Good morning and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It's September 1st and I'm writing from Los Angeles.
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After a frenzied rush of nighttime politics, California legislature officially closed its most extraordinary session in recent times.
As our Sacramento office manager John Myers writes, it has been "a remarkable, chaotic, and uncertain year" for the Golden State and the people who rule it. Legislators care about a state in great crisis with brutal fires, an ongoing pandemic, and an impending "eviction cliff" that is paramount for the legislature and the people they represent.
The coronavirus also hit the legislature itself, forcing closings at the Capitol twice this year and reducing the time it took lawmakers to draft and debate proposals. In the past few days, some Republican state senators have been debating and voting on bills from home after being exposed to Sen. Brian Jones (R-Santee), who tested positive for the coronavirus last week. At the last minute, partisan fireworks erupted Monday night after Senate Democrats decided to limit the number of speakers on any bill, angry Senate Republicans, who argued they would be silenced by the Democratic super-major. Senator Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) described the move as a statement I cannot print in this article. There were some initial questions about whether the public explosion had been an accidental hot microphone moment, but Melendez cleared up that speculation by reiterating her statement on Twitter. There was more chaos in the upper chamber as the midnight deadline drew nearer. The motion to narrow the billing debate was finally lifted shortly before 9 p.m. and only three hours remained.
This is where you can see where things are on some of the most closely watched invoices. None of the proposals approved in the Statehouse are still regulated by law. Her fate still depends on the signature of Governor Gavin Newsom. Newsom has until the end of the month to sign (or not sign) these laws.
- Coronavirus Protection: There are a number of coronavirus-related proposals that are being submitted to Newsom for approval, including bills to introduce a comprehensive new health and safety policy for hotel, janitorial and airport workers that will allow Californians to get more cash from their retirement accounts without tax penalties Borrow and give high school diplomas to students who have been unable to finish the final months of the school year due to the pandemic. Read my Sacramento colleague Melody Gutierrez's story about COVID-19 protection laws for an in-depth look at the proposals.
- One way forward for prison firefighters: Formerly incarcerated Californians who opposed fire lines in prison have long been legally banned from becoming year-round firefighters with the state – and in numerous counties and cities – after their release due to their criminal record. It's a system my columnist Erika Smith has called "one of California's most notorious mistakes". This suggestion would allow individuals who have worked successfully in any of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Fire Camps to request a judge to quickly clear their records and waive probation in order to regain health.
- Corporate Board Diversification: As you may recall, two years ago the state passed law requiring publicly traded California-based companies to include women on their corporate boards. According to this 2018 law, this new proposal would require companies to have at least one board member from an underrepresented community by the end of 2021, with the number increasing in 2022 due to the size of the board. (What is considered underrepresented? Self-identifying as Black, African American, Hispanic, Latin American, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native American Hawaiian, or Native Alaska, or gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.)
- Eviction Protection: An emergency law to protect pandemic tenants from eviction by January 2021, provided they pay 25% of their rent during that period, was passed late Monday evening, and Newsom signed the law shortly before midnight. The proposal was hastily released on Friday and viewed as a compromise with landlord groups opposed to another bill that would have prevented tenants from being evicted if they hadn't paid rent until April. Tenants' rights advocates were disappointed that the new proposal did not prevent all evictions.
- Police Reforms: In the weeks after George Floyd's death, numerous bills on police accountability and control were introduced, but many made no headway. One of the last remaining reform laws – a measure aimed at better overseeing the sheriff's departments – was passed late Monday evening.
- Allow duplex apartments on most single-family parcels: A hotly controversial bill requiring local governments to allow duplex apartments on parcels that are now largely confined to one house could not be implemented. She was passed by the Assembly late Monday night, but died when the year’s term ended before the Senate could put her to a vote.
