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California Gov. Gavin Newsom outlines his 2021-2022 state budget proposal during a news conference in Sacramento on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021.

AP/Pool

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

POLLS HOLD MIXED MESSAGES FOR NEWSOM

For Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration, Tuesday was a tale of two polls.

One poll, from the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, carried an ominous warning for the governor facing a potential recall election. It found just 46% of respondents approve of Newsom’s performance as governor, while 48% disapprove.

It’s a big shift from the sentiment last September, when 64% of voters approved of the way the governor was doing his job. Ready all about that in Lara Korte’s story here.

The other poll, from the Public Policy Institute of California, carried a bit more welcoming news, although it still showed declining support for the governor.

The latest survey from PPIC, which polled 1,703 Californian adults, found that a slight majority, 54%, support Newsom’s performance in office. That’s up from this time last year, when his approval rating was at 51%, but way down from Newsom’s peak approval rating of 65% in May of 2020.

Unsurprisingly, Democrats in the PPIC poll favored Newsom (who is a Democrat) more than Republicans — 71% of Dems support Newsom, compared to 46% of independents and just 16% of Republicans.

“A majority approve of the job that Gavin Newsom is doing as governor, while opinions about him remain deeply divided between Democratic and Republican voters,” said PPIC President Mark Baldassare in a statement.

The poll also carried a stark warning about our economic prospects: 72% of California adults believe California is in an economic recession, with a third (32%) believing that it is a serious economic recession. A majority (53%) of those surveyed reported that their personal finances are in fair to poor shape.

You can read the full report for yourself by visiting here.

REPORT SHOWS WHO’S PAYING THEIR INTERNS, AND WHO ISN’T

In 2019, just 10% of Assembly lawmakers paid their interns. That’s still more than the Senate, which didn’t pay a single intern in 2019.

That’s the finding of a new report, titled “Experience Doesn’t Pay the Bills in California — The Hidden Costs of Unpaid Internships and Why Paid Internships are a Must in the California Legislature.”

The report lists the harmful impacts of not paying interns, among them being that many otherwise capable college students are unable to pursue an internship because they simply cannot afford to do so.

The report lists the seven Democratic Assembly members, and the lone Republican Assemblyman, who in 2019 paid their interns: Blanca Rubio, Christina Garcia, Mike Gipson, Patrick O’Donnell, Phil Ting, Rudy Salas Jr., Todd Gloria and Bill Brough.

As for the list of senators who paid their interns, it simply says “This page intentionally left blank.”

That’s because not a single senator in 2019 paid their interns, according to the report.

The report lists several recommendations, including, unsurprisingly, allocating legislative funds for a paid internship program.

“Allocating legislative funds for a paid internship program would allow community college students as well as freshmen and sophomores at four-year institutions the opportunity to gain valuable legislative experience while opening the doors to future employment,” the report reads.

You can read the report for yourself by visiting here.

REMOVING GENDERED LANGUAGE IN THE GOVERNMENT

Women make up a majority of California constitutional office holders, yet legal language remains male-dominated. For example, the office of Secretary of State — held by a woman — “shall perform such other duties as may be assigned him by law,” according to the California Government Code.

To that end, Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, D-Orinda, has introduced a bill, in partnership with Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, that would update the “woefully outdated and gender-specific code sections relating to the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Controller, Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner, and Board of Equalization. All references to the gender of the office holder would be made neutral,” according to a statement from Kounalakis’ office.

“Current language in our law that assumes our Governor or our constitutional officers could only ever be a ‘he’ plays into the sexist bias that we in California have been fighting” Bauer-Kahan said in a statement. “Gendered language is neither precise nor accurate. Gender-neutral language reflects that anyone, regardless of gender identity, can serve at the highest levels of California government.”

The bill, AB 378, would systematically go through the government code, eliminating gendered language.

“With a record number of women serving in statewide office, the words we use matter and this update is long past due,” Kounalakis said in a statement. “I may be the first woman elected Lieutenant Governor of California, but I won’t be the last. Making these important changes will make California’s Government Code more inclusive of anyone who serves our great state in the future – no matter their gender identity.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“It’s interesting when Newsom’s allies say I should do my job instead of sue the Governor, when the whole reason we sued him was for the right to do our jobs.”

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

Best of the Bee:

  • Who is Chamath Palihapitiya, the former Facebook executive donating to Newsom’s recall? via Lara Korte

  • California union freezes assets of its largest chapter after embezzlement allegation, via Wes Venteicher

  • The world’s automakers say they’ll cooperate with California officials and President Joe Biden on greenhouse gas emissions, ending a nasty dispute with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration over the regulatory framework for combating climate change, via Dale Kasler and Michael Wilner.

  • Now, even as vaccine distribution ramps up, new variants and complacency could spell another wave of infections for California, via Lara Korte.

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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