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A Snapshot of California Public Policy and Politics

California Policy and Politics Thursday

California bill aims to end school gender notification policies — and protect teachers -- As lawsuits play out in courts across the state over student privacy when it comes to gender identity, a bill introduced in the California Legislature on Wednesday aims to unilaterally end parental notification policies — and protect teachers caught in the fray. Mackenzie Mays in the Los Angeles Times$ Andrew Sheeler, Jenavieve Hatch in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 5/22/24

Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis launches Democratic PAC to mobilize voters on abortion rights -- California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis publicly launched a new independent political committee to mobilize “pro-choice” California voters and help to defeat Donald Trump and take back Democratic control of the House of Representatives. Julia Wick in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/23/24

Why “paper or plastic?” may be coming to an end at California grocery stores -- Citing environmental harm and litter, lawmakers move to further limit plastic bags at the checkout counter. Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 5/23/24

Judge’s error scrambles case against Paul Pelosi attacker -- A snafu at the sentencing hearing complicates the high-profile trial against far-right conspiracy theorist David DePape. Jeremy B. White Politico -- 5/23/24


Alameda County DA sues Farmers Insurance over ‘widespread scheme’ to underinsure homes -- The lawsuit alleges Farmers is keeping policyholders in the dark about the costs to rebuild homes destroyed in a disaster. Ethan Varian in the East Bay Times$ -- 5/22/24


Latest protests on UC campuses: Workers demand higher pay, help with housing -- “No housing? No peace!” chanted dozens of employees waving signs and pounding drums in the chilly breeze outside of UCSF’s hospital on Parnassus Street in San Francisco. Nanette Asimov in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/23/24

A second judge finds Tesla workers at Fremont factory were racially harassed -- A judge has found that Black workers faced years of widespread “race harassment” at Tesla’s Fremont electric car factory, opening the door for thousands more claims charging the automaker with mistreatment. Ethan Baron in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 5/23/24


PG&E customers face more increases in monthly utility bills: new state proposal -- PG&E customers face the ominous prospect of a fresh round of increases in monthly bills — yet again — in a case tied to the utility titan’s efforts to connect new homes and businesses to the electricity grid. George Avalos in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 5/23/24

Grand Central

S.F.’s massive plan to create a ‘Grand Central Station of the West’ wins major funding grant -- ​​San Francisco’s vision to make the desolate Salesforce Transit Center the “Grand Central Station of the West” has received support from the federal government, which has pledged $3.4 billion toward the city’s downtown rail extension project. Ricardo Cano in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/23/24


Homelessness in S.F.: These are the neighborhoods where tents and vehicles are rising -- A Chronicle analysis of city data found that the reductions in tents and vehicles occupied by the homeless varied by neighborhood, with a handful of areas seeing a jump. Maggie Angst in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/23/24

San Diego leaders respond to ‘promising’ and ‘troubling’ report showing a continued rise in homelessness -- Local and federal officials expressed cautious optimism Wednesday about new statistics showing only a small rise in homelessness throughout San Diego County. Blake Nelson in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 5/23/24

Gavin Newsom’s budget won’t fund key homeless programs. Democrats want to claw money back -- California lawmakers are pushing hard to find ways to restore major homelessness and housing program cuts Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed in his revised budget. Lindsey Holden in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 5/23/24


How much worse will extreme heat get by 2050? New report outlines worrisome future -- Extreme heat will strain power grids and threaten millions more Americans by 2050, a new report has found. Hayley Smith, Ashley Ahn in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/23/24


Another OpenAI employee resigns, third departure since last week -- Gretchen Krueger, a policy research employee at San Francisco-based OpenAI, announced she was leaving Wednesday, adding that she had concerns about certain areas of the company. Jordan Parker in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/23/24


UCI Divest group says students suspended, calls for walkout after encampment protest -- More than 100 people gathered at UC Irvine on Wednesday, May 22, following the UCI Divest Coalition’s call for a walkout in response to suspensions the group said those arrested in last week’s encampment protest have received. Hanna Kang, Annika Bahnsen in the Orange County Register -- 5/23/24


Hoeven: ‘Literally life or death’: California kids are disappearing from school and the workforce. No one knows where they are -- In 2022, more than 1 in 10 Californians between the ages of 16 and 24 — nearly half a million youth — were “disconnected.” Emily Hoeven in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/23/24

