Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

February 2, 2012
VIDEO: Ron Paul supporters in Reno pay to 'beat Obama'

RENO - Ron Paul told supporters here tonight that his libertarian ideas are gaining traction and that his presidential campaign - despite Paul's inability to break through in early primaries - remains aglow.

"I believe that we will be able to win this," the Texas congressman told several hundred people at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino. "We must remain in this battle and do our very best."

The Republican candidates were campaigning today in Nevada ahead of the state's caucuses on Saturday. Paul finished a distant second to the frontrunner, Mitt Romney, in the Silver State four years ago.

Paul said to cheers tonight, "The revolution is alive and well."

His appearance came just hours after Romney spoke at an event down the road in Reno. Hundreds of people turned out for each rally, but Paul's had something Romney's lacked. Outside the room where Paul spoke, two supporters propped up an inflatable punching bag with a photograph of President Barack Obama, charging $1 each in a "Ron Paul fundraiser to 'beat' Obama."

They planned to take the cash in to Paul but said they were strictly "unofficial."

February 2, 2012
Demi Moore 9-1-1 call sparks move to block recordings

People Demi Moore.JPEG-0d87.JPGNews coverage of actress Demi Moore's recent medical emergency has led one California lawmaker to push for new restrictions on the release of taped recordings of 9-1-1 calls.

Assemblywoman Norma Torres, D-Pomona, announced today that she plans to introduce legislation to "protect the privacy of 9-1-1 medical emergency calls."

The Pomona Democrat, who worked as a 9-1-1 call operator for 18 years, said in a statement that medical emergency calls "contain private and sensitive information that should never be broadcast to the world."

Moore was hospitalized last month after paramedics responded to a call for medical assistance at her Los Angeles home. Portions of the tape of the 9-1-1 call, which was released last week, includes an unidentified woman telling the operator that Moore was "semiconscious" and "convulsing" after smoking something " similar to incense." The tape was edited before its release to remove statements that could violate medical privacy rules, the Los Angeles Times reported.

February 2, 2012
'Millionaires tax' plan to hit streets with nurses union's support

A "millionaires tax" initiative spearheaded by the California Federation of Teachers and the Courage Campaign received petition language today, as well as backing from the powerful California Nurses Association.

CFT spokesman Fred Glass said his group expects to begin collecting signatures Monday now that state Attorney General Kamala Harris has issued official petition language today. Harris titled the measure "Tax To Benefit Public Schools, Social Services, Public Safety, And Road Maintenance."

The CFT/Courage plan would raise taxes by three percentage points on income above $1 million and five percentage points on income above $2 million. State fiscal analysts say the proposal would generate $4 billion to $6 billion annually, with a $6 billion to $9.5 billion windfall in the 2012-13 fiscal year because the plan would capture 18 months of taxes.

The plan is competing with Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, which would raise income taxes on earners starting at $250,000 for single filers, as well as increase the statewide sales tax by a half-cent.

The proposals have split the labor community so far. CFT and CNA are backing the "millionaires tax," while the California Teachers Association and Service Employees International Union State Council are backing Brown's proposal.

The governor wants rival campaigns to stop their efforts and join his coalition, but they say they are pressing on. Besides CFT's proposal, civil rights attorney Molly Munger is backing a $10 billion income tax measure, while hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer is pursuing a corporate tax change that would pay for clean energy projects.

CFT donated $500,000 last week to back its signature-gathering efforts.

"We are prepared to spend enough to get a million signatures," Glass said. "It's not just going to be CFT spending the money. We have partners, and we'll be announcing a couple more sizable contributions soon."

February 2, 2012
Nearly half of California jobless workers considered 'long-term'

Not only does California have more than 2 million unemployed workers, but nearly half of them have been jobless for 27 weeks or more, according to new data assembled by the state Department of Employment Development.

"Between May 2007 and February 2011, the number of people who were jobless 27 weeks or more in California rose an astounding 620 percent," says the EDD report.

Those who are called "long-term unemployed" grew from 15.9 percent of the jobless population in late 2007 to 46.8 percent last March, remaining over 46 percent in December.

"The rapid rise in long-term unemployment can be directly tied to the collapse of the housing bubble in California," the report continues. "This event had dramatic effects on the construction and finance industries and on the duration of unemployment among workers displaced from these industries."

It notes that housing construction permits reached a peak of 20,554 in September 2005, then plummeted to 2,418 in January 2009.

Long-term unemployment knows no gender or ethnic boundaries, although Latinos -- who were heavily engaged in construction -- were hit somewhat harder than non-Latino workers. Among all workers, those middle-aged and older have fared worse than those younger, perhaps reflecting their heavy involvement in construction trades.

February 2, 2012
Jerry Brown's about right about drop in California factory jobs

Gov. Jerry Brown told a television interviewer this week that California has lost manufacturing employment "at about the same rate as the rest of America, so this is a national problem."

True or false?

It depends on one's definition of "about."

Data from Brown's own Department of Employment Development reveal that over the last 10 years, manufacturing employment in California has declined by one-third, from 1.8 million to 1.2 million.

Brown's right about the decline in factory jobs being a national phenomenon, but the rest of the nation has fared a bit better with a 28.8 percent drop over the last decade, from 14.9 million (excluding California) to 10.6 million, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

California's neighboring and competitive states have also seen declines, according to data compiled by the California Manufacturing and Technology Association, but not as steep as this state.

