Skip to main content

Lawmakers To Debate Rent Control, Consumer Privacy, And The Definition Of An Employee And More Local News

Cover image for podcast episode

Lawmakers return to California's capitol Monday for a final five weeks of hashing out legislation. The biggest debates are expected to focus on rent control, consumer privacy and defining who's an employee. Plus, “impact fees” charged to developers are coming under heavy scrutiny as researchers call for more transparency. And, the former acting director of ICE talks about immigration law and which industry depends on illegal labor.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Monday, August 12th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. Lawmakers, including those from San Diego returned to California's Capitol today. And we'll talk to the former acting director of ice about immigration law and what economies depend on illegal labor.

Speaker 2: 00:18 And candidly, consumers, all of us are not willing to pay for, you know, chicken, the price that would take to pay that competitive weight

Speaker 1: 00:25 so that more San Diego news stories coming up right after the break.

Speaker 3: 00:31 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 00:33 thank you for joining us for San Diego News Matters. I'm Deb Welsh. Lawmakers returned to California's Capitol today for a final five weeks of hashing out legislation, capitol, public radio, Scott Rod reports. The biggest debates will focus on rent control, consumer privacy, and defining who's an employee.

Speaker 2: 00:52 That's the biggest debate before lawmakers adjourn next month, Democrats and labor unions want more companies in California to classify their workers as employees instead of contractors. That means offering benefits in a guaranteed minimum wage. This would impact major gig companies like Uber and Lyft, but also sectors like trucking, agriculture and healthcare. So industries are pushing for exemptions. Meanwhile, a statewide rent cap has gained momentum. After Governor Gavin Newsome signaled his support. The build to limit rent increases also includes protections against eviction. It faces opposition from realtors in landlord groups. Finally, tech companies and business groups are trying to soft in a sweeping consumer privacy law before it takes effect in January. It will give Internet users more control over information collected about them in Sacramento. I'm Scott Rod. A big

Speaker 1: 01:42 trend in business and food this year has been fake meat. KPBS is Sarah Cut. Sianna's says that the stock price of beyond meat had a more than 500% increase since its initial public offering in May to California. Companies beyond meets and impossible foods are making proteins with plant based ingredients instead of animal meat. Some people say they taste just like beef and they have become hot items in grocery stores and now even fast food chains. You can find meatless items from beyond meats and impossible foods on the menus at Dunkin donuts, Carl's Jr and Burger King, Miro Kopec with San Diego state and bottom line marketing told KPBS that American consumers are ready for alternative meat substitutes.

Speaker 2: 02:27 What we found in consumer research is that Americans are right now substituting one medication for a non-meat protein every single week.

Speaker 1: 02:36 Now even subways joining the club with a new meatless meatball sub made with the first ever beyond meat meatballs. Sarah [inaudible] k PBS News, California Senator Kamala Harris says a watchdog agency is investigating the US Department of Homeland Security. It's accused of surveillance and harassment of journalists, lawyers, and immigrant advocates at the US border. Kqbd immigration editor, Taika Hendricks has more.

Speaker 4: 03:04 Harris is one of four u s senators who wrote a letter to the homeland security secretary in May, raising questions about whether border agents in San Diego had violated the first amendment rights of reporters covering a migrant caravan in Tijuana and advocates aiding asylum seekers. Earlier this year, several journalists and lawyers reported being detained at the border crossing and questioned repeatedly in a reply to the senators. The inspector general said it is looking into possible illegal targeting of individuals, including 59 people whose names appear on a customs and border protection list, labeled suspected organizers, coordinators, instigators, and media. Harris applauded the investigation for the California report. I'm Taichii Hendrix.

Speaker 1: 03:49 The impact fees that local governments charge developers are a big reason. It's so expensive to build a home in California, but they're not only costly. They're also unpredictable and lack transparency that according to a new state commission study, Capitol Public Radio is Chris Nichols has more,

Speaker 5: 04:06 when new houses are proposed, local governments charge developers impact fees to pay for the roads, schools, police and fire stations needed for the community. They can add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of each home, which is passed on to the home buyer, but as researchers at UC Berkeley's Turner Center for housing innovation found those impact fees can be really difficult for developers to access and predict. Here's David Garcia with the center.

Speaker 6: 04:37 If that number changes over the course of their development because of that lack of clarity, that can put a project in jeopardy too and just raise the overall cost of housing.

