But even as the state's delegate-rich
Here's a primer on what the presidential hopefuls have proposed on those crucial topics.
Housing affordability and homelessness
Housing has long been ignored on the national political stage, but a number of candidates have rolled out sweeping plans to deal with the escalating housing prices and staggering homelessness that have struck cities across the country.
Experts say building more affordable housing is a key to lowering housing costs in places like
"The solutions and numbers may feel very big, and even overwhelming, but this is the scale of the problem," said
Not surprisingly, the party's most progressive candidates would fund their fix by taxing the rich. Warren would expand the estate tax, while Sanders would use a wealth tax on the richest 0.1 percent of Americans. His plan also calls for a 25 percent house-flipping tax on non-owner-occupied property sold within five years of purchase, and a 2 percent tax on the value of vacant homes.
Experts warn throwing money at affordable housing won't go that far without also changing local zoning rules that limit where apartment buildings can be built. Warren, Steyer and former
Other candidates take a different tack by focusing on renters, with proposals from Sen.
In one of the most drastic proposals, Sanders has called for a national rent-control law capping annual rent increases at 3 percent or 1.5 times the rate of inflation -- more stringent than a similar
But they do offer a variety of unique proposals. Buttigieg and Sanders have endorsed a program in which the federal government would give grants to cities to purchase abandoned or foreclosed homes and give them to low-income people who live in historically redlined or racially segregated areas. After 10 years of living in the home as their primary residence, the "homesteader" would fully own the property.
Former Vice President
All of the candidates would go further than Trump, who has talked tough about cracking down on homelessness in
All of the candidates have outlined policies to slash
The president can play a big role in fighting wildfires in the state because 57 percent of
"Historically it has been state and local governments working in these areas -- but with the size of the problem we're facing, this is clearly a federal issue too," Pimlott said.
Steyer -- the only Californian still in the race -- has called for spending a total of
Bloomberg has come out with the most specific plan, calling for doubling federal funding to
Sanders is the only candidate who's called for a public takeover of the
Warren, Bloomberg, and Klobuchar have called for federal investments in microgrid technology -- energy systems disconnected from the main electricity grid -- which experts say can help reduce fire risk and avoid the blackouts that plagued
Several of the candidates would start new programs to put more people to work defending against fires. Bloomberg calls for a "
Trump has urged
Regulating Big Tech companies
The Democratic candidates agree that tech giants like
Two contenders -- Warren and Sanders -- have endorsed breaking up those companies, in a seismic shift for
That would bring balance to an industry where a few companies have "bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else," Warren argues in her plan.
The other candidates have called for a variety of new regulations on the tech industry and said they'd be open to breaking up companies in some cases -- but none would go as far as Warren or Sanders.
Biden said he would let the
Several candidates have also called for amending or ending laws related to online misinformation. Warren has proposed "tough civil and criminal penalties" for people who knowingly share false information about when and how to vote in
Currently, under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, social media companies aren't legally responsible for content their users post. Biden has called for repealing that law, which would lead to a massive shift in tech policy, while Bloomberg has suggested he wants to amend it.
And many of the candidates have called for new regulations on data privacy, although there are few specifics. Buttigieg wants to pass a federal privacy law that requires companies to limit and protect the user data they collect, while Klobuchar has suggested taxing companies that exploit user data.
What about Trump? He has sounded off about bias among the big tech companies, and his
Legal immigration and H-1B visas
All of the candidates have opposed Trump's crackdown on undocumented immigrants and called for an end to practices like separating migrant families at the border. But there's been far less conversation about reforming the legal immigration system, even though the large majority of immigrants in
Only a few of the candidates have weighed in on the issue of H-1B visas -- the program that lets highly skilled foreigners work in the
Bloomberg and Steyer support raising the annual 85,000 cap on H-1B visas -- a limit that's reached within days of applications opening each year. Klobuchar has also introduced legislation in the
They would all pair those increases with reforms to the system such as mandating higher wages to ensure
"Whether they are starting businesses in
Sanders' campaign said he would require employers to pay substantially higher wages for H-1B visa-holders, and make them portable between jobs "so workers are not trapped at a sponsoring employer." He would also put in place tougher enforcement standards to ensure H-1B visa holders aren't replacing American workers.
In another reform, Buttigieg, Sanders and Steyer said they'd allow the spouses of H-1B visa holders to work -- a direct contrast with the Trump administration, which is moving to revoke spouses' work authorization.
Beyond H-1B visas, Biden and Bloomberg would both get rid of caps that limit how many employment-based green cards are given out each year to citizens of any one country, which have led to huge backlogs for immigrants from
That's a smart idea for modernizing our immigration policy, said
"We need a system that's dynamic and responds to the market, instead of this ridiculous system that's been set in statute for decades," she said. "The process should be a lot more thoughtful."
(c)2020 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)
Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.