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Ultimate Resource For What’s Taking Place In California (#GotBitcoin)

Originally seeking to define digital assets, the bill now orders for a study to look at the impact of digital assets if these were securities. Ultimate Resource For What’s Taking Place In California (#GotBitcoin)


California’s Senate Banking and Financial Institutions committee has passed a bill seeking to define digital assets and measure its impact on the state and consumer protections.

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Ultimate Resource On California’s (And Other States, Countries) User Data Privacy Laws

California Legalizes Public Banking!!!!

Assembly Bill 2150, which can potentially influence how federal regulators approach digital assets, unanimously passed the Senate’s Banking and Financial Institutions committee. It will be discussed in the Committee on Appropriations as early as August 17. The bill had previously passed the California Assembly before moving to the Senate.

The bill, first proposed by California Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon, initially sought to presume digital assets are not securities. However, amendments to the bill by the Senate refrained from further defining digital assets and tokens. It now focuses on directing the Department of Business Oversight to conduct a study to see if California can enact policies similar to the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Proposed Securities Act Rule 195- Time Limited Exemption for Tokens.

The study wants to see how treating digital assets as securities for a limited amount of time can impact consumer protections, benefits to the state, and hat the minimum standards to meet the exemptions.

The Department of Business Oversight must also provide suggestions for regulatory frameworks and define key terms. The report should be presented to the California Legislature on or before January 1, 2022.

SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce proposed the token exemption back in February though the regulatory body has not officially enacted it.

Updated: 9-29-2020

California Governor Signs Law Bringing State ‘New Tools’ To Regulate Crypto

The California department responsible for the regulation of financial services will soon have more powers to supervise the cryptocurrency industry.

* California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law Friday to rename the California Department of Business Oversight as the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.

* The bill (AB 1864), introduced by lead author Assemblywoman Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) on Jan. 7, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

* The changes will equip the regulator with “new tools to shape the regulation of virtual currency,” the department’s
commissioner, Manuel P. Alvarez, told CoinDesk via email.

* The new California Consumer Financial Protection Law will, among other things, provide the department with greater enforcement powers designed to protect Californians from “pandemic-inspired scams,” per a Friday press release.

* The move means the department will have new regulatory authority to begin cracking down on deceptive or abusive practices undertaken by unlicensed financial services or products.

* But the new law will also see the creation of an Office of Financial Technology Innovation designed to engage with new industries and consumer advocates to encourage consumer-friendly innovation and job creation within the state.

* In addition, a new Division of Consumer Financial Protection will be created to monitor markets, with a research arm that will keep up with emerging financial products such as cryptocurrencies.

* With the expansion of the department, 90 additional employees will be added to the government payroll representing a 13% increase in staffing.

* The legislation would allow his department to increase consumer protections without hamstringing “honest and fair operations,” Alvarez said.

Updated: 9-18-2021

California Named ‘Most Crypto Ready’ US State

Ultimate Resource For Nationwide Firsts Taking Place In California (#GotBitcoin)

Measures such as Google searches, Bitcoin ATM installations and the number of crypto-focused bills were used to tabulate the crypto-ready index.

California has emerged as the most crypto-ready jurisdiction in the United States thanks to the proliferation of cryptocurrency ATMs and growing interest in digital assets among the state’s population, according to new industry research from review site Crypto Head.

With a score of 5.72 out of 10, California edged out New Jersey (5.44), Texas (5.28), Florida (5.03) and New York (4.29) in the crypto-ready index. The state’s point total was also 2.54 points higher than the national average.

The results were tabulated using metrics such as crypto-related Google searches, the presence of Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrency ATMs and the number of blockchain-related bills passed in each state. California ranked first in crypto-related Google searches per 100,000 and in the number of crypto ATMs. These positive factors offset the lack of crypto-focused legislation in the state.

By comparison, New York has passed eight crypto-focused bills but was 33rd in terms of crypto ATM installations. New Jersey has the highest number of crypto ATM installations per 10,000 square miles and scored third-highest for searches per 100,000 people. Texas and Florida also scored well with respect to ATMs and overall searches.

Despite regulatory uncertainty and a looming infrastructure bill that could affect key segments of the blockchain economy, the United States continues to be a global leader in cryptocurrency adoption. In 2020, BTC trade volumes in the U.S. exceeded those of Europe, Nigeria and China combined. For the same year, Americans booked $4.1 billion in realized profits on their crypto trades, far exceeding any other country. The U.S. also leads the globe in Bitcoin ATMs, accounting for a whopping 86.4% of total installations, according to industry sources.

