Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

January 16, 2013
Steinberg heading to D.C. to talk mental health with officials

20121203_HA_ASSEMBLY0856.JPGCalifornia's top Senate Democrat will be in Washington next week to urge leaders to put a greater focus on mental health services in the wake of last month's mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said today that he is extending his trip east for the presidential inauguration to meet with administration officials and congressional leaders, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the state's two U.S. senators, about increasing aid for preventative and treatment programs for the mentally ill.

The Sacramento Democrat has asked the administration to consider an approach based on California's Proposition 63, the voter-approved tax on millionaires to pay for mental health programs that Steinberg authored and championed.

"We have in California, as we do in so many other areas, led the way by investing a billion dollars a year in a system that is centered on prevention, early intervention and recovery for people who are most ill," he said. "That's worth sharing with the rest of the country."

January 16, 2013
University of California officials to push ahead with online education

RP YUDOF SPEAKS.JPGSAN FRANCISCO - University of California officials said today that they will move to expand the university's online course offerings, in an apparent political victory for Gov. Jerry Brown.

If successful, the effort could result in a new class of online students treated like those at community colleges, with the opportunity to transfer their credits to UC campuses and enroll.

"The idea would be to create another entry point to the University of California," UC President Mark Yudof said.

Yudof said that within two months he will announce an incentive program for UC professors to develop online courses, focusing on introductory or other high-enrollment courses that can be difficult to get into. He said the UC will establish a system to let students on one campus take online courses at another campus for credit, envisioning a day when 10 percent to 15 percent of all undergraduate courses are taken online.

Yudof said the university has "hit a wall" with regard to traditional instruction and that "it's not the time to be timid."

He said, "Intellectually, emotionally, we're ready."

January 16, 2013
American Lung Association critiques California on smoking

smoke 044.JPGCalifornia has one of the nation's lowest rates of smoking -- just 13.6 percent of adults light up -- but the American Lung Association gives the state low marks for reducing tobacco use, primarily for not taxing cigarettes more and not spending more on anti-smoking programs.

The critique of California is contained in the organization's annual state-by-state "report card" on anti-smoking efforts.

While praising the state as an early leader in persuading its residents to give up cigarettes, the association raps the state for not raising cigarette taxes higher than the current 87 cents a pack and decried voter rejection of a $1 per pack increase last year (Proposition 29). It said California is one of only three states that haven't raised smoking levies since 1999. It also singles out the Legislature for stalling action last year on Senate Bill 575, which would have removed exemptions from smoke-free places.

January 16, 2013
Politico says Sherman facing wrath of Berman's friends

BermanSherman.jpgFormer congressman Howard Berman's friends in Congress are making political life difficult for congressman Brad Sherman, who defeated Berman when the two Democratic incumbents were thrown into the same Southern California district, the Politico website reported Wednesday.

The Politico article indicated that the revenge - Sherman being aced out of committee positions he sought - was being orchestrated by Berman's long-time friend and political partner, Henry Waxman.

Waxman and Berman, along with the latter's brother, Michael, an expert on redistricting and mail campaigning, had headed a powerful political organization in Los Angeles for decades. Michael Berman was hired every 10 years by the state's Democratic politicians to handle redistricting matters.

January 16, 2013
To err is human, to propose it in legislation is Assembly Bill 122

Can you spot the mistake?

Raise your hand when you do.

To promote energy efficiency, freshman Assemblyman Anthony Rendon this week proposed the Nonresidential Building Energy Retrofit Financing Act of 2012 to create a state loan program for projects that reduce energy consumption in commercial buildings.

In its findings, Assembly Bill 122 says that a lack of accessible and affordable financing for retrofits results in "energy-inefficient buildings that are estimated to consume up to 50 percent more energy than required to achieve the same level of comfort."

Through the California Energy Commission, Rendon's bill would use bond funds to bankroll loans. Startup costs would come from a $7 million loan from the state's general fund, to be repaid by 2023.

Here's the catch:

No way can the Legislature pass the Nonresidential Building Energy Retrofit Financing Act of 2012.

