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The Capitol dome glows on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, after the sunset in downtown Sacramento.

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Good morning and welcome to the A.M. Alert!

NEWSOM HAS AN EDGE IN NEW POLL

Via Lara Korte…

In a new survey released Tuesday showed a majority of likely voters would keep Gov. Gavin Newsom in office the event of a recall election.

When Probolsky Research asked likely voters how they’d vote if a recall was held today, 52.5% said they would vote no, 34.6% would vote yes, and 12.9% were unsure.

The same report showed a slight disadvantage for Newsom among Latino/Hispanic voters, who have been hit particularly hard during the pandemic. Of those voters, 44.5% said they would recall the governor, 41.4% said they would keep him, and 14.1% were unsure.

When it comes to political parties, it’s clear there’s much more support for the recall among Republicans than Democrats. Probolsky found 16.9% of Democrats would vote yes to a recall, compared to 80.6% of Republicans and 40.7% of those with no party affiliation.

BONUS: A new name in the recall race appeared Tuesday: Republican Sam Gallucci. He’s a former software engineer who helped launch PeopleSoft before it was acquired by Oracle in 2004, and is now officially running for governor.

Galluci left Silicon Valley life to begin work as a pastor, and is now CEO of The Kingdom Center, which provides emergency shelter and transitional living assistance for at-risk women and children, and Embrace! Ministries, which helps migrant field workers and their families.

Galluci expressed frustration with the business closures, high taxes and homelessness problems in California. On his website, he promises to “unite Republicans, Democrats, Independents and others.”

EMOTIONS RUN HIGH AT HEARING ON FENTANYL-RELATED BILL

Emotions ran high, and at times lawmakers were shouted down by members of the public, as the Senate Public Safety Committee discussed a bill by Sen. Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, that would require that drug dealers convicted of selling fentanyl be read a warning that they could be liable for murder or manslaughter if a customer dies from an overdose.

Melendez said the bill, SB 350 or “Alexandra’s Law,” is modeled on existing law which requires such a warning be read to people found guilty of driving under the influence.

The Alexandra of Alexandra’s Law was Alexandra Capelouto, who died 15 months ago from a fentanyl overdose. Matt Capelouto, her father, read an emotional statement to lawmakers, saying that “this legislation is not punitive, it’s preventative.”

Dozens of people, both in person and over the phones, testified in support of the bill, many of them family members or loved ones of somebody who died of a fentanyl overdose. Many brought pictures of the overdose victims.

Amy Neville, whose son Alexander died of a fentanyl overdose, tearfully described how she found her son in his bedroom after he overdosed.

“You might be asking yourself so where is this drug dealer now? It should come as no surprise to you that he is free, living his life, continuing to sell drugs to unsuspecting kids and adults while my child is in an urn on a shelf in his bedroom,” she said.

Several witnesses also spoke in opposition to the bill, including retired police Redondo Beach Police Lt. Diane Goldstein, of Law Enforcement Action Partnership, who said “there is no evidence that long prison sentences or even advisements save overdose lives.”

Glenn Backes, of the Drug Policy Alliance, said that “as a public health matter, it is likely this bill will make the problems of overdose worse and not better.”

The bill met resistance from the committee’s Democratic members.

“It’s not going to prevent any overdoses and I think that is a false hope, so I will not be supporting the bill today,” Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, said in his remarks.

Several lawmakers — including Sens. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley; Sydney Kamlager, D-Los Angeles; and Committee Chair Steven Bradford, D-Gardena — said that they could support Melendez’s bill with an amendment to remove the “implied malice” language in the bill.

Melendez refused to accept the amendment, arguing that a judge already can warn a drug dealer about the ramifications of their actions, and her bill was crafted with assistance from district attorneys to give it teeth.

Melendez said there is no guarantee that a murder charge would be brought, it would be up to the district attorney to decide.

The bill failed on a 1-1 vote, with Republican Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh voting yes, Wiener voting no, and the other members not voting.

How are Republicans playing it?

Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, sent out an email blast titled “Wilk lambasts Senate Democrats for putting drug dealers above kids.”

SMALL BUSINESSES WANT PROTECTION FROM LAWSUITS

Small businesses overwhelmingly want protection against “frivolous and unmerited” COVID-19-related lawsuits.

That’s the finding of a survey the National Federation of Independent Business conducted of its California members; 98% said they should be shielded from such lawsuits. As it so happens, the NFIB is a co-sponsor of AB247, authored by Assemblyman James Ramos, D-Highland, which would protect employers with 100 or fewer employees from liability for consumers contracting COVID-19.

The survey also found that 97% of members believe they should be allowed to remain open if they meet all government health and safety protocols.

You can read the results for yourself by visiting here.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Last April Gov. Newsom shut down beaches. Nearly a year later he’s shutting down beach volleyball. We’ve come a long way.”

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

Best of the Bee:

  • A hacker accessed personal identifying information of up to about 9,000 people in California last week, according to the State Controller’s Office, via Wes Venteicher.

  • The California Correctional Peace Officers Association is asking retired correctional officers to pay more in dues or lose a life insurance benefit, according to a letter sent to the retirees, via Wes Venteicher.

  • A high-profile bill that House Democrats passed this month will make it easier for private sector workers to join unions, but it won’t do much directly for labor organizations representing California government employees. That’s by design, via Kate Irby.

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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