Senate passes AB5 gig-work bill, turning contractors into employees
The Chronicle's CAROLYN SAID/DUSTIN GARDINER: "The California Senate on Tuesday passed gig-work legislation that could transform the state’s employment landscape, turning many independent contractors into employees. The vote was 29-11, along party lines."
"The bill now heads to the state Assembly, where lawmakers approved an earlier version but must agree to amendments. If it passes a final vote there, AB5 goes to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who wrote a Labor Day op-ed supporting the measure."
"Hundreds of thousands of independent contractors, including Uber and Lyft drivers; DoorDash, Uber Eats, Instacart and Postmates couriers; Amazon Flex drivers; taxi drivers; translators; medical professionals; franchise owners and more, could become employees after the law takes effect in 2020. Unions, which pushed passage of AB5, hope to organize newly minted employees, especially those at gig companies."
READ MORE related to AB5: Sweeping bill on independent contractors passes California state Senate -- LA Times's LIAM DILLON; California Senate passes ride-share bill that has divided Democrats over the future of Uber and Lyft drivers -- WaPo's FAIZ SIDDIQUI; State Senate Passes AB 5, Bill That Limits Who Can Be Classified As Contractors -- KATIE ORR, KQED; California Passes Landmark Bill to Remake Gig Economy -- NYT''s KATE CONGER and NOAM SCHEIBER; California Senate Moves 'Dynamex' Worker Classification Bill Forward Without Deal For Gig Companies -- Capital Public Radio's BEN ADLER and SCOTT RODD
Health official quits after blasting vaccine foes as 'flat-earthers'
The Chronicle's DUSTIN GARDINER: "California’s health care services director announced her resignation Tuesday, a move that came after she mocked opponents of mandatory childhood vaccinations as “flat-earthers” on social media."
"Jennifer Kent is director of the state Department of Health Care Services, which oversees the state’s massive Medi-Cal system."
"No explanation for her departure was immediately released. Kent announced her resignation in a lengthy message to agency employees, and it was unclear whether her exit had been previously planned."
Ballot targeted for $5.5B stem cell initiative
DAVID JENSEN in Capitol Weekly: "Backers of a California ballot initiative to provide $5.5 billion more for the state’s cash-strapped stem cell agency say they will take their first official step by the end of this month."
"That’s when they will submit the proposed measure to California election officials and trigger a many-months-long process. The effort is aimed at ensuring that the nearly 15-year-old research effort survives in a meaningful way beyond next year."
"The stem cell agency, officially known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), expects to run out of money for new awards as early as late October. It has already cut off grant applications except for a joint sickle cell effort involving the National Institutes of Health."
DST will continue in California for now, as lawmaker delays bill
Sacramento Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "Californians will have to continue falling back and springing forward, at least for a little while longer."
"Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, announced that he is making a two-year bill out of Assembly Bill 7, which would put California on permanent Daylight Saving Time upon federal recognition."
"I want to clarify that AB 7 is not dead and will be moving forward in January,” Chu said in prepared remarks. “My main goal will always be to stop the practice of switching back and forth, and I am dedicated to make this a reality."
READ MORE related to Daylight Savings: Clock stops for bid to put California on year-round daylight-saving time -- The Chronicle's ALEXEI KOSEFF
Unions pour cash into CalPERS election, use mailer to highlight sexual harassment complaint
Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON/WES VENTEICHER: "One of California’s largest unions is spending big money to prevent one of its former leaders from winning a seat on the CalPERS Board of Administration, and it’s starting with a political mailer that arrives in a misleading envelope."
"The mailer draws attention to a sexual harassment complaint that was substantiated eight years ago against JJ Jelincic, a former state union leader who is challenging incumbent CalPERS President Henry Jones for a seat on the $380 billion pension fund’s board."
"It comes in an envelope made to look like it was sent by the office Treasurer Fiona Ma. Ma has called for Jelincic to quit the election but says the political mailer did not come from her. A spokesman for her office said no taxpayer money was spent on it."
READ MORE related to CalPERS: Plan for Sacramento's tallest building scrapped -- for now -- as CalPERS ends agreement -- Sacramento Bee's WES VENTEICHER
(OP-ED) Recycling cans and bottles is hard enough. These bills could make it nearly impossible.
JAMIE COURT in a Special to Sacramento Bee: "The ugliest sausage made in Sacramento gets ground up in the last week of legislative session."
"Upton Sinclair would have a muckraker’s field day with the rotten scraps of failed legislation the grocers lobby packed into two last-minute bills that just appeared Saturday through a process called “gut and amend.” The bills – Senate Bill 634 and Assembly Bill 54 – would release grocery stores and retailers from their legal obligations to recycle."
"Californians plunk down $1.5 billion each year in nickel and dime deposits for our bottles and cans. That’s money we are supposed to get back, but only about half of the deposits come back directly to consumers because we can’t find a convenient place to return our empties."
California boat fire: Raising sunken vessel is crucial as investigation widens
LA Times's RICHARD WINTON: "Officials will attempt to raise the sunken Conception — where 34 people died in a boat fire on Labor Day — as the investigation into the disaster intensified."
"Sources familiar with the probe said the boat could be towed back to shore as soon as Wednesday. Poor weather stopped the effort this weekend."
"By getting the Conception to shore, authorities can begin what is expected to be a lengthy examination of the cause of the fire and other aspects of the investigation."
California shelter for immigrant kids denies them attorneys -- 'we need answers'
Sacramento Bee's KATE IRBY: "The federal government is denying legal assistance to child migrants living at a Modesto shelter, according to advocates who worry the kids will suffer unnecessarily without access to attorneys."
