Republicans and conservatives, reject all three approaches."


"A similar lack of consensus is observed when voters are asked whether state government should assume a bigger role in guiding housing development decisions. About half (51%) feel that the affordable housing situation in California is now so serious that state government should step in and require local communities to build more housing in their areas or be penalized. However, 47% disagree and feel these decisions should remain under local control."


Trump's poverty rule could cut bennies to 15,000 Cal ifornia households over time, report says


Sacramento Bee's KATE IRBY: "The Trump administration’s proposal to change how the federal government determines what constitutes poverty would make 15,000 fewer households in California eligible for benefits within 15 years, according to a new D.C. think tank study."


"The rule – which could be instituted next week – would also have implications for hundreds of thousands of people nationwide who rely on the government for food and medical benefits, including Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Funding, formerly known as food stamps."


"The effects would be compounded every year, according to Aviva Aron-Dine, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning D.C. think tank. So the more time that passes — should the rule be enacted — the more people would no longer qualify for low-income household benefits, which Aron-Dine said they desperately need."


CalPERS health insurance will cost more next year, but not as much more as insurers wanted


Sacramento Bee's WES VENTEICHER: "Health insurance premiums for CalPERS members are going up next year, but rates will be lower than insurers initially requested, according to 2020 rates published Tuesday."


"Premiums will go up 4.65 percent on average next year. Last month, insurers submitted requests for increases to CalPERS that would have raised rates by an average of 7.2 percent."


"At last month’s meeting, CalPERS staffers said some insurers likely would reduce premiums for competitive reasons after seeing one another’s published rates. Board members strongly encouraged staff to do all they could to tamp down rate hikes."


California vaccine-exemption crackdown amended to pull back on state control


The Chronicle's DUSTIN GARDINER: "The author of California legislation to require state approval of all childhood vaccination exemptions pulled back Tuesday after Gov. Gavin Newsom said the measure would inject government bureaucracy into doctor-patient decisions."


"State Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, who proposed the legislation, unveiled amendments that would limit the number of medical exemptions that would have to be approved by the state Department of Public Health. Even with the amendments, however, tens of thousands of existing student exemptions could be subject to state review."


"Opponents of mandatory childhood vaccinations said they would continue to fight the bill, maintaining it would criminalize doctors who protect children from what the opponents say are vaccines’ potential side effects."


Newsom apologizes on California's behalf to native tribes for slaughter of ancestors


Sacramento Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG: "Gov. Gavin Newsom formally apologized to California Native Americans through an executive order Tuesday for the state’s “dark history” of violence against indigenous people."


"It’s called a genocide,” Newsom said at a ceremony announcing the state’s apology. “No other way to describe it... I’m sorry on behalf of the state of California."


"The order represents an apology to Native people for the government’s slaughter of their ancestors, family separations and forced servitude, according to his office."


Newsom's LGBTQ celebration missed 1990 raising of rainbow flag at California Capitol


Sacramento Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "Don’t write that history book just yet."


"Monday’s raising of the rainbow flag of LGBTQ Pride above California’s Capitol may have sent a message, as Gov. Gavin Newsom said, but it wasn’t the first time that flag flew above that dome, as the governor claimed."


"A Vermont political science professor and former legislative employee said Newsom got the history wrong by nearly 30 years, writing on Twitter “we were just #straighterased by the CA gov”."


Rep. Katie Porter backs impeachment inquiry, but her OC voters may not


The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "Orange County Rep. Katie Porter became the first of the 2018 California Democrats who flipped GOP seats to support an impeachment inquiry into President Trump — a stance that an opponent plans to use against her in hopes of turning the first-term House member into a one-term House member."


"Porter, a law professor who defeated GOP Rep. Mimi Walters in November to grab a seat long held by Republicans, tweeted a three minute-plus video Monday explaining that she “cannot with a clean conscience ignore my duty to defend the Constitution” when “faced with a crisis of this magnitude."


