November 27, 2022

When can Californians get more details on Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposal to introduce a windfall tax on oil companies, which newly elected state legislators will consider in a special legislative session beginning Dec. 5?

The details of the proposal likely won’t come to light until the start of the special session, the same day lawmakers will be sworn in, Newsom’s office told political reporter CalMatters. Alexei Koseff and me on Monday.

And legislators do not expect to take substantive action until January, when the next legislature really starts.

  • The office of Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, a Democrat from San Diego, said in a statement: “The December 5 session will focus on swearing in new members and organizational matters, and may include taking steps to set up and organize the special session. We expect to work with the governor and his team on the special session/windfall penalty and rebate issue once we meet in January.
  • Katie Talbot, a spokesperson for Lakewood Democratic Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, told Alexei that although the special session will take place on December 5, meetings are not expected to start until January.

Newsom has proposed returning revenue from the new tax to Californians in the form of rebates — possibly similar to the rebates the state is currently sending to millions of residents — but the special session timeline suggests it could be a while before the checks clear. end up in the mailboxes of the residents. , if they land at all.

Indeed, approving a new tax could be a politically dangerous move for newly elected lawmakers casting their first ballot — and could prove unpopular amid concerns about an impending recession and California’s projected budget deficit of $25 billion for next year. fiscal year. Lawmakers are also expected to introduce their own ideas at the special session.

Meanwhile, the California Energy Commission will hold a meeting with oil industry executives and experts on Nov. 29 to gather more information about gas price spikes, refinery disruptions and record industry profits. Regulators will also discuss strategies to “protect consumers from price shocks” ahead of the state’s ban on the sale of gas-powered new cars in 2035.


Other stories you should know


1
Newsom’s office does not share the location of personal travel

Gov. Gavin Newsom addresses the media after meeting with local leaders about homelessness in Sacramento on Nov. 18, 2022. Photo by Rahul Lal, CalMatters

The Newsom administration has a new communication policy when it comes to the governor’s travels: “When the governor travels on official state business, we will provide information about his travels. If the governor is on a personal or family trip, due to security concerns, we will not provide details about his trip until he returns,” Newsom spokesperson Erin Mellon told me in a Monday statement. While the administration has previously shared information in advance about Newsom’s personal or family travel — including last year’s Thanksgiving holiday in Mexico and this year’s spring trip to Central and South America — that has changed in recent months, starting with Newsom’s summer vacation to Montana to visit his in-laws and including his current Thanksgiving family vacation.

Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor and former chair of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, told me, “I don’t think he has any kind of legal or demonstrable moral obligation to tell us where he is on vacation.”

  • But Levinson added: “For critics of Newsom,” it begs the question, “Why did you stop being outspoken in the first place?” Why did you stop telling us? Do you have something to hide?’ My guess is he’s probably tired of the criticism about where he’s going, including visiting his wife’s family. … It seems to me that it would be completely in line with his personality to simply conclude that the criticism was unfounded, and he can go on vacation and not tell us.”
  • Levinson continued: “I think if you decide to run for president, you pretty much give up all aspects of your privacy. And I’m not sure the same goes for being a governor. … Especially if (Newsom) wants to run for president, then I think he knows those moments are gone forever … and he won’t be able to have vacations like that again.

2
Feds approve $1 billion to keep Diablo Canyon open

The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant near San Luis Obispo has been providing electricity since 1985. Photo by Lionel Hahn, Reuters

California’s last nuclear power plant, which supplies about 10% of the state’s electricity, just took a big step to stay open past its planned 2025 shutdown date: The U.S. Department of Energy announced Monday that PG&E, the operator of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, received a grant of approximately $1.1 billion to keep the facility open. The move comes about two months after a controversial last-minute lawsuit that culminated in Newsom and state lawmakers authorizing a whopping $1.4 billion loan to PG&E to keep Diablo Canyon open through 2030 to support California’s fragile energy grid. to help stabilize. Anti-nuclear advocates opposed the move, noting that the aging facility near San Luis Obispo is close to earthquake fault lines and could pose safety concerns.

  • PG&E said in a statement it will use the federal money to pay back the loan and “lower costs for customers” if the plant’s operating license is renewed, which still requires additional federal and state approvals. It also said the plant has “an excellent track record of working safely and is subject to strict regulatory oversight”.
  • Newsom said in a statement: “This investment creates a path forward for a limited extension of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant to support statewide reliability and provide a stepping stone for more clean energy projects coming online.”
  • Laura Deehan, state director of Environment California Research & Policy Center, said in a statement: “It is disappointing to see the federal government give PG&E more than a billion dollars in taxpayers’ money for an obsolete and potentially hazardous power source, when cleaner, safer and more affordable energy solutions exist. …California should break new ground and focus on building the electrical system of the future.”

3
Editor-in-chief CalMatters will lead new investigative journalism

David Lesher (center) in the CalMatters office in Sacramento on April 6, 2022. Photo by Martin do Nascimento, CalMatters

CalMatters editor-in-chief Dave Lesher, who helped found the award-winning non-profit, non-partisan state policy and political news outlet seven years ago, takes on a new role: leading CalMatters’ California Accountability Project, which brings old-school shoe-leather reporting with artificial intelligence technology to help journalists identify and dig into stories and unprecedented trends to hold government officials and agencies accountable, writes CalMatters membership manager Sonya Quick.

  • Learn: “This is an exciting opportunity to do something again that I believe will change California for the better and perhaps change journalism with a team of investigative reporters and new technology tools designed to help journalists in the policy-making process. I’ve always believed it’s easy to make people angry at the government, but that alone doesn’t help. … It’s time to add the Accountability Desk with a new layer of transparency and a watchdog capability essential to a nation-state with an annual budget of $300 billion.
  • Neil Chase, CEO of Cal Matters: “CalMatters is a success today because of Dave’s vision and his unique ability to execute on that vision while protecting our quality of journalism and reputation for unbiased work. That’s why I’m so excited about what he’s going to do next: the vital accountability journalism that California needs and deserves.”

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