Crypto’s success in the United States largely stems from its status as an investable asset class. As such, other adoption metrics don’t rank nearly as high. In August, financial comparison website Finder ranked the U.S. 26th out of 27 countries in terms of crypto ownership among residents. Emerging markets that depend more heavily on remittances — such as those in Southeast Asia and Latin America — ranked much higher.

Updated: 9-22-2021

California To Send $500 – $1,100 Stimulus Payments To Millions

Here’s when the next batch of California stimulus checks will be released.

The third batch of California stimulus checks, also known as the Golden State Stimulus, will be sent out at the start of October, the California Franchise Tax Board said.

The payments will be sent out on Oct. 5, according to the Franchise Tax Board, which could not immediately provide an estimate for the size of the batch. For reference, the last batch went out to 2 million Californians, and the one before that went out to 600,000. It’s estimated that about 9 million Californians are eligible for the payments.

This round of payments will also include mailed paper checks, rather than just direct deposits.

The Franchise Tax Board previously said that payments would be sent in two-week intervals. The previous payments were sent on Aug. 27 and Sept. 17. In other words, it may take some time for your check to reach your mailbox.

Wondering how much you’ll receive? The Tax Board has a handy tool on its website that helps you determine the amount.

Generally, if you qualified for the first Golden State Stimulus payment and claimed a credit of one or more dependents, you’ll receive $500. If you did not qualify for that stimulus payment and did not claim a credit of one or more dependents, you’ll receive $600. If you did not qualify for that stimulus and claimed one or more dependents, you could receive $1,100. Lastly, if you qualified for the stimulus and did not claim a credit for one or more dependents, you do not qualify for the second stimulus payment.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill July 12 that includes $12 billion in relief for families “hit hardest by the pandemic.”

“The state is taking on the inequities laid bare by the pandemic, expanding our support for Californians facing the greatest hardship,” Newsom said at the time.

The funds were drawn from federal recovery funds and California’s budget surplus. Newsom said about two-thirds of residents will be eligible for the $600 payments. Those with children will receive an additional $500.

Tesla Is Building A New Battery Factory In California

A California mayor said Tesla Inc. broke ground in his city on what it calls a new “Megafactory,” praising the planned facility in a Facebook post that was deleted and is now visible again.

“We are proud to be the home of the Megafactory, Tesla’s most recent expansion here,” Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal wrote in the post. “The future of green energy will be produced right here in our community.”

The plan is for a factory expansion to make Megapacks, the energy-storage product Tesla sells to utilities. Lathrop, in San Joaquin County, has long been home to the company’s warehouses and logistical operations. Tesla’s flagship U.S. auto plant is in Fremont in neighboring Alameda County. The company is based in Palo Alto.

Ultimate Resource For Nationwide Firsts Taking Place In California (#GotBitcoin)

Tesla, which currently manufactures battery packs at a plant in Nevada, didn’t respond to a request for comment, and the mayor’s office didn’t respond to questions about why the original post was taken down.

An expansion in Lathrop, a city of more than 24,000, would be a good sign that California is still a key part of Tesla’s footprint.

After Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk moved to Texas in December and criticized California policies, there was concern Tesla’s operations might leave the state. The company is building a new factory for production of the Model Y and Cybertruck in Austin.

While Tesla is known for its electric vehicles, it’s always been more than a car company: Its official mission is to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” Utility-scale batteries are needed to store the electricity produced by wind and solar.

PG&E Corp. and Tesla have constructed a 182.5 megawatt system at an electric substation in Moss Landing, near Monterey, that should be operational later this year.


Updated: 9-23-2021

Gov. Newsom Signs Privacy Laws For Abortion Providers And Patients

Ultimate Resource For Nationwide Firsts Taking Place In California (#GotBitcoin)

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two laws on Wednesday that aim to protect the privacy of abortion providers and their patients, declaring California to be a “reproductive freedom state” while drawing a sharp contrast with Texas and its efforts to limit the procedure.

One law makes it a crime to film people within 100 feet of an abortion clinic for the purpose of intimidation — a law abortion rights groups believe to be the first of its kind in the country. The other law makes it easier for people on their parents’ insurance plans to keep sensitive medical information secret, including abortions.

