Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

September 26, 2012
Video replay: Dan Lungren-Ami Bera debate in Sacramento

Candidates for congressional District 7 -- Republican Congressman Dan Lungren and Democrat Dr. Ami Bera -- faced off Tuesday in their first debate. The district includes several Sacramento suburbs like Citrus Heights, Carmichael, Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove. The race is considered one of the nation's most competitive congressional contests.

The debate, sponsored by The Sacramento Bee, News10 and Capital Public Radio, featured questions from panelists Dan Smith, Bee Capitol Bureau chief; News10 Political Editor John Myers; and Capital Public Radio senior reporter Marianne Russ.

See the hourlong debate in five segments:

September 26, 2012
Jerry Brown signs bill to ban using dogs to hunt bears, bobcats

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a controversial bill restricting the use of dogs in hunting bears and bobcats, his office announced this afternoon.

The legislation pitted wildlife advocates against hunters at the California Capitol -- the former raising concerns about the humane treatment of animals, the latter about urban elitism.

The Democratic governor signed the legislation without comment.

Senate Bill 1221, by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, prohibits using dogs to pursue bears and bobcats except in limited circumstances, including when a dog is guarding crops or livestock.

"I applaud Gov. Brown for signing this measure that will protect dogs, bears, bobcats and other wildlife," Lieu said in a prepared statement. "There is nothing sporting in shooting an exhausted bear clinging to a tree limb or a cornered bobcat."

The legislation was among a batch of bills Brown signed related to animals. Among them was Assembly Bill 1776, by Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, designating the Pacific leatherback sea turtle as the official state marine reptile.

Brown was unwilling, however, to afford a special designation for bats, vetoing Senate Bill 1480, by Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, which would have prohibited the trapping of bats and restricted the netting and exclusion of them.

"Homeowners should be allowed to exclude bats from their home at any time," Brown wrote in his veto message.

September 26, 2012
Sacramento region to get ARB seat under newly signed law

The Sacramento region will have a seat on the California Air Resources Board under legislation signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown this week.

Assembly Bill 146 will expand the ARB from 11 to 12 members, with the new seat reserved for a representative from the Sacramento, Placer, Yolo-Solano, El Dorado or Feather River air districts.

Sacramento Democratic Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, who proposed AB 146, noted that the Sacramento region had been the largest major metropolitan area in California not assured a seat on the state air board.

September 26, 2012
Lungren backed 'forcible rape' bill before language was removed

Republican Rep. Dan Lungren distanced himself from controversial bill language involving abortion funding in cases of "forcible rape" during a Tuesday debate with 7th Congressional District rival Ami Bera, saying he told the original sponsors of House Resolution 3 that he "would not support" the proposal unless the word "forcible" was taken out.

"So in fact, if you're talking about the mistake they made, I was the one who pointed it out," Lungren said. "... I can tell you it was after I went to them and told them I couldn't support it if they didn't take the word forcible out that they changed it."

Congressional records show, however, that Lungren signed on as a cosponsor of the bill when the legislation was first introduced, before 'forcible' was deleted from the text.

September 26, 2012
Jerry Brown signs bill declaring May to be Labor History Month

Gov. Jerry Brown, like the Democratic-controlled California Legislature, wants schoolchildren to learn about labor unions, preferably when they are in school and aren't too busy with other matters.

Brown's office announced today that he has signed legislation replacing Labor History Week with a Labor History Month and moving the observation from the first week of April to May.

Many school districts are on spring break the first week of April, and supporters of the bill said the rest of the month is busy for students because they are preparing for statewide tests.

Assembly Bill 2269, by Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, D-Alameda, encourages school districts to commemorate the month with educational exercises that teach students about the role of the labor movement in California and U.S. history.

Labor unions have had a significant impact on labor conditions for workers nationwide. They are also major contributors to Democratic politicians and their causes.

September 26, 2012
Jerry Brown signs bill revising California school rating system

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation to de-emphasize standardized test scores when measuring the performance of California schools, his office announced today.

Senate Bill 1458, by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, requires other factors, such as graduation rates and college-going rates, to be used in calculating a school's Academic Performance Index.

The Democratic governor vetoed similar legislation by Steinberg last year. At the time, Brown suggested local panels could be used to evaluate schools, a concept included in the bill he ultimately signed.

Steinberg said in a prepared statement that he believes the measure will be one of the most significant education bills of the decade, "fundamentally changing what we teach and how we measure accomplishment."

Supporters of the legislation have said it could make schools more innovative, allowing them to avoid teaching "to the test." Opponents said it could weaken school accountability.

September 26, 2012
Assembly candidate Brian Dahle to voters: Call me -- maybe?

Call me - maybe?

