This story appeared on CalMatters
See if you can spot the trend.
Just last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a package of bills codifying the state’s aggressive climate change goals. Among them was legislation by Sen. Lena Gonzalez, a Long Beach Democrat, that aims to ban new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, nursing homes and hospitals.
This follows a similar move by the fast food industry. Last week, Big Burger won a step toward getting a referendum on the 2024 ballot to overturn a law creating a state council regulating wages and working conditions at franchised restaurants.
Powerful interests have always had the power to go directly to voters when they don’t get their way in Sacramento. But as Democratic control over the Legislature has become even more dominant in recent years, aggrieved businesses have adopted a new fondness for the strategy.
Oil and gas producers still have a long way to go before getting the setback law on the ballot. First the attorney general will provide a title and summary for the measure. Then proponents will have to gather more than 623,000 valid signatures from registered voters. Then it goes to the voters.
Getting a majority of California voters to agree with the oil industry might be a tough sell. But a referendum campaign can be its own reward. Once a referendum measure qualifies, the law is suspended until the electorate can weigh in.
The oil and gas industry won’t be able to count on the support of at least two California voters: Gov. Newsom and Sen. Gonzalez.
In a live-streamed interview at the Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday, the governor bemoaned the fact that the bill was already being undercut — and had some sharp words for the more industry-friendly members of his own party.
Rock Zierman, CEO of the California Independent Petroleum Association, didn’t reply to my email asking for his response. But the organization’s lobbyist responded on Twitter: “Fact Check: Untrue!”
Gonzalez is also in New York this week, though she said she missed the governor’s comments. But she did call this latest referendum effort and similar campaigns an “abuse” of the process.
Get ready to vote: Find out everything you need to know about voting in the Nov. 8 California election in the CalMatters Voter Guide, which includes information on races, candidates and propositions, as well as videos, interactives and campaign finance data.
Though the 2018 “blue wave” election was dubbed the “year of the woman,” this year’s midterm elections could present the bigger opportunity for more equal gender representation in the state Capitol.
That’s according to CalMatters political reporter Sameea Kamal and political reporting intern Ariel Gans, who note a bevy of open and competitive seats could make for a record-setting year.
To prove it, they crunched the numbers:
Not that things are complication-free for women running for office in 2022.
That’s the number of Californians who are eligible for student debt relief under a plan President Joe Biden announced last month, according to estimates put out by the White House on Tuesday.
According to the White House estimate, 2.3 million Californians would qualify for that additional level relief — about two-thirds of the total. (State legislative leaders vow to make sure that relief isn’t taxed.)
All told, about 9% of the state population qualifies for some degree of debt reduction. That’s actually on the low end compared to other states. In Pennsylvania, Georgia and Ohio — which just so happen to be swing states with competitive Senate races this year — the figure sits at about 14%.
If California is getting the proportionally short end of the stick, that’s likely because college students here tend to carry less debt overall thanks to the state’s relatively generous financial aid programs and low tuition.
Don’t be hasty: Gov. Gavin Newsom should veto a bill to rename Hastings College of the Law and instead call for hearings on Serranus Hastings’ legacy, writes Donald Craig Mitchell, a graduate of Hastings College of the Law and an expert on federal Indian law.
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