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Good morning, California.

“I say this immodestly, but I want women to be immodest in this way: I’m a master legislator. Nobody wants to sit across the table from me. I think I’m probably the best person for the job.”—House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, at the Public Policy Institute of California in San Francisco.

CALmatters’ Ben Christopher predicts that no matter which party controls the House after the November mid-terms, the next Speaker will be a Californian, either San Francisco Democrat Pelosi or Bakersfield Republican Kevin McCarthy.

Is California's climate law measuring up?

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The world’s fifth-largest economy has spent billions of dollars to fight climate change. But is California booming because of the law that spawned those programs or in spite of it?

The promise: When then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, backers claimed it would add $7 billion and 100,000 new jobs to the state economy by 2020, CALmatters’ Julie Cart writes.

Schwarzenegger: “We were told so many times by business leaders when we passed these environmental laws that businesses were going to leave the state, that the unemployment rate is going to rise, and it would be the end of our economy. Quite the opposite has happened.”

Cart: With less than a year and a half to go before 2020, the state “has produced no reliable evidence linking growth so far to climate policies.”

California Air Resources Board chairwoman Mary Nichols: “We still don’t have the ability to capture, in any kind of models that seem to be available to us, at least some of the elements that we are intuitively claiming.”

Bottom line: Some lawmakers have asked for metrics on the economic impact of climate change legislation, and the Legislative Analyst has tried to measure it. As of now, however, there is no concrete plan for gauging the impact of what proponents say is one of the most important measures approved so far this century.


It's time to make behavioral health solutions a top priority in California.

How the Mendocino fire could affect net neutrality

Net neutrality bill faces a fight in the Assembly.

An allegation that firefighters were hindered by inadequate internet service while battling last month’s wildfires could influence an ambitious California bill to treat all internet traffic equally.

Remind me: Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, is pushing a bill to create a California version of net neutrality after the Trump administration’s Federal Communications Commission scrapped Obama-era rules banning internet service providers from manipulating access. The bill faces a close vote in the Assembly next week.

Separately, Santa Clara County joined Democratic attorneys general, including California’s Xavier Becerra, in a federal suit challenging the FCC’s decision to kill the Obama rules.

In a court filing, Santa Clara County Fire Chief Tony Bowden accused internet provider Verizon of throttling down its service as Santa Clara firefighters helped battle the Mendocino Complex fire, the largest California fire in recorded history.

Verizon spokeswoman Heidi Flato said the incident “has nothing to do with net neutrality” and was a “customer support mistake.”

Wiener told me Wednesday that while the full story is unclear, “it does show that throttling and slowing down of the internet can have severe consequences.”

Chances: Wiener’s bill would give California the strongest net neutrality rules in the nation. Telecommunications companies are trying to kill it, and have sway with moderate Assembly Democrats. They could block the bill in a variety of ways, including by foisting hostile amendments on the measure.


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Keeping score at home? Soda loses, tobacco wins

The legislature will not ask Hollywood to limit smoking in films seen by children.

Lawmakers voted Wednesday to require fast food joints to offer milk or water as the primary drink in kids’ meals, rather than default to soda or other sugary drinks.

Sugar: The legislation by Sen. Bill Monning, a Democrat from Carmel, seeks to combat childhood obesity. If Gov. Jerry Brown signs it into law, restaurants would receive a violation notice on the first offense and a $250 fine on the second citation within five years.

Tobacco: A day earlier, the Assembly Health Committee failed to approve a resolution calling on Hollywood to give R-ratings to movies that depict smoking. Resolutions are statements and cannot be enforced.

The vote: Seven Democrats voted yes and one Republican voted no. But five Democrats and two Republicans declined to cast votes, the equivalent of voting no.

Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, a Los Angeles Democrat, abstained: “I don’t think that it’s the job of this Legislature to figure out or try to make creative decisions on films or the movie industry based on smoking.”

Sen. Richard Pan, a Sacramento Democrat who carried the resolution, cited links between actors smoking in films and kids smoking:

“While I appreciate artistry, I think people need to be aware of consequences and parents need to know.”

Money matters: The Motion Picture Association of America, which has resisted efforts to censor tobacco, spent $674,000 on lobbying in Sacramento since the start of 2017 and donated $144,000 to candidates.

Tobacco giants Altria and R.J. Reynolds have spent $79.6 million on California campaigns since 2015, including $1.64 million to Republican Party groups and $113,000 to Assembly health committee members.

My turn: Digesting bio-digester hype

Questioning bio-digesters.

CALmatters guest commentators Phoebe Seaton and Rebecca Spector write that the dairy industry is responsible for 75 percent of agriculture’s methane emissions, but focuses on unproven bio-digester technology instead of cleaning up its mess.

Walters: Brown’s criminal justice legacy

CALmatters commentator Dan Walters points out that Jerry Brown spent much of his first governorship four decades ago dodging the political fallout of California’s rising crime rates. In his second stint, he writes, Brown has pushed for major changes in criminal law. The scope of those changes is stunning but it may be years before we know whether they were the right thing to do, or made Californians more vulnerable to crime.

Walters: “Either way, they will be a big piece of his political legacy.”

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