The Morning Report
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There were zero surprises for San Diego’s legislative delegation on Tuesday.

The incumbents running for re-election – Assembly members Rocky Chavez, Brian Maienschein, Shirley Weber, Lorena Gonzalez and Marie Waldron – all came in first by wide margins.

With Sen. Marty Block out of contention, Assemblywoman Toni Atkins racked up 65 percent of the vote in the race for the 39th Senate District. City Councilman Todd Gloria pulled in 71 percent of the vote against Republican Kevin Melton in Atkins’ current Assembly district. Republican Randy Voepel got 60 percent in the race to replace termed-out Assemblyman Brian Jones. Jones finished at the top of the race for the Republican Central Committee’s 71st District.

Things were so easy for many of those seeking office, in fact, that folks like Atkins, Gonzalez and Gloria spent much of the days leading up to the election campaigning for other Democrats.

Remember, though, that state races adhere to a different set of rules that races in the city of San Diego. So while Mayor Kevin Faulconer gets to forgo a November runoff election because he won 58 percent of the vote, Gloria, for example, does not – even though he won an even larger share of the vote in his race. Chavez is running unopposed, but the rest will have to face their opponents one more time.

There was some bad news, sort of, for two San Diego lawmakers: Jones and Sen. Joel Anderson had strongly opposed the only statewide measure on the ballot, Prop. 50. That measure, which allows lawmakers to be suspended without pay, passed easily.

We Have a Budget Deal

I’m starting to wonder whether the governor and state lawmakers should consider second careers in journalism – they got a budget deal in late Thursday, well before the June 15 midnight deadline.

There’s one nugget in the budget I was particularly excited about.

OMG THEY’RE ACTUALLY GONNA REPEAL THE MAXIMUM FAMILY GRANT https://t.co/DXhwz07Lv5

— Sara Libby (@SaraLibby) June 10, 2016

I know it sounds wonky and boring, but the decision to repeal what’s called the Maximum Family Grant Rule – a provision within the state’s welfare program that denies benefits to new children in families that are already receiving assistance – is a big deal for two reasons.

One, it’s just bad policy. Here’s how my friend Jamelle Bouie described it in 2014:

Given the extent to which welfare families — like their high-income counterparts — have a hard time planning their pregnancies, this is little more than punishment for being poor. After all, we don’t have family caps for the mortgage interest deduction.

The other reason ditching the rule is a big deal is that lawmakers have said they’re going to do it every year. It’s consistently been labeled a priority by various women’s and progressive groups, and yet it’s somehow survived until now.

Assemblywoman Toni Atkins said in a statement that “all in all, this is a great budget for California” — partly because it nixes the maximum family grant.

“The budget crafted by Assembly and Senate leaders is, once again, on-time, fiscally prudent and forward-thinking. We’re bolstering our reserves while at the same time restoring programs that will help Californians who are still struggling to make ends meet.

This budget continues to increase funding for public schools, higher education, preschool and childcare, and repeals the wrongheaded maximum family grant that punishes children in families living in poverty. For the second straight year, it adds funding to the effective CalWORKS Housing Support Program and includes the framework for a large investment in affordable housing.

All in all, this is a great budget for California.”

Other noteworthy budget items:

• On affordable housing, the budget incorporates both lawmakers’ desire for housing subsidies, and Gov. Jerry Brown’s desire to lower hurdles to building at the local level. (L.A. Times)

• “Brown’s revised budget included $3.6 billion for child care and child development programs. Assembly and Senate leaders wanted more,” reports the Sacramento Bee.

• Brown, who’s won praise throughout his tenure for putting the state back on a strong economic path, persuaded lawmakers to drop a cool $2 billion into the state’s rainy day fund. (Mercury-News)

Weber Bills Focus on Rehabilitation for Criminal Offenders

Last week, we highlighted several bills by local legislators that made the “house of origin” deadline, which requires bills that started in the Assembly to pass a full Assembly vote before moving to the Senate, and vice versa.

Making the cut were two important education bills by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber — one focused on teacher evaluations and the other on school accountability. In addition to education reform, Weber has also focused on bills that would reform the criminal-justice system.

Last year, Weber wrote three bills seeking greater police accountability. Two failed: one that would have established statewide policies for police body-worn cameras; the other would have required more transparency related to police use-of-force. The third, the Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015, became law. It requires law enforcement to keep data on traffic stops and report it annually to the attorney general. The bill came after the San Diego Police Department admitted in a Voice of San Diego investigation that it had stopped collecting such data.

This year, Weber’s shifted focus to offender rehabilitation with two bills seeking to help folks who’ve been incarcerated integrate back into the community:

• AB 2466 addresses a problem created by prison realignment, the 2011 law that shifted responsibility for certain low-level offenders from the state to counties and created new categories of offenders — felons who serve time in county jail instead of prison or who are released from prison to what’s known as post-release community supervision instead of parole. California law says only that felons on parole can’t vote. The ACLU successfully sued to have the law clarified, but needed legislation to amend state elections code. AB 2466 would do that that by giving anyone sentenced under realignment the right to vote.

• In 2005, the California Department of Corrections added “Rehabilitation” to the end of its name after being pummeled for a terrible recidivism rate. CDCR’s critics, though, argue it was a change in name only and a punitive culture lingers. Any programming tends to be reserved for non-violent offenders and those near the end of their sentences. Weber’s AB 2590 would amend California penal code to say that the purpose of incarceration is rehabilitation and that educational and rehabilitative programs should be offered to all inmates. The bill also encourages the creation of so-called “restorative justice” programs, which are grounded in the belief that a better alternative to incarceration is having offenders accept responsibility for their actions and fix the harm they’ve done to the community.

— Kelly Davis

Golden State News

• The New York Times dissects the trend of developers going to the ballot to get around the California Environmental Quality Act. Late last year, Maya Srikrishnan broke down how these fights have played out around San Diego.

• Citylab examines the Building Industry Association’s fight to end inclusionary zoning policies in California – in which developers are required to set aside a portion of a project for low-income residents.

• This powerful column excoriates legislators – and the press – for letting the plight of California farmworkers fade as a priority. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s bill to provide overtime for farmworkers died in the Assembly. (Sacramento Bee)

• California’s assisted suicide law took effect this week. Jenny Medina follows two patients and two doctors who will be impacted by the law. (New York Times)

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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