California legislative leader heads to United Nations climate conference in Dubai

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Good morning and welcome to the A.M. Alert!


Via Lindsey Holden...

Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas is going global.

The Hollister Democrat is in Dubai this week for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as the 28th Conference of Parties, or COP28.

He will be among the highest-profile leaders in California’s delegation, as Gov. Gavin Newsom and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins will not be attending.

This is Rivas’ second time at the summit. He made the trip in 2019, during his first year in the Assembly, after being invited by then-Speaker Anthony Rendon.

“It was the most thorough, the best conference I’ve ever attended,” he said. “I brought back so much information. And I really was able to lead, as a result of that information, on really important climate initiatives for our region.”

COP28 provides a setting for international leaders to negotiate goals around climate change. They will determine progress on the objectives set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, which pushes countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make other policy changes to improve environmental outcomes.

They will also discuss payments to help poor countries deal with the effects of climate change and shifting to clean energy sources.

Rivas will not be part of those negotiations. But he does plan to present information about the ways climate change has hurt vulnerable California communities.

In particular, Rivas wants to share the experiences of those affected by severe winter storms that hit the farmworker communities of Pajaro in Monterey County and Planada in Merced County especially hard.

“These are families in these communities that have had to put their lives on hold this past year due to this historic flooding,” he said.

Unlike Rendon, Rivas said he plans to author bills and craft his own legislative package. He is still determining what that will look like, but his previous COP experience got him interested in managing natural spaces and farmland to “restore ecosystems, store carbon naturally.”

“(I) really look forward to ensure that we continue that work and move forward in my time as speaker,” he said.

When asked about his Assembly climate change priorities, Rivas said he was happy to push through a 2023 bill from Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, requiring companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue to disclose carbon emissions starting in 2026.

Newsom signed the measure in October.

“We worked really hard behind the scenes to ensure that that bill was successful,” he said. “A year prior, I believe it failed by (two votes), which was unacceptable. It was good policy.”


The bromance between California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Fox News host Sean Hannity may be over after last Thursday’s debate with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The event was billed as a one-on-one, “Red State vs. Blue State” debate, but in practice it was more of a handicap match. Hannity frequently interrupted and spoke over Newsom and allowed DeSantis to do the same, while claiming that he just wanted to let the debate “breathe.”

The questions Hannity asked were tailor-made for poking Newsom, touching on a variety of conservative bugbears including illegal immigration, crime, parental rights and taxes. DeSantis received much friendlier questions from the Fox News host.

And though Newsom said he was having fun and was ready to keep going when the 95-minute debate finally ended, both NBC News and Politico reported Friday that behind the scenes, nobody was laughing.

Both outlets cited multiple sources saying that California’s First Partner, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, was the one responsible for preventing the debate going into overtime — NBC News reports she was incensed over DeSantis’ claim that her father moved to Florida because it was better governed.

“Gavin Newsom got beat so badly last night his wife literally had to throw in the towel for him. It was embarrassing,” DeSantis spokesman Andrew Romeo said, according to NBC News.

An unnamed Newsom aide denied that claim, and said the decision to scrap the extended debate was mutual between the Newsom and DeSantis camps, NBC News reports.

Meanwhile, Newsom’s team did their best to work the refs during the debate, complaining to Hannity producers about DeSantis’ use of props (including the infamous “poop map” of San Francisco) and a stray teleprompter in DeSantis’ sightline that revealed upcoming topics in the debate, according to Politico.

“They promised during the walkthrough it would not be visible,” Newsom campaign spokesman Nathan Click told Politico. “Newsom himself saw it from the stage deep into the debate. A live cheat sheet. Newsom won this debate with both hands tied behind his back.”

A Fox News spokesperson denied that allegation, Politico said.


Via David Lightman...

Want an affordable home? Head to West Virginia.

Chances are an affordable home will be hard to find in California, according to a new survey by All Star Home, a homeowner services company.

Its study measured where people were most “house rich,” or where they could best afford to own a home.

“It’s no surprise that the least house rich states are those with very high costs of living — California, Hawaii, and New York,” the study found. “ While these states might be brimming with natural beauty and opportunities, homeownership remains an elusive dream for many due to the high costs associated.”

It said that 56% of Californians are homeowners, just slightly more than New York’s 54%.

West Virginia, Iowa and Michigan top the list of states where people can best afford their homes. In each state, a large percentage of people are homeowners.

The Motley Fool, a financial and investment advice company, using data from the Zillow Home Value Index,, found that the typical home price in California was $760,526 in August, well above the national average of $350,113. A typical home in West Virginia costs $158,173.


“Who could possibly have guessed that Sean Hannity — who was giving Mark Meadows comms advice during January 6 — would not be a fair player. What, do you expect Newsom and his aides to be mind readers??”

- ACLU comms strategist Gillian Branstetter, discussing a story about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s dissatisfaction with Sean Hannity’s performance as debate moderator, via Bluesky.

Best of The Bee:

  • In a grim sign for the state, California is projected to see a $58 billion shortfall in revenue collection over the course of three fiscal years, from 2022-23 to 2024-25, according to a report released Friday by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. The LAO said money from postponed tax payments came in far below projection, via Andrew Sheeler and Lindsey Holden.

  • California Republicans were split as the House of Representatives voted to expel Rep. George Santos, the New York GOP freshman who faces almost two dozen federal charges related to misusing campaign funds, via Gillian Brassil and David Lightman.

  • Bobby Singh carefully read the details contained in the federal indictment made public this week alleging a plot by the Indian government to assassinate Sikh activists in the U.S. Then Singh, a Sacramento State student and local leader in the movement to create an independent Sikh state, came upon an especially chilling detail: One of the targets, an unnamed person, was in California. “Could this be me?” he wondered. Singh has good reason to consider that possibility, via Joe Rubin.

  • Govs. Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis, big-state governors with big national ambitions, clashed Thursday in a debate that quickly devolved into a slugfest of insults and accusations over abortion, crime, taxes and almost every other policy they champion, via David Lightman.

  • Govs. Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis expended much energy accusing one another of lying at their debate Thursday night, via Gillian Brassil and Ari Plachta.

  • Depending on what side of the aisle you’re on, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis flashing an image of the “San Francisco poop map” at the Thursday night debate against Gov. Gavin Newsom was one of two things: shrewd political stagecraft that crystallized the Democrat-led decline of one of America’s greatest cities, or an embarrassment not befitting the debate stage or a presidential campaign, via Jenavieve Hatch.