Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

December 20, 2012
California Democrats propose stricter campaign disclosure laws

Dickinsonpresser.jpgFollowing the controversy in California's initiative campaigns over an $11 million donation from a secretive, out-of-state group, Democratic lawmakers have begun introducing legislation to increase disclosure requirements and the power of the Fair Political Practices Commission to enforce them.

Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, announced legislation this afternoon that would require donors of $50,000 or more to a non-profit group to be identified if the contribution is made within six months of an election and if the non-profit makes a large donation to a campaign within that same period.

"This is the kind of information that voters and the public need and deserve to have before they cast their votes, not find out after," Dickinson said.

December 20, 2012
California Legislature is biggest generator of major new laws

If you sense that California's Legislature is the nation's most active -- or most intrusive -- generator of new laws, a nationwide compilation of 2012 state legislation by the National Conference of State Legislatures seems to prove the case.

The NCSL released its annual list of the nation's 81 most significant new state laws Thursday, and the California Legislature is responsible for 27 of them, or exactly one third. California edged out Illinois, which generated 26 of the noteworthy new laws.

Among California measures cited by the NCSL were those that allow clergy members to refuse to perform same-sex marriages, prohibit prison workers from having sex with inmates, allow life-sentence offenders who were under 18 when they committed crimes to seek release, restrict picketing at funerals, protect breastfeeding rights, require car washes to recycle water, reform state pensions, and no longer require passengers in off-road vehicles to keep their feet flat on the floor.

December 20, 2012
Forbes ranks California as No. 41 in business climate

Steven Glazer, one of Gov. Jerry Brown's closest advisers, tweeted jubilantly Thursday about his hometown of Orinda's being rated the second friendliest community in America by Forbes magazine.

Glazer, an Orinda city councilman, was dismissive, however, about California's poor showing in Forbes' annual ranking of the states on business climate, which also was published Thursday.

California was rated No. 41, just behind Alabama and just ahead of Wisconsin, in the annual survey, which covered six factors ranging from business costs to quality of life. California's lowest score was in business costs while its highest - No. 1, in fact - was in "growth prospects."

When asked whether he also embraces Forbes' business climate ranking, Glazer responded, on Twitter: "Of course not. This is all abt fun. Best 2 argue abt criteria, laugh @ conclusions 4 both. Go Orinda!"

Forbes ranked Utah as the No. 1 state for business, with Maine last at No. 50.

December 20, 2012
Census Bureau sees California growing faster than state agency does

A polite, decade-long disagreement between the federal Census Bureau and California's state demographers developed after the 2000 census.

The Census Bureau saw California's population growing more slowly than did the state, and by the end of the decade, the gap between the two had grown to about a million persons.

The 2010 census officially settled the argument in the Census Bureau's favor. The state, albeit reluctantly, rebenched its population figures to the census.

Two years later, however, the gap has emerged again, only this time the Census Bureau sees California's population growing more rapidly than does the state Department of Finance's population unit.

Last week, the state pegged California's July 1 population at 37.8 million, up 256,000 from 2011. But on Thursday, the Census Bureau said the state had just over 38 million residents on July 1, having grown by 357,500 during the previous 12 months.

The Census Bureau's growth estimate for California was the nation's second highest behind Texas' 427,400, but in percentage terms, the state's annual growth rate, 0.9 percent, was just a tad over the national rate of 0.7 percent while Texas' rate, 1.7 percent, was nearly twice California's.

North Dakota, thanks to an oil boom, had the fastest growth rate of 2.17 percent and Texas was No. 3. California's rate was the 19th highest. At the other end of the scale, Vermont dropped by 581 residents. It and Rhode Island were the only two states to see a population decline.

December 20, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Legislative 'tithing' is a fixture at the Capitol

Dan says raising money to win plum legislative appointments is a longstanding tradition.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

December 20, 2012
AM Alert: Headlines turn focus to mental health, 'money bombs'

VIDEO: Dan Walters says legislative "tithing" for plum posts is nothing new.

Last week's massacre at a Connecticut elementary school has focused national attention not only on gun control efforts but on access to mental health services.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who has long championed such access, will be joining mental health experts today to highlight how to identify mental illness and know where to get help with mental illness or a suicide crisis.

Other listed participants include Cameron Carter of UC Davis, whose clinical interests focus on early diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia and other cognitive mental disorders, as well as Eduardo Vega of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco, Jessica Cruz of the National Alliance on Mental Illness California, and representatives of community programs and suicide prevention campaigns.

The press conference, which starts at 10:30 a.m. in the Capitol's Room 1190, will be followed by a tour of The Effort, a midtown Sacramento mental health clinic on J Street that offers inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment, mental health counseling and the area's only 24-hour suicide crisis line.

Another press conference ripped from the headlines features Fair Political Practices Commission head Ann Ravel and Sacramento Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, who'll be unveiling campaign finance reform that would ban what a news release calls anonymous "money bombs" before an election.

Alert readers will recall the battle this fall over an $11 million donation to the No on 30 and Yes on 32 campaigns from a mystery Arizona nonprofit, Americans for Responsible Leadership. After the California Supreme Court told the nonprofit to submit to an FPPC audit, the known trail of the money grew to include three other out-of-state nonprofits.

The proposed legislation would require greater disclosure of funding sources and increase the FPPC's oversight of campaign contributions. The event starts at 2 p.m. at William Land Elementary School, 2120 12th St. in Sacramento. Organizers are promising a flow chart depicting the path of that $11 million donation.

Sacramento Assemblyman Richard Pan, meanwhile, is joining with representatives of Anthem Blue Cross and the Jessie Rees Foundation to distribute what's called JoyJars -- containers filled with toys and activities -- to children in the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center's pediatric infusion center. That event starts at 10 a.m.

STATE FLEET: Representatives of the Department of General Services will be unveiling two of the 10 zero-emission vehicles that have replaced vehicles in the state fleet. They'll also debut vehicle charging stations at state garages available for public use. Look for it at 10:30 a.m. at the State Parking Garage, 1517 13th St., Sacramento.

HOLIDAY MUSIC: The tunes continue under the Capitol dome with these performances in the rotunda: Folsom Lake Youth Choir at 11 a.m. and the Caltrans Choir at noon.


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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