"Complaints about the site, which has been open for less than two months, reached Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, who on Tuesday sent a letter to the Trump administration asking questions about services there."
"The migrants in the Modesto facility are pregnant teens, teen mothers and their children, with ages ranging from toddlers to teenagers. It houses up to a dozen migrants at a time and has been operating for about two months. It is currently housing six immigrant children."
Davis declared a fiscal emergency to avoid 'drastic effects' of not collecting tax revenue
Sacramento Bee's ALEXANDRIA YOON-HENDRICKS: "Davis declared a “fiscal emergency” last week, allowing the City Council to hold a special election in March 2020 and place a 1 percent sales tax renewal measure on the ballot – a move made to ensure the city avoids the “drastic effects” of interrupted tax collection."
"After being hit with a legal challenge in August, Davis must switch to district-based voting in time for its next City Council election, forcing the city to push back its election to November 2020."
"But if the city waits until then to place a sales tax renewal on the ballot, the earliest Davis could start collecting revenue would be April 2021 – meaning the city would miss out on an anticipated $2.2 million in tax revenue when the tax sunsets next December, according to a staff report."
'Blob' of warm Pacific water is back -- could be trouble for marine life and weather
The Chronicle's PETER FIMRITE: "An ominous warm patch similar to the notorious “blob ” that wreaked havoc along the California coast five years ago has been detected along the West Coast, raising fears among scientists that the fragile ocean ecosystem may be facing another calamity."
"A large marine heat wave has warmed the northern Pacific Ocean and is threatening to disrupt sea life from Alaska to Southern California, marine biologists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said."
"The mass of unusually warm water, known officially as the Northeast Pacific Marine Heatwave of 2019, is the second largest in 40 years. Experts say it is behaving in the same way and is on a trajectory to be as strong as the infamous blob that disrupted the entire West Coast ocean ecosystem from 2014 to 2016. That event caused toxic algae blooms and mass die-offs of sea lions, salmon and other sea creatures."
2020 Dems say they'll push cities to build more homes
McClatchy's EMILY CADEI: "The Democrats running for president all say they want to help contain America’s soaring housing prices. But some are promising more aggressive steps to tackle one of the root issues: the lack of housing supply."
"A handful of 2020 candidates have embraced proposals to pressure cities and towns to loosen zoning laws, which experts blame for a lack of home construction. Many residents and local politicians, particularly those in affluent suburbs, oppose construction of high-rise apartment buildings and affordable housing units in their communities."
"The federal government doesn’t have much say over those decisions, but it does have one source of leverage with cities and towns: federal housing and transportation funding."
Trump officials visit LA to assess homelessness crisis
LA Times's BENJAMIN ORESKES/DAKOTA SMITH/JAMES QUEALLY: "It wasn’t the typical tourist bus filled with celebrity-hungry gawkers tooling around Los Angeles this week."
"The Trump administration officials who came to town to study homelessness spent Monday and Tuesday meeting with officials from Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office, checking out the Jordan Downs public housing in Watts and touring the long-entrenched epicenter of the crisis, skid row. There was even a trek to Pomona."
"An administration official said the purpose was to gather information so that President Trump could begin to develop a plan to address the “tragedy."
New HIV infections hit record low in SF, but people of color, homeless cases spike
The Chronicle's ANNA BAUMAN: "The number of new HIV diagnoses in San Francisco has dropped to a record low, but the news was more sober for four groups with a rising number of new cases: black and Latino residents, as well as homeless people and intravenous drug users, the city reported Tuesday."
"The overall improvement comes five years after a consortium of city health officials, UCSF and local nonprofits launched an aggressive “Getting to Zero” campaign aimed at eliminating new HIV cases altogether by expanding testing, treatment and care."
"In the last decade, the number of new cases dropped by more than 58% — to 197 in 2018, from 472 in 2009 — the city’s latest annual HIV epidemiology report shows. New cases also fell by 13%, from 227, between 2017 and 2018."
BART officials put an end to those modified fare gates at Fruitvale
The Chronicle's RACHEL SWAN: "After testing a new set of modified fare gates at Fruitvale Station — equipped with plates that pop up, like shark fins, once the gates close — BART officials made a conclusion: They’re not worth the effort."
"The gates, installed in July, succeeded in at least one measure, reducing fare evasion by 17%. But they also created an “unreasonable maintenance burden,” largely because fare cheats kick the plates when jumping over them, Assistant General Manager Tamar Allen wrote in a memo to BART’s Board of Directors."
"Constant battery by fare evaders upset the delicate architecture of the fare gates, which had to be synchronized so that the right and left plates would come up and retract at exactly the right time. Combined, those factors meant triple the number of repairs as normal gates."
Richmond police chief is out for good -- new interim chief appointed
The Chronicle's MATTHIAS GAFNI: "Days after being placed on leave following an overwhelming vote of no confidence by his rank-and-file officers, Richmond Police Chief Allwyn Brown is out for good, the city manager announced Tuesday night at the start of the City Council meeting."
"Interim City Manager Steven Falk acknowledged the “tumult” in the Police Department before saying he met with Brown on Tuesday and “Brown will no longer serve as police chief.” He reiterated that Bisa French will move from acting police chief to interim police chief, which led to a round of applause by the audience."
"I have been in conversation with Chief Brown and the first thing I did was thank him for his 35 years of service,” Falk said. “I told him I’m proud of him and the work he’s done in Richmond."