Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

April 25, 2013
Assembly approves bill allowing immigrants to serve on juries

juryduty.JPGNon-citizen immigrants lawfully residing in California would be eligible for jury duty under a bill that cleared the Assembly on Thursday.

Current state law allows only United States citizens to serve on juries. However, the state Constitution does not restrict immigrants residing legally in California from being summoned. Assembly Bill 1401 would no longer exclude "lawfully present immigrants" from jury lists drawn in part by the Department of Motor Vehicles records. The bill was written by seven Democrats on the Assembly Judiciary Committee, including the chairman, Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont.

"You are not required to be a citizen to participate in the judicial process as a party, as a witness, to work for the courts or even be a judge," said another author, Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville. "It's only a requirement to be a juror. It's not a requirement to be a citizen to serve in the military, either."

AB 1401 does not affect other provisions of state law for jury eligibility, including residing in the jurisdiction of the summons and English language proficiency.

The measure passed 45-25 and now heads to the Senate.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, argued against the bill, saying jury duty is a privilege that should be afforded only to citizens.

April 25, 2013
Senate Democrats defend education plan as 'civil rights' issue, too

steinbergpresser.JPGOne day after Gov. Jerry Brown called his education financing plan a civil rights issue and promised opponents "the battle of their lives," Senate Democrats today said their counter-proposal is better for low-income students.

"The governor, obviously, came out firing yesterday, and we take it all in stride," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told reporters at the Capitol. "But I do want to say that no group is more committed to civil rights and the cause of low income kids than my colleagues."

In a proposal to dramatically overhaul California's education financing system, Brown is seeking to give local school districts greater flexibility in how they spend state money, while also directing more money to school districts with higher proportions of students who are poor or learning English.

While offering conceptual support for Brown's plan, Senate Democrats would eliminate a proposal by the Democratic governor to award districts additional money if more than half of their students are low income or meet other criteria, instead distributing that money partly on a per-pupil basis for all students and partly on a per-pupil basis for disadvantaged students.

April 25, 2013
Bowen rebuffs call for direct Web access to campaign database

DEBRABOWEN.JPGSecretary of State Debra Bowen has rebuffed a request from advocacy and news organizations to allow direct, daily Internet access to her office's campaign finance database, citing legal hurdles that would make it prohibitively expensive.

Data on the flow of political money is readily available on the secretary of state's website, but it is broken up into discrete forms for different transactions. There is no comprehensive document or file online that includes all the information -- the full database is available only on a CD-ROM that costs $5.

Several organizations pushing for more transparency in politics, including MapLight and California Common Cause, sent Bowen a letter asking that Bowen's office upload a single copy of the database online every day. The Sacramento Bee, the Los Angeles Times and the California Newspaper Publishers Association also signed the letter, as did Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco.

April 25, 2013
AM Alert: Fisheries panel hears from scientists, conservationists

Salmons.JPGSwordfish, salmon, crustaceans and sea urchins are some of the agenda items before the Legislature today. The 40th annual Fisheries Forum is in town, and lawmakers who sit on the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture will hear from scientists, conservationists and fishermen representing locales from San Diego to San Mateo County.

Also appearing before the committee will be John Laird, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency and chair of its Ocean Protection Council; Charlton Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife; and Sonke Mastrup, executive director of the California Fish and Game Commission. The hearing starts at 10 a.m. in the Capitol's room 447.

Four Senate budget subcommittees are also meeting to consider elements of Gov. Jerry Brown's budget plan. The one on education, for instance, will be looking at his proposals for the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges systems. Click here for the Senate daily file.


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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