Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

April 23, 2013
Senate Democrats to propose alternative education plan

steinberged.jpgSenate Democrats today suggested reservations about major elements of Gov. Jerry Brown's bid to overhaul California's school funding system, saying they will announce an alternative plan this week.

Brown is seeking in his annual budget proposal to give K-12 school districts greater control over how they spend money they receive, while also directing more money to districts that serve poorer students and English learners.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's office said in a prepared statement today that Senate Democrats agree with the "fundamental goals and concepts" included in Brown's proposal, but differences between Brown's plan and the one lawmakers are expected to propose are significant.

Steinberg's office said Senate Democrats on Thursday will propose a bill that would eliminate a proposal by Brown, a Democrat, to award districts additional money if more than half of their students are low income or meet other criteria. The lawmakers' proposal would instead distribute that money partly on a per-pupil basis for all students and partly on a per-pupil basis for certain disadvantaged students.

April 23, 2013
Jerry Brown urges budget restraint despite strong revenue

jerrybrownpostcrimepresser.JPGDespite relatively robust income tax returns and a projection that the state will finish April billions of dollars ahead of estimates, Gov. Jerry Brown today dismissed a reporter's suggestion he must be "pretty happy," suggesting any overage may be tied up by Proposition 98, California's school-funding guarantee.

"The revenues, guys, wait 'til the May revise," the Democratic governor told reporters at the Capitol. "We have a very complicated mechanism called Prop. 98, and depending upon how the money flows, it may ... not be as available as many people are now thinking."

April is typically the most significant month for personal income tax collections, and state budget watchers track revenue daily. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office estimated today that the state's personal income tax collections will end the month about $4 billion above the administration's estimates.

By the end of the fiscal year, the LAO said, revenue may be "a few billion dollars" above estimates. Like Brown, however, the LAO was restrained in its assessment of the significance of any additional revenue.

The report said "much or all of the revenue gain could be required to be allocated to schools and community colleges under Proposition 98, which means that this fiscal year's strong revenue performance may have little, if any, positive effect for the state's financial bottom line."

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 23, 2013. David Siders / Sacramento Bee

April 23, 2013
Ever-fewer California employers offering health insurance

RB Scope 1.JPGAs the federal Affordable Care Act begins to take effect, ever-fewer California employers are offering medical insurance to their workers, according to an annual survey by the California Healthcare Foundation.

From 2002 to 2012, the proportion of employers offering such coverage declined from 71 percent to 60 percent. Meanwhile, the costs of health care insurance have risen by just under 170 percent since 2002, more than five times the overall inflation rate.

The average premium for single-person coverage was $545 per month in 2012, substantially more than the national average of $468, while family coverage cost an average of $1,386 in California and $1,312 nationally, the foundation said.

The survey also found that larger employers with high proportions of full-time workers were most likely to offer health insurance to workers and that deductibles tended to be much higher among small employers than among large ones.

Finally, 21 percent of employers reported that they had increased the share of insurance costs borne by employees during the preceding year, while 17 percent either reduced workers' costs or absorbed increases.

PHOTO CREDIT: Optometrist Aaron Lech, right, examines patient Melanie Kearns of Rocklin in his office in Roseville on April 11., 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton

April 23, 2013
StubHub-backed ticket bill gutted in Assembly committee

pan.JPGA bill pushed by StubHub to lift restrictions on reselling sports and entertainment tickets was gutted in an Assembly committee today.

Assembly Bill 329 by Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, would have made it illegal for companies such as Ticketmaster to use ticketing methods that prohibit fans from reselling their seats.

The bill was backed by StubHub's advocacy group Fan Freedom and opposed by Live Nation Entertainment, owner of Ticketmaster.

Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media committee members said key provisions needed to be cut in order for the bill to move forward. The bill was stripped of the provision to make it a misdemeanor for ticketing companies to use restrictive tickets that are non-transferable.

