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Good morning! It’s a busy week. Let’s get right into the news.
GETTING BACK TO WORK
Monday saw California lawmakers take their oaths of office, with Assembly members gathering in the unusual location of the Golden 1 Center. Be sure to check out Hannah Wiley’s Twitter thread on the swearing-in ceremony.
With the legislative session begun, lawmakers wasted little time introducing, and in some cases re-introducing, bills for consideration.
Among the bills making a comeback this session is a bill allowing for the decertification of police officers, which is authored by Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.
Senate Bill 2 would create a statewide process for decertifying a police officer following a conviction for serious crimes or termination of employment for misconduct. Presently, no such process exists.
“California is able to revoke the certification or licenses of bad doctors, lawyers, teachers, and even barbers, but is unable to decertify police officers who have broken the law and violated the public trust. It’s time for California to join the majority of the nation and create a process to decertify bad officers. I look forward to working with Pro Tem Atkins, my colleagues, and all stakeholders to have this bill signed into law,” Bradford said in a statement.
A previous version of the bill, Senate Bill 731, failed to pass out of the Assembly before the legislative deadline this summer.
Another bill, brought by Sens. Bradford and Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, is intended to build upon the protections to college athletes granted by Senate Bill 206. SB 206 gave college athletes the right to collect compensation for their name, image and likeness, such as from an endorsement or sponsorship deal, and also allows college athletes to operate a business or take jobs as a coach or instructor.
This new bill, which does not yet have a number, moves up the effective date for SB 206 to become law, and also allows student athletes to earn compensation for “athletic reputation,” which lets student athletes identify the name of their college or university when making endorsements or advertisements.
“As I said in 2019, preventing students from seeking compensation for their likeness while you profit off it yourself is akin to institutionalized slavery,” Bradford said in a statement. “That’s why I am proud to join with Sen. Skinner in authoring this bill. SB 206 sent shock waves through the nation, and this new bill will continue to empower the thousands of student athletes who generate billions of dollars in revenue for the NCAA while struggling to balance their educational and financial needs.”
Then there’s the bill submitted by Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park, which would make universal vote-by-mail permanent in California.
“In the face of a global health pandemic and an unprecedented onslaught of misinformation trying to undermine voters’ faith in our democracy, California conducted a secure and remarkably successful general election,” Berman said in a statement. “Given the success of mailing every active registered voter a ballot, as well as other improvements we made in 2020, it only makes sense to make permanent many of the key changes adopted in response to the pandemic.”
California’s ban on evictions would last through 2021 under new extension proposal, via Hannah Wiley.
California police officers would have to be 25 or get bachelor’s degree under new proposal, via Wes Venteicher.
NEWSOM APPOINTS NEW CDPH DIRECTOR
The California Department of Public Health once again has a director, pending Senate confirmation.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday named 61-year-old Tomás Aragón, a Democrat, to the position. Aragón hails from the Bay Area, where he has served as health officer for San Francisco, and director of the population health division of the San Francisco Department of Public Health since 2011.
Aragón has a medical doctor degree from Harvard Medical School and has been volunteer faculty for UC Berkeley School of Public Health since 2004.
Aragón fills the void left by the sudden departure of previous director, Dr. Sonia Angell, in August, after just five months on the job.
CA DEM ENDORSEMENT
In the contest between California State Controller Betty Yee and Jenny Bach for vice chair of the California Democratic Party, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, has weighed in.
Rendon is endorsing Bach.
“Despite our electoral successes in recent years, we as California Democrats have to do more to reach out and listen to the perspectives of Californians too often left out of the political process,” Rendon said in a statement. “With her experiences as a leader in the party, I’m confident Jenny will deliver on making the California Democratic Party a more inclusive and successful organization for years to come.”
Bach, who currently serves as secretary of the California Democratic Party, is running on a campaign platform of increasing access, transparency “and empowerment within the party and communities that it serves,” according to a statement from Bach’s camp.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“CA can’t manage to cross check unemployment applications with death row inmates. But the new COVID exposure notification app is promised to be private and secure?”
– Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, via Twitter.
Best of the Bee:
An extra $300 a week for eligible unemployed Californians is getting serious consideration from Republicans and Democrats in Washington as they push hard for a compromise economic aid plan, via David Lightman.
In late November, a group of California district attorneys made the stunning disclosure that the state had disbursed as much as $1 billion in fraudulent pandemic unemployment assistance to state prisoners and their accomplices. Now the bank that handed out the COVID-19 money says the amount of fraudulent aid distributed by California since the pandemic hit could be twice as much, via Dale Kasler and David Lightman.
As California attorney general, Xavier Becerra resisted transparency, threatened legal action against journalists, ducked police reforms and declined to investigate the police killing of an unarmed Latino man, via Gil Duran. (OPINION)