Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

With one day left until the deadline for bills to pass out of the house of origin, expect a lot more action coming from both chambers.

The Senate has about 30 bills left to take up. Two Democratic members who have been absent due to medical conditions, Jenny Oropeza, who suffered from a blood clot, and Pat Wiggins, who has been unable to attend sessions because of an undisclosed medical condition, will be back on the floor to cast votes for the close calls.

And as usual, both houses are leaving some of the most controversial measures for last.

Chatting on cell phones (and texting third house friends) might be banned on the floor for lawmakers, but that won't stop senators from talking about laws affecting mobile users today.

Votes are expected on measures to require radiation warnings on cell phone packages and increase penalties for drivers caught texting and talking without hands-free devices behind the wheel. For those still using landlines and their paper phone book counterparts, Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, has authored a bill to allow residents to opt out of receiving the dead-tree phone listings.

Other measures on tap today: the long-stalled municipal bankruptcy bill that finally made it out of committee this spring and a measure that updates a law allowing consumers to trade a remaining gift card balance of $10 or less for cash.

The Assembly also has about 30 bills left on file.

Included on the lower house hot list: measures to exempt juvenile crimes from the "three strikes" law and a proposed constitutional amendment to drop the threshold for approving special taxes proposed by school districts from two-thirds to a majority of voters in the district.

In budget news, state Controller John Chiang penned a letter yesterday to lawmakers to sum up the state's current cash flow situation.

While the state's got enough on hand to pay its bills through August, Chiang warns that a prolonged budget fight or a Swiss-cheese solution could lead to more IOUs.

"A protracted budget stalemate or the passage of a 'get-out-of-town budget' relying on accounting gimmicks and unrealistic solutions will create cash shortfalls starting in October," Chiang wrote.

"Because the state cannot begin conserving cash on the same day that it runs out of cash, my office will be forced to begin aggressive cash management measures, such as issuing IOUs, well in advance of any projected shortfall," he added.

Read the full letter here.

Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez announced yesterday which lower house members were picked to serve on the budget conference committee.

They are Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, Assemblywoman Connie Conway, R-Tulare, Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar, Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley.

Blumenfield and Nielsen served on the budget conference committee last year. Conway, Fuentes and Skinner are new to the task.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has already named his picks from the Senate side.

GOVERNOR: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a busy day today. This morning, he launches Operation Welcome Home, a statewide campaign to connect returning veterans with services, from the flight deck at San Diego's USS Midway Museum. Then in the afternoon, he'll be at Sacramento City College to talk at a rally held by UC, CSU and community college student leaders.

POLL: A Field Poll released today shows that California voters support the new federal health care legislation 52 percent to 38 percent. Bee colleague Bobby Calvan has more on the poll results in today's Bee. Click here for the full results.

BIRTHDAY: We're proud to wish a belated happy birthday to the newest addition to The Bee's Capitol Bureau: Finnian Tysell Yamamura. Finnian, the first child for intrepid Bee reporter Kevin Yamamura and his wife Mackenzie, was born yesterday at 12:40 p.m. Dad reports that new son and mom are doing well.


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