Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

November 13, 2012
Bera widens lead over Lungren in tight Congressional race

Democrat Ami Bera extended his narrow lead Tuesday over GOP Rep. Dan Lungren in the hotly contested 7th Congressional District, moving 3,824 votes ahead in the suburban Sacramento seat.

Bera now leads the longtime Republican lawmaker by a 50.81 percent to 49.19 percent margin in the latest tally of 235,628 votes.

The Lungren campaign estimates there remain nearly 40,000 ballots left to count in the race. "We want to see more ballots counted," strategist Rob Stutzman said Tuesday.

Though vote counting continues, Bera is in Washington, D.C. this week for legislative freshman orientation.

"There are still ballots remaining, but we are confident that Sacramento County voted for new leadership that will put the people first," Bera said in a statement.

Bera led Lungren by a mere 184 votes out of 180,000 counted at the end of Election Night.

The local battle was one of the country's most expensive races, as outside groups spent more than $8 million. The next vote update is expected to come Thursday.

Post updated at 3:55 p.m. with a Bera comment.

November 13, 2012
Jerry Brown asks UC to delay vote on professional school fees

For the second time this week, a California university system is postponing a vote on fee increases as Gov. Jerry Brown makes the rounds touting the success of his Proposition 30 tax measure - which was supposed to avert tuition hikes.

University of California regents announced today that at Brown's request, they are yanking an item from tomorrow's agenda in which the board was to consider raising fees at several UC professional schools, including schools of nursing, business, law and medicine.

"The governor, who serves on the Board of Regents by virtue of his office, asked for additional time to allow him to develop a better understanding of the policies and methodology involved in the setting of fee levels at individual graduate professional programs," said a statement from UC's Office of the President.

November 13, 2012
Michael Rubio, others drop bid for delay in Green Chemistry law

Just more than a month after Sen. Michael Rubio asked Gov. Jerry Brown to delay implementation of California's law to regulate toxic chemicals in consumer goods, he has dropped his request.

In a letter Friday to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, Rubio and six other lawmakers said they were satisfied with the department's plan to study the law's economic impact on regulated industries.

"We applaud your work on this important issue and look forward to working with you to protect all consumers in California, as well as our state's economic future," the letter said.

The state's Green Chemistry initiative, passed by the Legislature in 2008, has been delayed about two years. Environmentalists say the initiative is important to protect the public and the environment from toxins, while critics fear its impact on business.

Rubio has had a difficult relationship with environmentalists, only exacerbated since Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, announced this fall that Rubio would be chairman of the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality. The Central Valley Democrat was behind a controversial, failed effort this year to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act.

November 13, 2012
Gov. Jerry Brown taps Marine Corps leader to run state parks

In the wake of a financial scandal at state parks, Gov. Jerry Brown tapped retired U.S. Marine Corps Major General Anthony L. Jackson to run the beleaguered department, he announced today.

Jackson, 63, served 36 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, most recently in charge of installations in the Southwest. He has worked with state and federal officials on renewable energy, fire suppression, state parks and off-highway vehicle use, according to Brown's office.

His appointment comes after the July resignation of longtime California Department of Parks and Recreation Director Ruth Coleman following a discovery that parks administrators had hidden more than $50 million. That revelation came after state investigators found parks officials conducted an unauthorized leave buyback program, using a surplus of cash that was never reported to the Department of Finance.

"Major General Jackson brings more than thirty years of problem-solving and management experience to Parks, serving most recently as the Commanding General of Marine bases across the Southwestern U.S. and tens of thousands of troops and civilians," Brown said in a statement. "Under Major General Jackson's leadership, I am confident that the stewardship of California's beaches, forests, estuaries, dunes and wetlands is in good hands and that the confidence and trust of Californians in our Parks Department will be restored."

Jackson is registered as a decline-to-state voter and will earn $150,112 annually as parks director.

November 13, 2012
Assembly Democrats capture tight race needed for supermajority

Democrats have captured one of the two tight Assembly seats they need to gain a supermajority in the lower house.

In a race too close to call on Election Day, Democrat Rudy Salas has defeated Republican Pedro Rios in the 32nd District of Kern and Kings county.

Salas' lead had grown from 268 votes last Tuesday to about 2,500 this morning through the counting of absentee and provisional ballots. Scattered votes have not yet been tallied, but not enough to alter the outcome.

