Labor won big with bill to rewrite California employment law — but it’s flawed
From the LAT's GEORGE SKELTON: "Independent trucker Robert Schott was driving his big rig down the I-10 near Pomona when I reached him on his cell to talk about the “gig” bill. He hated the measure."
"We chatted shortly before the state Senate passed the bill Tuesday night after an emotional debate. Then the Assembly on Wednesday sent it to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who already had endorsed the measure."
"It’s organized labor’s biggest legislative victory in years. The bill will reclassify an estimated 1 million California workers as company employees rather than independent contractors, enshrining in law a state Supreme Court ruling. As employees, they’ll be eligible for new benefits, pay guarantees — and union membership"
Who’s in, who’s out of AB 5?
From CalMatters' JUDY LIN: "Doctors, real estate agents and hairdressers can keep their independent contractor status. But not truckers, commercial janitors, nail salon workers, physical therapists and — significantly — gig economy workers, who will gain the rights and benefits of employees in California under sweeping workplace legislation passed
"Gov. Gavin Newsom has committed to signing the bill, which cleared the Assembly 56-15 in a challenge both to the longstanding trend toward outsourcing labor and to the business model of companies such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, who have threatened a $90 million fight at the ballot box."
"Once signed, AB 5 would upend longstanding employment practices that have seeped into the Democratic presidential debate about how workers should be treated, particularly in today’s gig economy."
Uber says it won't reclassify its drivers despite passage of new California labor rules
Sacramento Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG: "Uber’s chief legal officer says the ride-share company doesn’t plan to reclassify its drivers as employees, even though California lawmakers just passed a bill they say will force the company to do just that."
"California’s Legislature on Wednesday approved a high-profile bill that they say will force companies to reclassify many workers as employees instead of independent contractors, meaning they’ll be entitled to benefits like minimum wage and compensation for injuries sustained on the job."
"Immediately after the bill’s passage, Uber’s chief legal officer Tony West said the company won’t concede that drivers must now become employees. West said its drivers are legitimately classified as independent contractors under the law because the work they perform is outside the scope of its usual business, which it argues is simply a technology platform."
California cap on rent increases moves to governor's desk
The Chronicle's ALEXEI KOSEFF: "Millions more Californians would be protected against massive rent hikes and unfair evictions under legislation approved Wednesday."
"AB1482, which would impose a statewide cap on rent increases and just-cause eviction rules, now awaits the signature of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who helped negotiate a deal between tenant advocates and landlords that cleared a path for the bill."
"In a statement, Newsom called it the “strongest package in America” to protect renters, providing “important new tools to combat our state’s broader housing and affordability crisis."
Dems cite Reagan vetoes to defend tax returns law
The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "California Democrats have turned to an unlikely ally — Ronald Reagan — in their defense of a state law that requires President Trump to release his tax returns before he may appear on next year’s primary ballot."
"In a filing with the California Supreme Court, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, the state’s top elections official, cites a series of vetoes by then-Gov. Reagan as evidence that the Legislature, not Padilla’s office, has final authority over qualifications of candidates for presidential primary elections. That’s a central issue in a lawsuit by Republicans challenging the tax-return law."
"The first-in-the-nation law, sponsored by Democrats, requires candidates for president or governor to release five years of tax returns to make the primary ballot. Trump, the first president in more than four decades to refuse to release his returns, and other Republicans have filed multiple suits in federal court contending the law unconstitutionally sets new qualifications for presidential candidates."
California Supreme Court declines to block two death penalty cases despite Newsom's moratorium
Sacramento Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "The California Supreme Court on Wednesday denied petitions in two unrelated death penalty cases, clearing the way for district attorneys to continue prosecuting the cases despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s moratorium against capital punishment."
"Jade Douglas Harris and Cleamon Demone Johnson both face the death penalty in unrelated capital murder cases; Harris is accused of killing three people and injuring two others in a shooting rampage, while Johnson is charged with five counts of murder, according to the Los Angeles Times."
"In March, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order putting a moratorium on the death penalty in the Golden State. Newsom called the capital punishment “ineffective, irreversible and immoral” and granted a reprieve to all 737 inmates currently awaiting execution."
Forest thinning projects won't stop the worst wildfires. So why is California spending millions on them?
LA Times's BETTINA BOXALL/JON SCHLEUSS: "Four months after the town of Paradise was incinerated in the most destructive wildfire in California history, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an emergency proclamation, ordering agencies to thin trees and clear shrubs near some of the state’s most fire-threatened communities."
"Saying the $32 million in projects were vital “to protect the lives and property of Californians” he swept aside environmental reviews and competitive bidding requirements to speed the work."
"But the state’s recent fire chronicles are riddled with examples of how such fuel break projects don’t guard against the wind-driven infernos that have laid waste to communities the length of California."
READ MORE related to Energy, Environment & Climate: California's Trump-blocking environmental bill may be delayed in fight over water -- Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER/RYAN SABALOW
California lawmakers kill plan to triple electric-vehicle rebates
The Chronicle's DUSTIN GARDINER: "Drivers looking to buy electric cars or other zero-emission vehicles in California will get less financial help from the state than many had hoped."
"Lawmakers have killed San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting’s bill that could have tripled the state’s rebate for drivers who buy electric or hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. His proposal sought to increase a typical consumer’s rebate to as much as $7,500 and provide a stable pot of funding for the payments."
"The Senate Appropriations Committee rejected Ting’s bill, AB1046, without any public discussion in late August."
