Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

February 13, 2013
Brulte: California GOP debt could be as high as $800,000

20130213_HA_JimBrulte028.JPGTo rebuild the California Republican Party, Jim Brulte will first have to climb out from under a mountain of debt.

The former GOP Senate leader, who is expected to take helm of the embattled party next month, said Wednesday that the CRP is between $500,000 and $800,000 in the red, a figure he says could vary based on the potential for legal battles with former vendors.

"This is more like a bankruptcy workout," Brulte said of setting up party infrastructure as chairman. "First of all you have to pay off your debt, hopefully while you're doing programs simultaneously. We have to increase our income and reduce our expenses, that's just prudent."

February 13, 2013
CA legislator wants to allow 17-year-olds to cast primary vote

GALT_VOTERS FIRST-TIME.JPGA new proposal introduced in the California Legislature would let the state's teens cast their first ballot at age 17.

Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, has authored legislation to amend the state Constitution to allow teens who will be 18 by the time the general election arrives to vote in the primary. Twenty states already allow such voters to participate in their primaries or caucuses.

"Most young people's first contact with politics is in their mandatory high school civics class; this is the perfect time to get them engaged and give them some ownership in the process by getting them to vote in primaries," Mullin said in a statement.

February 13, 2013
Robin Swanson leaving Assembly speaker's office for consulting firm

robinswanson.gifRobin Swanson is leaving her $140,000-a-year job as spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez to launch a business venture.

"As a working mom, I'm going back into business for myself to inject a little more flexibility into my life," Swanson said Wednesday.

Swanson, the mother of an 8-month-old son, plans to reopen Swanson Communications. She operated the consulting and public relations company for three years before joining Pérez's staff in May 2011. Her last day at the Capitol will be March 1, she said.

February 13, 2013
Covered California unveils health insurance market's blueprint

photo.JPGMillions of uninsured Californians will soon be required to purchase health insurance, and Wednesday morning they got a glimpse of what to expect under the state's marketplace.

Covered California, the organization responsible for implementing the federal health insurance overhaul, released a blueprint for what types of coverage will be available on the state's insurance exchange. The federal Affordable Care Act requires state exchanges to be up and running by 2014.

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said the government-regulated exchange will add some much-needed standards and transparency to California's health insurance market.

"They are ready to play by the rules," Lee said of the insurance industry at a news conference at his organization's downtown Sacramento headquarters. "They are ready to embrace the opportunity to compete not based on a shell game of hidden benefits but based on quality and value."

There will be four plans available: platinum, gold, silver and bronze. The premium would cover 90 percent of the cost under the platinum plan, with copays making up the other 10 percent. Under the bronze plan, the premium would cover 60 percent, and copays would account for the other 40 percent.

February 13, 2013
Former assemblyman named Contra Costa elections chief

BB FINAL DAY CANCIAMILLA.JPGFormer Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla is the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors' pick to be the county's next elections chief.

Canciamilla, a former Democrat who is now registered without a party preference, will fill out the term of longtime Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters Steve Weir, who is retiring next month.

Bay Area News Group political reporter Lisa Vorderbrueggen has the details:

The board of supervisors unanimously chose Canciamilla over the retiring incumbent's brother and Pleasant Hill Councilman Jack Weir about 90 minutes ago after public interviews with both men. ....

The five supervisors praised Jack Weir's public service and his managerial and data management professional background.

But all said Canciamilla brought to the job a deeper understanding of county government and politics.

You can read Vorderbrueggen's full post here.

PHOTO CREDIT: Former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla in 2006. The Sacramento Bee/Brian Baer

February 13, 2013
New Assembly bill would ban hands-free texting while driving

DISTRACTED_DRIVERS_4.JPGCalifornia drivers would be banned from texting with hands-free mobile devices under legislation proposed Tuesday.

Assembly Bill 313 was introduced by freshman Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley.

State law currently prohibits drivers from texting with hand-held devices, but not those that operate on voice commands.

AB 313 would delete the existing exception for voice-controlled texting devices.

In its findings and declarations, AB 313 says that "there is no difference in the crash risk of hand-held or voice-operated devices. Furthermore, no study has determined that texting while driving is safe."

The bill also declares that distracted driving is a "dangerous epidemic" that killed 3,300 and injured more than 400,000 people nationally in 2011.

* Updated at 10:25 a.m. Wednesday to clarify that the bill would apply to California drivers.

PHOTO CREDIT: Researchers at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City ask volunteers like Anne McLaren, seen on April 20, 2009, to use a cellphone in a driving simulator. Talking didn't cause a problem, but while texting she hit another car. (Jeffrey D. Allred/ The New York Times)

February 13, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: California's court cuts taking their toll

Dan says that balancing California's budget has involved unsustainable cuts to court funding.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

February 13, 2013
AM Alert: Jerry Brown attends funeral of alleged Dorner victim

LA Police Shootings.JPGVIDEO: State financing of California's court system hasn't worked out as planned, Dan Walters says.

Gov. Jerry Brown will be attending a memorial service this morning for Michael Crain, a Riverside police officer who was allegedly slain by renegade former cop Christopher Dorner. The service starts at 10:30 a.m. at Grove Community Church in Riverside.

Are elements of the top-two primary constitutional? The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is hearing arguments on that question in Pasadena, starting at 9 a.m in Chamness v. Bowen. Michael Chamness challenged the new primary system, which voters OK'd back in 2010, identifying himself as a member of the "Coffee Party." He has argued that the new rules force him to state on the ballot that he has "no party preference."


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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