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Kevin McCarthy knew gutting the ethics office wouldn’t look good for Republicans -- House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., knew from the start that it was going to be a public relations disaster. Sean Cockerham in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/3/17

Despite recent storms, California snowpack still below average -- In spite of recent storms, the snowpack at a key point in the Sierra remains at just 53 percent of average, but state water officials, nonetheless, called it a good start as California enters its sixth year of drought. Dale Kasler, Ryan Sabalow and Phillip Reese in the Sacramento Bee$ Rich Pendroncelli and Scott Smith Assciated Press -- 1/3/17

Powerful storms in Sierra prompt avalanche warning -- A powerful series of storms that began over the weekend and continued to drop heavy powder on weak layers of the snowpack Tuesday could trigger avalanches in the Sierra backcountry, forecasters warned. Kimberly Veklerov in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/3/17

Fast Food CEO Says Higher Minimum Wage Boosts Business -- When California began raising its minimum wage two years ago, Bill Phelps wasn’t happy. Phelps is CEO of a fast food company called Wetzel’s Pretzels, which has almost 100 outlets in California. Sam Harnett KQED -- 1/3/17

Kamala Harris sworn in as first Indian American senator and California's first black senator -- Before friends and family in a packed chamber, Kamala Harris was sworn in as California's newest U.S. senator Tuesday morning. She became the first black woman the Golden State has sent to the Senate and the first Indian American to ever serve in the body. Sarah D. Wire in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/3/17

Kamala Harris to take office with instantly high expectations -- On Monday, the U.K.-based Guardian named Harris one of the top Americans to watch in 2017. In recent weeks, she’s been short-listed as a potential 2020 presidential candidate by The Hill, Mother Jones and The New York Times. And last year the Washington Post ran a story headlined: “Is Kamala Harris the next Barack Obama?” Carla Marinucci Politico -- 1/3/17

Kamala Harris faces high expectations as California’s new senator -- Kamala Harris will take the oath of office Tuesday as California’s 45th U.S. senator and the Democratic Party’s Great Blue Hope. Carolyn Lochhead in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/3/17

Xavier Becerra formally nominated as California attorney general -- Gov. Jerry Brown formally entered his nomination of Rep. Xavier Becerra for California attorney general on Tuesday, setting the 90-day clock for the Legislature to act. Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/3/17

Gov. Jerry Brown departs for Hawaii, beginning a busy month -- Days after President Barack Obama and the first family departed from the islands for their final winter vacation, Gov. Jerry Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown left California for their Hawaiian vacation on Tuesday. Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/3/17

A battle is brewing over a proposal for a new source of water in the South Bay -- On a picturesque summer afternoon, West Basin Municipal Water District officials chose to woo regulators with a stroll by the beach in El Segundo, stopping to admire an unadulterated strip of California coastline. Matt Stevens in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/3/17 ** confusing unrelated video on this link

Walters: California’s slowing population growth has many impacts – positive and negative -- A decade ago, California’s demographers and those in the federal Census Bureau were politely arguing. Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/3/17

17 new California laws that will affect you in 2017 -- This year the state legislature sent Gov. Jerry Brown 1,059 pieces of legislation. Kurt Snibbe in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 1/3/17

John Keplinger, former executive director of the state Fair Political Practices Commission, has died -- John Keplinger, the former executive director of California's political watchdog agency, died at age 80 on Dec. 17, according to the Associated Press. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/3/17

Arden Fair’s new teenager ban violates civil rights law, says ACLU. Mall says it was cleared by legal team. -- Arden Fair mall’s decision to ban unaccompanied teenagers the day after Christmas is drawing criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union along with some parents and teenagers who say it discriminates against a broad category of people, barring them from a space open to the public. Richard Chang in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/3/17

Everything I Knew About Aging Was Wrong, Or, Why I’ll Spend a Week Homeless on the Streets of Oakland -- Everything I knew about aging was wrong. That was the first lesson I learned when I plunged headfirst into the world of aging as a reporter five years ago. What did I get so wrong? Matt Perry California Health Report -- 1/3/17

House Republicans Back Down on Bid to Gut Ethics Office -- Lawmakers, facing a storm of bipartisan criticism, including from the president-elect, moved to reverse steps to kill the Office of Congressional Ethics. Eric Lipton and Matt Flegenheimer in the New York Times$ -- 1/3/17

Fox: So Many New Laws with More to Come -- As the new year begins, 900 statutes were added to California law books. If history is our guide—807 new laws last year, 950 the year before that–there will be hundreds of more laws added at the end of this year. Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 1/3/17

