Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

Take 10,000 LED lights, add one 40-foot-tall white fir, and it's time for the 80th annual Capitol Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

Gov. Jerry Brown and California first lady Anne Gust Brown will be joined by 6-year-old Mikayla Jones of Visalia, who'll help the governor during the official lighting of the tree, which is decorated with 900 hand-crafted ornaments made by adults and children with developmental disabilities.

The ceremony won't lack for music. Scheduled performers include choirs, bell ringers and the California Army National Guard's 59th Army Band, whose website bills it as one of the oldest bands in the U.S. Army. The Sacramento-based unit is also known as "The Governor's Own."

The public event starts at 4:30 p.m. at the Capitol's west steps and will be webcast live on the governor's website at www.gov.ca.gov. Those who attend are encouraged to donate non-perishable food items to benefit the California Emergency Foodlink.

Meanwhile, a majority of Golden State voters support Brown's plan to dial back public employee pensions, and a plurality believe state and local government retirements are too generous.

The Bee's Jon Ortiz has details about the latest Field Poll on public pensions in today's Bee. Click here for the publicly released poll, and find the statistical tabulations prepared exclusively for Capitol Alert at this link.

INCOME INEQUALITY: An Assembly committee, chaired by Democratic Assemblyman Roger Dickinson of Sacramento, hears from economic and public policy experts on state policies that could alleviate income and wealth disparity. The hearing starts at 10 a.m. in the Capitol's Room 437 and will be televised live on the California Channel.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY: A Senate select committee, headed by Democratic Sen. Kevin de León of Los Angeles, meets at the Century Park Towers in Los Angeles from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to look at how to expand commercial energy-efficient retrofits.

MEDI-CAL: A joint legislative committee on health, co-chaired by Democratic Sen. Ed Hernandez of West Covina and Assemblyman Bill Monning of Carmel, examines the future of seniors and people with disabilities in the state's Medi-Cal program. The hearing starts at 1:30 p.m. in the Capitol's Room 4202 and will be televised live on CalChannel.

ECONOMY: Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, hosts a panel discussion on the state budget, small business, manufacturing, taxes, energy and other topics. Speakers include former Finance Director Mike Genest and Jack Stewart of the California Manufacturers & Technology Association. Look for it from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Capitol's Room 4203.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Assemblyman Jim Beall, D-San Jose, celebrates his 60th birthday today.



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