"I can’t claim to be committed to rooting out corruption and putting people over politics and then not apply those same principles and standards in all of the work I do,” the Irvine Democrat said. She offered viewers a link to a nine-page document spelling how she came to a decision."


Critics of census citizenship question hold 'conspiracy theories,' House Reeps say


McClatchy's EMILY CADEI/.BRYAN LOWRY: "House Republicans are pushing back on what they’re calling Democrats’ “baseless conspiracy theories” about the origins of President Donald Trump’s efforts to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census."


"Republicans on the House Oversight Committee, led by ranking member Jim Jordan of Ohio, released excerpts from non-public interview transcripts from the House Oversight Committee’s investigation into the decision to include the citizenship question in next year’s decennial census, something that has not been done in over 50 years."


"Last week, the committee’s Democratic majority voted to hold Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for not complying with its subpoenas regarding the citizenship questions. The Republican minority released the excepts as part of its defense of Ross."


State legislation to allow safe injection site in SF put on hold


The Chronicle's LAUREN HERNANDEZ: "Nearly a month after a bill that would allow San Francisco to open safe-injection sites cleared the state Assembly, the bill’s authors announced they will wait until next year to push it through the Senate."


"Assembly member Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, and Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, announced the decision in a joint statement Tuesday afternoon."


"Today, we requested that AB 362 not be heard in the Senate this year. The bill is still alive — and we are committed to passing it — but it will now be a two-year bill that we will advance next year,” the statement read."


As Bay Area housing crisis worsens, companies from Google to Wells Fargo ($1B each) step up


The Chronicle's MELIA RUSSELL: "Wells Fargo. Kaiser Permanente. Salesforce’s Marc Benioff. Now Google."


"One by one, the corporate titans of the Bay Area are vowing to plow dollars into solving the region’s biggest crisis — housing."


"It’s a sign of just how serious the problem has become, for employees who need a place to live and also for the region’s major companies, which are under fire from their communities because their workers are displacing longtime residents."


Costco shooting: Man pushed LAPD officer, but deadly force was excessive, attorney says


LA Times's HANNAH FRY/MARK PUENTE/RICHARD WINTON: "A man fatally shot by an off-duty Los Angeles police officer at a Costco in Corona pushed the officer — but that does not justify the use of deadly force, an attorney representing his family said Tuesday."


"Civil rights attorney Dale K. Galipo said it was unclear why Kenneth French pushed the officer, who was holding his 18-month-old son in a food sample line when the altercation occurred Friday."


"Before the officer fired, there was a gap in time when the officer declared he was a police officer and French’s father stepped between them. Galipo said the security video shows this interaction."


This poll asked voters to create their perfect candidate. Democrats picked an older white guy


LA Times's JANMET HOOK: "Diversity is taking a back seat to Democrats’ desire to dump Trump."


"The 2020 presidential candidate field is well stocked with women, people of color and millennials, but a majority of voters who said they expected to cast ballots in a Democratic primary thought that candidates who were white, middle-aged and male would be the party’s best bet for defeating President Trump."


"That finding from the latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times national poll illustrates the hurdles that female, black and Latino presidential candidates still face despite Democrats’ celebration of diversity in their ranks. The poll also illustrates the wariness — bordering on pessimism — that many Democratic voters continue to show in the aftermath of Trump’s upset victory in 2016."


Trump kicks off as new campaign reprising his old themes


LA Times's NOAH BIERMAN: "President Trump officially kicked off his reelection campaign Tuesday night with a rally that at times resembled a time warp, reprising the grievances, slogans and villains that brought him to victory the first time around, but offering no new proposals for a second term."


"He extensively derided Hillary Clinton, his old rival, but barely mentioned the Democrats running in 2020, making two brief references to Joe Biden, who leads polls of the Democratic race, and one to Sen. Bernie Sanders."


"The crowd of about 20,000 in Orlando, Fla., gamely recited the old battle cries: “Lock her up,” “Build the wall” and “CNN sucks."

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