Texas' decline has been 23 percent. Nevada's is 18 percent, Arizona's 28 percent, and Oregon's 26 percent.

Brown made his comments Wednesday in response to a question from Current TV talk show host Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan.

February 2, 2012
California lawmakers send budget-related bills to Jerry Brown

California lawmakers sent bills to Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday that would allow the state to borrow $865 million from earmarked state accounts and K-12 districts to continue busing their students this school year.

The Democratic governor supports both measures, though his office has not said when he will act on them.

Senate Bill 81 would help rural and urban students that rely heavily on buses by transforming a $248 million mid-year transportation cut into a general-purpose reduction that hits all 1,042 school districts evenly. Some rural districts stood to lose more than $1,000 per student; under SB 81, all districts will lose about $42 per student.

The bill had bipartisan support in both houses, though some suburban Republicans have objected because their districts long ago reduced bus service and now face a larger cut under SB 81.

The Senate and Assembly also approved Senate Bill 95 allowing the state to borrow $865 million from earmarked accounts, most of which fund transportation. It is part of a plan to ensure the state does not run out of cash to pay its priority bills in early March.

Controller John Chiang said this week that without $3.3 billion in additional borrowing and payment delays, the state will fall below its comfortable cash cushion for several weeks starting Feb. 29. Chiang said that by March 8, the state would end up $730 million in the red.

Besides the internal borrowing in SB 95, the state plans to ask Wall Street for a short-term loan, have the University of California borrow on the state's behalf and delay payments to Medi-Cal hospitals and counties.

In other action, both houses passed Senate Bill 98 to reinstate the Board of Registered Nursing through 2015 after Brown vetoed a bill last year to extend its existence. The governor said he objected to last year's proposal, Senate Bill 538, because it would have expanded pension benefits for board investigators.

Jim Sanders and Dan Smith contributed to this report.

February 2, 2012
Dan Lungren measure passes to cut House spending

Committees in the House of Representatives will cut their spending by an average of 6.4 percent, under a resolution passed Wednesday night.

With lawmakers mindful of the massive federal deficit, the House approved by voice vote the budget-trimming authored by Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River. Lungren chairs the House Administration Committee.

"All of our constituents need us to do more with less and to rein in government spending," Lungren said during the evening debate. "Families have been required to tighten their belts, and they constantly ask us to do the very same thing."

Some House Democrats opposed the measure, which exempts the House armed services and ethics committees from the cuts. The resolution does not need Senate approval.

February 2, 2012
AM Alert: No shortage of money in California's primary battles

The Assembly has set its floor session for 9 a.m., with the Senate meeting at 10 a.m., but lawmakers under the dome may have more than legislation on their minds.

Three Democrats, for instance, are battling it out for the privilege of representing the new 50th Assembly District, a safe Democratic seat based in west Los Angeles -- incumbent Betsy Butler, local activist Torie Osborn and Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom. As The Bee's Torey Van Oot reported Wednesday in this post about this year's hot primaries, the greenbacks are already flowing in the district, which Butler moved into after the lines were redrawn.

The endorsements in that race are also piling up. Those in Butler's corner include Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, the Democratic Legislative Women's Caucus, the Legislative LGBT Caucus, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, the Legislative LGBT Caucus, a host of state senators and Assembly members, plus Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

In Osborn's corner, count former Sen. Sheila Kuehl, Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, several Los Angeles City Council members, former state Sen. Tom Hayden, the California Nurses Association, the California Federation of Teachers and a whole lot of local officials.

Money is flowing to congressional candidates as well, and Michael Doyle reports on spending in California, including the 7th Congressional District. That's where Republican Rep. Dan Lungren is being outpaced in fundraising by second-time Democratic challenger Ami Bera in a new district where Democrats now hold a one-point voter registration advantage over Republicans.

Now that California's redevelopment agencies are no more, Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed four boards responsible for dissolving agencies in Los Angeles, Merced, Stanislaus and Ventura where local governments decided not to take on the job. Brown named 12 people in all to serve on the new local authorities, which will handle such matters as paying existing bond debt, disposing of assets and managing properties until contracted work is done. Read more at this link.

SEEING RED: If you notice Capitol denizens wearing red today on the eve of National Wear Red Day, chalk it up to their support for the fight against heart disease, the nation's leading killer of women. Find health screenings from 8:30-11:30 a.m. in the Capitol's Room 125.

HIGH-SPEED RAIL: Proponents of high-speed rail, including construction workers and college students, hold a news conference in support of the project starting at 9:45 a.m. outside Sacramento City Hall, 915 I St., where the High-Speed Rail Authority Board is meeting at 10 a.m. The Bee's David Siders reported in this story earlier this week that Gov. Jerry Brown said Sunday that project will cost far less than nearly $100 billion and that fees paid by carbon producers would be a source of funding

BALLOT MEASURE: Proponents of an anti-human trafficking ballot initiative hold a presser to highlight their signature-gathering campaign. Those listed to attend include Ron Cottingham of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, former Facebook official Chris Kelly, Daphne Phung of California Against Slavery and others. The event starts at 11 a.m. at Wind Youth Center, 701 Dixieanne Ave. in Sacramento.


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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