Good morning and welcome to the A.M. Alert! Thank you as always for reading.
FIRST UP: California officials acted Wednesday to move everyone over age 65 into the state’s COVID-19 vaccine line, positioning them right after health care workers and skilled nursing home residents, a change made in response to the disease’s higher death rate for older people.
The new guidelines come just one month into the state’s massive but struggling effort to inoculate up to 40 million Californians and is intended to help simplify the state’s vaccine guidance that has caused confusion for those administering the shots. Read more in our story today.
EXPAND OR CUT SICK LEAVE?
Via Jeong Park…
As far as labor organizations see it, the state’s paid sick leave is nowhere enough, especially during the pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 30,000 Californians.
But as far as business organizations see it, the state’s current policy already restricts small businesses from reopening and the economy from recovering.
The organizations laid out their competing visions in separate letters to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, one from workers’ rights organizations including the California Labor Federation and SEIU California and another from business organizations including the California Chamber of Commerce.
As of now, the state requires companies to provide workers three days of paid sick leave a year. A new Cal-OSHA workplace safety rule also requires employers to pay employees if they self-quarantine due to contact with others with the coronavirus.
In their letter, 115 labor groups said those policies aren’t enough, asking Newsom and the Legislature to immediately expand paid sick days and paid family and medical leave.
Although the federal government is still giving a tax credit to companies who choose to expand the leave on their own, many California workers lost two weeks of paid sick leave on Jan. 1.
“As a result, many workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 or believe they have COVID-19 will have to choose between staying home, losing their pay, and risking being fired, or going to work and potentially infecting their coworkers and community,” the groups said.
But in a competing letter, more than 200 business groups said Cal-OSHA’s provision requiring companies to provide paid leave for those in self-quarantine “forces employers to subsidize this public health crisis, which is an unfair burden to place on employers who are already suffering.”
The groups are asking Newsom to eliminate the provision, as well as suspend a new law that requires companies with fewer than 50 employees to provide 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid family leave.
“Small employers need to be protected from the harm of the pandemic and larger employers and their employees need a reason to stay,” the coalition said in its letter to Newsom.
LAWMAKER INTRODUCES ELECTION TRANSPARENCY BILL
Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park, on Wednesday introduced a bill aimed at targeting so-called “dark money” political donors.
Specifically, AB 236, would require that political committees receiving campaign contributions from limited liability companies disclose the name of each individual who owns or controls that LLC, as well as the name of each individual who controls the contributions and expenditures of the LLC. The bill also would establish conditions under which LLCs are required to disclose the true source of money that they use to make campaign contributions and expenditures in the state, according to Berman’s office.
“Wealthy donors should not be able to launder money through a shell corporation to hide their involvement in the political process,” Berman, chair of the Assembly Elections Committee, said in a statement. “The LLC Dark Money Ban Act will increase transparency by closing a loophole in the law that allows big dollar donors to anonymously funnel money through LLCs to influence California voters.”
Berman’s office cites the recent $500,000 campaign contribution to the Recall Gavin Newsom campaign, from a shadowy LLC called Prov. 3:9, as an example of the kinds of donations AB 236 would shed light on
Berman introduced a similar bill in 2020, but it was shelved as a result of the COVID-19-shortened 2020 legislative session.
CHIU DEFERS TO BONTA FOR AG JOB
Via Lara Korte
Assemblyman David Chiu, a Bay Area Democrat who has been floated as a possible successor to Attorney General Xavier Becerra, officially bowed out of the running on Wednesday afternoon.
Instead, Chiu is backing fellow Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta, of Alameda.
“While it would be an incredible honor to serve as Attorney General, I’m not actively seeking the position at this moment, with a 4-year-old at home and unfinished work in the Legislature and San Francisco,” Chiu said in a statement. “In the spirit of moving our API community forward, I submit my perspective that my good friend Assemblymember Rob Bonta would make an outstanding choice.”
“I have worked closely with Rob for years, and know we share the same commitment to justice. He has the experience, judgement, integrity and leadership skills to be a great Attorney General,” he added.
Outgoing AG Becerra is set to take over as Joe Biden’s Health and Human Services Secretary in coming weeks. After Gov. Newsom tapped Alex Padilla for Kamala Harris’ Senate replacement, and Assemblywoman Shirley Weber for secretary of state, a growing number of Californians are calling on him to name a member of the Asian Pacific Islander community as Becerra’s replacement.
Bonta, 48, has already received a swath of endorsements from lawmakers, criminal justice advocates and API groups. He has served in the Assembly since 2012 and represents Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro. He was California’s first Filipino state legislator, and would be the first Filipino attorney general.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The Assembly, Senate, and Governor are working together in close cooperation to ensure the safety of everyone who works in or visits the Capitol. While we cannot address specific security steps, we are in constant communication with the CHP, Senate and Assembly Sergeants, and local law enforcement to keep the people’s house safe.”
– Gov. Gavin Newsom, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, in a statement issued Wednesday.
Best of the Bee:
The House of Representatives Wednesday impeached President Donald Trump for an unprecedented second time, as Democrats and a handful of Republicans formally voted to charge the 45th president with “incitement of insurrection,” via David Lightman and Kate Irby.
Newly elected Republican Rep. David Valadao of Hanford was one of the 10 GOP lawmakers in the House of Representatives who joined Democrats voting to impeach the president, bringing the final vote to 232 to 197, via Kate Irby.
The last time Democrats held full control of Congress and the White House, they used their majorities to pass the Affordable Care Act and carry out the biggest expansion of health care since the 1960s, via Kate Irby.