‘Routine’ Jobs Are Disappearing -- Many workers instead are taking lower-paying low-skill manual work or dropping out of the labor force, according to new research. Lauren Weber in the Wall Street Journal$ -- 1/3/17

Amazon’s robot army grows by 50 percent -- The world’s largest e-commerce retailer said it employed 45,000 robots in some 20 fulfillment centers. That’s a cool 50 percent increase from last year’s holiday season, when the company had some 30,000 robots working alongside 230,000 humans. Ángel González in the Seattle Times -- 1/3/17

 

California Policy & Politics This Morning  

No, California Democrats didn’t ‘legalize’ child prostitution -- misleading column about a new state law by an Orange County lawmaker has sparked inaccurate online reports taking off on Facebook. Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, wrote a piece for the Washington Examiner under the headline “California Demo crats legalize child prostitution,” which has been cut and pasted by a variety of partisan websites as the basis for their false claims. Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/3/17

Villaraigosa hits fund-raising stride in race for governor -- By the time Antonio Villaraigosa announced his candidacy for governor in November, his most-formidable rivals already were far ahead in the early race for campaign money. David Siders Politico -- 1/3/17

Capitol action, by the numbers -- As the California Legislature commences its 2017 Session, the following is a quick look back at historical numbers for bill introductions and gubernatorial bill actions. Chris Micheli Capitol Weekly -- 1/3/17

New Law: Repeal Of '90s Welfare Rule Takes Effect -- As of Jan. 1, California no longer prevents additional welfare payments for families who have more children while receiving state aid, removing a rule that called discriminatory and invasive. Ben Bradford Capital Public Radio -- 1/3/17

Historic San Francisco parental leave law kicks in -- Most new parents with jobs in San Francisco will be eligible for six weeks of fully paid leave starting this week, the result of the most comprehensive parental leave law offered anywhere in the country. Emily Green in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/3/17

With Gonzalez-Fletcher nuptials, a San Diego power couple make it official -- Most guests arrived at the downtown San Diego hotel believing they were attending a 40th birthday party for former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher. They were treated to that and so much more. Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/3/17

From immigration to short-term housing to street vendors, L.A. City Hall faces a heavy agenda -- Los Angeles City Hall gets back to work this week, facing an ambitious and, in some ways, divisive agenda ahead of several key elections. Dakota Smith in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/3/17

This Golden State Podcast: The Resistance: Nancy Pelosi -- As Congress reconvenes, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi talks about the resistance to Donald Trump. In an interview with This Golden State's Randy Shandobil, Pelosi shares her strategy for trying to derail the parts of Trump's agenda that Democrats find most egregious. Link here -- 1/3/17

San Francisco police see progress in dealing with people in mental crisis -- The San Francisco police hostage crisis negotiation team responded to more calls in 2016 than in any year in recent history, an uptick that officials see as a sign that the department is moving in the right direction in dealing with people suffering from mental health crises. Vivian Ho in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/3/17

Taxes, Fees, Rates, Tolls, Bonds    

After sales tax hike's failure, SANDAG anticipates delays to long-term highway improvements -- The defeat of a November ballot measure and overly bullish economic forecasts are causing delays to the construction of new trolley lines and highway improvements, forcing a regional planning organization to seek new strategies to pay for its long list of transportation projects. Joshua Stewart in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 1/3/17

Economy , Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions 

SFO Criticized for Letting Seawall Erosion Turn into an Emergency -- Federal and state officials say San Francisco International Airport’s lack of proper maintenance and inspections led to the erosion of a seawall that prompted calls for emergency repairs. Ted Goldberg KQED -- 1/3/17

SpaceX Says It’s Ready to Launch Rockets Again -- After the explosion in September of one of its rockets, SpaceX is now ready to get back into the business of sending payloads to space, the company announced on Monday, with its next rocket headed to orbit as soon as Sunday. Kenneth Chang in the Wall Street Journal$ -- 1/3/17

George Lucas museum cliffhanger: LA or San Francisco? -- George Lucas is no stranger to epic struggles on the big screen, but he didn't expect one off-camera when it came to his art collection. Jocelyn Gecker Associated Press -- 1/3/17

Water 

After six years of drought, this is the winter weather we're 'supposed to be getting,' meteorologists say -- The slow but steady improvement in California’s drought picture should accelerate in the new year with a series of storms that are expected to dump rain and snow in Northern California. Angel Jennings in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/3/17

