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CALIFORNIANS WANT THE VACCINE, POLL SAYS

A majority, 71%, of Californians say that they will definitely or probably get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a survey released Thursday.

The survey, from the California Health Care Foundation, also found that nearly a quarter, 23%, of Californians know somebody who has died of COVID-19. That number is higher for Black (32%), Latino (27%) and Asian American (26%) people, and lower for white people (17%), the survey found.

“COVID-19 has definitively shaped the views of Californians over the last year, and addressing the pandemic has become Californians’ top policy priority by far. Still, ongoing issues like the high cost of health care, the number of health care providers, and access to mental health care remain top of mind for many,” Kristof Stremikis of the California Health Care Foundation said in a statement. “Health equity is also a concern. Significant numbers of Californians say it is harder for Black and Latinx people to get the care they need compared to white people. A strong majority of people who see racial and ethnic inequities in health care believe that that federal and state governments have the biggest responsibility to help solve the problem.”

Regarding health equity, the survey found that 51% of Californians said that it is harder or much harder for Black people to get the health care that they need, compared to white people, while 49% said it is harder for Latino people to get such care.

The survey was conducted between Nov. 19, 2020, and Jan. 12, 2021, with a sample size of 1,541 adults 18 or older.

You can read the full report here.

A NEW FORM OF CONSUMER LOAN GETS STATE’S GREEN LIGHT

Via Jeong Park…

The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation signed a memorandum of understanding with five companies providing money from workers’ paychecks ahead of their payday, allowing them to keep operating in the state.

Known as early or earned wage access, companies such as Brigit, Earnin, PayActiv, Even and Branch Messenger have gained prominence in the last few years.

Those companies have said they help workers cover unexpected bills without costly overdraft fees or payday loans with high interest rates. The companies either charge relatively small fees, monthly or per transaction, or partner with employers.

But the industry has also attracted scrutiny from some regulators from across the country, who have said some of these firms “appear to collect usurious or otherwise unlawful interest rates.”

In a press release, DFPI, which was created at the start of the year, said the companies have agreed to deliver quarterly reports to better inform the department of the products’ risks and benefits to California consumers.

The reports will include information such as consumer complaints, the department said. The department also said the companies agreed to disclose any potential fees they assess.

The department said it believes the agreement represents the first of its kind in the country between a state regulator and those companies.

“These first of their kind agreements reflect the type of balanced approach and oversight we strive to provide that encourages responsible innovation,” said DFPI Commissioner Manuel P. Alvarez. “Smart regulation should be data-driven and requires a tailored, collaborative approach. We are grateful for our early dialogue with these fintech companies and expect more MOUs to be signed in the coming weeks.”

ATKINS ENDORSES WEBER FOR ASSEMBLY

On the same day that lawmakers voted to confirm Shirley Weber as the new secretary of state, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, issued an endorsement for Weber’s daughter, Dr. Akilah Weber, to replace her mother in the Assembly.

The younger Weber is director of the Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology Division at Rady’s Children’s Hospital in San Diego, and also an assistant clinical professor at UC San Diego. She also serves as vice mayor of the La Mesa City Council.

“Dr. Akilah Weber has devoted her career to helping people in their most vulnerable moments. As a physician and surgeon, Dr. Weber has helped thousands of women and girls lead healthier lives. As an educator and local City Councilmember, she has worked to make her community stronger. Right now, California needs Dr. Weber’s leadership and her understanding of the complex public health and economic challenges we face. I’m proud to join with leaders from throughout San Diego County in supporting Dr. Akilah Weber for State Assembly in this important special election,” Atkins said in a statement.

During her time on the La Mesa City Council, Dr. Weber has worked to implement the city’s climate action plan, and she’s been a champion of the city’s community police oversight board and homelessness task force, according to Atkins’ office.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I sit on 9 committees, and today will be the first time in 5 months I have a chance to vote on something in any of them. Californians are really getting their money’s worth out of this Legislature.”

“Spoke too soon. Hearing canceled.”

– Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin, via Twitter.

Best of the Bee:

  • So far, recall supporters say they’ve collected 1.2 million signatures — though the state has verified only about a third of them. That’s still short of the 1.45 million minimum to qualify in a state with more than 22 million voters, and well below the estimated 2 million they’ll need to turn in to state officials by March 17 to ensure they have an adequate number of valid signatures, via Sophia Bollag and Lara Korte.

  • Sacramento politicians and community leaders applauded President Joe Biden’s directive condemning growing anti-Asian rhetoric and hate crimes that have risen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, via Ashley Wong.

  • A California Democrat wants to keep former inmates off the streets by using money saved from closing several California prisons in the next four years to fund re-entry housing, via Hannah Wiley.

Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for the Sacramento Bee. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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