Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

March 25, 2013
Percentage of independent California voters inches upward

voterreg.jpgThe proportion of Californians eschewing party politics continued to gradually increase over the past two years, with nearly 21 percent of the electorate now registered to vote with no party preference, according to a report today by the California secretary of state.

The increase is less than half a percentage point over the last off-year registration report, in 2011.

Meanwhile, the proportion of voters registered to vote Democratic declined to 43.93 percent from 44.04 percent in February 2011, while Republican registration dropped to 28.94 percent from 30.88 percent two years ago, according to the report. In 2005, the GOP could claim 34.5 percent of registered voters.

The total number of registered voters now stands at about 18.1 million, down from 18.2 million in fall 2012. In the last off year report, two years ago, total registration was about 17.2 million.

PHOTO CREDIT: Elections officials in Sacramento County on Oct. 1, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/ Renée C. Byer

March 25, 2013
California mayors urge Supreme Court to overturn Prop. 8

gaymarriage.jpgAs the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments on California's same-sex marriage ban Tuesday, mayors of 25 California cities are urging the court to find the measure, Proposition 8, unconstitutional.

"As mayors, we have a responsibility to unite our cities, not divide them," the mayors say in a statement circulated by the liberal Courage Campaign. "Key to that is building family integrity, including insuring all loving, committed couples in our cities have the same freedoms and rights."

Mayors of Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Sacramento and Oakland are among those who have signed the statement. The statement does not include the signature of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, an opponent of Proposition 8.

Lee ordered a rainbow flag to be flown at San Francisco City Hall through Wednesday, and he issued a statement of his own.

"Here in San Francisco, we stand ready to once again to begin marrying same sex couples," he said. "We remain as deeply committed to the fight for marriage equality today as we were nearly nine years ago when then Mayor Gavin Newsom led the charge on one of the most important civil rights issues of our generation to ensure equal protections and rights for all."

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Tuesday about the same-sex marriage ban California voters adopted in 2008. A federal appeals court previously ruled the ban unconstitutional.

Editor's note: Post updated at 2:35 p.m. to include remarks from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Skrebes of Washington reads on Saturday, while waiting in line with others outside of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. Associated Press/Jacquelyn Martin

March 25, 2013
Poll: Californians back gun control, immigration reform


Clear majorities of Californians across the ideological spectrum support measures to reduce violence and overhaul the U.S. immigration system, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

Congress has tackled immigration with a renewed sense of urgency this year, and California voters agree with the premise that the current laws are in need of overhaul: 67 percent of respondents to the poll said the current system is not working.

Nearly three-quarters of California voters backed President Barack Obama's framework, which includes tightened border security, tougher restrictions to ensure employers hire legal workers and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The poll found strong support when it broke those components into separate questions -- 75 percent of voters backed stricter employment verification, a figure that rose to over 80 percent for border security and a route to citizenship.

While registered Republicans were less likely to support those proposals, they were more receptive than in past surveys. A 45-percent plurality of Republicans backed the citizenship option, outstripping the third who favored deportation.

"You see the Republican party, at least in California moving away from a deportation mentality," David Kanevsky of the research firm American Viewpoint said in a conference call with reporters.

March 25, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Goodwill, California charities do battle

Dan tells the strange tale of a special-interest fight over who gets to accept charity donations.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

March 25, 2013
AM Alert: It's spring break for California legislators

emptysenate.JPGWhat's something California legislators and college students have in common? They get to take a hiatus from their responsibilities each spring. The Legislature will reconvene on Monday, April 1.

Just because legislators aren't conducting business doesn't mean there won't be any activity in the building. The final two rounds of the Poetry Out Loud state finals, in which high school students compete in reading famous poems from the likes of Shelley, Coleridge and Dickinson, get under way at 8 a.m. this morning in the Senate Chambers.

VIDEO: Sacramento politics are fundamentally about interests vying for a slice of the pie, Dan Walters says, and a tussle over charity donations provides a bizarre example.

A new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll gauges how Californians view topics like immigration and gun control, finding strong support for the latter. Dan Schnur, director of USC's Unruh Institute of Politics, will be discussing the poll's findings on a conference call this morning.

Away from the vacated California Capitol, the U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to hear a potentially momentous case that originated in the state. Tuesday, the justices will hear arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, which centers on whether the voter-passed Prop. 8 ban on same-sex marriage was constitutional. A separate case about the constitutional status of the federal Defense of Marriage Act comes the day after.

PHOTO CREDIT: The Senate chambers won't be this empty all week, although they will be devoid of lawmakers. By Jeremy B. White for The Sacramento Bee on March 22, 2013.


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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