Nearly 3,000 illegal cannabis businesses found in audit, dwarfing legal trade
LA Times's JAMES QUEALLY/PATRICK MCGREEVY: " California’s black market for cannabis is at least three times the size of its regulated weed industry, according to an audit made public Wednesday, the latest indication of the state’s continued struggle to tame a cannabis economy that has long operated in legal limbo."
"The audit, conducted by the United Cannabis Business Assn., found approximately 2,835 unlicensed dispensaries and delivery services operating in California. By comparison, only 873 cannabis sellers in the state are licensed, according to the Bureau of Cannabis Control."
"The figures are the latest sign of California’s rocky rollout of its legal marketplace, which promised better regulations and control beginning in 2018. Legitimate marijuana businesses have repeatedly criticized state leaders and law enforcement for failing to curb unlicensed dispensaries and delivery services, which sell cannabis at a much lower price by skirting state and municipal cannabis taxes."
READ MORE related to Cannabis: California cannabis retailers want Newsom to punish Weedmaps with fines -- Sacramento Bee's ANDREW SHEELER
Vaccine bill critics want California voters to block new limits on exemptions
LA Times's MELODY GUTIERREZ: "Three women who stood on chairs to interrupt a state Capitol hearing on vaccine legislation are trying another route to stop newly enacted school immunization laws: California’s statewide election next November."
"Tara Thornton, Denise Aguilar and Heidi Munoz Gleisner filed referenda on Wednesday to overturn two laws signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday, statutes that will implement new restrictions on child medical exemptions for vaccines beginning Jan. 1."
"Filing a proposed statewide referendum with the state attorney general is the first step in the process of placing a measure on the ballot. To qualify for the 2020 ballot, each referendum will need 623,212 valid signatures from registered voters within 90 days of the laws being enacted."
READ MORE related to Vaxx: Voters could get a chance to overturn new vaccine law -- Sacramento Bee's ADAM ASHTON
College athletes could profit under bill headed to Newsom
The Chronicle's NANETTE ASIMOV: "A bill that would make California the first state to let college athletes profit from their name and images, as Olympians do, is headed to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk."
"SB206 cleared its final legislative hurdle in the Senate Wednesday with unanimous, bipartisan support. If Newsom signs it, the law would take effect in 2023 and cover athletes at California’s public and private universities that make at least $10 million a year from intercollegiate athletics media rights. Cal, for example, took in $95 million last year."
"Once on his desk, Newsom has a month to sign or veto the bill."
Judge overturns Yuba County's 1 percent sales tax, ruling it was misclassified on ballot
Sacramento Bee's ALEXANDRA YOON-HENDRICKS: "A Yuba County Superior Court judge invalidated a 1 percent sales tax approved by Yuba County voters last year, finding the measure, which focused on supporting public safety services, was misclassified as a general tax."
"The ruling found that Measure K, which passed last November with 53 percent of the vote, should have been placed on the ballot as a special tax – which requires a two-thirds majority for approval. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and two residents sued the county last December, calling the measure an “illegal tax."
"Judge Stephen Berrier wrote in his Monday ruling, based on the text of the ballot language and proposed ordinance, the tax is “is dedicated to specific purposes only and not for general government purposes.” According to the proposed ordinance, the sales tax revenue would be used “entirely to maintain and improve public safety services and essential services."
Final victim of California boat fire is recovered by divers
LA Times's RICHARD WINTON: "Divers on Wednesday recovered the final victim of the California boat fire that killed 34 people on Labor Day."
"The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department announced the discovery, saying DNA testing would determine the identity of the body."
"Authorities have been planning to raise the boat from the Santa Barbara Channel for days, but those efforts have been repeatedly put off due to bad weather. Officials now expect the salvage process to begin Thursday or Friday."
SCOTUS rules for Trump on asylum ban
LA Times's DAVID G SAVAGE: "The Supreme Court on Wednesday cleared the way for President Trump and his administration to enforce a ban on nearly all asylum seekers arriving at the southern border."
"In a one-paragraph order, the justices by a 7-2 vote granted an emergency appeal from Trump administration lawyers and set aside decisions from judges in California who had blocked the president’s new rule from taking effect."
"While it is not a final ruling on the issue, the decision is nonetheless a major victory for Trump and his effort to restrict immigration because it allows the asylum ban to be enforced at the southern border while the dispute wends its way through the courts. That potentially could last for the remainder of Trump’s current term in office."
READ MORE related to Immigration: Concord immigrant with rare disease makes plea to reinstate visa program -- The Chronicle's TATIANA SANCHEZ
Trump officials tour unused FAA facility in California in search for place to relocate homeless people
WaPo's JEFF STEIN/JOSH DAWSEY/TRACY JAN: "A team of Trump administration officials toured a California facility once used by the Federal Aviation Administration this week as they searched for a potential site to relocate homeless people, according to three government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private tour."
"President Trump has directed aides to launch a major crackdown on homelessness in California, spurring an effort across multiple government agencies to determine how to deal with sprawling tent camps on the streets of Los Angeles and other cities, officials said."
"Trump is expected to visit California on Tuesday and Wednesday. One administration official with knowledge of Trump’s visit to California said there were discussions about an announcement related to California’s growing homeless problem next week, but a second official said that any decision could be premature and that it was not on the current schedule for the trip."
READ MORE related to Homelessness Epidemic: Sacramento mayor 'wary' of Trump's offer for homeless aid, but says CA cities should listen -- Sacramento Bee's THERESA CLIFT