Oil tax probably won’t be considered until January – CalMatters | Team Cansler

When might Californians hear more details about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to introduce a windfall profits tax for 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 special session begins, the same day lawmakers are sworn into office, Newsom’s office told CalMatters’ political reporter Alexej Koseff and me on monday

And lawmakers don’t expect to take any significant action on the issue until January, when the next legislative session begins in earnest.

  • The Office of Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat, said in a statement: “The December 5 meeting will focus on the swearing-in of new members and organizational matters, and may include steps to set up and organize the special session. We anticipate working with the governor and his team on the special session/windfall penalty and rebate issue once we meet in January.”
  • Katie Talbot, a spokeswoman for Democratic Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon of Lakewood, said Alexei that although the special session will begin on December 5, sessions are not expected to begin until January.

Newsom has proposed paying the proceeds from the new tax back to Californians in the form of rebates — possibly similar to those the state is currently sending to millions of residents — but the special session’s schedule suggests it could take a while until the checks land in the residents’ mailboxes, if they land at all.

Indeed, approving a new tax could be a politically dangerous move for newly elected lawmakers poised for their first vote — and unpopular amid concerns about an impending recession and California’s projected $25 billion budget deficit for the next fiscal year. Legislators are also expected to come up with their own ideas during the special session.

Meanwhile, the California Energy Commission is scheduled to hold a meeting with oil industry executives and experts on Nov. 29 for more information on gas price spikes, disruptions at refineries and record industry profits. Regulators will also discuss strategies to “protect consumers from price shocks” before the state bans sales of new gas-powered cars in 2035.



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

Governor Gavin Newsom addresses the media following a meeting with local leaders on the issue of homelessness in Sacramento November 18, 2022. Photo by Rahul Lal, CalMatters

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

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

  • But Levinson added: “For critics of Newsom,” it begs the question, “Basically, why did you stop being accommodating? Why did you stop telling us? Do you have something to hide?’ My… guess is that he’s probably fed up with the criticism about where he’s going, including visiting his wife’s family. … It seems to me it would suit his personality perfectly just to decide that the criticism was unfounded and he can go on holiday and not tell us.”
  • Levinson continued: “I think if you decide to become president, you’re giving up practically every aspect of your privacy. And I’m not sure that’s the same for governors. … Especially when (Newsom) wants to run for president, he knows those moments are gone forever … and he won’t be able to take that kind of vacation again.”

2
The Fed approves $1 billion to keep Diablo Canyon open

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

California’s last nuclear plant, which provides about 10% of the state’s electricity, just took a big step to stay open beyond its planned 2025 closure date: The US Department of Energy announced Monday that PG&E, the operator of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant , operates , received a grant of approximately $1.1 billion to keep the facility running. The move comes about two months after a controversial last-minute process that culminated in Newsom and state lawmakers approving a loan of up to $1.4 billion for PG&E to keep Diablo Canyon open through 2030 and to help stabilize the fragile California energy grid. Anti-nuclear advocates opposed the action, noting that the aging facility near San Luis Obispo is near earthquake fault lines and could pose safety issues.

  • PG&E announced this in a statement it will use the federal money to repay the loan and “cut costs to customers” if the plant’s operating license is extended, which still requires additional federal and state permits. It also said the plant has “excellent safe operations and is subject to strict regulatory oversight.”
  • Newsom said in a statement: “This investment creates a path forward for a limited-time expansion of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant to support reliability across the state and provide an impetus for more clean energy projects to come online.”
  • Laura Deehan, state director of the Environment California Research & Policy Center, said in a statement: “It’s disappointing to see the federal government spending more than $1 billion in taxpayer dollars on an obsolete and potentially dangerous energy source when there are cleaner, safer, more affordable energy solutions. … California should turn the page and focus on building the electrical system of the future.”

3
CalMatters Editor-in-Chief to Lead New Investigative Journalism Division

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

CalMatters Editor-in-Chief Dave Lesher, who seven years ago helped found the award-winning nonprofit, nonpartisan state policy and policy newsroom, is stepping into a new role: leading CalMatters’ California Accountability Project, the old-school Shoes will combine leather-based reporting with artificial intelligence to help journalists identify and investigate stories and never-before-seen trends to hold government officials and agencies accountable, writes CalMatter’s Membership Manager Sonya Quick.

  • Lesher: “This is an exciting opportunity to once again do something that I believe will change California for the better and perhaps transform journalism with a team of investigative reporters and new technology tools designed to help journalists understand the policy making process.” to report. I’ve always believed that it’s easy to make people angry with 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 capacity essential for a nationally sized state with a $300 billion annual budget.”
  • CalMatters CEO Neil Chase: “CalMatters is a success today because of Dave’s vision and his unique ability to execute on that vision while protecting our journalistic quality and reputation for impartial work. That’s why I’m so excited for what he does next: providing the vital accountable journalism that California needs and deserves.”

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