Daily Headlines

Daily Headlines for January 24, 2020

We scan major news sources* and compile selected articles to keep you up-to-date on current issues affecting California business – the economy, health care, environment, transportation and more.

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Today’s Top Story

Job Killer, CalChamber-Opposed Bills Stall Ahead of Key Legislative Deadline
A California Chamber of Commerce job killer bill that expands rent control and discourages housing production has stalled in the Assembly and is likely dead for the year. Also stalled is a CalChamber-opposed bill banning paper receipts that contain bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol S (BPS).

Public Affairs/Politics

In California’s Presidential Primary, Confusion and Conflict over ‘Independent’ Voters
As election day approaches, social media posts warn of a nefarious plot to limit who can vote in California‘s Republican presidential primary. But the message is false: The only limit on participation is one imposed by the GOP‘s state and national leaders. Los Angeles Times

Early Voting Means 2020 Primary Is Already Here for Millions
California has by far the largest population of would-be early voters. Paul Mitchell, who runs the nonpartisan Political Data Inc. that analyzes and sells voter data, predicts about a quarter of the state’s eventual Democratic electorate will have cast ballots by the time Nevada holds its caucuses on Feb. 22. He projects that will increase to 40% by the time South Carolina votes on Feb. 29. The Associated Press

Democrats Detail Abuse-of-Power Charge Against Trump as Republicans Complain of Repetitive Arguments
House impeachment managers laid out the heart of their abuse-of-power case against President Trump on Thursday — charging that his efforts to pressure Ukraine into political investigations were precisely what the nation’s founders wanted to guard against when they empowered Congress to remove a president from office. The Washington Post

Human Resources / Health & Safety

Number of New Enrollees at Covered California Surges Past Total from 2019 Open Enrollment
Covered California reported Thursday that the number of new enrollees has surged to 318,000, surpassing the total number from last year, as open enrollment nears its close on Jan. 31. The Sacramento Bee

Trump Administration Threatens to Cut Health Funding for California over Abortion Insurance Law
The Trump administration is threatening to withhold federal funds from California over the state’s requirement that all insurance plans cover abortion. The Hill

Sexual Harassment Claims Now Tracked Across California State Government for the First Time
All California state departments are now required to log every claim of sexual harassment and discrimination into a new centralized system overseen by the California Department of Human Resources. The Sacramento Bee

Economy

U.S. Business Activity Increases in Early 2020
Business activity in the U.S. improved in early 2020, contrasting with weaker economic performance in some of the world’s other major economies. The Wall Street Journal

Manufacturing Jobs Fell Last Year in U.S. Rust-Belt Swing States
The Rust Belt states that narrowly helped deliver Donald Trump’s presidential victory lost manufacturing jobs in 2019 as trade wars and a strong dollar weighed on business, data showed Friday. Bloomberg

Refinancing Boom Fuels Mortgages to Postcrisis Record
The mortgage market in 2019 had its best year since the height of the precrisis boom, the latest sign that housing is firming up after showing signs of weakness early last year. The Wall Street Journal

U.S. Economic Confidence at Highest Point Since 2000
Americans’ confidence in the U.S. economy is higher than at any point in about two decades. The latest figure from Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index is +40, the highest reading recorded since +44 in October 2000. Gallup

Environmental / Agriculture

Meet Mark Jansen, CEO of Blue Diamond Growers
Ag Council President, Emily Rooney, interviews Mark Jansen, CEO of Blue Diamond Growers. Mark discusses his plans for continued innovation on the product side, Blue Diamond’s new membership policies and the shared philosophies between him and his friendly competitors in the industry. Mark also discusses his new leadership position at the California Chamber of Commerce and tackles some of the policies coming out of Washington and Sacramento. Agricultural Council of California

Dry January Raises Concerns About a More Intense Wildfire Season
2020 is off to a dry start, and meteorologists aren’t seeing any indications that will change in the next month. While a couple of dry winter months don’t make a drought, they could turn spring and summer into particularly bad fire seasons. The Orange County Register

As Gray Whale Migration Reaches Its Peak, Scientists Fear Another Unexplained Die-Off
As California gray whales wind their way south along North America’s Pacific coast — from their feeding grounds in the Arctic to their spring destination in the secluded lagoons of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula — researchers from Alaska to Mexico are watching, worried about another year of unexplained die-offs. Los Angeles Times

California’s Monarch Butterflies Critically Low for 2nd Year
The western monarch butterfly population wintering along California’s coast remains critically low for the second year in a row, a count by an environmental group released Thursday showed. NBC Bay Area

International

China Poised to Buy More From U.S., at the Expense of U.S. Allies
In the halls of Davos, where global leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum this week to discuss fraying international ties, two realities were becoming clear: China plans to honor the deal, and everybody except the United States may be about to lose a lot of business. The New York Times

U.S. Pushing India to Buy $5-6 Billion More Farm Goods to Seal Trade Deal
The United States wants India to buy at least another $5-6 billion worth of American farm goods if New Delhi wants to win reinstatement of a key U.S. trade concession and seal a wider pact, four sources familiar with the talks told Reuters. Reuters

Germany’s Finance Minister Scholz Says He’s ‘Confident’ that a U.S.-EU Trade Deal Will Happen
The German finance minister said he isn’t pessimistic over threats of tariffs on the car industry as he believes an agreement on free trade and digital taxes is possible. CNBC

Infrastructure / Education

Make Up School Time Lost to Climate Disasters, Fire Country Lawmaker Says
As climate-fueled natural disasters and power shutoffs have eroded the school year in an unprecedented swath of California, a lawmaker in wildfire country is proposing making up the lost instructional time for the most severely impacted students by funding “disaster relief” summer schools. CalMatters

California Making New Rules to Fix Cell Phone Failures by Summer
California regulators pledged this week to create new rules for a stronger communications network by the summer, determined to fix failures that left millions without phone or internet service as blackouts proliferated and wildfires burned last year. San Francisco Chronicle

California Bill Would Make Utilities Pay Some Blackout Costs
Californians left in the dark by electric companies that shut off their power to prevent wildfires could get paid for things such as lost wages or spoiled food under a bill that advanced Thursday in the Legislature. The Associated Press

Opinion/Editorial

Status Quo Means Higher Rents and More Homeless People. California Must Pass SB 50
We cannot continue the status quo on housing in California. The status quo means higher rents. The status quo means a continued rise in homelessness and human suffering on our streets. The status quo means more displacement, continued sprawl, longer commutes, increased emissions and the exacerbation of extreme inequality throughout our state. London Breed in The Sacramento Bee

How AB 5 Threatens the Job Security of California Workers
At bottom, AB 5 is a product of a government that is out of step with the realities of the 21st century economy – an economy that values the flexibility, innovation, and creativity that American workers are known for. AB 5 restrains that entrepreneurial spirit and forces workers into the government’s outdated view of employment. Brendan Carr in The Sacramento Bee

Assembly Bill 5 Threatens Small Businesses Across California
Passed last year and now California state law, AB5 severely limits independent contracting, costing thousands of workers not only their jobs but their means of supporting themselves and their families. Jay Obernolte in The Orange County Register

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