In the other race critical to Assembly Democrats' supermajority hopes, Sharon Quirk-Silva continued to extend her lead over incumbent Republican Assemblyman Chris Norby in Orange County. Her lead of 1,004 after the precinct count widened to 2,222 votes this morning.

November 13, 2012
Jerry Brown thanks CSU for delaying vote on 'super senior' fees

Gov. Jerry Brown thanked California State University leaders today for postponing a vote - originally scheduled for this afternoon - on a controversial proposal to charge extra fees on "super seniors," course repeaters and students who take an extra-heavy course load.

The proposal had caused uproar among students and faculty, and threatened to steal some thunder from Brown's unusual appearance at the board of trustees meeting today in Long Beach, where he thanked students and faculty for their help in passing his tax measure, Proposition 30.

"You did heroic work here," Brown told them. "It did go against the trend and some people's expectations, but it really is sorely needed. Of course it's not a panacea so we are going to have to continue to manage our resources very carefully. I understand the fee proposal was an effort to do that -- to free up seats, to get more kids into the university. So we'll take a look at that. We all will, and I want to participate."

November 13, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Don't expect CA supermajority to produce big change right away

VIDEO: Dan says change will come slowly despite lots of speculation about the California Legislature's actions now that it appears Democrats have a supermajority.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 13, 2012
AM Alert: Ami Bera to attend congressional orientation in D.C.

VIDEO: Dan Walters says the likely supermajority in the California Legislature isn't going to result in change right away.

BERA GOES TO WASHINGTON: Count Ami Bera among the legislative freshmen in Washington, D.C., who start orientation this morning -- even though it's not yet clear the Democrat challenger has wrested Sacramento County's 7th Congressional District from Republican incumbent Dan Lungren.

The House Administration Committee that organizes the four-day event -- and that Lungren chairs -- invites all potential new members of Congress to attend the week-long series of sessions.

When Bera left Sacramento, his lead over Lungren stood at 1,779 votes, less than 1 percent of the ballots counted so far. While that was up from his 187-vote lead at Election Day's end, county officials had yet to count tens of thousands of ballots with the potential to affect the Bera-Lungren race. They're expected to update the totals later today.

While Bera stopped short of predicting victory Monday during a telephone interview from Washington, he said that he feels "confident the ballot total will continue to move in our direction."

A Lungren aide said the Gold River Republican returns to Washington today for the final weeks of the lame-duck session of the 112th Congress.

The Bera-Lungren contest was one of two undecided House races in California on Monday. In the other, Republican incumbent Brian Bilbray trailed Democratic challenger Scott Peters by six-tenths of a percentage point in the 52nd Congressional District.

On Monday, six congressional races remained unsettled nationwide.

Clicking this link will open counts for the congressional and state legislative races that remain too close to call. You'll find a county-by-county list of ballot reporting status at this link. The unprocessed county ballots report is here.

GOVERNOR'S CALL: Gov. Jerry Brown plans to attend the California State University Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach at 10 a.m.

A brief press release from the governor's office released Monday afternoon didn't explain why Brown is attending the meeting. While he is a board member, the governor usually sends a proxy.

As The Bee's Laurel Rosenhall reports this morning, CSU faculty and students have targeted the board meeting to protest a proposal to charge new fees on "super seniors," course repeaters and those who take an extra-heavy class load.

Administrators say the fees will free up class space and make speed up graduation rates. Students say the plan would punish those already facing obstacles on the path toward a diploma -- and favor students with the ability to pay over those of modest means.

Brown barnstormed college campuses to get out the youth vote for his successful tax measure, Proposition 30, but he hasn't weighed in on the CSU fee proposal.

CRYSTAL BALL: Hedge fund billionaire and political activist Tom Steyer joins PPIC President Mark Baldassare for a wide-ranging conversation about California's future -- from climate change to fiscal reform to the role of the initiative process in policy-making.

Lauren B. Dachs, president and executive director of the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation will also speak. The conference runs from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the PPIC Bechtel Conference Center at 500 Washington St. in San Francisco. Click here to register and view the event online.

TOWN HALL: Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, is convening a public town hall meeting on criminal justice reform at the Milton Marks Conference Center Auditorium from 6 to 7:30 p.m. You can find more information about the event by clicking 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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