Speaker 5: 04:46 Andrew Cozy Dar, the California Building Industry Association says the Turner Study examined just one narrow set of fees developers must pay. He said, there are many more

Speaker 6: 04:57 fees contribute to the housing crisis that we have here in the state of California. The higher the fees are on new houses, the more that it drives those prices up and the more expensive it becomes for people who want to buy a home.

Speaker 5: 05:10 The UC Berkeley study recommends that all local governments be required to clearly present the cost of the fees on their websites and publish the studies that back them up. The report was required under a 2017 bill focused on impact fee reforms in Sacramento. I'm Chris Nichols,

Speaker 1: 05:31 last week's eyes raids in Mississippi, which led to the arrest of 680 undocumented workers was the largest single state workplace enforcement action in US history. Does this signal a shift away from the targeting of people with criminal records? That was the priority under the Obama administration and back to the days of large workplace raids, which were popularized under George W. Bush KPBS reporter Max Revlon Adler spoke with the former acting head of immigration and customs enforcement. John Sandwick in our studio last week. They talked about the raids and whether criminal probes will target both workers and employers.

Speaker 7: 06:09 With the rage that resulted in the arrest of 680 undocumented workers in Mississippi. We didn't see any charges against the employers and instead it was just the workers themselves. Why is that?

Speaker 8: 06:21 I do think the focus of this operation was on making 600 arrests and then getting a lot of press. I think those are a significant goal of the way in which they conducted this operation. It takes a tremendous amount of manpower that you have to divert to make 600 arrests of civil immigration. None of these people are going to be high priorities. Very few of them, if any, will have criminal histories in the United States. Almost none of them pose an active threat to the United States. So, so the real reason they did this obviously was to generate as much publicity about the operation as possible. But to be fair to the administration, I do think there's a criminal investigation ongoing as well. They were able to obtain search warrants. So these were warrants that were executed by a federal judge after demonstrating probable cause. And typically in these federal criminal investigations, the search warrants pre-seed in any actual charges.

Speaker 8: 07:05 So ultimately I think we're gonna find that some charges will be brought against employers and potentially executives of the company. Um, whether those charges are so significant that they justified the diversion of 600 special agents to conduct this operation remains to be seen. Why is it so hard for him employers to fill positions at these difficult, strenuous and at times dangerous jobs? This was at a poultry plant. We know that people lose fingers, arms all of the time. Why is it so hard for such an important part on our kind of food system to be staffed by people who are here legally? It's no secret that this, this economy, our economy relies on undocumented labor. The, in the, in the employers are not shy about that. And that's why, you know, the Chamber of Commerce and other support, comprehensive immigration reform to kind of bring these people out of the shadows.

Speaker 8: 07:49 But absolutely. I mean, when I says looking for worksite top operations, they know very well that they're always going to find much larger numbers in these very difficult jobs. Agriculture, meat packing, uh, construction. That's where you're gonna find your largest number of undocumented workers in these kinds of difficult and generally low wage paying jobs. Frankly, because Americans are not willing to take them or the employers are not willing to pay a wage that will entice Americans to take them in. Candidly, consumers, all of us are not willing to pay for, you know, the price that would take to pay that competitive wage. Now, a new rule was handed down less than a month ago, which basically would expand expedited removal, which is, allows ice to remove somebody from the country, uh, in a very short amount of time to nationwide and not just within a certain area from the border.

Speaker 8: 08:35 Would this raid, if this law, which as I understand it, this rule is in effect, but has yet to be implemented by ice with this raid B, something somewhere where ice could implement this, this new expedited removal rule. Yeah. This is exactly what the, you know, I think that the architects of expanding expedited removal would want that world to be used on. So what you would have is 600 individuals, the rural, technically by statute expedite removal cannot be used for anyone who's been in the United States for more than two years in the regulation that ice published. The way they interpret that provision is that you have to demonstrate the immigrant has the burden of demonstrating that they have been continuously present in the United States for two years. So that means even if you've been living here 10 years and you can demonstrate through leases or payroll pay stubs or other things of that nature that you've been living in the United States for 10 years, you have to demonstrate they didn't even make a quick trip down to Mexico to see family members or something of that nature.

