California Legislature moving quickly on bills to defy Trump on immigration

Alexei Koseff
The Sacramento Bee
January 31, 2017

With three weeks left until the bill introduction deadline, most of the policy agenda this legislative session has yet to be determined, let alone scheduled for a committee hearing. But amid the outcry over a string of executive orders issued last week by President Donald Trump, the state Senate has put a handful of measures onto the fast track.

Senate Bill 54, which prohibits state and local law enforcement from using their resources to investigate, arrest or detain suspects for immigration enforcement purposes, will get its first hearing in the Senate Public Safety Committee, 9:30 a.m. in Room 4203 of the Capitol. The proposal builds on a 2013 law that outlawed holding undocumented immigrants for federal authorities.

Supporters of the bill, including the California Immigrant Policy Center and state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. outside Room 437 to discuss its importance.

Then the Senate Judiciary Committee, which meets at 1:30 p.m. in Room 112, will take up Senate Bill 6, a measure establishing legal aid for immigrants that has an urgency provision to take effect immediately. The committee will also consider Senate Bill 31, forbidding state and local agencies from providing personally identifiable information about an individual’s religious beliefs to the federal government.

Since Trump’s election in November, California politicians have voiced concerns about – and promised to defy – his campaign promise to deport millions of criminal undocumented immigrants and suggestions that he might establish a national registry of Muslims.

That rancor was stoked again last week when Trump signed a set of executive orders to withhold federal funding from “sanctuary cities” that protect undocumented immigrants, begin construction on a new border wall with Mexico, and temporarily banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. The latter provoked a weekend of protests at airports across the country.

MUST READ: Could California become a ‘sanctuary state’ under Trump?

HASTA LA VISTA, BABY: Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is busy these days as Trump’s replacement host on “The New Celebrity Apprentice,” but he hasn’t forgotten about politics completely. The Governator is set to join David Daley, author of Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, as well as representatives from Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, to discuss the book and efforts to reduce the impact of gerrymandering. The conversation will be streamed live from the University of Southern California at 5 p.m. on Schwarzenegger’s Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS: Who was the highest-paid state employee in California last year? Theodore Eliopoulos, the chief investment officer at CalPERS, who made $768,000. You can explore salary information for all 300,000-plus public workers in The Bee’s database, which was just updated with 2016 civil service and CSU pay. The overall payroll rose by about $500 million, or 3 percent, from 2015, comparable to the increase between 2014 and 2015.

HERE WE GO AGAIN: The University of California last week approved its first tuition increase since 2011, and California State University may follow suit. Though not set to vote at its meeting in Long Beach today, the CSU Board of Trustees will discuss a proposal to raise fees by up $270, or about 5 percent, next academic year. The university says the tuition hike is necessary after years of underfunding from the state to pay for enrollment growth, faculty raises, repairs to facilities and an ambitious new initiative to improve graduation rates. Students have already planned demonstrations against the fee increase outside the board meeting and on half a dozen CSU campuses over the next two days.

WORTH REPEATING: “When forced to decide between security and liberty, I will always side with liberty.” - Chad Mayes, Assembly Republican leader, taking issue with Trump’s order barring certain immigrants from entering the U.S.