And now this is happening across California:
August was the deadliest month of the COVID-19 pandemic in California, despite the state making steady strides in reducing infections, hospital stays and deaths, data shows. The August death toll came after hospital stays peaked in late July when the state reported that 7,170 patients were being treated for COVID-19. In August hospital stays steadily declined, reaching 3,940 this week – the fewest since mid-June. Los Angeles times
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The decline in LAUSD enrollment continues throughout online learning, with an unexpected decline of 6,000 kindergarten teachers. The decline in school enrollment in kindergartens – especially in the lowest-income districts of the school system – was around three times as large as in recent years. Los Angeles times
Los Angeles and Airbnb have introduced a new system to help the city track down illegal entries and remove them from the online platform. A move that LA officials say is critical in enforcing short-stay home rental restrictions. Los Angeles times
POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
Republicans see California as the perfect foil if the campaign intensifies. The bashing has only just begun. Politico
Governor Newsom appoints new director of state parks amid forest fires and budget problems. Armando Quintero, an experienced park ranger and water manager, succeeds Lisa Mangat. Mercury News
“I lost my ability to speak, but not my agency or my thoughts. You and your team have treated my words for your own political advantage. “California activist Ady Barkan shot back after Louisiana Representative Steve Scalise shared a video on Twitter piecing Barkan's quotes together to make it sound like Barkan persuaded Joe Biden to disappoint law enforcement officials. Barkan has ALS and is talking to a device that reads his eye movements; Scalise is the House's second-tier Republican. Washington Post
CRIME AND COURTS
L.A. County prosecutors filed 20 more sexual assault and fumbling cases against Ron Jeremy on Monday after dozen more women contacted law enforcement after the adult movie star was arrested in late June. Los Angeles times
HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT
Complete containment may be in sight for the three major lightning-related forest fires in Northern California. The crews could contain the fire at the SCU Lightning Complex on Thursday and the other two next week. San Francisco Chronicle
The marine life is fine at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but business is good. The aquarium has missed its entire summer tourism season and its finances are so tight that more than a third of its employees have been laid off or on leave. Los Angeles times
A penguin named Rey looks at the Kelp Forest exhibit alongside senior aviculturalist Kim Fukuda in the enclosed Monterey Bay Aquarium.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Orange County's prestigious upscale mall, South Coast Plaza, reopened for personal shopping on Monday as California eased some business restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Los Angeles times
Zoom is leading the pandemic to another quarter of explosive growth. The company reported that for the period May through July, revenue more than quadrupled to $ 663.5 million a year earlier (Patrick Soon-Shiong, owner of The Times, is an investor in Zoom.) SFGate
How Big Sur's Dolan Fire turned California's most scenic route into a smoldering ghost road. The fire resulted in a lockdown of Highway 1 in the area, cutting off the residents of the mountainous area from the rest of the state and preventing the area's ubiquitous tourists from venturing down the tortuous path. San Luis Obispo Tribune
Very important news from the Central Valley: Miley Cyrus' new dog is a stray dog found at a fire station west of Highway 99. According to history, the bulldog "took a long, winding road from Fresno to celebrity". Fresno bee
A poem for your Tuesday: “September” by Joanne Kyger. Poetry Foundation
Free online games
Get our free daily crossword, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new Game Center at latimes.com/games.
Los Angeles: partly sunny, 78. San Diego: partly sunny, 73. San Francisco: sunny, 66. San Jose: partly sunny, 82. Fresno: sunny, 98. Sacramento: sunny, 93. More weather is here.
Today's California memory is from Mercy Ruiz:
When I was a young girl in the early 1970s, the swimming pool in nearby Obregon Park in east Los Angeles was our favorite spot. Every day my cousins and I checked the clock until the pool could be opened. Then we grabbed our towels and ran into the park. We ran in, got our clothes bag, put on our swimsuits and handed in our clothes bag for our "safety pin". Unfortunately we were able to jump in the pool and swim until the time ran out and everyone had to get out of the pool.
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)
Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas, and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.