The laws, coupled with Newsom’s comments, have only intensified the political rivalry between the nation’s two most populous states. California and Texas have become bastions of their respective political ideologies, with each state carving out opposing positions on issues including health care, immigration and the environment.

That rivalry has come into sharper focus recently with a new Texas law that bans abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which is usually around six weeks and before some women know they are pregnant. The U.S. Supreme Court decided to let the law take effect for now, banning most abortions in the state.

“These are dark days. I don’t think one can understate the consequential nature of the moment that we are living in,” Newsom said. “It becomes of outsized importance that California assert itself.”

It’s already illegal in California to post personal information about abortion providers or their patients online. But that law hasn’t been updated since the mid-2000s, before the proliferation of smart phones with high-tech cameras that can rapidly post to social media websites.

The new law authored by state Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, a Democrat from Orinda, makes it a misdemeanor to film someone without their consent for the purpose of intimidation. Offenders can be punished by up to one year in a county jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

The law also requires extensive training for local law enforcement agencies on how to enforce it.

“We’re upping the ante. We’re saying in California we will not accept that our reproductive health care providers and patients be subject to threats both online and in person,” Bauer-Kahan said.

The Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative legal defense organization, opposed the bill. In a letter to lawmakers, the group said violence is “outside the bounds of legitimate political discourse regardless of who perpetrates it.”

“At the same time, spirited debate must not be punished or stifled by merely relabeling it as intimidating or threatening, based on the viewpoint of the speaker,” the group wrote.

Newsom also signed a law on Wednesday making it easier for people who are still on their parents’ health plans to keep their medical treatment secret. State and federal law already provide privacy protections for people who are not the primary policyholder on a health insurance plan.

But state Assemblyman David Chiu, a Democrat from San Francisco, said patients had to request that confidentiality, and the law has not been consistently enforced.

This new law, authored by Chiu, requires insurance companies in California to automatically keep certain medical procedures confidential — including abortions. Chiu said the bill is important now because the federal Affordable Care Act lets people stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26.

“This violation of privacy has put them in a terrible and, in some instances, an even dangerous position,” Chiu said. “If you’re receiving sensitive health services, only you should get confidential communications about it.”

Jonathan Keller, president of the California Family Council, said the bill should have distinguished between a 25-year-old on their parents’ health plan and a 12-year-old.

“Parents should be consulted before their minor children are given life-altering medical treatment,” he said. “It’s deeply concerning that the Legislature and the governor continue to usurp parental authority.”

California Governor Signs Legislation Targeting Amazon Warehouse Speed Quotas

“We cannot allow corporations to put profit over people. The hardworking warehouse employees who have helped sustain us during these unprecedented times should not have to risk injury or face punishment as a result of exploitative quotas that violate basic health and safety,” Newsom said in a statement on Wednesday.

“I’m proud to sign this legislation giving them the dignity, respect and safety they deserve and advancing California’s leadership at the forefront of workplace safety.”

The legislation requires that employers notify workers about their quotas, including any punitive action that could be taken should an employee fail to meet a required task. The legislation would also not require an employee to meet their quota if it affects their ability to do things such as take a rest period or go to the bathroom.

For quotas that stop an employee from being able to take a rest period or go to the bathroom, or quotas that have not been disclosed previously, an employer would also be prohibited from taking action against an employee.

An investigation into an employer could be potentially opened up under the legislation if their annual employee injury rate is higher than the average annual injury rate of the warehousing injury by at least 1.5 percent.

The legislation will become effective beginning next year, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The legislation is considered a direct jab at Amazon; a coalition of labor unions, Strategic Organizing Center (SOC), reported earlier this year that Amazon’s rate of reported serious injuries was almost twice that of other warehouses between 2017 and 2020.

The president of the California Retailers Association, who chairs a coalition of 50 groups that are against the legislation, slammed the bill in a statement on Wednesday, calling it a “recipe for disaster.”

“We are disappointed Governor Newsom signed AB 701, which will exacerbate our current supply chain issues, increase the cost of living for all Californians and eliminate good-paying jobs.

With California’s ports facing record backlogs of ships waiting off the coast and inflation spiking to the fastest pace in 13 years, AB 701 will make matters worse for everyone – creating more backordered goods and higher prices for everything from clothes, diapers and food to auto parts, toys and pet supplies,” Rachel Michelin said in a statement.

