Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

Today Capitol Alert launches "Daily Dan Walters," a new video report on policy and politics in California.

Come back each weekday for a quick update from Bee columnist Dan Walters on topics occupying the Capitol crowd.

What will U.S. Postal Service closures mean for California elections?

Two committees with an interest in that subject - the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments and the Assembly Committee on Elections and Redistricting - will hold a joint hearing today to explore the question.

Given the increase in vote-by-mail behavior, the committees want to know whether materials will reach voters in time - and whether those who wait until the last minute to return them could risk missing a chance to vote.

Those speaking will include U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Sacramento County Registrar of Voters Jill LaVine.

They will not, however, include a representative of the U.S. Postal Service - a committee spokeswoman said it declined an invitation to participate. Testimony begins at 2 p.m. in Room 2040 at the Capitol.

Garamendi and Bowen already have both warned that voters could be disenfranchised if 15 processing centers are closed after a ban on the closures expires May 15. That would be less than three weeks before the June primary election.

They want a six-month extension of the moratorium, postponing the closures until after the November general election.

LUNGREN TOWN HALLS: U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren is also on the West Coast, hosting town halls in Citrus Heights, Rancho Cordova and Angels Camp this week.

Tonight's event is at 7 at the Citrus Heights Community Center, 6300 Fountain Square Drive. He'll be at Rancho Cordova City Hall on Thursday evening and at the Frogeteria Room at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.

HIGH-SPEED RAIL: Senate panels led by Sen. Joe Simitian and Sen. Alan Lowenthal will travel to Mountain View tonight for an informational hearing on high-speed rail.

Simitian says the session, 7 p.m. at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, will offer South Bay and Peninsula residents a "sneak peak" at changes in the high-speed rail business plan scheduled for release later this month.

Dan Richard, chair of the High-Speed Rail Authority Board, and Will Kempton, chair of the High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group, are among the speakers.

If you're going, bring caffeine. While public participants will be limited to two minutes each, the press release says "Simitian will continue the hearing for as long as necessary to hear from anyone who wishes to speak."



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