AB5: Law of the land, but hurdles remain
AKEMI TAMANAHA in Capitol Weekly: "California’s landmark labor law, AB 5, which limits the ability of employers to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees, is under fire. AB 5 faces lawsuits from organizations representing freelance journalists, ride-share companies and truck owner-operators."
"The new law, which went into effect last week and stems from a 2018 California Supreme Court ruling in the Dynamex case, rewrites key elements of California labor code."
"It was approved by the Democrat-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September following intense negotiations. It is viewed by advocates and critics alike as a much-needed worker protection statute that may resonate across the country. Broadly, it is favored by organized labor and others, but opposed by many employer and business groups, who say it could boost their costs by 30%. Click here to view a fact sheet describing the workers’ classifications under AB 5, provided by the author’s office."
California lawmaker wants to ban virginity tests
Sac Bee's HANNAH WILEY: "A California Democrat introduced legislation on Wednesday to ban so-called “virginity testing” on women."
"Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s Assembly Bill 1909 is in response to rapper T.I.’s November interview with Buzzfeed News, during which the entertainer said he goes with his teenage daughter to the gynecologist to make sure she’s still a virgin."
"Gonzalez, D-San Diego, called the examination a “form of violence and harassment against young girls and women."
Newsom to unveil plan for California consumer financial watchdog agency
LA Times's DAVID LAZARUS: "After years of the Trump administration steadily rolling back federal consumer financial protections, California has decided enough is enough."
"Gov. Gavin Newsom will unveil a California Consumer Financial Protection Law as part of his proposed 2020-21 state budget, to be introduced Friday."
“As the Trump administration undermines and weakens the rules that protect consumers from predatory businesses, California is filling the void and stepping up to protect families and consumers,” he told me via email."
California's largest private giant sequoia stand saved from development
The Chronicle's PETER FIMRITE: "The long-awaited purchase of a vast grove of giant sequoias once targeted for homes and a ski resort has been completed by the San Francisco conservation group Save the Redwoods League, which plans to open trails and eventually make it a federal park."
"The league raised $15.65 million to buy the 530-acre Alder Creek Grove, a picturesque hillside forest in Tulare County that includes the 3,000-year-old Stagg Tree — the fifth-largest tree in the world."
"It was the culmination of 20 years of negotiations, said Sam Hodder, president and CEO of Save the Redwoods, which received donations from 8,500 individuals and foundations in all 50 states and 30 other countries after announcing in September that it planned to buy the largest grove of sequoias still in private hands."
Newsom wants state to have its own Rx label
Sac Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG: "California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to get state government into the business of selling prescription drugs to drive down health care costs, his office announced Thursday morning."
"As part of his 2020-21 budget plan, Newsom wants to make California the first state to create its own generic drug label. He also wants state agencies and private insurers to negotiate drug prices together to leverage lower prices."
"Newsom’s office declined to answer questions about how the ambitious, far-reaching plan would work and how it would be funded, but provided a memo summarizing the proposal."
Where do key 2020 candidates strand on health care?
Sac Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "California Democrats most want to hear candidates presidential candidates talk about health care as the state’s March 3, 2020 primary approaches.
"It’s the top issue among likely voters, according to the most recent survey conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California."
"Here’s how the top candidates on the Democratic ballot would try to improve the country’s health care system, sorted in order of their recent national polling averagesand performance in early-voting states:"
SF leaders and a Supreme Court justice welcome DA Chesa Boudin at swearing-in ceremony
The Chronicle's EVAN SERNOFFSKY: "Standing on stage in front of a raucous crowd in San Francisco’s Herbst Theater, Chesa Boudin was sworn in Wednesday by Mayor London Breed as San Francisco’s new district attorney."
"Boudin, 39, stood before the packed house of impassioned supporters, city dignitaries, law enforcement officials, judges and attorneys, promising to confront racial disparities in the criminal justice system and mass incarceration. And as the city’s top prosecutor, he said he will focus resources on the city’s most violent criminals while also pledging to hold police more accountable in cases of brutality."
“Join me,” Boudin said to the crowd of hundreds. “Join this movement. Join us in rejecting the notions that to be free we must cage others, that to seek justice we must abandon forgiveness, that to empower our protectors requires tolerating excessive force, that to be safe we should put the mentally ill and addicted in cages, and that jails and prisons should be the primary response to all of our social problems."
Friday's Bay Area king tides offer a hint of what rising sea levels look alike
The Chronicle's JOHN KING: "King tides, a naturally occurring phenomenon that received a common name only a decade ago, are heading to California shorelines this weekend — and with them, a series of public events intended to show people the dangers posed by sea level rise."
"The aim isn’t simply to point out what really high tides look like, but to explain why they’re likely to swell higher and higher in the decades to come."
“Today’s king tides are the high tides of tomorrow,” said Lori Lambertson, a staff instructor at the Exploratorium, the interactive science museum at Pier 15. “They’re harbingers of what climbing water levels are going to do to the city and its infrastructure."
He exposed nepotism and questionable hiring at a California tax agency. Then he lost his job
Sac Bee's ADAM ASHTON: "Three years ago state Treasurer Fiona Ma asked a California public employee to help uncover wasteful spending and nepotism at a tax agency that was collecting more than $60 billion a year in revenue."