Bay Area cities prepare for 60 days without Hetch Hetchy supply -- In late December, the filtration tanks at a treatment plant in San Bruno were quietly filled with millions of gallons of raw water. At the same time, water was drained out of Mountain Tunnel, the century-old artery connecting the Bay Area to Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, 175 miles away in Tuolumne County. Lizzie Johnson in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/3/17

California snowpack surveyed as indicator of drought -- Surveyors will plunge poles into the Sierra Nevada snowpack near Lake Tahoe on Tuesday, taking the season's first measurement by hand of the snow's water content as California flirts with a sixth year of drought. Scott Smith Associated Press -- 1/3/17

Education 

Education issues to watch in 2017 – and predictions of what to expect -- The first week in January is like the first day of spring training: Everyone’s an expert on predicting what Gov. Jerry Brown will sign and veto and who’ll win the World Series. John Fensterwald EdSource -- 1/3/17

Debate underway on CSU & UC tuition increase proposals; students protesting -- Early skirmishes have begun already on tentative proposals to increase tuition at California’s two massive public university systems for the first time in six years. Serious debate and protests – likely to be bruising at points – are expected over the next few months as financial and political impacts are weighed. Larry Gordon EdSource -- 1/3/17

Guns   

California gun owners brace for shortages, price hikes under new ammo regs -- Matt Ball isn’t the type of gun enthusiast who hoards ammunition – at least not normally. Ball, a 39-year-old banker from Roseville, is a casual shooter who spends a few days a year at the target range. Ryan Sabalow in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/3/17

Immigration / Border 

Zoning changes aim to transform San Ysidro -- San Ysidro would be transformed into a vibrant commercial and residential area under a new city plan that envisions multi-story housing along the trolley line and a tourist-oriented “village” near the international border. David Garrick in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 1/3/17

Environment 

State Supreme Court to hear Banning Ranch lawsuit Wednesday -- The California Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday in San Francisco on a preservation group's lawsuit challenging the Newport Beach City Council's approval of a proposed development at Banning Ranch. Bradley Zint in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/3/17

Warmer waters have more bottlenose dolphins turning up in San Francisco Bay -- Bottlenose dolphins are moving north from their warm-water haunts in the ocean waters off Southern California, and seaside observers are spotting more and more of them as far north as Mendocino. David Perlman in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/3/17

Health 

Buildings at three Sonoma County hospital campuses still require seismic upgrades -- Were a major earthquake to strike Sonoma County, 91 percent of the county’s 68 structures located on hospital campuses would probably remain standing and even continue providing services, state officials said. Martin Espinoza in the Santa Rosa Press -- 1/3/17

Will California’s New “Right to Try” Law Empower or Exploit Patients? -- With the enactment of a new “Right to Try” law, California joins 31 other states that have already passed legislation to support patients’ efforts to access experimental drugs. Carrie Feibel KQED -- 1/3/17

Repealing Obamacare affects everyone -- Under Obamacare, senior citizens pay less for Medicare coverage and for their prescription drugs. Many Americans have received free contraceptives, mammograms, colonoscopies and cholesterol tests. And small business employees with older and sicker workers have not been slapped with super-high premiums. Tami Luhby CNN -- 1/3/17

News In Numbers: For One In Three San Diegans, Finding A Doctor Is An Ordeal -- If you’re a Medi-Cal patient, getting a timely appointment with a doctor has never been easy. But two statewide reports say that for San Diego beneficiaries, whose numbers have increased 22 percent in two years, it’s especially tough. Cheryl Clark KPBS -- 1/3/17

POTUS 45  

Donald Trump's complicated relationship with technology -- Donald Trump rarely opens his Apple computer. Friends say he doesn’t surf the Web, preferring to read print newspapers, and he keeps stacks of magazines on his desk. Aides say they have never received an email or text message from him. Josh Dawsey Politico -- 1/3/17

Poll: Americans Aren’t Very Confident Trump Can Handle Presidency -- More than half of Americans lack confidence in Donald Trump’s ability to “prevent major scandals,” “handle an international crisis,” and “use military force wisely” once he becomes president, according to a Gallup poll released Monday. Adam K. Raymond New York Magazine -- 1/3/17

Video Puts New Focus on Donald Trump’s Ties to Dubai Partner -- The tape, obtained by CNN on Monday night, is the latest reminder of Mr. Trump’s vast array of global business relationships that could create conflicts of interest for his presidency, including the prospect that a commander in chief might make policy decisions guided by what is best for his own family’s brand and wealth. Julie Hirschfeld in the New York Times$ -- 1/3/17

