I'm here to remind you that leaked audio recordings of conversations between Los Angeles City Council members, however interesting they may be, are not the only drama in California politics.
Instead, I want to take a few minutes to focus on the ongoing battle between Governor Gavin Newsom and big oil.
As the leader of the Democratic state in a country with a Democratic President, Newsom is free from natural barriers.
Donald Trump does not pose the same existential threat to California as he does at the White House. California's legislature is dominated by Democrats who coexist peacefully with the governor in public and try to express their frustration with him in less visible ways.
While Larry Elder gave Newsom the GOP bug to increase interest in his recall, his re-election challenger, Republican Brian Dale , is less scary to the average liberal voter.
Thus, Newsom left California and managed to create conflict between himself and GOP governors, most notably Florida Governor Ron DeSantis , as well as Texas Commander-in-Chief Greg Abbott . And, like many of Newsom's other political stunts, it makes sense for the governor of California to compare his state's policies on abortion, LGBTQ rights, and gun control with those of more conservative states.
This contrast makes Newsom the white knight of the Democratic Party, which he says has been "crushed" by Republicans. National media began covering Newsom's fight with DeSantis, comments he made between him and his national party, and speculation about his presidential ambitions.
Then the battle with DeSantis and the Florida advertisement brought on another major foe: the Western States Petroleum Assn.
Although Newsom was largely sidelined as lawmakers battled a powerful industry and lost his first term, the governor stepped into the fray after the oil company's association attacked Florida, which is responsible for the nation's highest gas prices with your own ad. California.
The debate has escalated from passing some tough climate laws to governors calling for a special legislative session in December to impose windfall taxes on oil companies.
However, at a time when Californians struggle to buy gasoline and the effects of climate change are felt statewide, Newsom's position in the industry is sound policy.
"This is the battle of our time," said one of the state legislature sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared it could damage his relationship with the governor. "There are wizards in Salem, and we have WSPA."
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On September 30, Newsom's office issued a press release asking lawmakers to "impose additional taxes on oil companies that will be returned directly to California taxpayers."
At that time, the governor's team said that although the price of crude oil fell, oil companies continued to increase the price of gas stations. His team dismissed suggestions that refinery maintenance issues, hurricanes or government taxes were the only reasons for the increase.
The announcement raises at least one big question: how can lawmakers pass any tax if it's not in session?
The issue remained until Newsom told reporters at a press conference on Oct. 7 that he would hold a special session to approve a tax on excess profits for oil companies. The governor said he would start the special session once lawmakers returned to start the next session on December 5, a month after the November election.
“They can get away with it,” Newsom said of the oil companies. “They pocket hundreds of millions of dollars a week, fill their pockets at your expense, and then pollute the planet and leave us with all the externalities and costs that come with it.”
Pro Tempore Senate Speaker Tony G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and House Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) said they can't wait to consider "the governor's detailed proposal when we get it."
No parliament has yet passed the plan, and it is unclear how Newsom's proposal will work.
The surprise tax comes months after lawmakers urged lawmakers in August to pass a series of laws to tighten the state's climate change laws that the oil industry opposes.
Newsom promised to win support from lawmakers when they passed the bill, but in September he ruffled his feathers when he took over the law and invited Democrats in his state to commit to oil.
“I had to get the Democratic Party legislature to pass four of the 40 critical climate laws in the final weeks of our session,” he said during New York Climate Week. "Otherwise, all those special interests will take over again to be denied and postponed."
Newsom praised legislators at an event the following day, saying he was "very proud of his legislature."
If oil companies pass this tax on to consumers by raising gasoline prices, or say they will, lawmakers may be embarrassed by the unexpected tax. Each package of laws will most likely contain some provisions that will try to prevent this.
The tax message is also a sensitive and central theme in every proposal Newsom makes to lawmakers.
Newsom's office described the tax as an attempt to "put the oil windfall back into taxpayers' pockets." Republicans in the Legislature tried to call it just a new gas tax, arguing that it wouldn't save any Californians.
At the same time, the oil industry is gathering signatures for a referendum on SB 1137, one of the bills passed by lawmakers in August, to create a buffer zone between new oil and gas wells and areas. The industry, led by the California Independent Petroleum Association, hopes to wait until the law goes into effect and instead ask voters to repeal it by the 2024 vote.
