This story appeared on Calmatters
Assemblymember Isaac Bryan says it’s time to let California prisoners vote.
To be clear, the Culver City Democrat who leads the Assembly election committee, isn’t talking about extending the franchise to people with felonies on their record. California and 21 other states already allow for that.
Bryan’s bill, which he introduced as a proposed amendment to the state constitution on Monday, would allow people to cast ballots while they are still in state prisons.
For both supporters and opponents of the idea, it might look like the inevitable conclusion to a decade of California legislation on both voting rights and prison rehabilitation policy:
If Bryan is successful — something that would require approval from at least two thirds of both the Assembly and Senate, then a majority of voters statewide — California would join Vermont, Maine and Washington D.C.
Bryan’s bill is sure to be a heavy political lift.
Last year, a proposed constitutional amendment to ban forced, unpaid labor in state prisons failed, lacking support from the Newsom administration, some moderate Democrats in the Senate and all Republicans.
Bryan already knows he won’t be able to count on the support of the election committee’s vice chairperson, Tom Lackey, a Palmdale Republican.
Electric vehicles: CalMatters is writing a series of stories on California’s road to more electric cars and trucks. Starting in 2035, no gas-powered vehicles will be sold in the state. Do you have questions about this transformation? Submit them here.
You already know these famed political surnames: Kennedy, Roosevelt, Clinton and Bush.
But what about Dahle, Rubio, Bonta and Lowenthal?
Meet California’s Legacy Caucus — the state lawmakers related by blood or marriage to other legislators past and present. This year, they make up 10% of the Legislature — with more likely on the way in 2024.
Why does winning elections seem to run in some people’s families? How does politics as a family affair change the culture of the Legislature? And for the lawmakers in question, what are Thanksgiving dinners like?
I’ve had these questions on my mind since last December, when Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes, a Corona Democrat, announced she’s running for state Senate, clearing the way for her sister, Clarissa, to campaign for her soon-to-be-vacant seat.
As I reported the article, new examples kept popping up:
Having family in the politics business can help a candidate in a number of ways: Name recognition among voters, connections to endorsers and funders, a family environment that fosters respect for a certain kind of public service.
For Assemblymember Blanca Rubio and her younger sister, Sen. Susan Rubio, serving in the Legislature at the same time comes with its own benefits. For example, sometimes it’s difficult for an Assemblymember to find someone to introduce their bill in the Senate and vice versa.
For those following the saga of California’s eye-searingly high natural gas prices, the worst seems to be behind us, at least for now.
Months of high demand and constrained supply led to budget-buckling bills. But come February, more natural gas is flowing into the state, bringing prices down. Plus, state regulators are coming to the rescue with relief credits for families.
But as CalMatters’ economy reporter Grace Gedye reports, the California’s Public Utilities Commission, is already worried about the next crisis.
At the commission’s meeting Tuesday, there was a lot of head scratching about what the state can do, if anything, in the face of future price spikes. Not much, it turns out.
Unlike electricity rates, which are tightly regulated by the state, natural gas prices are left to boom and bust with the gyrations of the market.
But the commission does have a say about how and where energy companies store their surplus product, when facilities are allowed to operate and when bills are sent to customers, all of which can indirectly affect the ultimate price, Grace explains.
Over the last decade California lawmakers have thrown money at research into dyslexia. They’ve mandated new types of teacher training and called for more reading coaches. They’ve rallied around Gov. Newsom, among the state’s most famous dyslexic public figures.
But CalMatters’ education reporter Joe Hong explains, legislators have never required universal dyslexia screening for all children — something 40 other states do, even though many early education scholars and advocates call it a “basic” and critical tool to keep kids reading at grade level.
What’s the hold-up? As Joe reports, the opposition of one of California’s most powerful interest groups.
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Two long-serving veterans of Capitol politics died within hours of one another. Allan Zaremberg and Rex Hime have been widely praised, and the plaudits are richly deserved.
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