Breasts, beer and the Shrimp Boy clean-up. Welcome to the Sacramento Report, chronicling a busy week on hot topics for San Diego legislators.
State Sen. Patricia Bates weighed in on the conviction of her former colleague, Leland Yee, on corruption charges by introducing SB 1467, closing what she calls a major loophole in campaign contribution limits.
If you somehow missed it, Yee, a former state senator, was sentenced to five years in jail on corruption charges stemming from accusations that he promised guns and votes in exchange for campaign contributions. Yee, caught in an FBI sting operation revolving around alleged Chinatown mobster Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, exploited a legal loophole that allows unlimited contributions to candidate-controlled ballot measure committees.
Bates’ bill would curtail that practice and put the same limits on ballot measure committee donations as the ones currently in place for personal campaigns for state candidates and elected officials.
“It’s important not just to me, but to the credibility of elected officials that the money that is contributed to our accounts is actually used for our campaigns,” she said of the measure. “We shouldn’t have that perception, or that reality, out in the public that we do have these backdoor committees that really advance us and are not truly in the interest of good public policy.”
Bates said that she had worked with Yee for a “number of years” and was “troubled and saddened that he got himself in that kind of trouble.”
She added that SB 1467 could potentially save other legislators from the kind of enticement that Yee, who was trying to raise money for a secretary of state run. Bates said the bill is “aimed at closing loopholes that are attractive when people have significant troubles” and could “remove that temptation that when we get in those situations, may pull us in the wrong direction.”
Assemblyman Brian Jones had another kind of temptation on his mind this week: craft beer.
Jones, who used to brew his own stuff back in his days as a San Diego State student, introduced AB 2172 to allow breweries and other establishments to host club meetings for home brewers, complete with tastings of their endeavors.
Current law makes it illegal for those breweries to allow patrons to drink concoctions they bring in themselves. That puts a damper on what Jones describes as a “very social” scene.
“They all like to make their stuff and then show it off,” he said. “So you’ll have a club meeting and everyone will bring their best batch.”
Jones said that while he still indulges in local craft beers, he’s just too busy these days to make his own.
“It used to be a very serious hobby of mine, but it has not been lately,” he said. “It’s not difficult to make bad beer. It is difficult to make good beer, and it takes a lot of time.”
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez is taking her fight about breasts – and their worth – into its second year.
Last session, the governor vetoed her AB 305, which would have reformed workers’ compensation laws around the loss of breasts, especially pertinent for women with cancers (and resulting mastectomies) found to be related to their jobs.
It’s an issue that affects mostly front-line responders like firefighters and police, where female professionals can spend years being exposed to toxic chemicals through smoke, auto accidents and other emergency situations.
Under currently workers’ comp rules, a woman past childbearing age often receives no compensation if a mastectomy is required, and women of childbearing age can receive what often amounts to only a few thousand dollars even if their cancers are deemed to be work-related.
Gonzalez believes the current standards are unfair to women, and outdated. Despite the governor’s disagreement on changing the workers’ comp system, Gonzalez is undeterred and held a hearing this week dubbed the “Establishing the Evidence Based Value of Women’s Breasts in Workers’ Compensation” informational hearing – as the kickoff to bringing the issue back this year.
“I knew I wanted to do this hearing as soon as I read the veto message last year,” she said, adding that she wasn’t surprised by the veto, but was “shocked” by the accompanying message.
Gov. Jerry Brown wrote: “(T)his bill is based on a misunderstanding of the American Medical Association’s evidence-based standard … and replaces it with an ill-defined and unscientific standard.”
Gonzalez takes issues with that characterization, and says she’ll bring the bill back as many times as necessary.
“It’s personal to me,” she said, adding that her mother had a mastectomy and experienced difficulties because of it. “It’s just devastating when doctors say it’s worth nothing.”
Golden State News
• Capital and Main has been running a cool series of stories, videos and photos detailing California’s affordable housing crisis.
• More than 20 people in San Diego County were charged under Chelsea’s Law, written by former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, from September 2014 to August 2015, according to a new report. (KPBS)
• Ten female Democratic Assembly members, including San Diego’s Lorena Gonzalez and Shirley Weber, signed a letter to incoming speaker Anthony Rendon urging him to assign more women to leadership roles. (L.A. Times)
• The landmark Vergara v. California education case is back in court – get caught up on what it’s about and what the stakes are. (CALmatters)