Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

January 18, 2013
Court ruling in Prop. 30 case limits use of 'spot bills' in budget

The California Legislature acted unconstitutionally when it approved a bill moving Gov. Jerry Brown's initiative to raise taxes to the top of the November ballot, an appeals court ruled today.

The opinion does not affect the passage of Proposition 30 but could limit the Legislature's future use of so-called "spot bills," placeholder bills included in budget packages and passed as urgency measures only after they are filled with language later. Such budget-related bills are useful to lawmakers because they require only a majority vote and take effect immediately.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled that the state Constitution does not allow the Legislature to include empty spot bills in the budget package and to fill them with content as urgency bills later.

The measure that gave Proposition 30 top billing on the November ballot "was nothing but a number, a placeholder, an empty vessel at the time the budget bill was passed," the court ruled.

That bill, Assembly Bill 1499, gave ballot order priority to signature-based constitutional amendments over other initiatives. A higher position on the ballot is considered advantageous.

Legislative Democrats said a $1,000 expenditure included in the bill qualified it as an appropriation. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association challenged the legislation, saying it had nothing to do with the state budget.

The taxpayers association heralded the ruling in a news release, calling it a case of "huge significance for the budget process."

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's office said it was reviewing the decision and conferring with counsel.

January 18, 2013
Legislature won't say where lawmakers drive on taxpayers' dime

By Torey Van Oot and Jim Sanders

State legislators billed taxpayers more than $450,000 for on-the-job driving in the last legislative year, but officials won't say where the lawmakers went.

The Legislature began reimbursing members for work-related travel in their personal cars, including trips from their home to the Capitol, in Dec. 2011, after a program providing state-leased cars to members was cut by the Citizens Compensation Commission. The change saved taxpayers nearly $240,000 in its first year, a Bee analysis found.

The mileage reimbursements varied significantly by member, however. Some legislators declined to seek reimbursement, while others received large sums for driving thousands of miles for legislative or other official business. While some of the members logging the most miles represent vast, rural districts within driving distance of the Capitol, others from geographically compact districts in Southern California also racked up thousands of dollars in reimbursement costs.

January 18, 2013
Resolution on domestic violence delayed mid-presentation

A routine resolution urging Congress to reauthorize federal legislation aimed at curbing domestic violence was temporarily shelved in an unusually public fashion today, as the Senate's top Democrat stepped in to appease concerned female legislators.

Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, was interrupted by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg shortly after he began introducing his Senate Resolution 8, which calls on Congress to re-introduce and renew the Violence Against Women Act, on this Senate floor this morning. After a brief discussion on the floor, Yee announced that he would hold off on bringing the resolution up for a vote.

Steinberg told reporters after session that the confusion was caused by an "innocent miscommunication."

January 18, 2013
UC President Mark Yudof to step down Aug. 31

University of California President Mark Yudof is stepping down from the position he's held for the last five years as head of the prestigious 10-campus system.

Yudof announced today that he will resign on Aug. 31 and assume a new job teaching law at UC Berkeley.

"The prior 18 months brought a spate of taxing health issues. Though these challenges have been largely overcome, I feel it is time to make a change in my professional lifestyle," Yudof wrote in a statement.

He also said the time is right for UC to seek new leadership because a spate of budget cutting appears to be near an end.

"When I arrived in 2008, the economy had begun to unravel and state coffers were tumbling deep into the red. With its budget slashed, the University was presented with one of the most severe challenges in its history. Now, it appears the storm has been weathered. We are not fully in the clear, but we are much closer than we were even a few months ago. I look forward to working closely in the months ahead with Governor (Jerry) Brown, Assembly Speaker (John A.) Pérez, Senate President Pro Tem (Darrell) Steinberg and other state leaders to ensure that the University is positioned to continue on this forward course, which ultimately will benefit all Californians."

January 18, 2013
Manufacturing stages U.S. comeback, but not in California

Manufacturing is staging a big comeback in the United States, according to a new U.S. Commerce Department report, but a new state employment report indicates that manufacturing is continuing its years-long slide in California.

The federal report says that between the start of 2010 and the end of 2012, manufacturing accounted for 500,000 new jobs. But a state-by-state survey indicates that the effects are being felt mostly in the Upper Midwest and the South.

In Indiana, for example, manufacturing accounts for 13.1 percent of jobs and 22.3 percent of earnings, making it the No. 1 state in terms of economic impact. All other states with high-impact manufacturing sectors, except for New Hampshire, are in the two regions.

Meanwhile, a monthly report on employment in California, also released Friday, shows that government and manufacturing are among the categories to show declines over the past year.

Manufacturing, once a major component of the California economy, now accounts for less than 9 percent of the state's non-agricultural payrolls. It shed 11,400 jobs between December 2011 and last month.

The federal report's manufacturing employment map indicates that only in a handful of San Francisco Bay Area counties do manufacturers account for more than 10 percent of employment.

January 18, 2013
Record number of students apply to UC

The demand for a college education keeps growing in California, with the state's premier university system announcing today that it's received a record number of freshman applications for the fall term.

The University of California reports that it's received 99,129 applications from California high school seniors, a jump of 6.2 percent from last year. Applications from out-of-state and international students are also up - by 14.9 percent and 34.5 percent respectively.

All of UC's nine undergraduate campuses saw increases in freshman applications, ranging from a 9.7 percent rise at UC Berkeley to a 16.9 percent rise at UC Santa Cruz. UCLA remains the most sought after campus, with 80,472 high school seniors applying. See a breakdown of applications to each campus at this link.

January 18, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: CalPERS revelations feed cynicism

Revelations in The Bee about CalPERS managers making extra money at second jobs remind Dan why people are cynical about politics.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

January 18, 2013
AM Alert: Los Angeles event taps into U.S. immigration debate

Editor's note: this post was corrected to reflect the fact that Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod represents Chino, not Chico.

VIDEO: Dan Walters says news that some CalPERS managers are getting extra pay should come as no surprise.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles is holding a press conference at Los Angeles City Hall to call for comprehensive immigration reform, staring at 10 a.m. Rep. Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, is scheduled to be there, along with labor groups and immigration advocates.

Immigration seems likely to be on the national agenda, with President Barack Obama reportedly poised to unveil his plan for an overhaul, and Capitol Alert's Jim Sanders has reported that it could get play in California, too. Gov. Jerry Brown said yesterday that he "expected to be involved" in the national debate.

Today, meanwhile, is the last day to file for upcoming special elections in two state Senate districts.

Assemblywoman Norma Torres, San Bernardino County Auditor-Controller Larry Walker and former Downey City Council candidate Gabriel Orozco, all Democrats, have filed statements of intention to run. Up for grabs is the 32nd Senate District seat that Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, vacated.

Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, resigned his seat when he was elected to represent California's 51st Congressional District. Assemblyman Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, is the odds-on favorite to win in the 40th Senate District.

The special primaries will be held March 12, with the general elections scheduled for May 14.

If there seems to be a larger number of lawmakers around the Capitol than is usual for a Friday, it could be because of the state holiday on Monday, when Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed. Legislators lose their per diem payments if they don't meet every three days.


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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