Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

September 11, 2012
GOP congressional candidate backs off abortion-cancer link

Doug LaMalfa.JPGRepublican congressional candidate Doug LaMalfa walked back today from a claim that women who have abortions are more likely to get cancer.

The Richvale Republican, who is running in the 1st Congressional District, made that argument during a Monday debate between him and Democrat Jim Reed sponsored by the Redding Tea Party. He repeated the stance in a post-debate interview with KRCR News.

"Research has shown there is that there is that higher level of incidence, there is that risk and so I would want women to be fully informed of all the aspects of it before they would make a decision like that," he told the station. "I think that shows more care for women then by simply shuffling them off to an abortion mill and so that's a very important distinction that needs to be made."

While a link between abortion and breast cancer has been the subject of medical studies and used as fodder for anti-abortion advocates, groups such as the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute have concluded that there is not scientific evidence to back such claims.

September 11, 2012
Jerry Brown calls pension changes not enough but 'most that could be gotten'

Gov. Jerry Brown, who will travel to Los Angles on Wednesday to sign legislation reducing public employee pension benefits, said today that the measure, though less sweeping than he proposed, is "the most that could be gotten" through his negotiations in Sacramento.

"What I got was the most that could be gotten," the Democratic governor said in an interview with the Bay Area News Group's editorial boards. "Is it enough? No."

The pension changes, approved by the Legislature over opposition from labor unions, will reduce benefits for future hires and require increased retirement contributions from current employees. Many Republicans, despite complaining the pension changes did not go far enough, called the measure a small step and voted to support it.

"It is very far-reaching pension reform relative to where we were," Brown said when a questioner suggested the changes were only minimal. "Let's get real here, folks. You're sitting around this table writing stories or thinking thoughts. I am in Sacramento. I've got to get things done."

Brown said, "I didn't say this was the end" of his effort to reduce pension costs.

"This is a big ship," he said. "You turn it slowly. Our direction is getting better, that's all I can say."

Editor's note: This post was updated at 11:20 p.m. to reflect that many Republicans, despite complaining the proposed pension changes did not go far enough, voted to support the measure in the Legislature.

September 11, 2012
Jerry Brown calls Bay Bridge investigation 'kind of curious'

REDWOOD CITY - Gov. Jerry Brown, who told The Bee's editorial board last week he wasn't aware of the federal government's concerns about Caltrans and bridge testing, didn't respond to the question when he was asked this morning if he had followed up on those concerns.

"This whole Caltrans-Sacramento Bee story is kind of curious," he said.

The Bee reported last month that Caltrans had uncovered doctored data and other testing problems on roadways and bridges, including on work done on the new span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, even as Caltrans engineers said tests were valid and the bridge safe.

The Federal Highway Administration, in a draft assessment, criticized Caltrans officials for waiting years to rigorously review testing problems. Asked last week about the fact that the federal government had concerns, Brown replied, "I don't know that to be the case."

September 11, 2012
Jerry Brown: Chamber 'clearing the way' for tax bid by staying neutral

REDWOOD CITY - Gov. Jerry Brown said today that it is "amazing" the California Chamber of Commerce's decided to take no position on his Nov. 6 ballot initiative to raise taxes, adding that the group's neutrality is "basically clearing the way" for passage of the measure.

"The chamber is neutral," Brown said, "which is amazing that the Chamber of Commerce would work so carefully with my administration and is not in opposition at all - is basically clearing the way for us."

The Democratic governor said at a bill signing event here that the chamber's neutrality "is a very important sign ... it's a very, very positive indicator of Proposition 30's potential to get the 'Yes' vote."

Brown's Proposition 30 proposes to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners.

September 11, 2012
Congressional rivals Dan Lungren, Ami Bera to debate Sept. 25

Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera have agreed to debate later this month.

The Sept. 25 debate, sponsored by The Sacramento Bee, News10 and Capital Public Radio, is the first for the 7th Congressional District rivals, who also went head to head on the 2010 ballot.

The debate, to be held at News10's Sacramento studios, will stream live on and the other sponsors' sites at 3 p.m. on Sept. 25. It will air the following day on News10 and Capital Public Radio. News10 Political Editor John Myers, Bee Capitol Bureau Chief Dan Smith and Capital Public Radio senior reporter Marianne Russ will serve as panelists for the debate, which will include reader-submitted queries and questions posed by the candidates themselves.

A close registration split in the eastern Sacramento County district and the expectation of heavy spending by both candidates and outside groups has made it one of the most competitive and closely watched congressional contests in the country this year.

"That's why this is such an important election for us locally," Bee's Publisher and President Cheryl Dell said in a statement. "The newly redrawn district includes so much of our readership area that we feel it is important for voters to hear from the candidates themselves on the issues that matter in the region."

September 11, 2012
Gov. Jerry Brown signs lumber tax, wildfire liability limits

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation today that imposes a 1 percent tax on lumber products starting in January and restricts damages landowners pay for starting wildfires.

The timber industry backed Assembly Bill 1492 for several reasons. The new consumer tax pays for regulatory costs that landowners previously paid; the liability provisions could restrict payouts in future federal lawsuits; harvest plans remain effective for longer periods, resulting in less frequent environmental reviews; and the tax applies to purchases on lumber from out of state as well as from California.

"California's laws have saddled our timber industry with costly burdens while giving out-of-state competitors a free ride--but that stops today," Brown said in a statement. "This legislation enacts serious bipartisan reform to even the playing field to protect California's timber-industry jobs."

September 11, 2012
Garamendi pulls TV ad falsely attacking Vann over $4,000 chair

Democratic Rep. John Garamendi's campaign has removed one of its television ads attacking Republican opponent Kim Vann because it made false claims.

The 30-second ad, which began airing last week, hit Vann for her record on veterans and actions taken as a member of the Colusa County Board of Supervisors.

The spot falsely claimed that Vann had the county buy her a $4,000 chair.

The county spent roughly $4,000 on chairs in the 2007-2008 fiscal year, but not on a single seat for Vann. Five new chairs for the board's meeting chambers were purchased online for $1,933.40, or $386.68 for each chair, according to documents provided by the county auditor-controller. An additional set of chairs purchased by the county that year was transferred for use in another agency because the seats were the wrong dimensions for the space.

September 11, 2012
AM Alert: California State University homes in on a new boss

California State University trustees are gathering privately today and tomorrow in Burlingame to interview candidates for the job of chancellor. And who might they be talking to about heading up the 23-campus system? The university won't say.

But political scuttle has it that state Treasurer Bill Lockyer is interested in the position. Bee editorial writer Dan Morain says Lockyer isn't up to the task, while political commentator Joe Mathews says he's the best candidate for the job.

Cal State will probably announce the new chancellor in about a month, according to a university spokeswoman.

BILL SIGNING - Gov. Jerry Brown and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez will be in Silicon Valley today for a bill signing ceremony at a meeting of the Bay Area Council. The legislation in question will "strengthen California's trade relationships and support the state's businesses," the Guv's office says.

THERE'S NO SUCH THING - The Public Policy Institute of California hosts a discussion today about closing the achievement gap for English-learner students in the state's schools -- along with a free lunch. All the info is here.


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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