The governor's team hopes to pass the surprise tax soon after the special session begins in December. Dozens of deputies will be sworn in for the first time on the day it starts, and the battle with the oil industry will be the new agency's first litmus test.
Stand up for and against abortion rights
While polls show that the vote to enshrine abortion rights in the California Constitution is getting closer to victory, that hasn't stopped major donors from opening their checkbooks in support.
This week the California Nurses Association. The Political Committee donated $500,000 to Senate President Tony Atkins' Committee on Accounts, and Kaiser Permanente donated $250,000 to support Proposition 1.
Supporters of the election move raised nearly $9 million during the last application period, which ended September 24, but donations have been pouring in. Opponents' campaigns raised nearly $1 million in the same application period, including a recent $20,000 donation this month from Dale's gubernatorial candidate selection committee.
Proposition 1 was put to a vote by the Democratic-controlled state legislature in November in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade was a landmark decision in 1973 that protected abortion rights across the country.
Supporters of the donation include singer and actress Barbra Streisand , who donated $5,000 to this month's event, and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and his wife, Connie , who each donated $250,000 on September 30.
California philanthropists have also been hard at work in recent weeks, with Patty Quillin , wife of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings , donating $450,000, and Democratic mega-donor Susie Tompkins Buell donating $100,000.
“It's not about raising a lot of money that we don't need,” said Molly Widn , spokeswoman for the Yes on Proposition 1 campaign. “It's about raising money to ensure we can communicate with the communities most impacted. abortion bans introduced in the future.”
Governor Gavin Newsom used at least $2 million of his campaign funds to advertise in favor of Proposition 1 while he was lieutenant governor. Go. Eleni Kunalakis donated $100,000 .
Support The largest donation per person came from Graton Rancheria Indians, who donated $5 million on September 16.
"It is imperative to Federated Graton Rancheria Indians that all women, especially Indigenous women, and all low-income and women of color, have sovereign rights over their bodies and access to all health care services available to them," she said. Tribe by Greg Sarris .
Criminal background check
Crime became fashionable during the election campaign. Some evidence suggests that there are good reasons for this.
The California Department of Justice Crime Report 2021 shows a 6.7% increase in violent crimes, a 9.1% increase in homicides, and an 8.6% increase in rapes.
Similarly, crimes against state property increased, albeit slightly, by 3%, and auto theft by 8.2%. The numbers have become a political issue in the race for the best cop in California.
Nathan Hochman , Republican attorney and former federal prosecutor, frequently shoots Democratic incumbents. To General Rob Bonte for his relative inexperience in law enforcement and for advocating more progressive criminal justice reform policies as a state legislator.
Hochman said Bonta contributed to a "spiral of lawlessness" and the state Department of Justice needed a leader to "keep California safe and protected."
Bonta says the data tell a different story.
Bonta said crime had been on the rise and it was important to respond to this trend and ensure that people felt safe.
But, he adds, "when you turn the camera back, we're still at one of the lowest crime rates in California history."
According to the 2021 Crime Report, California's violent crime rate peaked in 1992. Property crime remains relatively low, well below the all-time high of 1980.
Bonta said it was "important to stick to the data" and "not be afraid to use anecdotes and examples and generalizations".
But facts don't always triumph over feelings, and there is evidence that crime matters more to voters when they go to the polls.
A September poll by the California Public Policy Institute found that most voters see street violence and crime as a problem. 43% believe that it has increased over the past year.
California political flash
– The editorial board of the Los Angeles Times urged readers not to sign the petition to revoke SB 1137, stating that it was "an attack on our health and safety and should be categorically rejected."
— Mackenzie Mays reports California's first homeless hospital failed.
– The announcement of a congressional election bombarding Californians shows a clear division of priorities – Democrats focused on abortion access, Republicans focused on inflation.
– The race for the best California cop focuses on abortion, gun control and crime.
– Having trouble activating your California gas tax refund debit card? Please try again
Times staff writers Melody Gutierrez and Hannah Wylie contributed to this report.
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