Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

April 3, 2013
CA Assembly panel approves teacher dismissal bill

MC_CD_Ten.06.JPGIt could become easier to fire a teacher in California: the Assembly Education Committee voted 7-0 on Wednesday to approve a bill by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, which would streamline the process for jettisoning incompetent or abusive educators.

The current dismissal process "is too long and takes too much money," Buchanan said at the committee hearing. "When it takes 18 months, two years, to resolve a case or it costs well over $100,000, not only can that money be better spent in the classroom but it's not fair to the district in its ability to move forward, nor is it fair to the employee."

The vote to advance Buchanan's bill, AB 375, comes after last year's abortive attempt to address teacher dismissal. A bill by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, faltered in part because of opposition from the California Teachers Association, but the powerful teachers union has backed AB 375.

April 3, 2013
Californians getting healthier, county-by-county data show

DeathMap.jpgCalifornians appear to be getting healthier in many respects, with drops in deaths attributable to cancer and many other major illnesses, as well as homicide and auto accidents, a new statistical report from the state Department of Public Health indicates.

However, the state also is seeing an uptick in deaths from Alzheimer's disease, as well as suicide and chronic liver disease. The report covers three years -- 2009-2011 -- with comparisons to 2006-2008.

For the first time, too, the state report on health-related issues compares California's experiences with the recommendations of the federal government's "Healthy People 2020" benchmarks.

California averaged 234,637 deaths a year from all causes during the 2009-11 period for an "age-adjusted rate" of 654.9 per 100,000 population. But the age-adjusted death rate in the state's 58 counties varied widely, from a low of 516.4 in wealthy Marin County to 989.2 in nearby Lake County, which has a high poverty rate.

April 3, 2013
Former GOP Sen. Tony Strickland files for House seat rematch

StricklandCalifornia Budget.jpgFormer state Sen. Tony Strickland is readying a second run against Democrat Julia Brownley in a Southern California congressional seat.

Brownley, a former member of the state Assembly, defeated Strickland by about 5 percentage points in the 26th Congressional District last November. The race for the open seat was a top target in 2012, attracting more than $5 million in spending by outside groups.

Now, Strickland is preparing for a rematch. The Hill reported today that the Moorpark Republican, who is now serving as a fellow at the University of Southern California, has filed a statement of candidacy.

Republicans are hoping to score wins in swing districts throughout the state in 2014. They believe turnout will be lower and less Democratic without President Barack Obama on the top of the ticket. Top Republican strategists say Obama's 23-point victory here last year made it all but impossible for their candidates to win down ticket.

Strickland, who served in both houses of the Legislature, has also run for state controller twice.


Pete Aguilar, Ro Khanna announce bids for hot House seats

Competition means an early start for California House campaigns

Former GOP Sen. Tony Strickland takes fellowship at USC

PHOTO CREDIT: Then State Senator Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, speaks during a 2011 Senate floor session. AP Photo Rich Pedroncelli.

April 3, 2013
Jerry Brown details China trip, predicts 'billions' in investment

RB_Jerry_Brown_Budget.JPGGov. Jerry Brown said today that his trade mission to China next week will help facilitate "billions of dollars in investment" in California, as Brown's office released an itinerary of lunches, receptions, forums and agreement-signing events for the governor while abroad.

"I think we're going to get billions of dollars in investment coming from China," Brown said at a business event in Sacramento. "We're also going to facilitate billions of dollars in additional exports, not overnight, but over time."

China is California's third-largest trading partner, behind Mexico and Canada. The state's merchandise export trade with China amounted to about $14 billion last year. In his first official trip abroad since taking office in 2011, Brown is expected to promote California exports, tourism and greenhouse gas reduction policies.

He will be joined by a handful of senior advisers and about 75 business delegates, Brown's office said.

Brown will celebrate his 75th birthday on Sunday, before leaving next week for Beijing. Seven days of events are scheduled in that city and in Nanjing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

Brown will oversee the opening of a state trade office in Shanghai on Friday, April 12. He announced last year that the state would open the privately financed office, California's first official presence in China since the state closed its 12 foreign trade offices amid controversy in 2003.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 5:36 p.m. to correct the description of California's export trade with China.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown explains his budget proposal during a news conference at the state Capitol in Sacramento in January. Randall Benton / Sacramento Bee

April 3, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: School boards can hire, but not fire teachers

A union-backed legislative proposal to make it easier to fire teachers would still give California's local school boards little say in the matter, Dan says.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

April 3, 2013
AM Alert: California Trucking Day rolls into Sacramento

truck.jpgThe California Trucking Association is driving business for several lawmakers today, with industry representatives rolling into the Sheraton Grand Hotel for a legislative training and policy planning session this morning as part of California Trucking Day.

The morning session will include appearances by Assembly members Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto; Rob Bonta, D-Alameda; Chris Holden, D-Pasadena; Brian Dahle, R-Bieber; and Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno; as well as Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens.

VIDEO: Dan Walters talks about how a legislative effort to facilitate firing negligent teachers got its teeth pulled.

President Barack Obama is on a West Coast fundraising swing. Today, he's scheduled to be in San Francisco for a pair of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraisers.

The first is a $5,000-a-person event at the home of Kat Taylor and Tom Steyer, a key backer of the successful campaign for Proposition 39. The second will be hosted by billionaire philanthropist Gordon Getty, with a $32,500 a person price tag.

Charities: An unusual special interest fight is unfolding in Sacramento, with Goodwill Industries and other charities sparring over the right to put out clothing collection bins. Senate Bill 450, a bill sponsored by Goodwill and authored by Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, would give cities and local governments more power to regulate donation bins. Critics say the legislation would tilt the playing field towards Goodwill, a complaint they'll voice at an 8:30 a.m. press conference on the south lawn. SB 450 goes before the Governance and Finance Committee, whose meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. in room 112.

Keeping the Kings: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is in New York today trying to ensure that his hometown basketball team doesn't forsake Sacramento for Seattle. Steinberg will be joining others appearing before a National Basketball Association committee.

Secret-funds fallout: This morning will also witness the Legislature's latest attempt to rectify a situation in which state agencies like the California Department of Parks and Recreation and CalFire kept money in secret accounts. Assemblywoman Beth Gaines' Senate Bill 661 would require state agencies to prepare and make public internal financial reports signed, under threat of perjury, by the heads of each agency. The bill goes before the Accountability and Administrative Review Committee during its 9 a.m. meeting.

PHOTO CREDIT: A truck joins the morning commute on the 210 freeway between Los Angeles and cities to the east on Dec. 1, 2009. By David McNew for Getty Images.


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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