Capitol Alert

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After another all-night marathon of debating, waiting and arm-twisting, lawmakers approved the five-bill water package early this morning.

The Bee's Jim Sanders and Steve Wiegand wrap up the final hours of action in a story on

The five-bill package, including an $11 billion bond measure, ended months of tense negotiations involving scores of interest groups over how to bolster supply, improve delivery and solve environmental problems plaguing the water system.

"This vote will be remembered years from now," Assembly Republican leader Sam Blakeslee said after an all-night session that ended shortly before 6 a.m. today.

"This Legislature has been able to accomplish something that no Legislature has been able to accomplish in decades," (Senate President Pro Tem) Steinberg said. "We all know that people ask, 'Can this Legislature actually take on the biggest, most intractable problems, and find solutions?' The answer is yes."

A nearly 90-minute impasse in the Assembly, with the proposed $11 billion bond measure lacking a handful of votes for approval, ended minutes after Steinberg agreed to drop from the bill a $10 million earmark for a nonprofit tolerance center in Sacramento.

After the jump, read what lawmakers have to say about the passage of the plan. We'll be updating the response roundup throughout the day. You can send your statement to

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger:

"Water is the lifeblood of everything we do in California. Without clean, reliable water, we cannot build, we cannot farm, we cannot grow and we cannot prosper. That is why I am so proud that the legislature, Democrats and Republicans, came together and tackled one of the most complicated issues in our state's history. This comprehensive water package is an historic achievement."

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg:

"This is the single biggest advance in water policy the state of California has seen in decades. Through hard work and compromise, we have taken a major step toward ensuring that Californians have a reliable water supply while protecting the natural resources that enhance our quality of life."

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass:

"The package includes conservation and storage, groundwater protection, water rights protection, and Delta protection and represents the most significant water infrastructure and policy advances since the State Water Project in the 1960s. This is a responsible plan -- no one is getting 100% of what they want. Everyone who gets something has to give something, too. It is the only way to balance the many different individual interests for the overall greater good of having a safe and stable water supply for the entire State of California."

Republican Assembly leader Sam Blakeslee:

"The water package passed this morning by the Assembly is a bipartisan approach to ending California's water crisis. It solves a problem that has been forty years in the making by ensuring new water supply, protecting water rights and promoting conservation. These actions will help bring much needed water and jobs to Californians throughout our state."

Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, of Murrietta

"With hundreds of thousands of acres fallow and tens of thousands of unemployed farmers and farm workers, this comprehensive water package represents a step toward getting water flowing and helping people get back to work. ...It is important that this water measure address not only environmental and individual needs, but that economic uses of water resources are factored into this water use plan. From a practical standpoint, increasing water storage is a no-brainer when the state faces such severe water shortages in the future and has lost such a significant amount of water due to inadequate storage capacity."

Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto:

"Today's historic agreement is the most significant step that the state has taken in decades to invest in its crumbling water infrastructure. Nothing is more important to the state's economic prosperity than ensuring that we have water to meet California's needs now and into the future. With this plan, we can improve the state's water supply and protect the environment, without destroying our economy. ... This agreement also delivers on the expectation that California taxpayers have for lawmakers to put aside partisan differences to achieve common sense solutions that benefit the entire state."

Assemblymember Anna Caballero, D-Salinas:

"We worked really hard to create a water package that will bring resources to communities hard hit by the lack of water. Additionally, the package will prioritize drought relief water projects for farmers and farm workers; helping to put people back to work and create jobs."

Assemblymember Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael:

"The package of water policy bills passed by the Legislature today reflects the most significant improvement in California's water management in decades. The bills, if signed by the Governor, would set critical water conservation mandates, finally bring California more in line with other western states regarding groundwater monitoring and enforcement of water rights, and the Delta bills would provide the direction needed to resolve the 30 year gridlock over water and fisheries in the Delta. I believe these bills will significantly help to reverse the water crisis in California while also protecting and restoring the ecosystem and salmon fisheries in the Central Valley and Delta."

Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto:

"I always hoped we could achieve a win-win-win. A win for the environment, a win for the 24 million California's who rely on Delta water, and a win for those of us in Northern California who want assurances that 'our' water won't be shipped in excess to other parts of the state. I think we've achieved that goal."

Jon Fleischman, publisher, Website

"Capitol Democrats should be ashamed of themselves, as should those in the water industry with a voracious appetite to get all Californians to pay for their "Projects of Regional Koncern" (PORK). If it were not for the insistense of Sacramento liberals, the bond facing voters would be billions of dollars smaller than the one approved in the early hours of this morning. In the end, we now have a proposal that is so large, and contains so much obvious pork spending that is not related to the water crisis that it's passage next year is in serious doubt, as it should be."

Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, D-Davis:

"Early this morning, the Assembly voted on what has been called a historic agreement on California water policy and financing. Unfortunately, this agreement, negotiated in a 'Big 5' process behind closed-doors and involving a handful of non-Delta legislators, southern California water districts, and select environmental groups, fails to adequately protect the residents and economy of the area most affected--the Delta itself. I voted 'NO' on the whole bill package because of insufficient recognition of senior northern California and Delta water rights, imbalanced and non-elected representation in Delta governance, the lack of clear language explaining the interrelationships among a revamped Delta Protection Commission, the new Delta Stewardship Council and Delta Conservancy, and the remaining question as to what role a new Delta 'Watermaster' would play. This lack of clarity creates more confusion and less trust, at a time when we should be moving forward collaboratively to preserve northern California's largest estuary. ... Californians and the Delta deserve better than this taped-together approach to water reform."

Assemblymember Alyson Huber, D-El Dorado Hills:

"I opposed the water package because it creates a new layer of bureaucrats who will make decisions on water that will impact the communities I represent, without allowing us to have a voice. I opposed the bond, especially because of the billions in pork for LA. This dead of night pork giveaway is exactly why voters give us low marks. I offered up a simple bill - one to require a full analysis of the peripheral canal and require legislative approval - a common sense approach. Unfortunately, my bill was killed without a hearing. I'll be resubmitting this bill so it will have a full debate."


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