Capitol Alert

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VIDEO: Dan Walters explains why he's wary of the job numbers lawmakers trumpet when they're trying to sell voters on big new construction projects.

Gov. Jerry Brown has shown an unusually keen interest in meetings of the University of California regents so far this year, stopping by to push his proposal for expanding online education. He'll be at it again today, dropping in to a meeting at the conference center on the University of California, San Francisco's Mission Bay campus.

Speaking of online education, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg will be introducing a proposal today that would allow students to take courses online for credit. Appropriately, Steinberg will be unveiling the plan during an 11:30 a.m. Google+ hangout.

State agencies hiding money has been a theme of the last year -- first the secret California Department of Parks and Recreation fund uncovered by The Bee, and more recently revelations about the money the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection had quietly stashed in a separate pot. Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, has convened a joint Legislative Audit Committee hearing to look at the recurring issue, starting at 10 a.m. in room 444 of the State Capitol (since the due date for audit requests was in mid-February, Cal Fire wasn't included in Gray's audit request).

A joint Senate hearing (1:30 p.m. in room 4203) will examine bringing people under the umbrella of health care opened by the Affordable Care Act. Featured speakers will include Kelly Brooks Lindsey of the California State Association of Counties; Anthony Wright of Health Access California; and experts from the Public Policy Institute of California.

Ahead of that hearing, Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, will be joined by medical professionals for a press conference announcing a package of bills aimed at closing the "provider gap," a potential shortage of health professionals given the surge of patients Obamacare's implementation is expected to bring. The press conference is at 10 a.m. at the Wellspace Health Community Clinic, 1820 J Street.

Hernandez is worried about a dearth of doctors; Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, is concerned by a shortage of financial aid. Bonilla, students and advocates for private non-profit colleges and universities -- a category that includes heavyweights like Stanford and USC -- will be rallying on the West steps of the State Capitol at 10:20 a.m. to beat back planned Cal Grant cuts. There will also be a hearing on proposed Cal Grant cutbacks in room 126 at 4 p.m.

It's a busy day for rallies. If you leave Bonilla's event and stroll over to the South steps, you'll come across a demonstration to underscore lawsuits that abuse Proposition 65 to extract payment from businesses. Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, will be selling a bill, A.B. 227, that would give businesses a window to comply with Proposition 65 violations and avoid lawsuits. Gatto will be flanked by representatives of California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse and the Civil Justice Association of California. Starting at 10 a.m.

Shortly after that, if you meander back over to the West steps, you'll encounter a rally to restore funding for CalWORKs. The 12:30 p.m. demonstration precedes a 1:30 p.m. Assembly hearing in room 444 that will discuss steady reductions to the length of time impoverished California families can receive CalWORKs assistance.

Last week, the Senate easily approved a bill to allocate more money to a law enforcement database, the Armed Prohibited Persons System, that identifies Californians who illegally own guns (people with criminal convictions or mental health isses, for instance). The Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety is taking a look at the program during a 1:30 p.m. hearing in room 437.

PHOTO CREDIT: University of California President Mark Yudof during a UC Regents meeting in San Francisco, Wednesday, July 18, 2012, Paul Sakuma for AP Photo.


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