It's now 2013.

An aide to Rendon, D-Lakewood, said the error was an oversight stemming from the fact that AB 122 is a reintroduction of Senate legislation from last year, which died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Nobody read the fine print, apparently.

January 16, 2013
Jerry Brown says California not losing to Texas on economy

Gov. Jerry Brown, who has occasionally been prickled by claims that Texas is a better place to do business than California, was asked on Marketplace Morning Report today if the Golden State was falling behind.

Noting that the "debt burden per resident in Texas is actually one-fifth of what it is in California," host Jeremy Hobson asked Brown, "Are you losing, do you think, the economic battle in the long term to a state like Texas?"

Brown countered with another statistic - that the percentage of people working at or below the minimum wage in Texas is far higher than in California.

"That devastates families," he said.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, has boasted about recruiting businesses from California, while Brown, a Democrat, has emphasized California's green-energy industries and venture capital investments. This morning, Brown suggested Texas might benefit from investments that increase debt.

"They're doing well in manufacturing, they're doing well in investing in wind," Brown said. "Maybe they have a lower debt. Maybe their debt's too low. Maybe they should be investing in the kinds of innovation and technology that will serve their citizens in the future."

January 16, 2013
Bill to shield addresses of concealed weapons permit holders

California counties would be prohibited from releasing the addresses and telephone numbers of residents who carry concealed weapons under legislation proposed today by two Republican assemblymen.

Dan Logue of Marysville and Allan Mansoor of Costa Mesa are joint authors of the proposal, Assembly Bill 134.

The bill would require counties to continue releasing the names of concealed weapons permit holders, but addresses and telephone numbers would be available only to law enforcement agencies.

"There is no reason for us to provide criminals with a list of who does (and) does not choose to protect their household by carrying a firearm," Mansoor said in a prepared statement.

The bill is meant to enhance public safety by keeping out of criminals' hands a list of addresses where they might go to steal a gun, said Saulo Londono, Mansoor's spokesman.

State law already bars the public release of names and addresses of peace officers, elected officeholders, judges and various other public officials who carry concealed weapons.

"Let's provide the same peace of mind to California families," Mansoor said.

Updated at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday to say that the bill was introduced jointly by Assemblymen Dan Logue and Allan Mansoor.

January 16, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Stanley Cup 'as exciting as it gets' nowadays

Dan says that with the "midwinter doldrums," it will be a while before the legislative session really gets going.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

January 16, 2013
AM Alert: UC regents to discuss online education

Editor's note: the original version of this alert mistakenly said the Greenlining Institute panel discussion was scheduled for Wednesday, Jan 16. It will be held on Wednesday, Jan 23.

VIDEO: Dan Walters says it will be a little while before the Legislature truly gets to work.

The University of California's Board of Regents continues its meeting today, and online education is on the agenda. Several elected officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, have shown an interest in using online instruction to expand access and reduce costs.

Brown plans to attend the regents meeting, which starts at 8:30 a.m. at UC San Francisco's Mission Bay campus. Also attending will be Sebastian Thrun, CEO and co-founder of the company Udacity, whom Brown sought out for guidance on MOOCs, or massive online open courses.

Anant Agarwal, president of edX, and Daphne Koller, co-founder and co-CEO of Coursera, both working on developing MOOCs, will be there as well.

Back in Sacramento, the Senate Rules Committee will be vetting a few more of Brown's appointments today, starting at 1:30 p.m. On the agenda: John R. Wallauch, chief of Bureau of Automotive Repair; Brian R. Leahy, director of pesticide regulation; and Robert Z. Wasserman, a member of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

The Greenlining Institute, meanwhile, is holding a symposium next week on California politics, with a panel discussion on Wednesday, Jan. 23 called "Journalism Forward: Reporting on Election Reform in a Diverse State" from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Sacramento Convention Center.

Speakers will include Eugene Lee of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Rosalind Gold of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund and Michelle Romero of the Greenlining Institute.


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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