Beltway 

With No Warning, House Republicans Vote to Gut Independent Ethics Office -- House Republicans, overriding their top leaders, voted on Monday to significantly curtail the power of an independent ethics office set up in 2008 in the aftermath of corruption scandals that sent three members of Congress to jail. Eric Lipton in the New York Times$ Lisa Mascaro in the Los Angeles Times$ John Bresnahan Politico -- 1/3/17

Perdue Is Trump’s Lead Pick for Agriculture Secretary -- Sonny Perdue III, the former governor of Georgia, is president-elect Donald Trump’s leading candidate to be his U.S. secretary of agriculture, according to a person familiar with the matter. Perdue, 70, would succeed secretary Tom Vilsack. Perdue met with Trump on Nov. 30 and told reporters they talked about agricultural commodities traded domestically and internationally. While Perdue is the front-runner, the decision isn’t final, the person said. Jennifer Jacobs and Marvin G. Perez Bloomberg -- 1/3/17

Republicans Stonewalled Obama. Now the Ball Is in Their Court. -- After a tumultuous decade that has seen profound changes in the makeup and character of their party, Republicans are poised to complete their slow but steady climb back to power as they seize control of the House, Senate and the White House for the first time since 2006. Carl Hulse in the New York Times$ -- 1/3/17

Russian government hackers do not appear to have targeted Vermont utility, say people close to investigation -- As federal officials investigate suspicious Internet activity found last week on a Vermont utility computer, they are finding evidence that the incident is not linked to any Russian government effort to target or hack the utility, according to experts and officials close to the investigation. Ellen Nakashima and Juliet Eilperin in the Washington Post$ -- 1/3/17

 

-- Monday Updates 

State court upholds 2013 law that cut buying pension credits -- A state appeals court has upheld a 2013 California law that eliminated a pension benefit for hundreds of thousands of state and local government employees in an effort to reduce the pension system’s mounting deficits. Bob Egelko in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/2/17

CalPERS reports make debt, cost difficult to see -- New annual CalPERS reports no longer prominently display the pension debt of local governments as a percentage of pay, making it more difficult for the public to easily see the full employer pension cost. Ed Mendel Calpensions.com -- 1/2/17

New Hiring, New Fears In New Year -- It looks like more companies may be hiring in the Sacramento area during the first few months of the new year. A survey of the region's top employers finds that 63 percent plan to hire in the first-quarter. That's up five percent from a year ago. Rick Reed conducted the poll for Pacific Staffing. Steve Milne Capital Public Radio -- 1/2/17

Assemblywoman rings in 2017 with a surprise marriage to a former lawmaker -- For a legislator who frequently offers glimpses of her personal life on Twitter, the new year brought something entirely different to share: a wedding. John Myers in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/2/17

Walters: Reality penetrates California’s public employee pension system, but not far enough -- It’s very rare, but always welcome, when reality intrudes on political decision making. Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/2/17

Abalone restoration efforts in coastal waters could use the public’s help, say scientists -- They’re not cute and furry with shiny golden eyes like California’s similarly endangered mountain lions, but they are very tasty, good for the ecosystem and quickly approaching extinction. Sandy Mazza in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 1/2/17

Orange County Democrats to pick a new leader, and it's likely to be a woman -- Orange County didn’t get its way when it voted for Hillary Clinton in November, but there’s a good chance it will get a woman to lead local Democrats when the party picks its next chief on Jan. 9. Martin Wisckol in the Orange County Register -- 1/2/17

Mosque members turn out to help Orange County's homeless -- Iqra Mukhlis was helping her friends pack socks, tubes of toothpaste and shampoo bottles in clear plastic bags for Orange County’s homeless Sunday morning at the Islamic Society of Orange County’s mosque. “What a great way to spend the first day of the year,” the Golden West College student said. Deepa Bharath in the Orange County Register -- 1/2/17

Claiming mandate, GOP Congress lays plans to propel sweeping conservative agenda -- For six years, since they took back the House of Representatives, Republicans have added to a pile of legislation that moldered outside the White House. In their thwarted agenda, financial regulations were to be unspooled. Business taxes were to be slashed. Planned Parenthood would be stripped of federal funds. The ­Affordable Care Act was teed up for repeal — dozens of times. David Weigel in the Washington Post$ -- 1/2/17

California’s low-key coastal keeper blazes a 40-year trail -- You don’t have to walk from Mexico to Oregon to appreciate the California Coastal Trail, but Morgan Visalli and Jocelyn Enevoldsen did anyway. The young marine scientists spent three months last summer exploring a proposed 1,200-mile route that many consider a symbol of California’s approach to managing its coastline. Nate Seltenrich in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/2/17