Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

December 3, 2012
CA leaders take different approaches to marking supermajority

Democrats started the 2013-2014 legislative session today with a supermajority in both houses, but the respective leaders took different approaches to marking the occasion.

In the Senate, members were serenaded by a children's choir singing "What a Wonderful World." Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg cheered when a letter certifying the unofficial election results was read.

The Sacramento Democrat addressed the supermajority power, which could allow Democrats to raise taxes or put measures on the ballot without GOP votes, throughout his address on the floor. He called the results of the election "a validation that the Legislature faced incredible challenges with strength, with decisiveness and we never flinched from the hardest of hard decisions," chronicling the deep cuts that helped the state climb back toward the black from a $42 billion budget deficit.

December 3, 2012
New California legislative session brings new leadership posts

Some of the California Legislature's newest members are adding more than an elected title to their resume as the 2013-2014 session begins.

New leadership assignments announced by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez today put five Democratic freshman members of the Assembly in a caucus post, with more than a dozen more controlling a committee gavel as they begin what could be 12 years in the lower house. Returning Democratic Assemblyman Roger Hernández, who has been in the news over allegations of driving under the influence and other bad behavior, will not serve as Democratic whip, a position previously announced.

The Senate has not released its full committee chair lineup for the new session, but Democrats announced that they have retained Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, as majority leader. Newly elected Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, was added to the Rules Committee roster, along with Democratic Sen. Kevin de León and Republican Sens. Bill Emmerson and Jean Fuller. Senate Republicans announced that Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Rocklin, will serve as caucus chair.

Pérez , Assembly GOP leader Connie Conway, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, and Senate GOP leader Bob Huff will all remain in their leadership posts.

The full list of Assembly leadership assignments is posted after the jump, with new members designated with an asterisk.

December 3, 2012
New Assemblyman Travis Allen assigned to Capitol 'doghouse'

AD72-Travis_Allen.jpgFreshman Assemblyman Travis Allen already is in the Capitol's "doghouse," but it's nothing personal, apparently.

Allen simply was unlucky.

"The only thing you could read into who's in the doghouse right now is that as they drew names, he had a lousy draw," Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said.

Allen, a Huntington Beach Republican, was assigned a shoebox-size, fifth-floor office that is nicknamed the "doghouse" because of its history: Assembly speakers often house members there as punishment for votes or actions taken.

Allen shrugged off the matter shortly after he was sworn into the Legislature on Monday, the first day of a two-year session.

"No vote has been cast yet, so I think it would be kind of difficult to offend anybody," Allen said, smiling.

"It's an honor to serve the people of California -- in any capacity and in any office," added Allen, a certified financial planner who won the 72nd Assembly District seat from Orange County.

Allen's cramped office, Room 5126, is just 391 square feet -- 135 tinier than the next smallest Assembly office and about 300 smaller than the norm.

Pérez said that he worked with Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway in assigning GOP Assembly offices. Conway handled requests from returning members of her caucus first, Perez said.

"Neither she nor I wanted to use that office punitively, so she went through a random process of selection to decide how to house the new Republican members. ... It was literally a drawing of lots," Pérez said.

Sabrina Lockhart, Conway's spokeswoman, confirmed Pérez's account Monday.

The doghouse was assigned last year to the now former Assemblywoman Linda Halderman, an outspoken Fresno Republican who was one of the most conservative members of a predominantly liberal Assembly.

Allen said, essentially, that size doesn't matter. No hard feelings.

"We're in the building, and we all get a vote," he said simply.

PHOTO CREDIT: California Assembly website.

December 3, 2012
Jones proposes workers' comp premium boost

Warning about potential insolvency among workers' compensation insurers, state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is supporting an increase in employer-paid premiums -- even though an overhaul of the compensation system for injured and ill workers, passed by the California Legislature this year, promised savings to employers.

Jones' "recommendation" is not binding on insurers, who are free to set their own premiums, but the insurance commissioner's positions are generally followed in the industry. He is, in effect, responding to insurers' complaints in recent years that their costs of providing cash benefits, medical care and rehabilitation to disabled workers have outstripped their revenues.

Jones described his "pure premium" recommendation of $2.56 per $100 of payroll as "a modest 2.8 percent increase" over the current "filed rate" of $2.49.

With workers' compensation insurance premiums running about $12 billion a year, Jones' recommendation, if adopted by insurers, could cost employers more than $300 million a year.

December 3, 2012
Live blog: California Legislature's new session begins

December 3, 2012
Bills to target disclosure by nonprofits giving to CA campaigns

A pair of Democratic state senators announced today plans to introduce legislation aimed at requiring more disclosure of campaign contributions made by nonprofits.

Senate Bills 2 and 3, by Sens. Ted Lieu and Leland Yee, are being crafted in response to an $11 million contribution an Arizona-based nonprofit made to influence two November ballot measure campaigns in the state. The Fair Political Practices Commission's efforts to force the group to reveal the source of the funds, which were used to support Proposition 32 and oppose Proposition 30, led to transactions involving two additional nonprofits that do not have to disclose their donors. Current law requires disclosure only when the donation is given to the nonprofit for the purpose of becoming a campaign contribution.

