Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

October 24, 2011
Drug company gives after Jerry Brown signs STD prevention bill

Two days after Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation allowing children 12 and older to seek medical care for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases without parental consent - including vaccinations against human papillomavirus, or HPV - a pharmaceutical company with a financial interest in HPV vaccines donated $8,000 to Brown's re-election campaign.

Brown's office said the contribution was not solicited, and AstraZeneca PLC said it was unrelated to Brown's action on the controversial bill.

"AstraZeneca's contributions to government officials in California are unrelated to the legislation," a spokeswoman said in an e-mail. "We provided contributions to people on both sides of the issue and did not lobby the measure."

October 24, 2011
Northern California Dems blast Obama team on water plans

The Obama administration is struggling to keep its head above water in the never-ending fight over Bay-Delta protections.

Often, it is California farmers who denounce the administration for not delivering enough irrigation water. On Monday, though, five California Democratic members of Congress rebuked the administration over a recent agreement signed with water agencies. The three-page letter signed by Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, and others complains that the Interior Department is giving water agencies "unprecedented influence" and "long-term guarantees" that may be to the detriment of the environment.

Reps. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove and Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, joined the missive.

October 24, 2011
Report: Cal HFA foreclosing on borrowers current on loans

The California Housing Finance Agency, which makes low-interest loans to first-time homebuyers, is taking an unusually strict and costly stand against borrowers who rent out their homes, foreclosing on some even though they are current on their mortgage payments, state overseers say in a new report.

In a report released this morning, the California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes faults the California Housing Finance Agency for foreclosing on homeowners who move into larger homes, often renting out their first ones because they cannot sell them in the weak housing market.

Each foreclosure costs the agency more than $50,000 in uninsured losses, according to the report, "Good Deeds Punished: State-Run Mortgage Lender Forecloses on Californians Current on Their Loans."

The agency says it interprets federal law to prohibit renting, but the report found the policy is stricter than in most other states.

"It's the tax code that we're responding to," said Ken Giebel, the agency's director of marketing. "We do try to keep people in their homes, and we work with them if they have a hardship."

According to the report, the California Housing Finance Agency has foreclosed on at least 21 borrowers who were violating home-occupancy requirements. It said 49 more borrowers who rented out residences are delinquent and are "likely headed for foreclosure," and that 186 more are renting out their agency-financed homes without permission.

In response to the report, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, sent agency Executive Director Claudia Cappio a letter urging the agency to "revisit its owner-occupancy policy with an eye towards formulating a more flexible approach."

"Clearly, many of the borrowers described in the report did not set out to become landlords," the senators wrote. "Far from making money, these borrowers are accepting significant losses in an attempt to live up to their mortgage commitments."

Read the full report here.

Editor's note: Post updated at 2:25 p.m. to include Giebel's remarks and 2:48 to include Steinberg's remarks.

October 24, 2011
California lawmakers dominate web site 'Gold Mouse Awards'

Congressional web sites are getting better, and California lawmakers' sites are among the best in the business, according to the Congressional Management Foundation.

On Monday, the non-partisan group awarded its annual "Gold Mouse Awards" to the congressional web sites deemed most useful and engaging. The Platinum award for very best House web site was given to Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

But check out how the Californians did in the next highest award category. Five of the 14 Gold award winners are from the Golden State: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo and Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose.

On the other hand, the web sites for Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer finished completely out of the running; their grades were not listed. Better luck next year.

October 24, 2011
AM Alert: Obama hits California ATM, sits down with Jay Leno

President Barack Obama makes another swing through California this week, starting with a fundraiser tonight in Los Angeles and a sit-down with Jay Leno.

The commander in chief's evening, in fact, will be chock-full of big Southern California names.

Air Force One is scheduled to land at LAX at 4:50 p.m., after which Obama will be whisked to the home of Hollywood notables Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas. There, "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria is co-hosting a Latino gala fundraiser for Obama and the Democratic National Committee.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro are among those expected to attend. Tickets range from $5,000 to $35,800. Even if you can afford it, you're out of luck.

Word is the president leaves the south state at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday for San Francisco and then Denver. Somewhere in there, Obama will tape an appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," scheduled to run Tuesday. It's his fourth chat with Leno, and the second since he became president, according to NBC.

Back in Sacramento, the Senate Transportation and Housing committees hold a hearing on fuels of the future and meeting the goals of AB 32, California's landmark -- and controversial -- law on greenhouse gas emissions. The meeting, chaired by Democratic Sen. Mark DeSaulnier of Concord, runs from 1 to 3:30 p.m. in the Capitol's Room 112. No desperate housewives are expected to attend.

And in Fresno, a select committee on rural California's renewable energy economy, headed by Democratic Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez of Coachella, looks at opportunities presented by the state's renewable portfolio standards. Find that hearing at Fresno City College, 1101 E. University Ave., from 1 to 4 p.m.

SENIOR SOLONS: The California Senior Legislature opens its 31st session at 9 a.m. in the Assembly chambers. Listed speakers for the four-day event include Attorney General Kamala Harris, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, Health and Human Services Secretary Diane Dooley and Democratic Assemblyman Paul Fong of Cupertino. Click here for more information.


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee.

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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