Speaker 8: 09:26 So, and the burden is on the immigrants. So what you look at in a situation like this and what concerns me is you're going to have individuals who are not legally eligible to be subject to expedited removal, but they're sitting there at work one day and they're apprehended by ice. They have no opportunity to go home and get whatever evidence that they might have available to them, uh, that would demonstrate they have been continuously present in the United States for two years. And those individuals would then run a risk, a very, we would have a very significant risk that they would be subject to expedited removal, meaning they would be deported within probably days of their arrest. Uh, and we're not have an opportunity to go to an immigration judge and present whatever legal claims they might have, uh, to, you know, that they're either US citizens or that perhaps they are somehow eligible for an immigration benefit.

Speaker 1: 10:09 Former acting head of immigration and customs enforcement. John Sandwick spoke with KPB as reporter Max Rev. Linda Adler, a new study from UC San Diego says that nurses die by suicide at a significantly higher rate than the general population. One of the authors of that study, Dr. Judy Davidson spoke to KPBS reporter Priya Schreder about why these numbers are higher and the measures being taken to stop them from climbing. Here's that interview.

Speaker 9: 10:36 So tell me about these numbers. The study says in 2014, which I believe was the most recent numbers that we have about this, suicide rates were 58% higher for female nurses and 41% higher for male nurses than the general population. Why do you think that is? The reasons for the suicide rate are not clearly understood at this time. This is the first study that's been done on nurse suicide in the United States now for two decades. So we're just beginning to investigate this and learn more about it. We do have a suicide prevention program at Ucs d and through that program over the last three years, we've learned that, um, nurses are under a lot of stress related to either, um, over-regulation. The profession is highly regulated, there's a lot of rules, and that, uh, creates a lot of psychological burden. Then of course, witnessing things like death, uh, repeated death, death of people that remind you of your loved ones or family members. So for instance, if you were taking care of a baby that was burned and died and that baby was the same age as your own at home, it might really affect you deeply. Yeah, it's definitely an inherently stressful profession. And I did read a little bit that it's also a little bit about the culture, um, that

Speaker 1: 11:54 when you look at fields like law enforcement or emergency responders, oftentimes when they witnessed death, they get time off. Whereas that's not really the case when it comes to nursing. Right?

Speaker 9: 12:04 Right. Uh, a nurse can work with a patient, uh, and develop a really deep connection with that patient and the patient may not survive. And then as soon as that patient's gone to the morgue, she's expected to pick up the next one right in queue. So there's no break at all, uh, between, uh, these big events and then the next person they need to care for.

Speaker 1: 12:27 And so you mentioned the UC San Diego Program, the here program. Um, tell me a little bit about that. I know it started in 2009 and it's aim to help prevent these high suicide rates.

Speaker 9: 12:38 Yes. That, that was developed by our physicians in collaboration with the American foundation of Suicide Prevention in, uh, 2009 after they realized that they were having frequent repeated suicides amongst the medical staff. And that's not unique to use CSD. That's common throughout the country. Uh, it's known that doctors are at a higher risk, so they decided to take a proactive approach and encourage physicians to take a screening profile, anonymous encrypted screening at least once a year. And through that screening profile, they can find high risk individuals and encourage them to get the mental health treatment they need so they can remain completely anonymous all the way through the referral process. And we think that's why this works.

Speaker 1: 13:23 Right. So tell me about that. It seems like the suicide rates have gone down since the program started.

Speaker 9: 13:29 Yeah. Uh, we can't get false hopes that this will never happen again. But it has, uh, the physicians have, they used to have one per year at ucs d between like medical student all the way up to attending. And there have been no physician desk since they started the program. Uh, we had nurse suicides in the, um, in the day in San Diego several years back. We started that program and, uh, for the nurses extended it to them. And we have not had an a suicide since. Um, we know that we can't prevent them completely. Suicide will happen at some point, but, uh, we are detecting many high risk individuals and getting them into treatment.

Speaker 1: 14:12 Well, I know a lot of other medical centers around the country are trying to replicate this program now, so it seems like you're doing really incredible work. Dr. Davidson. Thanks so much for joining us. Oh, thank you. That was Dr. Judy Davidson speaking with KPBS reporter Prius breather. Thanks for listening to San Diego News matters. If you'd like the show, do us a favor and tell your friends and family to subscribe to the show.

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

San Diego News Matters

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.