Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

November 30, 2012
Senate Democrat wants lower hurdle for library taxes

PK_YOLO LIBRARY 0274.JPGSen. Lois Wolk, a Davis Democrat, said Friday she will write a constitutional amendment making it easier for voters to pass library taxes and bonds.

Wolk's announcement came a day after Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said he will write a measure lowering the vote threshold for school parcel taxes. Democrats won supermajority control of both legislative houses in November's election, enabling them to place constitutional amendments on the ballot without GOP votes.

The latest proposal would lower the threshold for library parcel taxes and bonds from two-thirds down to 55 percent. According to the California Local Government Finance Almanac, all five library parcel taxes failed on the November ballot. But a proposal in Pomona received 60.5 percent, while another in Santa Barbara received 57.6 percent, enough to pass under Wolk's proposal.

Wolk said public libraries are strapped for money at a time when students must rely on them as schools shut their own libraries. She heads the Senate committee responsible for reviewing tax legislation.

"We've seen major reductions in hours and even closings," Wolk said in a statement. "Lowering the voter threshold to 55 percent will give more local communities the ability to keep libraries open and serving their needs."

PHOTO: Librarian Nora Gortze, right, checks in books for Becky Hallett, left, at a Yolo County branch library in 2009. Yolo County libraries reduced operating days due to staff furloughs that year. Paul Kitagaki Jr. / Sacramento Bee

November 30, 2012
Steinberg asks Brown officials to delay Healthy Families move

AOC_HealthFamily_059w.JPGSenate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg asked Gov. Jerry Brown administration officials Thursday to preserve a children's health care program for now, asking the governor to backtrack on one of his June budget demands.

Legislative Democrats reluctantly agreed to phase out Healthy Families in 2013 to satisfy Brown in budget talks in exchange for softer cuts to other programs that serve low-income Californians. Healthy Families serves more than 860,000 lower middle class children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medi-Cal but struggle to afford health insurance.

November 30, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Pension battleground is shifting

Dan Walters says bankruptcy court is the new home for California's pension debate.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 30, 2012
AM Alert: Challenge to ban on 'ex-gay' therapy goes to court

VIDEO: Dan Walters has the latest on California's public pension wars.

"EX-GAY" THERAPY: Four California therapists who work with people who want to suppress homosexual feelings are going to court today in Sacramento to try to block implementation of Senate Bill 1172. The bill - written by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, and signed in September by Gov. Jerry Brown - bans minors from therapy meant to convert gays to become straight. U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly J. Mueller will hear the case brought by the therapists, two sets of parents and two organizations that promote therapies to change sexual orientation, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality and the American Association of Christian Counselors.

Attorney General Kamala Harris, in documents filed with the court, argues that SB 1172 "is based on a broad consensus in the scientific community dating back to the early 1970's that homosexuality is not a disease, condition, or disorder in need of a 'cure.'"

"An injunction would expose some of society's most vulnerable members to treatment that the state and every major mental health organization in the country have condemned as an outmoded, ineffective, and potentially dangerous relic from an era when homosexuality was pathologized and criminalized," Harris wrote.

The case is being watched nationwide as similar therapies are scrutinized in other states.

FUNDRAISER ALREADY? November appears to be a jam-packed month for Sen. Juan Vargas. First came the election, when voters of the 51st Congressional District elected him to represent them in the U.S. House. Then -- though he'd soon be leaving the state Senate to take the job Congress -- Vargas and three other state senators flew off to Australia and New Zealand for two weeks of meetings with government officials and business executives, ostensibly to bone up on solutions in those countries that could help California. And today, not even sworn in yet as a congressman, Vargas is holding a fundraiser at a seafood restaurant in Washington, D.C., asking for checks to support his congressional campaign.


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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