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WECA Political Update January 4, 2024

Thursday, January 4, 2024

First Political Bulletin of 2024

Whew, that didn’t take long. Larry David says you can say that until January 7, so use it generously this week.

If it felt like 2023 zipped by, 2024 could be more drawn out. That’s because it’s a leap year, and people born on February 29, 2020, can finally turn one. The 366-day year also means you’ll have to dig out your calendar from 1996 for the most recent match to 2024. And keep your 2023 calendar in a safe place—you’ll be able to use it again in 2034. Fun fact: there are only 14 possible calendar configurations.

The National Debt Is Now More Than $34 Trillion. What Does That Mean?

The gross federal debt of the United States has surpassed $34,000,000,000,000. Although the debt affects each of us, it may be difficult to put such a large number into perspective and fully understand its implications. The $34 trillion gross federal debt includes debt held by the public and debt held by federal trust funds and other government accounts. In very basic terms, this can be thought of as debt that the government owes to others plus debt that it owes to itself.  America’s high and rising debt matters because it threatens our economic future. The coronavirus pandemic rapidly accelerated our fiscal challenges, but we were already on an unsustainable path, with structural drivers that existed long before the pandemic. Putting our nation on a better fiscal path will help ensure a stronger and more resilient economy for the future. Story

Cease-Fire Protest Halts California Legislative Session

Politico reports “Hundreds of cease-fire activists interrupted California lawmakers' return to the Capitol on Wednesday, forcing the state Assembly to adjourn for the afternoon. The protesters filled the chamber’s gallery and began chanting and singing “cease-fire now” soon after the Assembly gaveled open its first floor session of the year. They demanded lawmakers call for an end to the Israel-Hamas conflict that has killed thousands of civilians. Assemblymember Isaac Bryan (D-Los Angeles) called the demonstration “a powerful showing of civil disobedience.”

Amendments to California Anti-Retaliation Laws Facilitate Employee Lawsuits

Soon it will be easier for California employees to establish a prima facie retaliation claim in violation of California law. On October 8, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill No. 497 into law. Also referred to as the Equal Pay and Anti-Retaliation Protection Act, the legislation amends California Labor Code Sections 98.6, 1102.5 and 1197.5 and will create a presumption of retaliation when an employer takes an adverse employment action against an employee within 90 days of the employee engaging in conduct protected under any of the specified Labor Code sections. Story

A Look at New California Labor and Employment Laws for 2024

The California Legislature has enacted numerous new laws impacting the workplace in 2024. This Holland & Knight alert summarizes select employment laws that go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, unless stated otherwise. Story

764,000 Undocumented California Immigrants Became Eligible for Medi-Cal This Week

Why it matters: California extended comprehensive health care benefits to 26 to 49-year-old undocumented immigrants on Jan 1. Despite a $68 billion deficit, Gov. Newsom's budget directs $4 billion to the expansion.

See You in the Box

A long-simmering fight over a term widely considered to be a slur for Native American women will go to Fresno County voters in March.

A 2022 state law authored by Assemblymember James Ramos requires the term “squaw” to be removed from all geographic features and place names in the state, including sites like Squaw Lake and Squaw Leap in Fresno County. The federal government last year renamed Squaw Valley as Yokuts Valley.

But Fresno County supervisors stymied in their attempts to sue the state are backing a ballot measure to give their board explicit control over the naming of geographic features or placing names through an amended county charter.

Measure B is backed by Fresno County Supervisors Nathan Magsig and Steve Brandau, who argue it’s an issue of local control. “This charter amendment, if passed, will send a clear message to the Board of Supervisors, Sacramento, and Washington; the voters of Fresno County want decisions related to name changes to remain at the local level,” the two supervisors wrote in an argument in favor of the measure.

Among the dissenters are Ramos, Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula, and state Sen. Anna Caballero, who argue that the measure will reverse the renaming of Yokuts Valley and perpetuate prejudice against Native women.

“California has moved beyond the days when willful ignorance of native peoples prevailed,” the opposition argued. “Words matter. Offensive slurs are not protected speech.” The measure will appear on Fresno County's March primary ballot.

Arizona Businesses Required to File New Paperwork Starting Jan. 1, 2024

Beginning in 2024, some Arizona businesses and people with substantial control of a company will need to file new identifying paperwork or face fines, according to Arizona officials. The Corporate Transparency Act was signed into law in January 2021 to “combat money laundering and other illegal activities,” according to the Arizona Corporation Commission. More

Utah Contest to Replace Mitt Romney in U.S. Senate Gains More GOP Candidates

John Curtis, a fourth-term U.S. House member from Provo, Utah, will join the Republican field to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, Curtis told States Newsroom ahead of a formal announcement Wednesday morning. Curtis is a late entrant in the Utah GOP primary race, which includes former state House Speaker Brad Wilson and a hard-right favorite, Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs. In addition to Wilson and Staggs, Brent Orrin Hatch, the son of the late U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, filed paperwork Tuesday to run for the seat. Sen. Hatch served for 42 years before his retirement in 2019. Story

Beavers on the Loose

California state and tribal agencies released a family of beavers in Plumas County in the Sierra Nevada this fall to re-establish a breeding population there, the first such release of beavers in the state in almost 75 years, The Sacramento Bee reports. The project was led by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Maidu Summit Consortium, a nonprofit devoted to conserving the land and culture of the Mountain Maidu people. Together, the groups released seven beavers into a creek on a tract of tribal land in Plumas County, where the beaver population was abundant before pioneers settled the area. The release represents a milestone in the efforts by the state and the Maidu to conserve the region’s ecosystem. Beavers play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem, and their aquatic engineering can help make their environments more climate resilient. “It’s good to have them back home again,” Maidu Summit Consortium chairman Ben Cunningham told the news outlet. “The beavers are back where they belong.”

Friend of WECA and San Diego Republican Carl DeMaio reported raising $951,000 in the first 24 days of his campaign for Assembly District 75 – currently represented by Republican Marie Waldron, who is termed out this year.

U.S. Chamber White Paper on "Whole of Government" Union Support The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a White Paper detailing the various elements of the Biden/Harris administration's advocacy for unions. The report examines how President Biden's "whole of government" approach to using the federal government to promote unionization harms workers, employers, and the economy. Read the full report here