Restrictive tickets are paperless and require the purchaser to show ID and the credit card used for payment to enter a venue, as highlighted in this story. Pan said this effectively prevents ticket-holders from giving them as gifts, donating them to charities or selling them when they can't attend an event.

Opponents of the bill, including a Live Nation representative, said venues and artists ask to use the non-transferable tickets in order to protect consumers from scalpers' marked-up prices.

Committee members said it was unclear what the effects on consumers would be if Pan's bill passed as is. However, they said there was agreement on AB 329's provision to ban robotic ticket-buying software. "Bots" flood online box offices with thousands of simultaneous purchases purporting to be different buyers in order to resell tickets at higher prices on other sites.

PHOTO CREDIT: Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, during the first day of session at the state Capitol in Sacramento on Dec. 3. Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee file, 2012

April 23, 2013
CA lawmaker's brother to challenge GOP Rep. Jeff Denham

Eggman Box.jpgA beekeeper who is the younger brother of a Democratic state legislator has announced plans to run against GOP Rep. Jeff Denham in a Central Valley swing seat next year.

Turlock Democrat Michael Eggman, whose sister is Stockton Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, has managed finances for his family's Turlock farm for 10 years. In a news release about his candidacy, he emphasized his longtime ties to communities in the 10th Congressional District and his experience as a farmer.

"Farmers, small businesses and our Valley families are hurting and we are really disgusted about the inability of our elected leaders to work together on the issues facing us," he said in a statement. "I'm not a politician, I'm a small family farmer so people will know where I stand and can trust that I'll put our communities first."

Denham, a former state legislator, defeated Democrat Jose Hernandez, who was considered a strong recruit by many political observers, by about five percentage points in 2012, a year that delivered victories to California Democrats in several other swing districts in the state.

Still, Democrats believe a slight registration advantage and winning performance by President Barack Obama in the district, which covers all of Stanislaus and part of San Joaquin counties, put the seat in play. The National Republican Congressional Committee recently added the GOP congressman to its incumbent protection program for the 2014 election.

Denham's camp didn't seem too concerned Tuesday.

"Jeff was only CA Rep on Dem target list in 2012 who didn't lose," Denham adviser Dave Gilliard tweeted. "If they cant beat him in 12, they cant beat him."

Editor's note: This post was updated with a comment from Dave Gilliard.

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Eggman, courtesy of the campaign.

April 23, 2013
Jerry Brown says man arrested trying to break into his loft building

browncrimevictims.JPGGov. Jerry Brown said today that a man was arrested "a couple of days ago" trying to break into his Sacramento loft building.

Brown said he was not home at the time and did not think the intruder knew he lived in the building.

"A guy ... got in, got up to the roof, jumped down on the balcony and was trying to break in," Brown told reporters after mentioning the incident in a speech today at a Crime Victims United rally at the Capitol. "One of my neighbors called the police, and he was arrested, and I think he's out on his own recognizance."

The Sacramento Police Department's daily activity log lists an arrest on a prowling charge in the 1500 block of J Street on Sunday night. The one-bedroom unit Brown rents is in the 1530 J St. building across from Memorial Auditorium.

Police said Jamal Johnson, 26, was arrested on suspicion of prowling.


In a separate incident, Brown said three men were found "trying to break in" to his house in Oakland early one morning about a year ago, while his wife, first lady Anne Gust Brown, was home alone.

Brown said California Highway Patrol officers held the three men for about 40 minutes before deferring to Oakland police and deciding to let them go. He said the men claimed they were looking to buy real estate in the neighborhood.

Editor's note: Post was updated at 5:20 p.m. to include information about Jamal Johnson.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks with a participant at a Crime Victims United rally at the Capitol following a speech on Tuesday, April 23, 2013. David Siders / Sacramento Bee

PHOTO CREDIT: Jamal Johnson booking photo, provided by Sacramento Police Department

April 23, 2013
Updated homeless 'bill of rights' passes CA legislative committee

homeless.JPGAn amended version of a bill that would extend new protections to California's homeless population cleared the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, framed Assembly Bill 5 as an attempt to create a statewide baseline of homeless civil rights, citing a proliferation of municipal ordinances cracking down on behavior like lying or sleeping on the sidewalk as examples of the "criminalization of poor people."