Updated: 9-30-2021

Governor Newsom Signs Policing Reform Legislation

SB 2 creates a system to investigate and revoke or suspend peace officer certification for serious misconduct.

Ultimate Resource For Nationwide Firsts Taking Place In California (#GotBitcoin)

SB 16 increases transparency over peace officer misconduct records.

The Governor also signed legislation strengthening policing responsibility and accountability guidelines, raising eligibility standards and banning harmful techniques.

GARDENA – At Rowley Park, alongside legislators, community leaders and families of victims of police violence, Governor Gavin Newsom today signed legislation creating a system to decertify peace officers for serious misconduct.

The Governor also signed legislation increasing transparency of peace officer misconduct records, improving policing responsibility and accountability guidelines, raising eligibility standards and banning harmful restraint techniques.

“Today marks another step toward healing and justice for all,” said Governor Newsom. “Too many lives have been lost due to racial profiling and excessive use of force. We cannot change what is past, but we can build accountability, root out racial injustice and fight systemic racism. We are all indebted to the families who have persevered through their grief to continue this fight and work toward a more just future.”

SB 2 by Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) creates a system within the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to investigate and revoke or suspend peace officer certification for serious misconduct, including excessive force, sexual assault, demonstration of bias and dishonesty.

This legislation creates the Peace Officer Standards Accountability Division and the Peace Officer Standards Accountability Advisory Board within POST to review serious misconduct cases.

SB 16 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) increases transparency of peace officer misconduct records pertaining to findings of unreasonable or excessive use of force, discriminatory or prejudiced behavior, failure to intervene when witnessing excessive use of force by a peace officer, or participation in unlawful searches and arrests.

“Today is an important day. It’s an inflection point in how we provide for public safety in the State of California,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “I’m proud to stand with my former colleagues and Governor Newsom to embark on a new chapter in our shared fight to infuse our criminal justice system with more trust, transparency, and accountability.

By building trust today, we are ensuring officer and community safety for tomorrow. Trust generates safety and safety generates trust. It will take sustained work by all of us to get the job done, but this is a monumental step forward on the path toward justice.”

“I am proud of the important progress the Legislature and Governor have made this year to help make sure people of color in California can be safer in their dealings with law enforcement. No one should have to fear those who are sworn to protect them,” said Senate President pro Tempore Atkins.

“My colleagues in both houses who worked tirelessly for these bills, and the family members, community advocates, and responsible law enforcement leaders who helped get the bills across the finish line all deserve our thanks. There is more work to do, and we are already back at it. Four hundred years of racism won’t be erased overnight—but the arc is bending and the moral momentum is on our side.”

“California has one of the most progressive criminal justice systems in the nation,” said Senator Bradford. “But for too long, problematic officers that commit heinous acts in one department are either not held accountable and continue to be a problem for that community, or are punished, but able to find employment in another department.

This rinse and repeat style of accountability has led to the continuous erosion of community trust. At long last, California finally joins the 46 other states with processes for the decertification of bad officers.

I’m proud to have authored this landmark bill for California, which honors Kenneth Ross Jr. and the many others who have had their lives taken by police who abuse their power. My deep appreciation goes out to the families, community organizations, advocates and legislators who were willing to stand up and support this positive change.

I applaud Governor Newsom for standing with us on this issue and look forward to working with the Administration on more ways to improve public safety and rebuild public trust in our law enforcement system.”

“Trust in law enforcement erodes when police misconduct is kept secret and officers who’ve acted badly are allowed to avoid consequences,” said Senator Skinner. “SB 2 and SB 16 will help restore public trust in California policing.

By signing these bills, Governor Newsom has ensured that police who commit serious misconduct will no longer have the privilege of wearing a badge and that we, the public, have the right to know when officers use excessive force or engage in racist or biased behavior.”

Governor Newsom also signed AB 26 by Assembymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) which creates guidelines for police officers to intercede and immediately report if another officer is using excessive force; AB 89 by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) which raises the minimum age to become a police officer to 21 and will enhance education requirements; and AB 490 by Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson) which bans technique and transport methods that involve risk of positional asphyxia.

A Full List Of The Bills Signed By The Governor Is Below:

Ab 26 By Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) – Peace Officers: Use Of Force.

