President-elect Joe Biden, right, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, left, share a laugh during an event to announce several choices for positions in the Biden administration at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President-elect Joe Biden, right, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, left, share a laugh during an event to announce several choices for positions in the Biden administration at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)


Good morning and happy Martin Luther King Jr Day! As always, thank you for reading the A.M. Alert.

FIRST UP: With an overwhelming show of force by law enforcement and National Guard troops, California’s state Capitol remained peaceful Sunday despite warnings of armed violence and demonstrations in advance of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. Expect to see California National Guard troops deployed in the capital city at least through President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.


Kamala Harris on this MLK Day plans to resign from her U.S. Senate seat as she moves on to the executive branch, where she’ll become the nation’s first Black vice president.

She spoke with CBS Sunday Morning this week for a sit-down feature with husband Doug Emhoff, where she celebrated the historic moment while insisted she’s ‘clear-eyed’ about the challenges ahead.

“I was raised to not hear ‘no,’ let me be clear about it,” she said in the interview. “So, it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, the possibilities are immense. Whatever you want to do, you can do.’ No! I was raised to understand many people will tell you, ‘It is impossible,’ but don’t listen.

“I mentor a lot of people, and I tell them that there will be people who will say, ‘It’s not your turn, it’s not your time. No one like you has done it.’ And I’ll tell them, ‘And don’t you listen.’

“And then I will go on to tell them, ‘I eat no for breakfast!’” she said.

Her resignation from the Senate clears the way for outgoing California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to move to fill her seat. He’ll join a razor-thin Democratic majority with Harris as the deciding vote.

He shared a photo on social media late Sunday showing him reading the Constitution with a family member.

“’We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice… and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity….’”

“Nighttime reading and a moment of reflection before I leave for Washington, DC. #WeThePeople,” he wrote.


Newly elected Rep. David Valadao of Hanford was one of just 10 Republicans voting to impeach President Donald Trump last week. The Fresno GOP slammed Valadao almost immediately, calling the congressman’s “vote a slap in the face to those who worked on or donated to the congressman’s recent campaign.”

But Vice President Mike Pence at least doesn’t appear to be showing hard feelings. Pence traveled to Naval Air Station Lemoore on Saturday for one his two farewell addresses to troops. The base for Pacific Fleet fighter jets sits in Valadao’s district, and Valadao was welcome to the vice president’s event.

The Fresno Bee’s Tim Sheehan observed, “Valadao was briefly greeted by Pence after the speech, and said Pence simply said hello and asked how he’s doing. Valadao added that he intends to attend Biden’s inauguration at the Capitol on Wednesday.

Valadao can’t afford to be too hard-line. Both Hillary Clinton and Biden won more votes than Trump in the district he represents.


This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we thought it would be worthwhile to explore some of the social justice-related bills under consideration in the Legislature this year.

For starters, watch the new versions of the police reform bills the Democratic Legislature couldn’t quite pass last year after the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests inspired by George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis.

Senate Bill 2 by Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, would make it easier to decertify California police officers. That’s one that didn’t make it Newsom last time.

Then there’s Assembly Bill 48, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, which would ban police from using “kinetic energy projectiles,” or rubber bullets, and tear gas to disperse protests in most instances.

There’s AB 256, authored by Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, which would give Californians with prior criminal convictions a new avenue to clear their criminal record if they can show that racial bias affected their arrest or sentencing.

As the Capitol Bureau’s Hannah Wiley wrote for The Bee, the bill would retroactively expand existing law that gives criminal defendants currently in court the ability to object to punishment if they can show that anyone involved in their case, be they judge, attorney, police office, witness or juror, demonstrated racial bias during the criminal justice process.

Kalra’s bill would allow attorneys to raise such incidents as proof of discrimination and challenge their clients’ sentencing and conviction.

Then there is SB 17, authored by Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, which declares racism as a public health crisis, and which would signal the Legislature’s intent to enact legislation to direct the California Department of Public Health to address it as such.

And then there is AB 4, by Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, which would grant Medi-Cal eligibility to undocumented adults who otherwise qualify for the service but for their immigration status.


“At the state Capitol this evening taking care of some things and on a Friday evening the place is buzzing with CHP, Assembly/Senate Sergeants, National Guard. Just a heartfelt thanks to them for stepping up to keep our Capitol safe during this turbulent moment.”

– Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, via Twitter.

Best of the Bee:

  • Prison release expected for driver in Northern California bus crash that killed 11, via Jason Pohl

  • Usually in mid-January, organizations around Sacramento would be prepping routes for their annual respective marches in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. However, this year, organizations are shifting to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions and safety precautions, via Marcus D. Smith.

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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