Good morning, and welcome to the A.M. Alert!
First, a little fun from the Republican debate last night:
Via Hannah Wiley…
It takes a lot of guts to take on Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, but former Rep. and GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Ose last night said he’d try.
To get anything done with a Democratic supermajority in the Capitol, Ose said he’d have to “figure out how to work” with Gonzalez.
“She’s the most powerful politician in the legislative branch of the Capitol,” Ose said, adding that Democrats are terrified of her.
“Wow. Nothing like a straight talking, unapologetically progressive Latina to scare some Republicans,” Gonzalez immediately tweeted in response. “Don’t worry boys, I’m all in for @GavinNewsom and plan to continue to work with him to push my working class, all families agenda. #NoOnRecall.”
As Assembly Appropriations chair and former head of the influential Latino Legislative Caucus, Gonzalez is powerful. She passed landmark legislation in 2019 via Assembly Bill 5, which required employers in certain situations to classify their workers as employees with benefits. She’s backed by powerful unions with sway in the Capitol, and never shies from an impassioned debate on the Assembly floor.
Former Republican state Sen. Jeff Stone once referred to her as the “black widow of public policy.” She’s publicly tangled with anti-vaccine actor Rob Schneider.
But is she more powerful than, say, close ally Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood? Well…you decide.
NEWSOM WINS COURT BATTLE OVER VOTER GUIDE
Via Lara Korte…
Gavin Newsom will be able to describe the recall as an effort by Donald Trump-supporting Republicans in the statewide voter guide, a Sacramento judge said in a tentative ruling yesterday.
Both sides of the recall were invited by the Secretary of State to submit 500-word arguments for the guide. Last week, leaders of the recall movement sued Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber, saying that the governor’s argument included false statements.
Lead recall proponents Orrin Heatlie and Mike Netter challenged 10 of the 17 lines of Newsom’s voter guide argument that include statements calling the recall an “attempt by national Republicans and Trump supporters” to take power in California.
But Superior Court Judge Laurie M. Earl sided with Team Newsom in a tentative ruling early Wednesday, ahead of a scheduled hearing.
“As persuasively demonstrated by Gov. Newsom, the recall effort was clearly spearheaded by Republicans,” she wrote.
The parties still appeared in court on Wednesday afternoon to argue their points. Earl said she plans to issue a final ruling by today.
RENT RELIEF APPLICANTS, PAYMENTS TICK UP
Via Katherine Swartz…
California is picking up the pace in approving COVID-19 rent relief, but it still has billions of dollars to spend.
So far, the state has doled out $241 million, about 24% of the $1.1 billion that renters have applied for, according to the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency.
The state has $5.2 billion in federal funds set aside for rent relief that it wants to distribute ahead of Sept. 30, when the state’s eviction moratorium is set to expire.
Some can still be protected from eviction after the deadline. Renters making at most 80% of their area’s average median income can still apply for rent relief, and while their application is in progress they’re protected from eviction.
Since March, the state program has assisted 21,000 households, 60% of which have received assistance in the past five weeks. That’s when Gov. Newsom signed Assembly Bill 832, which helped to streamline the rent relief process.
Gustavo Velasquez, director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development, said that new changes to the application process have led to the growth of applications. Before AB-832, 4,500 households a week applied for rent relief, but now around 7,500 households apply.
One key change that’s led to more applicants is that landlords are no longer required to submit documentation, although it’s still highly encouraged. Prior to AB-832, landlords also had to apply for the rent relief program in order for their tenants to be eligible. Now if the state can’t get in contact with a landlord, tenants can still get relief.
The department has also improved the Spanish translation for the application and simplified the document submission process. Tenants previously reported taking hours to fill out the application, but Velasquez said that process is now closer to 30 minutes.
CALIFORNIANS SEE RACISM AS A BIG PROBLEM, SURVEY SAYS
Eight in 10 Californians see racism as a problem in the state, according to the latest survey from the Public Policy Institute of California.
The survey’s findings, published in a blog post Wednesday, revealed that more than half (55%) of Californians see racism as a big problem, while 29% say it is somewhat of a problem.
That marks little change from July 2020, when California and the rest of the nation were at the height of protest following the police killing of George Floyd.
Broken down among racial groups, Black people are the most likely (79%) to see racism as a big problem in California, followed by Latinos (65%), Asian Americans (55%) and finally white people (46%), according to PPIC.
A significant percentage of Californians (40%) said that they have experienced discrimination or been treated unfairly because of their race.
Black people (81%) were most likely to report experiencing discrimination, followed by Asian Americans (60%) and Latinos (43%). Meanwhile, 75% of white people said they have not experienced discrimination due to their race, according to PPIC.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“It’s kinda crazy to think about, especially for those of us who grew up in the ‘80s… but, we are closer to 2060 than we are to 1980!”
– Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, via Twitter.
Best of the Bee:
The federal receiver overseeing medical care inside California’s prisons asked a federal judge Wednesday for a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination order for guards and staff at the prisons, saying the delta variant of the virus “poses enormous risks,” via Sam Stanton.
The Newsom administration is proceeding with plans to require state workers to present proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or else submit to regular weekly testing over the objections of its largest public employee union, via Andrew Sheeler.
Responding to criticisms about the federal government’s firefighting efforts, the Biden administration promised Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday that the Forest Service will contribute “more boots on the ground” and other resources to make California’s forested lands less prone to wildfires, via Dale Kasler.