This story appeared on Calmatters
When might Californians get more details about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to enact a windfall profits tax on oil companies, which newly elected state lawmakers are set to consider in a special legislative session beginning on Dec. 5?
The specifics of the proposal aren’t likely to surface until the start of the special session, the same day legislators will be sworn into office, Newsom’s office told CalMatters political reporter Alexei Koseff and me on Monday.
And lawmakers don’t expect to take substantive action on the issue until January, when the next legislative session starts in earnest.
Newsom has proposed returning revenue from the new tax to Californians in the form of rebates — potentially similar to those the state is currently sending to millions of residents — but the special session timeline suggests it could be a while before checks start landing in residents’ mailboxes, if they land at all.
Indeed, approving a new tax could be a politically perilous move for newly elected lawmakers facing their first vote — and could be unpopular amid concerns of an impending recession and California’s projected $25 billion budget deficit for the next fiscal year. Lawmakers are also expected to introduce their own ideas during the special session.
Meanwhile, the California Energy Commission is slated to hold a meeting on Nov. 29 with oil industry executives and experts to seek more information about gas price spikes, refinery disruptions and record industry profits. Regulators are also set to discuss strategies to “insulate consumers from price shocks” ahead of the state’s 2035 ban on the sale of new gas-powered cars.
The Newsom administration has a new communications policy when it comes to the governor’s trips: “When the Governor is traveling for official state business we will provide information about his travel. When the Governor is on personal or family travel we will not provide details about his trip until his return due to security concerns,” Newsom spokesperson Erin Mellon told me in a Monday statement. Although the administration has previously shared information in advance about Newsom’s personal or family trips — including last year’s Thanksgiving vacation in Mexico and this year’s spring trip to Central and South America — that has changed in recent months, starting with Newsom’s summer trip to Montana to visit his in-laws and including his current Thanksgiving family vacation.
Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor and former president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, told me, “I don’t think that he’s under any sort of legal or arguably moral obligation to tell us where he is vacationing.”
California’s last nuclear power plant, which provides about 10% of the state’s electricity, just took a big step toward staying open past its planned 2025 closure date: The U.S. Department of Energy announced Monday that PG&E, the operator of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, was awarded a grant of about $1.1 billion to help keep the facility open. The move comes about two months after a controversial, last-minute process that culminated in Newsom and state lawmakers authorizing a loan of as much as $1.4 billion for PG&E to keep Diablo Canyon open until 2030 to help stabilize California’s fragile energy grid. Anti-nuclear advocates opposed the action, noting that the aging facility near San Luis Obispo is located close to earthquake fault lines and could pose safety issues.
CalMatters editor-in-chief Dave Lesher, who seven years ago helped found the award-winning nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom covering state policy and politics, is stepping into a new role: leading CalMatters’ California Accountability Project, which will combine old-school shoe-leather reporting with artificial intelligence technology to help journalists identify and dig into stories and never-before-seen trends to hold government officials and agencies accountable, CalMatters membership manager Sonya Quick writes.
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Remember California’s massive budget surplus? Never mind.
California must end use of dangerous pesticide: The herbicide paraquat is banned in dozens of countries due to its well-documented links to Parkinson’s disease and cancer, yet the U.S. and California still allow it despite unacceptable health risks, argue Jonathan Evans and J.W. Glass of the Center for Biological Diversity.
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