"Today numerous laws infringe on poor peoples' ability to exist in public space, to acquire housing, employment and basic services and to equal protection under the laws," Ammiano said at a Tuesday morning hearing.

Ammiano's legislation faced a backlash from critics who said the bill would sanction behavior like urinating in public while exposing businesses to new litigation, undercutting the will of voters who had passed local ordinances and handcuffing city-level efforts to deal with homelessness. The California Chamber of Commerce included AB 5 on its annual list of "job killers" because it imposes "costly and unreasonable mandates on employers."

The amendments addressed those concerns, Ammiano and supporters of the bill argued. A widely derided provision establishing "the right to engage in life sustaining activities" including "urinating" was deleted. Another amendment jettisoned language prohibiting discrimination by business establishments.

April 23, 2013
California Senate committee rejects bill to allow a later 'last call'

JV_022113_ HOOK_LADDER 242.JPGCalifornia lawmakers today cut off a push to keep booze flowing at bars, clubs and restaurants until 4 a.m.

Senate Bill 635, by state Sen. Mark Leno, creates a process to extend the hours of on-site liquor sales from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. The bill failed to clear the Senate Governmental Organization Committee on a vote of 4-6, with several Democrats voting no or laying off.

Supporters touted the potential economic benefits of the bill, arguing that allowing cities to keep their bars open later could attract tourists and be a boom for restaurants, entertainment venues and other businesses.

"We hear a lot about our 24-7 society, meaning that we're open for business every hour of every day, but when you think about it we haven't really made any changes to accommodate that fact," Leno, a San Francisco Democrat, said.

Opponents said they were concerned about the effects on quality of life and public safety that could come with an extension of alcohol sale hours, including an increase in drunk driving in the early hours of the morning when commuters are already on the road.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sacramento Bee file photo. Jose Luis Villegas.

April 23, 2013
Acting Gov. Gavin Newsom declares official California foods

AVOCADOES.JPGAs it turns out, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom did make some momentous decisions when he was serving as acting governor during Gov. Jerry Brown's jaunt to China.

Newsom did not mention them during his crowd-rousing speech at the California Democratic Party convention in Sacramento earlier this month.

(He did tout other "remarkable achievements" including having appointed someone else to walk first dog Sutter Brown and boosting the state's hair gel industry).

But a proclamation dated April 9, a few days before the convention, corrected a "glaring absence of agricultural products from the list of our officially adopted icons."

Yes, Newsom has established a quartet of previously undeclared state-honored foods. For the duration of 2013, avocados are the state fruit, almonds are the state nut, artichokes are the state vegetable and rice is the state grain.

Newsom is a frequent guest on San Francisco radio station KGO's morning show. After the show's hosts learned that California had failed to fill its state-food void, they held a contest soliciting listeners' views on deserving candidates and then encouraged Newsom to make it official.

KGO listeners had selected the artichoke, prompting Newsom to defend the avocado on air and ask if people had rigged the vote, citing broad support in a survey on his Facebook page for the avocado.

"I think we need to call Jerry Brown," Newsom joked during a broadcast.

But he ultimately obliged with a solution that accommodated four of California's main agricultural products. Newsom read an on-air proclamation heralding the honors during an April 10 broadcast.

"I know this is not education reform, water policy," Newsom said, but he argued that the distinction was meaningful given that "we are the breadbasket in the world" and that California has a state fossil.

You can read the proclamation here:

LG Proclamation Statefood

PHOTO CREDIT: Avocado, California's state fruit. It's what's official. Owen Brewer / Sacramento Bee file, 2005.

