Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

January 2, 2013
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's cable TV show going off air

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's Friday night talk show, "The Gavin Newsom Show," is going off the air.

A spokesman for Newsom said in an email this afternoon that Newsom was "already moving in a new direction" before it was reported by The New York Times that the show's network, Current TV, was being acquired by Al Jazeera.

"The Gavin Newsom Show was a remarkable opportunity and a truly educational experience for which he is grateful," Peter Ragone, a spokesman for Newsom, said in a prepared statement. "But the Lt. Governor's original agreement with Current had recently concluded and he was already moving in a new direction."

The hourlong show premiered in May on the network co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore. Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco, interviewed guests including cyclist Lance Armstrong, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and author Paul Ingrassia.

It was unclear when the final show will air. A new episode is scheduled to be televised Friday night, according to Current TV's online listings.

January 2, 2013
Could Californians get a college degree for $10,000?

With the cost of going to college already more than $30,000 a year at many California campuses, is it possible to earn a bachelor's degree for just $10,000 - total?

Assemblyman Dan Logue hopes so.

Borrowing an idea being promoted by Republican governors in Texas and Florida, the Republican Assemblyman from Linda has introduced a bill that would create a pilot program in California for what he's billing as a $10,000 bachelor's degree. The degree would be available to students majoring in science, technology, engineering or math disciplines.

Assembly Bill 51 calls for closer coordination between high schools, community colleges and California State University campuses and targets three regions for the pilot: Chico, Long Beach and Turlock. Participating students would earn some college credit in high school through Advanced Placement classes and greater access to community college courses. The bill calls for participating community college students to go to school full-time. CSU campuses, moreover, would be required to freeze tuition for those in the program.

January 2, 2013
State Sens. Negrete McLeod, Vargas resign to take House seats

California Budget (1) Gloria Negrete McLeod.JPGJD_JUAN_VARGAS (1).JPGDemocratic Reps.-elect Gloria Negrete McLeod and Juan Vargas are stepping down from the California Senate today ahead of the start of the 113th Congress.

The two will be sworn in as members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday. A spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg confirmed that both members have submitted their letters of resignation, which take effect later today.

Negrete McLeod, of Chino, ousted Democratic Rep. Joe Baca in the Inland Empire's 35th Congressional District, while Vargas won election in San Diego's open 51st Congressional District.

Special primary elections to fill the vacant Senate seats will be held in the coming months, on a date set by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Candidates for Negrete McLeod's 32nd Senate District seat include Assemblywoman Norma Torres, D-Pomona, and San Bernardino County Auditor-Controller Larry Walker.

Democratic Assemblyman Ben Hueso of San Diego, meanwhile, has announced his candidacy to succeed Vargas in the 40th Senate District.

PHOTO CREDITS: Left, then Assemblyman Juan Vargas, D-San Diego. John Decker / Sacramento Bee file, 2003. Right, Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, speaks at the Senate session in Sacramento, on June 14, 2012. AP Photo / Rich Pedroncelli.

January 2, 2013
Unlicensed California drivers have high fatality rates

California's millions of unlicensed drivers are nearly three times as likely to cause a fatal traffic crash as those who are driving legally, a new Department of Motor Vehicles study concludes.

The findings, the DMV's researchers conclude, "strongly justify the use of countermeasures, including vehicle impoundment, to control (illegal) drivers and to reduce crashes caused by those drivers."

The data provide new grist for the state's perennial political debate over whether illegal immigrants should be allowed to obtain licenses, and local debates in San Francisco and other cities over police seizure of vehicles from drivers who are unlicensed.

For the past 18 years, applicants for driver's licenses have been required to prove their legal status. Advocates of licensing illegal drivers say that it would improve traffic safety.

The study covered fatal accident statistics from 1987 and 2009 and divided at-fault drivers into three categories - licensed drivers, those driving on suspended or revoked licenses, and those who never had licenses.

On average, fewer than 1 percent of licensed drivers will be at fault in a fatal collision, while the rates of those with suspended or revoked licenses and those without licenses approach 3 percent.

The study noted that in a given moment, about two million Californians will have their licenses suspended or revoked, but how many continue to drive is unknown, as is the number of drivers who never had been licensed. The latter number is assumed to have grown since the law was changed in 1994 to require license applicants to prove legal status.

January 2, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: New CA budget battle could have familiar sound

Dan says the state budget will continue to dominate attention in the new year.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

January 2, 2013
AM Alert: A new year at the Capitol

Welcome to 2013, Capitol junkies!

Nothing on tap in the dome today, but high in the Sierra Nevada, state water experts will conduct their first snowpack survey of the season. The state gets about one-third of its water from snow each year, according to Department of Water Resources spokesman Ted Thomas.

It's been a particularly wet year so far, and today's measurement at Echo Summit will be the first indicator of just how much water is packed in the mountains.

Meanwhile, the Capitol community is gearing up for a busy schedule next week. Gov. Jerry Brown is tentatively expected to release his 2013-14 budget proposal next Thursday, officially kicking off California's annual fiscal dance.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office has already pegged the upcoming deficit at $1.9 billion against a $97.7 billion general fund, a relatively small amount compared to recent shortfalls. But that figure was based on an optimistic read of federal deficit talks, and it remains to be seen if Congress' actions will blunt any potential economic gains this year.

On Tuesday next week, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg will examine whether online education can provide quality instruction at a cheaper cost for college students. The two state leaders will participate in a conference at UCLA. Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, will give a "special introduction."

If any new lawmakers want to brush up before budget season, Khan Academy features courses on "American Civics" and "Current Economics."

BIRTHDAY: Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, turns 48.


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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