2019年2月12日 星期二

Bay Briefing: Pelosi, Feinstein, Harris — what it’s like reporting on Bay Area’s lawmakers in Washington

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Bay Briefing: Pelosi, Feinstein, Harris — what it's like reporting on Bay Area's lawmakers in Washington
By Taylor Kate Brown
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
As The Chronicle's Washington correspondent, Tal Kopan covers politicians and policy that impacts Bay Area readers. I spoke to her about what it's like reporting on the Bay Area delegation.
What's the big story in Congress this year, other than the shutdown, that will affect the Bay Area?
Anything wildfire-related will certainly be high up there, along with water policy.
We might actually get federal data privacy legislation this year that could be similar to the California state law and European internet privacy regulation. That will be a challenge, as always, and there's only narrow room for compromise, but what lawmakers end up doing on that could have huge implications for Silicon Valley, big tech, and consumers.
Will Silicon Valley representatives be on the defensive about that?
Actually Reps. Anna Eshoo and Zoe Lofgren are working on legislation and helping to lead the charge. There's certainly going to be some pushback from Silicon Valley, but keep in mind the tech industry isn't monolithic on this.
Some of the big dogs like Apple, Intel and Microsoft make their money on hardware, unlike Facebook and Google, which make a lot of money off consumer data. But part of why there's a real opportunity now is the scandals of the past few years. I don't think any lawmaker would want to be perceived as in being in Facebook's pocket these days.
How has covering Nancy Pelosi changed since she became Speaker of the House again in January? How engaged is she on local issues given her national leadership role?
Well, she'll be the first to joke that attendance is way up at her press conferences, for starters!
But aside from being glib, it is true that being Speaker changes a lot, not just your office space. The press corps is much more attentive to the Speaker's moves, and their press conferences become must-attend.
Pelosi is a master tactician and consummate politician. She knows that you can't serve in Congress without staying connected to your district's voters.
I actually asked her about this in December, and she told me that she considers herself lucky that many of those local priorities are national priorities.
"My district gives me the latitude to be the leader or the Speaker of the House," she said. "I say to people frequently: Listen to what we're saying, because you'll be saying it soon."
What about the Bay Area delegation in general?
There's a fascinating mix of politics and policy within the Bay Area delegation. When you think about it you have, in no particular order: Sen. Kamala Harris' 2020 campaign, maybe Rep. Eric Swalwell's, Sen. Dianne Feinstein's prominence on the Judiciary Committee, Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
One thing that I've found interesting with the Bay Area delegation is that they've really smartly — intentionally or not — broken up the policy load. Rep. Barbara Lee is really a leader on income disparity. Rep. Jared Huffman on water and environmental issues. Rep. Zoe Lofgren on immigration policy and tech issues. Rep. Mike Thompson works on gun violence prevention. And that's just scratching the surface.
One dynamic that's still developing is how the seat flippers, like Reps. Josh Harder and TJ Cox, will navigate their purple districts. Harder, for example, brought a Republican farmer as his guest to the State of the Union.
This interview has been condensed and edited. Thanks to Tal. If you'd like more of her reporting and analysis from Washington, it's regularly featured in the email-only Political Punch newsletter.
Top of the News
Flood risk rising: Another atmospheric river storm is on its way to the Bay Area on Tuesday night, this time bringing heavy rains and 50 to 70 mph wind gusts.
Future firewood: Two years after California's historic drought came to an end, trees in the state's forest continue to die — albeit at a slowing rate — bringing the total loss from the drought to 147 million trees. The vast tracts of dry, browning trees increase the threat of catastrophic wildfire.
Fighters: A lack of coordination, coupled with a rivalry between state and federal fire agencies, left members of a firefighting crew in last summer's Mendocino Complex Fire trapped and then running for their lives, according to a report on the blaze.
Gift lift: The ride-hail company Lyft — which recently got into the bicycle business — is donating $700,000 to non-profits to help transit-hungry East Oakland. The money will go toward free car rides, subsidizing AC Transit passes, and providing discounts for bike and scooter rentals. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf called it an "incredible gift" but Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan is skeptical, saying companies like Lyft add to congestion and compete with mass transit for riders.
Well, that's that: Kyler Murray announced Monday morning he was "firmly and fully committing" to becoming an NFL quarterback, ending speculation over whether he would stay with the A's. Next up in Bay Area baseball speculation: Bryce Harper.
Death and (more) taxes: With tax season in full swing, IRS data shows 24 percent fewer taxpayers got federal refunds in the first five days of filing than the same period last year. The average refund was $1,865 — 8.4 percent lower than last year. What's happening? Kathleen Pender explains.
Meet you at 3rd & Howard: San Franciso's Moscone Center has lost big tech conferences to Silicon Valley sites in recent years — but city tourism officials point to IBM moving its annual conference from Las Vegas to the center as a sign of a fresh start post-$551 million expansion.
'Fresh perspectives': Half of PG&E's board of directors will be replaced in the coming months, the bankrupt utility said in a filing — but didn't say which current board members are leaving. One critic in state legislature supports the move but wonders why the timeline is in months, not weeks.
On the stand: The defendant in a high-profile Vallejo kidnapping case — which police incorrectly dismissed as a hoax and have been accused of bungling from day-one — will have the chance to cross-examine the victims this week after he fired his public defender. "He's found yet another way to torture his victims," lawyers for the couple told reporter Evan Sernoffsky.
The Kicker
Amy Osborne / Special To The Chronicle
First Apothecarium of San Francisco, which operates three dispensaries in the city and one in Las Vegas, agreed to sell itself for $118 million in cash and stock to TerrAscend, a Toronto cannabis producer.
Now Oakland's Harborside — one of the largest dispensaries in country — confirmed a merger with a Canadian firm that will give them access to the Canadian Securities Exchange.
It's no coincidence two the region's major marjiuana firms now have Canadian owners. Since Canada became the first major national economy to fully legalize cannabis in October, firms there have gained a financial edge — including access to public trading — while California's businesses still have to run part of their business in cash.

Bay Briefing is written by Taylor Kate Brown and sent to readers' email inboxes on weekday mornings. Sign up for the newsletter here and contact Brown at taylor.brown@sfchronicle.com

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