"Mark DeSio delivered, funneling records to the state auditor, Finance Department and State Personnel Board for what became damning investigations into the California Board of Equalization."
"Then DeSio lost his job."
ACT chief warns UC that killing the admissions test would harm students
The Chronicle's NANETTE ASIMOV: "Ending the standardized test requirement for admissions at the University of California would deprive students of an objective measure of their skills, among other negative consequences, the head of the ACT test warned UC regents this week."
“Many underserved students benefit greatly from standardized testing as a counterweight for less-than-stellar” grades,” ACT chief executive Marten Roorda told the regents in a three-page letter sent Tuesday to the regents that sets out his argument for why the vast university of nine undergraduate campuses should continue using the test it’s relied on for decades."
"Yet Roorda’s letter was met with skepticism from two of the regents, as UC considers whether to keep the testing requirement or join more than 1,000 universities around the country that have made the standardized tests ACT and SAT optional in admissions decisions — or end their use altogether."
Need a new job? These 10 state jobs pay much better than the private sector
Sac Bee's WES VENTEICHER: "California’s booming labor market means job hunters have a lot of options. Among the recruiters is the state’s government, which employs nearly a quarter-million people and is hiring more."
"While some state jobs pay less than the private sector, others pay considerably more, especially when the state’s benefit package — including pensions and health insurance contributions — is taken into account."
"An analysis by The Sacramento Bee of new data from the California Department of Human Resources identified 10 occupations in which state workers receive the best compensation compared to their peers in the private sector and other government jobs."
Court OKs suit against airline by Oakland man jailed over snack disagreement
The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "A federal appeals court on Wednesday revived a lawsuit against United Airlines by an Oakland man who was pulled off an international flight after an argument about snacks, held in Northern Ireland for 10 months, and then tried and acquitted on a charge of endangering an aircraft."
"Jeremiah Thede accused the airline of malicious prosecution, saying a flight attendant and other employees made false statements that led to the criminal charge and gave false testimony in court. A federal judge dismissed the suit, saying international passengers’ rights are limited by the Montreal Convention, a treaty that provides compensation only for injuries and property damage caused by aircraft accidents."
"But the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Wednesday that the treaty’s limits did not apply to events that took place on the ground long after the flight. The airline’s alleged role in causing Thede to be prosecuted, and the statements its employees made to the news media and on the witness stand, were far removed in time and place from his airline travel and thus “outside the convention’s substantive scope,” the court said in a 3-0 ruling."
Airbnb and similar sites hide fees from cus tomers. People are mad about it
LA Times's HUGO MARTIN: "Juan Herrera, a graduate student from San Diego, was searching the Airbnb booking site for a place to rent in Los Angeles for New Year’s Eve when he was surprised to see that several extra fees were added to the nightly rate, pushing the total cost of the trip out of his price range."
"In addition to the nightly rates of $100 to $120 for a private room, nearly every place he considered renting charged a “service fee” of about 13% of the pretax rate and a one-time “cleaning fee” of about $45. It prompted him to instead book a comparably priced hotel room."
“I definitely felt surprised and preferred to book a regular hotel because I do not feel now that Airbnb is transparent with prices,” Herrera said."
Myth about huge fines for shower/laundry usage won't die. Here's what's true
Sac Bee's RYAN SABALOW/DALE KASLER/PHILLIP REESE: "California will impose new limits on water usage in the post-drought era in the coming years — but a claim that residents will be fined $1,000 starting this year if they shower and do laundry the same day isn’t true."
"It wasn’t true when the state’s new conservation laws were enacted in 2018, and it isn’t true now — despite a recent report on a Los Angeles television station that riled up conservatives on social media and prompted the state Department of Water Resources to issue a statement debunking the claim."
"The renewed controversy over a debunked claim comes as President Donald Trump has inserted himself into the water efficiency debate by making a misleading claim about the flushing power of modern toilets, part of his efforts to push back against environmental restrictions in general."
Uber makes major changes to California rides as gig-work law takes effect
The Chronicle's CAROLYN SAID: "Uber rides are changing in California for both drivers and passengers as the ride-hailing company works to strengthen its defenses against AB5, the new gig-work law that makes it harder for companies to claim that workers are independent contractors rather than employees."
"On Wednesday morning, Uber emailed 150,000 California drivers and millions of California passengers to alert them to the overhauls."
"The company is giving drivers more control over their rides and making fares more transparent — which could mean passengers find that some types of trips get rejected more frequently."
Not much Dems can do to stop Trump from striking Iran again
The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "This is a moment when Oakland Rep. Barbara Lee has a lot to say. She’s tempted to start with, “I told you so.”
"Just days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against the authorization to go to war. She told The Chronicle’s “It’s All Political” podcast that the one-sentence resolution “was so vague, it was so overly broad, that it provided any president the legal basis to justify any military action anywhere in the world forever. This set the stage for endless wars.”
"Over the next two decades, three presidents — two Republicans and one Democrat — have used it to justify 41 military operations in 19 countries. To Lee, the crisis with Iran is the latest example of why Congress should assert its authority over when to go to war."
READ MORE related to war path Escalation: With Iran, Congress will again be asked to exercise its war powers authority. Will it fail again? -- LA Times's SARAH D WIRE