Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

March 26, 2013
Ami Bera sequesters himself, pledges cut of pay to charity

bera.jpgRep. Ami Bera said today that he is donating to charity a percentage of his salary equal to the across-the-board, federal budget cuts that took effect this month.

Bera's pledge comes as the Elk Grove Democrat -- and other incumbent politicians of both parties -- continue to take criticism over the sequester's $85 billion in mandatory budget cuts.

Bera said he will donate 8.2 percent of his salary, or $1,189, to a different charity each month through September, the end of the fiscal year. His first contribution, this month, was to a Meals on Wheels program in Sacramento County. He said he decided to donate a percentage of his salary last week after reading a story about the Meals on Wheels program in The Bee.

Bera said sequestration is a "dumb way to do business" but that elected officials should share in the pain.

"The message to my colleagues in Congress is, if we're going to ask everyone else to tighten their belts, we have to tighten our belts first," Bera said.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has put up online advertisements claiming Bera was among lawmakers culpable for allowing the sequester to take effect, a claim repeated by an NRCC spokeswoman in an email today.

Though Congress members' salaries are not affected by the sequester, the 8.2 percent figure is in line with what members of Congress have been told to reduce their office budgets.

The amount is slightly less than the 8.4 percent calculated by Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. Duckworth said before the sequester took effect that she would return 8.4 percent of her salary to the U.S. Treasury each month.

Bera said he opted to donate his money instead of returning it to help programs affected by federal budget cuts. He said he does not plan to claim the contributions as charitable donations for tax purposes.

PHOTO CREDIT: Ami Bera at a press conference in 2012. Lezlie Sterling / Sacramento Bee

March 26, 2013
Senate hopeful has same residency issue as ex-Sen. Rubio

LeticiaPerez.jpgSenate Democrats' pick to replace former state Sen. Michael Rubio in a Central Valley district is on the move -- literally.

Bakersfield Democrat Leticia Perez, a Kern County Supervisor, learned this week that she will have to find a new home by Friday in order to run in the May special election for the seat Rubio gave up to take a job with Chevron Corp. earlier this year.

Perez apparently faces the same residency issue Rubio, her former boss, experienced when he first ran for the state Senate in 2010: her home is in a part of Bakersfield that election officials mistakenly included in the 16th Senate District for years

Rubio moved during his campaign and later had to short sell his original home. That sale, along with his later purchase of an El Dorado Hills house, involved an oil executive who gave to his campaign. Both transactions are the subject of a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission, which has yet to decide whether to open a formal investigation.

March 26, 2013
Rapid response: Reaction to Prop. 8 hearing at Supreme Court

RA_AD5_PUGNO (2).JPGHere are some of the statements issued by those commenting on today's hearings on Proposition 8 at the U.S. Supreme Court.

We'll add more as they come in.

Folsom attorney Andy Pugno, Proposition 8 author

Today we made legal history by presenting a bold, thoughtful and compelling case to the United States Supreme Court supporting the People's right to vote in favor of marriage being between a man and a woman. Every effort in the past four and a half years since voters passed Prop 8-- from choosing our distinguished legal team to filing numerous briefs with the California Supreme Court, the federal district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, to participating in a week-long trial, and all points in between -- has led us to today's historic moment before our country's highest court. ...

March 26, 2013
The highs and lows of California's health care spending

RP EFFORT KUMAR.JPGHealth care has become, by most measures, the largest single piece of the California economy, well over 10 percent of its $2 trillion output of goods and services -- and destined to grow as the state extends medical insurance coverage to millions of Californians under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Nevertheless, a new nationwide study finds that as large as it may be, the health care spending in California has been relatively small, compared to other states.

The statistical compilation by the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis found that as of 2009, the latest year for which complete data were available, California was sixth lowest among the states in public and private health care spending as a proportion of its economy. The state's relative spending, 12.5 percent of its economy, was just 84 percent of the national average.

March 26, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: More pension shenanigans

A former county supervisor whose pension will pay over $400,000 a year? No wonder so many California cities and counties are struggling financially, Dan says.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

March 26, 2013
AM Alert: California rethinks chemicals and fire safety


The Legislature is still in recess, but the state bureaucracy churns on. You may not have heard of the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation, but they're holding a hearing today on a pretty big public safety topic.

At issue are the regulations around fireproofing furniture. At Gov. Jerry Brown's prodding, the California Department of Consumer Affairs has released revised draft standards that would require furniture to withstand a "smoldering" fire source rather than open flame. The upshot is that furniture would no longer need to contain fire-resistant chemicals that advocates single out as a significant health hazard.

The meeting, which marks the end of the public comment period for the new rules, is at the Department of Consumer Affairs building in Sacramento, 1625 North Market Blvd, at 10 a.m. Advocates for the change are holding a presser outside ahead of the meeting.

VIDEO: Dan Walters wonders how it's possible, with so many cities and counties in woeful economic shape, for a former Alameda County official to receive pension benefits worth more than $400,000 a year.

This could be a momentous week for the gay rights movement. Today, the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments for Hollingsworth v. Perry, challenging Proposition 8.'s outlawing same-sex marriage in California. You can click here for a handy primer on the implications, but it's possible that the Justices will issue a narrow ruling tailored to California, a nationally relevant endorsement of rights for same-sex couples, or something in between.

Plenty of California elected officials have urged the Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8. They include the mayors of Sacramento, Oakland and Los Angeles and California Attorney General Kamala Harris. The Obama administration is also on board.

There has been a lot of talk this session about reshaping California's educational system to better prepare youngsters for the working world, a topic the Public Policy Institute of California is addressing at a lunchtime hearing today. The talk on educating the future workforce will run from noon to 1:30 at the CSAC Conference Center (1020 11th Street, second floor) and will feature PPIC's Mark Baldassare, Sarah Bohn and Hans Johnson.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sacramento Fire Department line after a two-alarm fire broke out in April 2011. The Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench


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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