These California ski resorts are still open over Memorial Day weekend -- The last day to ski at Palisades Tahoe — the only resort that remains open in the Lake Tahoe region — is Memorial Day, said resort spokesperson Patrick Lacey. Farther south, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in the Eastern Sierra in Mono County will also be open through Monday, according to its website. Jessica Flores in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/23/24

He picked up a package and found a live rattlesnake inside: ‘Do I have any enemies?’ -- It’s not every day that someone makes an attempt on your life. Alex Wigglesworth in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/23/24


California Policy and Politics Wednesday

UC seeks injunction to halt strike as academic workers threaten to expand walkouts -- The legality of the ongoing strike by UC academic workers in support of pro-Palestinian demonstrators will go before the state labor board this week. Howard Blume, Jaweed Kaleem in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/22/24

Divestment from Israel roils universities. Would it work? Some are dubious -- Ever since the Israel-Hamas war began last year, student protesters from California to New York have called on schools to divest. But administrators say it is not so simple. Jenny Jarvie in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/22/24

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block heads to D.C. for grilling on campus antisemitism -- The testimony — which will take place just over two months before Block steps down as chancellor — will be the first time the head of a California university addresses the House education committee. Jaweed Kaleem, Andrea Castillo in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/22/24

Policy & Politics

Bakersfield legislator Vince Fong wins special election to replace Kevin McCarthy in Congress -- In the race to replace former Rep. Kevin McCarthy in Congress, San Joaquin Valley voters Tuesday chose Vince Fong, a Republican state assemblyman who was endorsed by McCarthy and Donald Trump. Laura J. Nelson in the Los Angeles Times$ Jeremy B. White Politico -- 5/21/24

California pushes through Gavin Newsom’s bill helping Arizona abortion-seekers -- The measure is expected to go into effect imminently, just weeks after the blue-state governor made the proposal to take in patients from the neighboring state. Rachel Bluth Politico -- 5/22/24

Top California Dem launches national attack on GOP over abortion -- Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, a candidate for governor in 2026, is also a close ally of Vice President Kamala Harris. Christopher Cadelago Politico -- 5/22/24

Gavin Newsom faces budget backlash — from his closest allies -- The California Teachers Association has released a new ad that swipes at Newsom over his education budget plans. Blake Jones Politico -- 5/22/24

Walters: Newsom shuns tax increases yet his budget contains billions in new levies on businesses -- When Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a much-revised 2024-25 state budget this month, he became visibly irritated when reporters pressed him about raising taxes to cover a $44.9 billion deficit, particularly the corporate tax hikes that left-leaning groups have suggested to avoid spending cuts in health, welfare and education programs. Dan Walters CalMatters -- 5/22/24

California could require age verification to visit porn sites -- The Democrat-controlled Assembly has passed a bill, similar to laws enacted in conservative states, that would require porn sites to verify visitors are adults. Ryan Sabalow CalMatters -- 5/22/24

Assembly passes bill to require farmers to notify county before using pesticides near schools -- The state Assembly on Tuesday passed legislation that would require farms within a quarter-mile of a school would be required to notify county officials before spraying pesticides. Anabel Sosa in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/22/24

California Assembly passes bill to make kindergarten mandatory -- After several failed attempts, California lawmakers are once again working to mandate that children attend kindergarten, with the state Assembly passing a bill to make it compulsory Tuesday. Julia Wick in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/22/24

California Senate passes bill to require speed governors in new cars -- The California State Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would require new vehicles to come equipped with a function that warns motorists when they’re driving 10 mph over the speed limit. Ricardo Cano in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/22/24

Bill advances in Sacramento to make social media pay for harm to California kids -- AB 3172 would make social media firms liable for harm such as eating disorders, depression. Clara Harter in the Orange County Register -- 5/22/24

Leading S.F. mayoral candidates share vision for the city in first town hall -- The five leading candidates in the San Francisco mayor’s race appeared in a joint town hall Tuesday night and made their best cases for why they should win the November election. J.D. Morris in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/21/24

Oakland Coliseum

Oakland reaches landmark deal to sell Coliseum site to developers, ending decades of ownership -- The sale will help the city close a steep budget gap this year without major staffing cuts, as it works to turn the corner on post-pandemic crime and economic weakness. Eli Rosenberg in the San Francisco Chronicle$ Shomik Mukherjee in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 5/22/24


California Supreme Court appears hesitant to overrule voters on gig worker law -- Based on their line of questioning, California Supreme Court justices seemed to be reaching for a compromise as they heard oral arguments today in the long-running legal saga over whether gig workers should be considered independent contractors or employees. Levi Sumagaysay CalMatters -- 5/22/24