Ab 48 By Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) – Law Enforcement: Use Of Force.

Ab 89 By Assemblymember Reggie Jones Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) – Peace Officers: Minimum Qualifications.

Ab 481 By Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) – Law Enforcement And State Agencies: Military Equipment: Funding, Acquisition, And Use.

Ab 490 By Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson) – Law Enforcement Agency Policies: Arrests: Positional Asphyxia.

Ab 958 By Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson) – Peace Officers: Law Enforcement Gangs.

Sb 2 By Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) – Peace Officers: Certification: Civil Rights.

Sb 16 By Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) – Peace Officers: Release Of Records.

Governor Newsom last year signed a series of bills into law initiating critical criminal justice, juvenile justice and policing reforms in California, including banning the carotid restraint, requiring the Attorney General to conduct investigations into officer-involved shootings of unarmed individuals that result in death and legislation that reforms the juvenile justice system to put more emphasis on rehabilitation and education.

The Governor last year also released recommendations from his policing advisors for improving police response to protests and demonstrations and directed the statewide Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to modernize training and guidance for law enforcement.

For full text of the bills signed today.

Updated: 1-7-2022

California’s Governor Is Set to Unveil Budget Padded With Surplus

* Another Multi-Billion Dollar Cushion To Tap As Revenue Rises
* Newsom Beat A Recall In September, Faces Re-Election This Year

California Governor Gavin Newsom is set to unveil a budget that boasts another multi-billion dollar surplus as the world’s fifth-largest economy continues to benefit from top earners amassing even more wealth during the lopsided recovery from the pandemic.

The first-term Democrat on Monday will release a spending plan for the fiscal year beginning in July that will show a sizable surplus coming on the heels of this year’s $75.7 billion windfall. The state’s nonpartisan fiscal adviser in November estimated it could be about $31 billion.

With a progressive tax system that rakes in more revenue when the income of the highest earners rises, California continues to collect more than it forecast. That group has reaped the benefits of rising stock prices and stable employment even as lower-income workers lost their jobs during the pandemic. The top 1% of earners pay nearly half of personal income-tax collections.

“California is one of the better performing” states, said Jennifer Johnston, director of research for Franklin Templeton Fixed Income’s municipal bond team. “Part of that is because of the very progressive tax structure that we have and the strength of employment at the high wage earner level, we tend to outperform in good years, and underperform in bad years.”

The current budget spends approximately $196 billion, up 18% from the previous year.

Severe Problems

To be sure, California faces severe problems from extreme drought to wildfires exacerbated by climate change to a deepening homelessness and affordable housing crisis. Yet for Newsom, he will have more at his disposal to deal with them without significant political pitfalls.

Newsom easily prevailed in a rare recall election in September. While at one point polls were showing that he might lose, the entry of Larry Elder, a Donald Trump-supporting, conservative talk show host, as a replacement candidate helped galvanize voters to reject Newsom’s removal.

Newsom now faces a November re-election in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly two to one.

And despite departures of notable Californians and their companies to Texas such as Elon Musk, it would take major upheaval to disrupt the world’s fifth-largest economy.

The state’s gross domestic product increased 21% during the past five years ending in December 2020, dwarfing No. 2 New York (14%) and No. 3 Texas (12%), according to the most recent data compiled by Bloomberg.

Bond Prices

The budget presentation is unlikely to affect prices of California bonds as the state regularly provides updates of its fiscal position, said Bernhard Fischer, senior analyst at Principal Global Fixed Income.

California’s bonds are “from a credit standpoint, very attractive. From a relative value, perhaps a bit expensive,” Fischer said, adding, “but everything in the muni market right now is pretty expensive.”

Newsom’s budget blueprint will undergo revisions, often significant, in May. The Democratic-led legislature must approve a spending plan by June 15 or forgo pay. Here are some items anticipated Monday:

Higher Revenue Than Expected:

* California has collected about $66.8 billion of revenue so far during the fiscal year that will end in June, about 25% more than was anticipated in the budget, according to the state’s finance department last month. Personal income tax collections alone are 26% more than expected year to date.

Higher Spending On Education And Social Programs:

* With revenue running ahead of projections, that means the state’s spending on education will increase, per a constitutional amendment.

Newsom has also said he would like to allocate more to early education and programs for dyslexia.

