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When legislation to let California voters decide whether to keep the death penalty got shelved last week, death penalty opponents vowed to launch a ballot initiative anyway.

They're keeping their promise. California Taxpayers for Justice is unveiling the SAFE California Act, which would replace capital punishment with life imprisonment without parole.

Listed speakers at this morning's news conference include Gil Garcetti, the former Los Angeles district attorney who has prosecuted dozens of death penalty cases, Jeanne Woodford, the former warden of San Quentin State Prison who oversaw four executions and is now the executive director of Death Penalty Focus; Gloria Killian, who spent 16 years in prison for a crime she says she didn't commit; and Judy Kerr, whose brother's killer is still at large.

Proponents of the initiative say that replacing the death penalty with life behind bars without parole would free up money for local law enforcement, victim compensation and schools. The presser starts at 10 a.m. at the state Attorney General's Office, 1300 I St., in Sacramento.

Sen. Loni Hancock's Senate Bill 490 would have put a measure on the November 2012 ballot asking voters whether to eliminate the death penalty. She withdrew the bill from consideration last Thursday when she didn't have the votes to get it out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

A Field Poll last year found that 70 percent of Californians favor keeping the death penalty.

Under the dome, both the Assembly and the Senate have set floor sessions for noon. In fact, both houses are looking at floor sessions all this week and next in the sprint before adjournment Sept 9. Stay tuned. Hundreds of bills are still pending.

HEALTH CARE: Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, joins business leaders on the Capitol's north steps at 1:30 p.m. to urge Sacramento lawmakers to focus more on cost control in implementing federal health care reform.

EXHIBIT: The life of Sun Yat-Sen, considered the leader of China's republican revolution, is being featured at a Capitol photo exhibit. Sun helped organize the movement that overthrew the Manchu dynasty in 1911. The exhibit is being sponsored by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (whose grandfather was one of his advisers), the Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, San Francisco's Taipei Economic and Culture Office, Sacramento's Chinese Benevolent Association and others. A reception kicks off the exhibit from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Eureka Room in the basement. The exhibit will be on display until Sept. 12.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Belated natal wishes to Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Oakdale, who turned 58 on Saturday, and Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, who turned 59 on Sunday.

Editor's note: This post has been updated to remove references to a Senate vote on SB 490. The bill had nothing to do with the death penalty at the time of the vote. Updated at 8:07 a.m., Aug. 29, 2011.


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