The name of Sen. Kamala Harris came up multiple times at a Senate hearing last month on child sex trafficking legislation, an acknowledgment of her long record fighting the crime, Emily Cadei of McClatchy’s D.C. Bureau reports.

Writes Cadei: “But Harris’ name does not appear – at least not yet – as a co-sponsor of the trafficking legislation in question, which targets Backpage.com, a website for classified ads that Harris once labeled ‘an online brothel.’ Activists blame the rise of internet advertising and Backpage, specifically, for an 846 percent spike in reports of suspected sex trafficking since 2010.”

In addition, Lisa Thompson, vice president of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, told the reporter that Harris was “conspicuously absent from being a sponsor” of the bipartisan legislation, known as the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017.

“That raises eyebrows,” Thompson said.

The situation is a departure from Harris’ time as California’s attorney general, when she made the prosecution of child sex trafficking a high priority and vigorously went after Backpage.com.

Perhaps Harris’ reluctance thus far to embrace the bill reflects her political ambitions. She is one of many Democrats considering a run for the presidency, experts say.

Here is how Cadei describes the situation:

“Behind the scenes, however, Harris is heavily involved in the negotiations on the bill, her first major foray into Senate dealmaking. Harris, a potential 2020 presidential candidate, has assumed the role of point person for a handful of Democrats and some of the country’s most powerful tech companies, including Google and Facebook, who worry the bill could undermine internet freedom.

“Her bid to be a power broker has her walking a delicate political tightrope. On the one hand, the neophyte legislator is trying to represent Silicon Valley, a powerful constituency in her home state – not to mention a critical funding source for a Democratic presidential run. On the other, she risks angering anti-trafficking advocates she once teamed with, as well as feeding the narrative pushed by some on the left that she’s too cozy with corporate interests.”

Read the entire report here.

Here are other stories catching our eye:

Here’s the Tally on Gov. Brown’s Bill Signings

One of the greatest powers a California governor possesses is the veto pen.

In 1990, for example, Gov. George Deukmejian vetoed 436 bills sent to his desk by the Legislature. And in 2008, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed 35% of the bills passed by a Legislature controlled by Democrats.

Deukmejian and Schwarzenegger both clearly practiced the Republican belief that less government is better government.

So, how often does Gov. Jerry Brown exercise his veto power?

Back in 1982, the last year of his second term, he rejected just 1.8% of bills. That percentage, according to the state Senate Office of Research, stands as the record-low.

Now, for what the Los Angeles Times reported about the bills coming out of this year’s Legislative session:

“On Sunday night, (Brown) weighed in on the final bills approved by the Legislature before it adjourned for the year on Sept. 16. In all, Brown signed 859 bills in 2017 and vetoed just 118,” writes John Myers. “That veto rate — 12% — is lower than the 15% of proposed laws he rejected in 2016.”

Adds Meyers:

“The governor has said that he tries to respect the role of the Legislature as a co-equal branch, even though some of his most well-known veto messages have hinged on the fact that there are too many laws on the books in California. In several instances this year, Brown again returned to the theme that some bills are unnecessary.

“No one, however, has reviewed or acted on as many bills as Brown, the longest-serving governor in California history. With one year remaining in his final term, the Democratic politician has reviewed more than 18,000 proposed laws over his four terms in office. Fewer than 8% of those were vetoed.”

Brown Signs Eye-Care Bill Authored by Salas

One of the bills that made it through was authored by Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield. AB 443 seeks to improve eye care access by expanding the types of services optometrists can offer to patients.

“I am glad the governor signed this important legislation,” Salas said in a statement. “Improving access to eye care and additional healthcare for Californians, especially in rural areas, is a win-win.”

Governor Vetoes Cell Tower Bill

The installation of high-speed “small cell” equipment in California will not be driven by new statewide mandates after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill pitting the lobbying power of the telecommunications industry against that of local governments, John Myers reports.

The bill would have downsized the role played by city and county officials in setting limits on where the equipment for new 5G cellular service would be placed. Local governments would have had less power to unilaterally block the installation of the devices, which Brown said in his veto message was a problem.

“I believe that the interest which localities have in managing rights of way requires a more balanced solution than the one achieved in this bill,” he wrote.

Supporters of Senate Bill 649 had claimed it would help ensure more communities are connected faster.

Read the complete Los Angeles Times story here.

California Wildfires Count: 41 Deaths, 5,700 Homes & Buildings Burned

The blazes have raged out of control for over a week, killing at least 41. In Sonoma County, 88 people remain unaccounted for, officials said Monday afternoon. Nearly 700 are in shelters in Santa Rosa, ABC News reports.

The fires have destroyed some 5,700 homes and other buildings and charred more than 213,000 acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“Conditions have drastically changed from just 24 hours ago, and that is definitely a very good sign,” said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, on Sunday. “It’s probably a sign we’ve turned a corner on these fires,” he said, noting that some of the fires were 50 percent or more contained.

A possibly weary contracted driver of a water truck helping to fight California’s wildfires died Monday morning after his truck veered off the road and rolled over, officials said.

He was driving into Napa Valley’s Robert Mondavi Winery to help battle blazes when he apparently lost control of the car, a California fire official confirmed to ABC News.

 

 

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