Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

February 19, 2013
Insurance commissioner touts new plan for CA health-care regions

Saying the Legislature's existing proposal could exacerbate rate shock, state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones unveiled his own proposal Tuesday for dividing California into geographic regions for implementing federal health-care reform.

Jones vowed to appear Wednesday before Senate and Assembly health committees to push his 18-region plan instead of existing legislative proposals for six regions in 2014 and 13 regions in 2015.

"I believe very strongly that we should draw regions in a way that minimizes rate increases," Jones said.

Because costs of providing health care differ among communities, residents could find themselves paying higher or lower premiums based on the extent to which regions drawn by the state differ from those currently used by health insurance firms.

February 19, 2013
Sierra Club lobbyist faces FPPC fine

The Fair Political Practices Commission has proposed fining a former Sierra Club lobbyist $24,500 for failing to file quarterly disclosure reports for nearly two years.

Michael Endicott, a contract lobbyist based in San Francisco, did not file seven required reports to the Secretary of State from October of 2010 to June of 2012, according to the FPPC's case against him. It states:

"The failure to timely file lobbying reports violates one of the (Political Reform) Act's central purposes: that the activities of lobbyists should be regulated and their finances disclosed in order that improper influences will not be directed at public officials. The public harm inherent in these violations is that the public is deprived of important and timely information regarding the amounts and nature of lobbying activity. In this matter, (Endicott) failed to file seven consecutive quarterly lobbying firm reports. As a result, there was no disclosure of approximately $72,000 in lobbying activity."

The fine amounts to $3,500 for each report not filed, at the high end of the range for similar offenses. FPPC staff wrote that they recommend a steep fine because Endicott "recently received a warning letter for the same violation of the Act, did not cooperate with the investigation, and, to date, has refused to file the delinquent reports."

Endicott did not return calls from The Bee seeking comment.

The fine requires approval by the FPPC at its meeting on Feb. 28.

February 19, 2013
California bill targets drug users behind the wheel

loucorrea.jpgProsecutors would have an easier time convicting people in California for driving under the influence of drugs if a bill Sen. Lou Correa has introduced becomes law.

Senate Bill 289 makes it a crime for anyone to drive if their system contains any detectable amount of drugs classified by the government as Schedule I, II, III or IV. That includes marijuana, amphetamines, steroids, tranquilizers and other drugs - but not drugs classified as Schedule V, like Tylenol with codeine, according to information from Correa's office.

"We want to send a clear message that any level of being drugged is dangerous when driving, so the level should be zero," Correa, D-Santa Ana, said during a Capitol press conference this morning introducing the bill.

"This is about keeping our streets safe about keeping our families safe. It took decades to pound into people that you should not drink and drive, that it is dangerous to drink and drive. Then we started talking about texting and talking on the phone and driving. And today, this is about being drugged and driving."

February 19, 2013
Defense raises new questions in Chandra Levy case

Chandra Levy.jpgThe case against the man convicted of killing former intern Chandra Levy is "drastically undercut" by information that prosecutors kept to themselves "for the better part of a year," according to defense attorneys who now say they will seek a new trial.

In heavily redacted legal briefs and transcripts, defense attorneys quote prosecutors as acknowledging they had come upon "significant impeaching information" that potentially undermines the credibility of a prosecution witness. But though prosecutors received the information in roughly February 2012, the trial judge wasn't informed until November.

"We think we're being jerked around," defense attorney James Klein said, according to a previously sealed transcript of a Dec. 18 court hearing.

February 19, 2013
Fiscal analyst has legal concerns with Gov. Jerry Brown's budget

mactaylor.jpgState leaders have pushed the legal envelope trying to solve California's financial woes, and Gov. Jerry Brown's budget is no different even as the state heads toward firmer ground.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said Tuesday that Brown's budget proposal "raises serious legal concerns" in at least two instances where the governor wants to use fees to fund potentially unrelated programs. Ever since voters approved a business-backed initiative in 2010 more narrowly defining what fees can pay for - fee-based programs must directly affect the payer - state leaders have faced stricter limits in how they spend money.

February 19, 2013
Five California House members on 'most liberal' list

Does California's delegation in the House of Representatives lean to the left? So it would seem from an exhaustive ranking of 435 House members on their ideological positioning by the authoritative National Journal.

Five California Democrats are tied with nine Democrats from other states for the title of "most liberal," based on their voting records in 2012.

However, when it comes to "most conservative," the highest any Californian - San Diego County Republican Duncan Hunter - ranked was 18th.

February 19, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: The perils of unexpected revenue

A revenue windfall has given California more money than it expected, and Dan says that raises the risk that the Legislature will create programs it won't be able to pay for.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

February 19, 2013
AM Alert: Lawmakers scrutinize California parks accounting

VIDEO: Dan Walters worries that Democrats will squander an unexpected $5 billion budget surplus on programs that the one-time windfall won't pay for in the future.

The last few days have brought some new revelations about the Department of Parks and Recreation's secret stash of money. When The Bee broke the story last year, it was against the recent backdrop of deficit-driven park closures that the extra funds would have prevented.


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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