* Liberal Priorities

An advisory group recommended that the state expand its ability to provide abortions to out-of-state residents, including potentially helping to cover their costs, if the landmark Roe v. Wade case is overturned. Some of the report’s recommendations will appear in his budget proposal, Newsom told the Associated Press.

Possible Rebates To Taxpayers:

* Constitutional requirements constrain use of the surplus dollars falling over the appropriations limit. Lawmakers can cut taxes, spend more on specific items like infrastructure or education, or issue tax rebates. Newsom has suggested he could send checks to residents, as he did with this year’s budget.

Addressing Retail Crime:

* Following a string of highly publicized break-ins, Newsom said in November that the upcoming budget “will be investing even more to aggressively curb retail crime.” He didn’t specify the amount.

Newsom Vows Increased Spending To Fight Smash-and-Grab Thefts

Updated: 1-10-2022

Flush With Cash, California Has Problems That Are No Quick Fix

* Governor Tackles ‘Existential Threats’ In New Spending Plan
* Homelessness, Crime And Climate Change Are Top Priorities

With cash rolling in from a projected $45.7 billion budget surplus, California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a spending plan designed to address a paradox of the most populous U.S. state: It’s thriving financially, yet beset with systemic challenges that threaten its long-term growth.

The Democrat aims to tackle the “existential threats” of Covid-19, climate change, homelessness, the wealth divide and public safety with a record $213 billion budget for the coming fiscal year.

The plan unveiled Monday, which still must be approved by legislators, proposes a tenfold increase — to $500 million — to clean up homeless encampments, for example, which the governor called the state’s “most vexing and serious issue.”

California is home to the world’s fifth-largest economy and remains a leader in progressive causes such as banning internal combustion engines in new cars by 2035.

Yet it continues to lurch from crisis to crisis, including wildfires, crime, port congestion and now an omicron variant surge, despite some of the toughest virus-mitigation standards in the nation.

Some of the state’s most pressing problems, like a shrinking population and high cost of living, can’t really be solved by the budget alone. Others like homelessness received increased funding, but that money pales against the scope of the problem, with an estimated 161,500 unhoused people across the state as of 2020.

To some, the spending plan is a step in the right direction, addressing California’s income inequality by offering tax credits to low-income workers, additional funding for pre-kindergarten classes and universal health care even for undocumented residents.

“I think the governor has proposed a good starting point for making a series of one-time and ongoing investments in the major challenges facing the state,” said Chris Hoene, executive director of the nonprofit California Budget and Policy Center, which focuses on policies impacting the economic and social well-being of residents with low and middle incomes.

Others see a recurring issue with Newsom’s administration, hopping on issues that are trending with voters, but rarely solving problems over the long term.

“They sell the sizzle,” said David McCuan, chair of the political science department at Sonoma State University. “Actually delivering, they don’t have those kind of successes.”

California’s population declined for the first time in history in 2020 and the state lost a congressional seat last year. A number of high-profile companies have relocated their headquarters, including Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Co., Oracle Corp. and Tesla Inc., in part because of the cost of living.

But the economy is still strong, with gross domestic product rising 21% in the five years ended December 2020 and tax receipts coming in well above plan, thanks to the state’s dependence on high-income earners. Of the $45.7 billion surplus, $20.6 billion can be used for discretionary purposes.

The governor, running for a second term this year, proposed hundreds of millions of dollars in grants and tax breaks for small businesses while continuing to spend heavily to promote California’s tourism economy.

He also pledged $3 billion over two years to pay down the state’s unemployment fund debt. In recognition of pocketbook issues that are hitting the less wealthy harder, Newsom announced he’d scrap an inflation-indexed hike in the gasoline tax for the fiscal year.

While not directly addressing corporate departures, he proposed $250 million in incentives annually for three years for qualified companies headquartered in California that are investing in research to mitigate climate change.

To Republicans, who account for less than a quarter of registered voters and a minority in the statehouse, Newsom’s new budget emphasizes many of the same failed policies. State Senator Jim Nielsen, a Republican from rural Red Bluff, said that’s evident in the governor’s proposals for drought mitigation.

The state passed a $7.5 billion bond proposition in 2014 to address the water crisis and yet no storage projects have begun, Nielsen said. Newsom earmarked an additional $750 million in spending on drought mitigation efforts in the new budget, including passageways for fish and technology to reduce farmers’ irrigation needs.

