Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

January 7, 2013
UC study sees 'minimal' state costs from Medi-Cal expansion

California will face "minimal" new costs from federal health care expansion, and most of the initial burden will occur regardless of whether the state expands Medi-Cal eligibility to new categories of low-income residents, according to a new University of California study.

In 2014, California would pay between $188 million and $453 million more because of widespread changes in the federal law intended to reduce the number of uninsured Americans, according to the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The state is expected to spend $14.6 billion this fiscal year on Medi-Cal, which funds health care for certain low-income residents.

The state would spend more than three-quarters of that additional money on serving people already eligible for Medi-Cal, such as low-income children, parents and disabled residents. The federal act would spur them to sign up because of increased awareness, lower enrollment hurdles and potential penalties for lacking health insurance - changes that are due to occur regardless of any state decisions.

One of the biggest health care decisions facing Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers this spring is whether to extend Medi-Cal to additional low-income groups now excluded from the program - principally childless adults and parents between 100 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

January 7, 2013
New Assembly rules tighten reporters' floor access to legislators

Reporters will be barred from interviewing legislators in the back of the Assembly chambers under new rules ordered by Speaker John A. Pérez before Monday's first session of 2013.

The prohibition is among several rule changes imposed by Pérez that restrict press movement within chambers during floor sessions and tighten access to legislators immediately afterward.

Assembly sergeants-at-arms said they have been told only about new restrictions involving the press, not legislative aides. But Pérez's spokeswoman Robin Swanson said the spirit of the new rules is expected to extend to staff, too.

January 7, 2013
Jerry Brown's State of the State speech set for Jan. 24

Gov. Jerry Brown, who has limited his public appearances since the November election, will deliver his State of the State address on Jan. 24, after releasing his annual budget proposal at a news conference Thursday, his office said this afternoon.

The State of the State speech will be unusually early, at 9 a.m. The Democratic governor spoke to a joint session of the Legislature at 5 p.m. in 2011 and at 10 a.m. last year.

Brown's agenda this year includes overhauling California's environmental regulations and school funding system, starting construction of the state's high-speed rail project and pushing forward a controversial plan to move water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the south.

Brown has been undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. The governor's office said last month that it expected treatment to be completed this week.

January 7, 2013
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's wife pregnant with baby girl

Thumbnail image for Gavin Newsom inaugurationLt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's wife is pregnant, with the couple expecting a baby girl in July, Newsom's office confirmed this afternoon.

Newsom told the San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend that he was elated by the news. The former San Francisco mayor said the child will be the couple's "third and last," according to the newspaper.

Newsom and his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, have two children, Montana, 3 1/2, and Hunter, 1 1/2.

Photo: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during his inauguration ceremony on Jan. 10, 2011, at the state Capitol. (Hector Amezcua/The Sacramento Bee)

January 7, 2013
Jerry Brown sets election dates for two open state Senate seats

Two open seats in the state Senate could be filled as soon as mid-March.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced today that special primary elections for the Inland Empire's 32nd Senate District and the San Diego-area 40th Senate District will be held March 12. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff between the top two vote-getters will be held May 14.

The vacancies were created when former Sens. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, and Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, stepped down to take seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Both won election to the Congress in November.

January 7, 2013
Darrell Steinberg announces CA Senate committee assignments

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has released the full Senate committee roster for the 2013-2014 legislative session.

The assignments, posted after the jump, are expected to be ratified by a vote of the Senate Rules Committee later today. Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez announced the Assembly committee lineups last week.

Both houses convene today for the first legislative sessions of 2013.

January 7, 2013
Nancy Skinner unveils bill to crack down on ammunition sales

With lawmakers reconvening at the Capitol today to start their new legislative year, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner unveiled another in a wave of new bills to crack down on guns or ammunition.

Skinner's measure comes in the wake of last month's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Conn., where 20 children and six adults were killed before the gunman committed suicide.

The Berkeley Democrat is proposing Assembly Bill 48, which would require sellers of ammunition to be licensed and for purchasers to show identification. All sales would be reported to the Department of Justice.

January 7, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: New year, new Legislature, but old issues

Dan says it'll be an interesting year under the dome, given the old issues (think budget, water and education reform) that the new California Legislature must confront.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

January 7, 2013
AM Alert: California legislators now back at the Capitol

VIDEO: Dan Walters welcomes California's legislators to town and names a few issues they'll be mulling.

They're back: The Legislature meets today for the first time this year, the Assembly at noon and the Senate at 2 p.m.

An interfaith prayer service at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament marks the occasion. Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto will host the service, which the Interfaith Council of Sacramento is sponsoring. Find it at 1017 11th St., north of the Capitol, starting at 9 a.m.

As for the rest of the week, Capitol junkies no doubt know that Gov. Jerry Brown must unveil his proposed budget by Thursday. As Kevin Yamamura reported in this story late last month, the Democratic governor wants to overhaul the way that the state funds its schools. Be on the lookout for more details on how he would give K-12 districts more control over spending funds plus direct more money to poorer students and English learners.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have until Jan. 25 to submit bill requests to the Legislative Counsel's Office in advance of their Feb. 22 deadline for introducing measures.

There promises to be no shortage of legislative proposals, especially those ripped from the headlines. As Jim Sanders reported last week, several legislators are already vowing to change state law so the overturning of a rape conviction because the victim was not married won't happen again.

Then there's the Connecticut school massacre. Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, touts her Assembly Bill 48, which would regulate ammunition, at a news conference at 9:30 a.m. at the Elihu M. Harris State Building in Oakland. Joining her will be first-term Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, and several local and education officials.

At last count, Assembly members had already introduced 52 bills, while members of the Senate had introduced 55. That doesn't include the proposed resolutions and constitutional amendments. Expect the numbers to rise -- and soon.


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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