April 23, 2013
Republican leader of policy institute to run for secretary of state

p_peterson_1.jpgA Southern California Republican who runs a public policy institute is getting in the race to succeed outgoing Secretary of State Debra Bowen as the state's chief elections official.

Pete Peterson, executive director of Pepperdine University's Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership, announced his candidacy in a statement released today, saying the state "is in desperate need of reform."

"With many Californians struggling to make ends meet or worrying about their economic future, it is crucial we encourage public engagement inside and outside of the voting booth," Peterson said in the statement. "Using technology to encourage voter registration, voter turnout, and government transparency will increase public involvement in the democratic process."

Peterson is the first Republican to formally announce his candidacy for the office, which will be up for grabs in 2014 when Bowen steps down due to term limits. Democratic state Sens. Alex Padilla and Leland Yee have already joined the race, while campaign finance reform advocate Derek Cressman, also a Democrat, is considering a bid. Several other current and former Democratic legislators have filed paperwork for a potential run.

Peterson, who lives in Santa Monica, took a dig at the political resumes of those rivals, saying he sees "this office as a means to change the direction of California, not as a stepping stone for professional politicians."


Citizens United critic weighs run for California secretary of state

Padilla declares Secretary of State candidacy, will take on Yee

Democrat Leland Yee announces 2014 CA secretary of state bid

Editor's note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Peterson is a first-time candidate. He ran for a local position in New Jersey in 2005.

PHOTO: File photo of Pete Peterson via Associated Press.

April 23, 2013
AM Alert: Gov. Jerry Brown addresses crime victims at Capitol


Crime and punishment is in the spotlight today. Against a backdrop of lawmakers seeking to limit the scope of prison realignment and Gov. Jerry Brown insisting California's prisons now pass constitutional muster, the relatives of crime victims are rallying in Sacramento.

The event is organized by the organization Crime Victims United, honoring National Crime Victims Rights Week. They'll be setting up booths and holding a press conference on the west steps of the State Capitol building this morning. Brown, who has challenged federal rulings holding that California's prisons still do not pass constitutional muster, is set to deliver a keynote address around 12:15 p.m.

Several realignment-related bills, governing things like parole and crimes that would carry a state prison sentence, are also going before the Senate Public Safety Committee, which convenes for a hearing at 9 a.m. in room 3191, and the Assembly Public Safety Committee in (room 126, 9 a.m.).

Topping it off will be a public hearing on the repercussions of realignment in Sacramento County featuring Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully, and Sacramento County Supervisors Susan Peters and Roberta MacGlashan. At the Carmichael Clubhouse from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

OBAMACARE INCOMING: The board of Covered California, the fledgling health insurance exchange the state is setting up per the Affordable Care Act, is holding a meeting at the Secretary of State Office Auditorium on 11th street.

VETERANS SERVICES The Little Hoover Commission is conducting a hearing today on the state of veteran's services in California. 9:30 a.m. at the Employment Development Department Auditorium, 722 Capitol Mall.

A few other bills of note on the agenda at today:

TICKET TACTICS: We brought you news earlier of a ticket tussle pitting Ticketmaster against StubHub, with the two ticket titans vying over the rules that govern resale. Assembly Bill 329 goes before the Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media Committee today.

DRUGGED DRIVING: You may also recall a bill by Sen. Lou Correa that seeks to establish a zero-tolerance policy for anyone caught driving with a detectable amount of drugs in their system. Senate Bill 289 goes before the Public Safety Committee committee today.

PRESCRIPTION PROMPTS: The California Medical Association has sponsored a bill, carried by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, that would block pharmacists from recommending their patients switch drugs because of financial incentives to make the swap. Assembly Bill 670 bill goes before the Business, Professions and Consumer Protection committee today.

Happy birthday to Assemblywoman Norma Torres, D-Pomona, who is 48 today.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff Chris Carroll opens a cell at a formerly closed housing unit at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center, in Elk Grove, California. Sept. 27, 2011, by Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo.


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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