"Laundering money through nonprofits in an attempt to avoid transparency is fundamentally undemocratic," Yee said in a statement. "Our democracy should not be bought and sold in shady backroom deals."

December 3, 2012
Sky is falling? No -- but close for freshman Assembly Republican

office.jpgFor freshman Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, things already are falling apart at the Capitol.

Specifically, her office.

The Escondido Republican will report for her first day of legislative duty today to find her office carpet soaked, a ceiling tile collapsed, and water leaking from a fixture housing two fluorescent lights.

Assembly administrator Jon Waldie said the damage is due to the severe storm that ripped through the Sacramento area this weekend. The specific source of the leak affecting Waldron's office has not been found, he said.

Computers from Waldron's fifth-floor office were removed Sunday to prevent possible damage, Waldie said.

Meanwhile, Waldron will be relocated temporarily to the Capitol's first floor.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo courtesy of the office of Assemblywoman Marie Waldron.

December 3, 2012
No Supreme Court decision on Prop. 8

The Supreme Court on Monday kept the political world in suspense, as justices once again made no announcement concerning California's Proposition 8 and challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The justices had met in private last Friday, to consider which petitions they would grant for a full hearing next year. High on the stack is the appeal by conservatives of a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down Proposition 8. The ballot measure outlawed same-sex marriage, after thousands had already been performed.

Among court-watchers, the case is generally considered less likely to be granted a full hearing than the multiple Defense of Marriage Act cases. But in the court's orders issued promptly at 9:30 a.m. eastern time, the gay marriage cases were noticeably absent.

The court meets in private again on Friday. At least four justices must agree to hear a case before it's taken up for a full hearing.

December 3, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Is Prop. 13 on the table?

Dan Walters says the move to make it easier for voters to approve parcel taxes for schools signals a move on Proposition 13.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

December 3, 2012
AM Alert: Pomp, circumstance and a few drinks

VIDEO: Dan Walters says the move to make it easier for voters to approve parcel taxes for schools signals a move on Proposition 13.

The Capitol will be abuzz today as the Legislature convenes its new session, lawmakers take their oaths of office and lobbyists make the rounds to at least 10 different receptions in honor of the members being sworn in.

The Senate begins its ceremony at 11:45 a.m., with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom presiding in his role as President of the Senate. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye will administer the oath of office. After the ceremony, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg will hold a press conference, to be streamed live on The lower house begins its ceremony at noon.

Then it's time to hit the bars, restaurants and night clubs that surround the Capitol:

  • A reception in honor of East Bay lawmakers Sen. Mark DeSaulnier and Assembly members Nancy Skinner, Joan Buchanan, Susan Bonilla, Jim Frazier and Bill Quirk takes place at 2:30 p.m. at the Mayahuel tequila bar, 1200 K Street.
  • Central Valley Assembly members Kristin Olsen, Henry T. Perea, Frank Bigelow, Rudy Salas and Adam Gray will be honored at a 6:30 p.m. reception at K-Bar, 1000 K Street.
  • The Democratic Party of Sacramento County hosts a volunteer appreciation and swearing-in party in honor of local assemblymen Richard Pan and Ken Cooley at 6:30 p.m. at 1201 K Street in the 15th floor rotunda.
  • The real party animals will hit the Park Ultra Lounge (1116 15th Street) at 10 p.m., where a group of Democratic legislators who call themselves the D7 are hosting a party in celebration of the "Democratic Knockout" in this year's election. The D7 hosts are Sen. Ricardo Lara and Assembly members Luis Alejo, Nora Campos, Roger Hernandez, Ben Hueso, Henry T. Perea and Das Williams.
  • BILLS: But it's not all about glad-handing today. A handful of legislators are also planning to introduce bills. Assemblymen Tom Ammiano and Luis Alejo, along with Sen. Kevin De León, are holding an 11 a.m. presser to announce the reintroduction of the so-called "Trust Act." The bill, which aims to curtail the deportation of undocumented immigrants arrested for minor or non-violent offenses, was vetoed in September by Gov. Jerry Brown. Author Ammiano said in a statement that he "wanted to reintroduce this immediately because these policies have been hurting people every day."

    SHE SHARES: The "She Shares" speakers series featuring conversations with Capitol women continues tonight with a talk by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the film maker who is married to Lt. Gov. Newsom. Siebel Newsom wrote, produced and directed "Miss Representation", a documentary about media portrayals of women. She will be interviewed by Karen Breslau, a former political reporter who now works for the Dewey Square Group. The event starts at 5:30 at the California Museum, 1020 O Street. Ticket info is here.

    CAKE AND CANDLES: We send best wishes to Assemblyman Donald P. Wagner, R-Irvine, for an especially festive swearing-in day as he turns 52.


    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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