Nielsen’s skeptical too of the governor’s proposed homeless initiatives, which include construction of tiny houses.

“I’m not very confident,” said Nielsen, the vice chair of the Senate’s budget committee. “Most of what we’re doing is just throwing dollars out there and not really accounting for how it’s used.”

Homelessness, Crime

At a press conference Monday, Newsom touted success he’s had finding homes for 58,000 people, with the government leasing or buying old motels to use as shelters, and said cities will have accountability for their efforts to address homelessness.

His new budget proposes $2 billion in additional spending to address the issue, even as areas such as San Francisco and Los Angeles face uphill battles trying to find places to build temporary housing.

“I hope people see a real road map here and a strategy and to the extent people have better ideas, boy, we look forward every day to hear those,” he said.

Newsom, who handily beat back a recall effort last year, has also vowed progressive policy proposals such as expanding abortion access.

A group of more than 40 abortion providers and advocacy organizations have recommended the state expand its ability to provide services to out-of-state residents if the landmark Roe v. Wade law is overturned.

While there wasn’t a “mass expansion specifically” regarding abortion in the budget, Newsom said Monday he would be working on policy proposals with legislators in the coming weeks.

The governor’s plan includes $255 million in grants to local law enforcement and a new “Smash and Grab Enforcement Unit” designed to address the rash of shoplifting gangs swarming stores.

The proposal illustrates the tough position Democrats find themselves in this mid-term election year with the more liberal wing of their party pushing for police and criminal justice reforms, while many voters are worried about crime rates.

“The smash and grab unit is the all-sizzle approach,” said Sonoma State’s McCuan, “as opposed to actually doing things that can change the dynamic.”

Updated: 1-12-2022

Climate Swings Help Endangered Salmon Return To California Creeks For The First Time In Years

Endangered Coho salmon are returning to Marin County, California, creeks this winter where they’ve long been absent, thanks to intense rains that scientists say will become more frequent as the state swings between climate-driven drought and deluge.

It’s a rare bit of good news for a species whose population has plummeted in recent decades due to development and pollution.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, thousands of salmon historically made the annual migration from the Pacific Ocean to the redwood-shrouded creeks in Marin County where they were born.

There they would spawn the next generation of fish before dying. In recent years that population has dwindled to just a few hundred salmon and the future looked dire as California’s record-breaking drought dried out streams.

But an atmospheric river that inundated the Bay Area in October followed by heavy rains in December filled creeks in the largely rural county, allowing salmon to navigate culverts and other obstacles to reach creeks that had previously been impassable. First-time sightings of Chinook salmon in creeks have also been reported.

“Salmon have been able to adjust and adapt to a changing climate for hundreds of thousands of years, modern climate change should be no different, although how we manage natural resources in a changing climate will make a difference,” Preston Brown, director of conservation for the nonprofit Salmon Protection And Watershed Network, said in an email.

For instance, he said, it will be important to manage cities and forests to absorb more water during deluges and prevent excess depletion in dry times.

“When we have ample rainfall, the fish respond well,” he said. “Even if rainfall is intense [it] can provide benefit to salmonids, especially if our natural resources and forests are better managed to handle heavy rains.”

Ayano Hayes, a biologist with SPAWN, recently found Coho in Montezuma Creek, where they had been last seen in 2004. Salmon were spotted in another creek for the first time since 2006.

“It is amazing to see these giant two-foot fish in the small creeks, some no wider than six feet wide,” Hayes said in a statement.

Residents have taken to social media to post first-ever sightings of salmon in creeks flowing through their backyards.

The salmon sightings follow years of work by SPAWN and other groups to restore creeks to improve conditions for salmon. SPAWN, for instance, completed the removal of a dam on a main salmon-spawning creek in 2021.

Organic farmers in the west Marin town of Bolinas agreed more than a decade ago to stop withdrawing water from Pine Gulch Creek in the summer as part of an effort to return salmon to the waterway.

Last July, juvenile Coho were spotted in the creek for the first time since 2010. In November, the National Park Service discovered Chinook salmon in Pine Gulch Creek for the first time.

Those efforts have helped salmon survive but Brown said one restoration strategy in particular could aid the revival of the species: beavers.

“We need beavers!” he said. “Beavers do excellent work to support salmon, store water, dampen flooding, mitigate wildfire and make more habitat for other wildlife — all for free.”


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