Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

With tonight's Republican presidential debate just hours away, the Field Poll has the most recent details of how California's GOP voters view the four hopefuls still in the race.

The bottom line: Rick Santorum isn't No. 1, as Real Clear Politics reports he is in some other polls, but he has pulled within six percentage points of Mitt Romney.

In California, Santorum is polling more strongly than Romney among strongly conservative voters, as well as among born-again Christians and those who identify with the tea party. David Siders has more in today's Bee. If you want even more numbers, click here to read the statistical tabulations prepared exclusively for Capitol Alert. You can read the publicly released poll at this link.

As for the debate, Santorum and Romney join Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. CNN's John King moderates starting at 5 p.m. Pacific Time from Arizona. CNN is soliciting questions at and the CNN Politics Facebook page. For the Twitterati, it's encouraging use of the hashtag #CNNDebate.

Back in Sacramento, the Legislature isn't holding floor sessions, but there's no shortage of committee hearings and news conferences in the Capitol.

State Controller John Chiang, Sen. Kevin de León and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, all Democrats, join building industry representatives to talk up legislation to make commercial energy retrofits more affordable. That news conference starts at 10 a.m. in Room 1190.

Labor leaders are getting behind a proposal to regulate the wages, hours and working conditions of domestic workers. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and California Labor Federation leader Art Pulaski are scheduled to join Democratic Assemblymen Tom Ammiano and V. Manuel Pérez and others at an 11 a.m. presser in Room 317 to highlight the legislators' Assembly Bill 889.

Republican legislators, meanwhile, are unveiling pension reform legislation at 11:30 a.m. in Room 126. Senate Republican leader Bob Huff, Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway and other Republican lawmakers are expected to appear.

As for committee work, a joint Senate hearing will look at how to finance affordable housing and local economic development from 9:30 a.m. to noon in Room 4203. Listed speakers include Claudia Cappio of the California Housing Finance Agency, Marianne O'Malley of the Legislative Analyst's Office, Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, Jennifer Matz of the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development, Mike McKeever of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments and others.

The Senate Rules Committee will consider gubernatorial appointments starting at 1:30 p.m. in Room 113, with these appointees required to appear: Jennifer Shaffer, member of the Board of Parole Hearings; Robert Barton, inspector general, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; and Martin Hoshino, Corrections undersecretary.

For more information on the Senate's schedule, click here. You'll find the Assembly's schedule at this link.

SCHOOLS CHIEF: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is in Pacific Grove to address members of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association at their annual leadership conference, starting at 4:30 p.m. at the Asilomar Conference Center.

ASH WEDNESDAY: Sacramento Catholic Bishop Jaime Soto leads Ash Wednesday services starting at 8 a.m. on the Capitol's west steps. This afternoon, legislators and others will take part in an Ash Wednesday "poverty simulation" in the basement of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacramento at 11th and K streets. Lawmakers expected to attend include Republican Assemblyman Katcho Achadijian, Democratic Sen. Carol Liu and Assembly members Julia Brownley, Roger Dickinson, Bonnie Lowenthal, Nancy Skinner and Mariko Yamada. That event starts at 1:30 p.m.


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