At 530-251-3888.

Assembly candidate Brian Dahle is taking the unusual tack of listing his cellphone number on ballot statements sent by counties to voters in the 1st Assembly District, which stretches from Modoc to Placer counties.

He did the same thing before the June primary and usually got a handful of calls each day.

"Most people were amazed that I answered the phone," said Dahle, a 46-year-old farmer, seed salesman and Lassen County supervisor who is running against fellow Republican Rick Bosetti for the newly drawn Assembly seat.

"I believe that you need to be transparent," Dahle said. "That's the way I run my life and my business."

Dahle, who is married and has three young children, said he has the cellphone take messages during "family time," but otherwise, he tries to answer calls and will return those he misses.

Most callers are polite and want to ask about his positions, Dahle said, but occasionally someone is abusive or just wants to vent.

"I'll take a few bad with a lot of good," he said.

September 26, 2012
California's state, local governments spent $434 billion in 2010

California's state and local governments spent $434 billion in 2010, according to a new Census Bureau report, the equivalent of more than 20 percent of the state's economic output.

California's 2010 expenditures were $3.3 billion -- less than 1 percent -- higher than in 2009.

Three-fourths of California's 2010 spending, or $326.4 billion, was raised inside the state -- mostly from income, sales and property taxes but also including fees and utility sales -- while virtually all of the other 25 percent came from the federal government, a substantially higher percentage than in most other states. Nationally, just 19.7 percent of state and local revenues came from the federal government.

The report also revealed that education accounted for $102.5 billion, or 23.6 percent, of California's 2010 spending, roughly two-thirds of which was for the state's six million K-12 students and the other third for higher education. Nationally, state and local governments devoted 27.6 percent of their spending to education.

Welfare services took another $52.2 billion, or 12 percent, of California's spending in 2010, nearly three percentage points lower than the national average.

Despite California's national reputation as a low property tax state, thanks to its landmark property tax limit, Proposition 13, its level of property tax revenues is only slightly lower than the national average. California's $53.9 billion in property tax revenues to local governments and schools in 2010 represented 16.5 percent of total state-local revenues while nationally, the average was 17.7 percent.

Relative property tax burdens in other states ranged from a high of 33.6 percent of revenues in New Hampshire to a low of 7.3 percent in New Mexico.

September 26, 2012
Ami Bera says he will take congressional pay if elected after all

lungrenbera.jpgElk Grove Democrat Ami Bera's campaign said today that the 7th Congressional District candidate misspoke during Tuesday's debate when he pledged to forgo his own pay if elected to Congress until unemployment drops in the Sacramento region.

"Here's my promise to you," Bera said in his closing statement of a Tuesday debate. "I pledge not to take any salary until unemployment in Sacramento is below 5 percent. I pledge not to take a pension until we've secured Social Security and Medicare for the next generation and our seniors."

Bera spokeswoman Allison Teixeira said today that the candidate has committed to "oppose congressional pay raises" until Sacramento unemployment levels, which are currently at more than 10 percent, drop to the rate referenced in his statement. He has featured that no pay increase pledge on his website and in his first television ad. She said Bera will consider the entitlement programs "secured" when they are "safe from being privatized by the Republicans," though she could not say whether Democratic control of Congress and the White House would meet that criteria.

September 26, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Cars without drivers

VIDEO: Dan discusses driverless cars and the future of California transportation.

Have a question you'd like Dan to answer? Post it on our Facebook page.

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

September 26, 2012
AM Alert: Mary Hayashi raises money in bid to replace Nadia Lockyer

Gov. Jerry Brown is in Beverly Hills today to address congregants of Temple Emanuel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. On the day that observant Jews fast and atone for sins of the past year, Brown's topic is "California Matters."

We're not trying to draw any connections there, just reporting the facts.

DEBATE: In case you missed yesterday's debate between Republican Congressman Dan Lungren and his Democratic challenger Dr. Ami Bera -- who are in one of the most closely watched Congressional races nationwide -- you can catch a re-broadcast today. The debate will air again at 9 a.m. on News10 and at 10 a.m. on Capital Public Radio.

FUNDRAISER: On the long list of fundraisers going down this week, this one caught our eye. Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi is holding an event in Hayward tonight to raise money for her campaign for Alameda County Supervisor. Hayashi is running for the seat formerly held by Nadia Lockyer, the estranged wife of state Treasurer Bill Lockyer who resigned her seat on the board of supes after her drug abuse and extramarital affair became public. Listed to attend Hayashi's event are Assemblywoman Fiona Ma and former Assembly Speaker Rep. Karen Bass.

VIDEO: Dan Walters discusses driverless cars and the future of transportation in the Golden State.


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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