Following up on last week’s Coastal Commission intrigue, Assembly Speaker Toni Akins this week introduced legislation, AB 2002, that would require the same kind of lobbying disclosures for the commission that the state Legislature and other government bodies currently require.
“Basically it’s a pretty simple piece of legislation that says that lobbyist or their known agents will be required to be registered as lobbyists,” she said.
It’s similar to a bill that Atkins’ predecessor Christine Kehoe tried to pass in 2005, with little luck. Atkins said that measure passed the Assembly floor but died in the Senate. This time, though, Atkins thinks public sentiment is on the side of transparency after the secrecy that surrounded the firing of Coastal Commission executive director Charles Lester.
“I really think (the issue) caught fire with the public, so I am optimistic,” she said. “The Coastal Commission is probably one of the most important agencies in the state of California … To see not only the public respond but the media say, ‘Wait a minute, what’s underneath all this?’ and to start to unveil issues, that’s just going to erode public trust further.”
Atkins also pointd out the bill has “a number of co-authors” including Sen. Marty Block. Still, it’s a “heavy lift” bill, as the legislators like to say – one that will require a two-thirds vote to pass.
Atkins said she has not spoken directly to any of her appointed commissioners since the firing, and, “I will tell you, I don’t know what to say to them now” despite the fact that two “have reached out to offer to talk to me.”
But last week’s tweet probably said it all, anyway. That missive made national news and quickly became the defining sentiment for the scandal.
That wasn’t Atkins’ intent, though.
“Who knew?” she said. “Usually as elected officials, we think long and hard before we do things like that … I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t think long and hard. I absolutely, immediately expressed my disappointment … I think I just got caught up in the conversation.”
The Coastal Commission wasn’t the only news Atkins made this week, though. Roll Call named her as one of the 25 most influential women in state politics. Check out Jonathan Miller’s insightful profile of the speaker, outhouses and all.
Gonzalez Announces Bartender Bill
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez on Friday announced AB 2121, which would require bartenders and those serving alcohol to take a mandatory training course about recognizing the signs of inebriation.
The bill was inspired by the death of two UCSD medical students who were killed by a drunk driver in May 2015 in Mission Valley. The drunk driver had just left a local restaurant and was going the wrong way on State Route 163 when the collision happened. Three other students were injured.
Gonzalez announced the legislation in the UCSD Medical School courtyard.
Hueso Still Wary of Uber Drivers
Sen. Ben Hueso jumped into the Uber debate this week.
Presiding over a joint hearing of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications and Senate Transportation and Housing Committees, he continued his opposition to the expanding market for taxi-alterative services like Uber and Lyft. Hueso, whose brother owns San Diego’s USA Cab, said the tech-centric services are hurting workers.
“If you flood the market with too many vehicles, the drivers won’t make a living. … that’s taking income away from somebody who does it full time,” he said at the hearing. “Generally, you’ve got to make a living and you’ve got to feed your family and pay your rent, and to do that you’ve got to put in a fair amount of hours … We’re seeing an industry that provides a living to a lot of people will soon be only an industry that is enhancing income for those using it for part-time work. … What are we doing here with this industry? … Is this jeopardizing the American dream?”
Hueso also wants California kids to be better readers. He introduced legislation this week, SB 1145, that would require an “individualized reading plan” for any kindergarten through fourth graders identified as “struggling readers.”
About 72 percent of California fourth graders don’t read proficiently, according to the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress Report.
“The ability of a child to read and comprehend proficiently during the kindergarten through fourth grades lays the foundation for further learning and impacts how the student is able to grasp subjects such as math and science,” Hueso said in a statement. “We need to begin investing in proven education practices at an early level and I believe Senate bill 1145 helps close the reading gap and provides struggling readers with the tools they need to be successful.”
Golden State News
• East County Magazine reports on more campaign finance trouble for Hueso.
• The L.A. Times reports what it will take to get Assembly GOP members to OK the governor’s health care tax plan.
• Apple and the government continue their fight over encryption. The San Jose Mercury news calls it an “epic showdown.”
• The Bee’s Dan Walters says the Coastal Commission isn’t the only transparency problem.
• Cap Radio reports on how Justice Antonin Scalia’s death could impact California, especially in the big teachers case.