Sen. Ben Hueso, vice chairman of the powerful Latino Legislative Caucus (of which both Senate Pro Tem Kevin DeLeon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon are members) helped announce its priority bills for the year at a press conference Tuesday.
Part of their eight-bill package is one of Hueso’s own: SB 1216, which would give tax credits to businesses that hire ex-felons, specifically those under age 25.
Hueso said that this young group of offenders often faces few options for rejoining the mainstream after serving prison sentences, and the measure would help by giving businesses an incentive to give them a chance.
It “aims to remove a significant barrier to the lives of young offenders,” he said, pointing out that “overwhelmingly, ex-offenders have tenuous relationships to the labor market … We want them to get jobs, to have successful lives, not to be in prison.”
The bill will head to committee next week. If it becomes law, it would give up to a $15,000-a-year tax credit for each qualifying employee. But, among other restrictions, it prohibits strip clubs from taking advantage of it.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s a measure on farmworker overtime, AB 2757, is also on the caucus list – the first time that idea (which has come up multiple times over the years) has been singled out for inclusion by the caucus.
“It’s so personal to so many of us,” Gonzalez said of the working conditions in fields.
She pointed out that farmworkers are 80 percent immigrants and 92 percent Latino.
“It’s time that California step up and treat farmworkers like every other worker in the state,” she said.
Two San Diego lawmakers weighed in on the controversy over University of California chancellors serving for pay on outside corporate boards during an oversight hearing last week. The issue centers on reports that UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi accepted a position on the board of DeVry Education Group, which runs a chain of for-profit universities currently under government investigation. She also held a lucrative post with a textbook company.
But Assemblywoman Shirley Weber questioned the purpose of the hearing: “Do we believe we lack adequate oversight?” she asked.
She pointed out that while board positions should be chosen with care, holding them is not against university policy and that it’s the norm across the country for chancellors to do so. She added that taking on a business leadership role is also part of heading educational institutions these days.
“We expect a UC chancellor to be a fundraiser now. That’s a reality,” she said.
Weber also said that recruiting for leadership positions can be challenging, especially for public institutions competing nationally. If the practice of serving on outside boards is widely accepted elsewhere, curtailing it in California could be a deterrent to hiring.
Assemblyman Rocky Chavez also weighed in before leaving the hearing early.
“We have good leaders at the top,” he said. “But I’m glad I was here to listen to this.”
Odds and Ends
• Sen. Patricia Bates will see her bill on increased penalties for fentanyl trafficking, which we explained last week, head to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday, but she has little expectation that it will move past that point.
In a press release this week, her office said “it is likely that the committee will place it in its ‘Suspense’ file due to the costs associated with it.”
• Here at Voice of San Diego we went deeper this week on some measures with direct impact on our region. A bill that would get the Sycuan tribe more water will head to committee next week.
• And here’s a look at how state redevelopment funds might come back to San Diego, with City Council members attempting to use them to boost certain neighborhoods.
• Another Gonzalez measure that would require beauty salons, nail salons and other related businesses to post labor information in multiple languages will also return to committee next week after being amended. Our own Sara Libby spotted this issue as an up-and-comer in her insightful Atlantic profile of Gonzalez last year, a must-read if you haven’t already.
Golden State News
• “Jerry Brown is the kind of 78-year-old you fear might run the mile faster than you do.” That’s a line from Newsweek’s big new profile of the gov.
• Fox and Hounds Daily does a rundown on Donald Trump’s impact on California.
• The landmark Vergara ruling – in which a judge found that state teacher protections were depriving poor students of an equal education – was overturned by a state appellate court this week. The decision marks a big win for unions. (L.A. Times)
• Marijuana in California is moving out of the shadows and into an era of big business, thanks to a new state law. (New York Times)
• The crush of state ballot measures means some signature-gatherers are collecting for 11 measures at once. (Cap Radio)
• A company called Digital First has bought the Orange County Register. Now, who will buy Digital First? (L.A. Times)