San Diego COVID-19 test maker Cue Health — once worth $2.3B — lays off entire company and shuts down -- Cue’s closure comes a week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned consumers to throw away its COVID-19 test kits because they could give false results. Natallie Rocha in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 5/22/24

S.F. public hospital nurses reach tentative agreement to avert looming strike -- The union representing San Francisco public nurses said they have won improvements from the city in salaries, retention, recruitment, safer staffing, and more. Jordan Parker in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/22/24

Pixar hit by layoffs as Disney cuts 175 jobs at Bay Area animation studio -- President Jim Morris sent an email to staff on Tuesday, May 21, revealing that approximately 14% of the workforce, roughly 175 employees, would be let go as part of a restructuring plan by Disney. Aidin Vaziri in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/22/24

California to examine medical staffing at state prisons and hospitals -- California will evaluate the outsourcing of medical and mental health care services at state prisons and hospitals with an audit request suggesting it costs the state up to three times more for contracted medical staff compared to using state employees. Vik Jolly in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 5/22/24

Orange County Fire Authority agrees to $580,000 settlement in lawsuit alleging gender discrimination -- The fire agency settles with former spokeswoman Colleen Windsor, whose lawsuit alleged that male colleagues systematically harassed and undermined her. Salvador Hernandez in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/22/24

‘You’re Fighting AI With AI’: Bots Are Breaking the Hiring Process -- It’s bot versus bot on the hiring front lines, as job hunters turn to new tools to counter the AI that’s screening their applications. Lindsay Ellis in the Wall Street Journal$ -- 5/22/24


In a first, most California houses sell for over $900,000 -- The median price for a single-family house in California surpassed $900,000 for the first time ever, according to the California Assn. of Realtors. Andrew Khouri in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/22/24

50-story condo tower proposed in S.F. is dead. This is what will replace it -- On Tuesday, the group that had proposed the 589-foot high-rise in San Francisco’s Sunset District submitted a letter to the Planning Department requesting that the project be withdrawn. J.K. Dineen in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/22/24

YIMBY group hits wealthy Peninsula city with lawsuit over housing plan -- A pro-housing group says that San Mateo is trying to avoid sweeping rezones that would allow for more density around the city. Kate Talerico in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 5/22/24


See home insurance costs for every California ZIP code in first-of-its-kind map -- In California, homeowners may pay anywhere from under $1,000 to more than $10,000 per year to insure their homes — and it may depend in large part on where they live, state data analyzed by the Chronicle shows. Megan Fan Munce, Harsha Devulapalli in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/22/24


California’s largest reservoir fills for a second year in a row -- The reservoir is 96% full as of May 20, with water levels at 115% of the historical average for this time of year. Jack Lee in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/22/24


‘I got a job, I got class’: Why Cal State L.A. isn’t roiling with protest -- The vibe at Cal State L.A.’s pro-Palestinian encampment is quieter than the raucous scenes that have unfolded at some SoCal campuses. One key difference: the number of students juggling schoolwork with outside jobs and family duties. Melissa Gomez in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/22/24


S.F. Supervisor tries new route to fill hundreds of vacant police positions -- San Francisco Supervisor Matt Dorsey on Tuesday proposed a charter amendment aimed at retaining staff and expediting hiring for the city’s police force, his second attempt to fill vacancies in a department that some argue is short by more than 500 officers. Megan Cassidy in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/22/24

Death in sheriff’s custody leads Riverside County to pay $7.5-million settlement -- Christopher Zumwalt, a 39-year-old construction worker who specialized in remodeling kitchens, was detained in October 2020 by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office. Terry Castleman in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 5/22/24

Fire erupts at Alamo Square home of S.F. dog walker who faced racist threats, hospitalizing his parents -- The home of a well-known local dog walker erupted in flames Tuesday morning near San Francisco’s Alamo Square, one month after he told police he began receiving racist threats by mail. Nora Mishanec, Annie Vainshtein in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 5/22/24


A day with no COVID deaths? It finally happened in California -- It was a regular Tuesday in spring, sunny and warm, and a little foggy at the coast. But as April 2, 2024 came to a close, a silent victory emerged: the day had passed without a single Californian dying from COVID. Harriet Blair Rowan in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 5/22/24


World’s largest camera, costly, fragile and built in Menlo Park, makes epic journey to South American mountaintop -- Device will shoot photos of 20 billion galaxies to be stitched together in expansive panoramas of colliding and exploding stars and mysterious interstellar phenomena. Ethan Baron in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 5/22/24