Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

May 13, 2013
Pérez makes point with biography question asking marital status

perez.JPGAssembly Speaker John A. Pérez said he feels it's important that he not ignore a common question included on biographies for state legislators that asks about marital status. In new handbook directories for the California State Assembly, Pérez said he answered the question so that it reflects the unequal marriage rights afforded to gay and lesbian people.

Under marital status, Pérez wrote "constitutionally prohibited."

"If it is important enough to have driven a ballot measure, it's important enough to be reflected in the record of who serves in this house," said Pérez, the Assembly's first openly gay speaker.

Two Assembly members, Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Richard Gordon, D-Menlo Park, included their same-sex spouses in their biographies. Both were married in California in 2008, before passage of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages.

Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, included her partner's name.

"The reality is that I, as well as a handful of other people in this body and a lot of other people in this state, are denied the constitution rights afforded to the vast majority of people," Pérez said.

The U.S,.Supreme Court took up a case challenging Proposition 8 and could make a ruling next month. In February, Pérez joined 22 legal scholars from across the nation to file an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8.

PHOTO CREDIT: Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles speaks at the Sacramento Press Club on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 in Sacramento. Hector Amezcua / The Sacramento Bee

May 13, 2013
Bill to hike taxes on commercial property stalls in Assembly

BB AMMIANO 027.jpgA controversial bill that would indirectly increase local taxes on commercial property was stalled - perhaps permanently - Monday in the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee.

The legislation, Assembly Bill 188, by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, had support from labor unions and liberal groups, which said it would close a loophole that has deprived schools and local governments of much-needed revenue, but was opposed by business and the California Chamber of Commerce labeled it as a "job killer."

Revenue and Taxation Committee chairman Raul Bocanegra announced that the bill would be "on hold" as he went through a list of significant tax bills and declared which would be allowed to proceed to floor votes this year.

AB 188 would need a two-thirds legislative vote and Gov. Jerry Brown's signature to be enacted because it is a tax increase, and has been considered a test of the Democrats' newly minted supermajorities in both legislative houses that would, on paper, allow them to generate two-thirds votes without Republicans.

May 13, 2013
VIDEO: Steinberg calls Seattle group's new Kings bid 'desperate'

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg weighed in on the latest developments in the ongoing fight over the Sacramento Kings Monday, saying the hiked bid offered by a group of investors who want to bring the team to Seattle "looks desperate."

Hedge fund manager Chris Hansen.and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer have increased the price they've agreed to pay the Maloof family for a stake in the team to $406 million since a National Basketball Association committee recommended against approving a move. The NBA Board of Governors meets later this week to consider the team's future.


Crucial week ahead for Sacramento group's offer to buy Kings

May 13, 2013
California ranks second in boating accidents, fatalities

RB Hydroplane 2.JPGCalifornia is the nation's most populous state but ranks fourth in the number of boats plying oceanic and inland waterways.

Conversely, the state is second behind only Florida when it comes to the number of boating accidents and boating fatalities, according to a new data report from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Florida has the nation's highest number of boats, almost a million, followed closely by Minnesota, Michigan and California. Florida was also No. 1 in boating accidents in 2012 with 662, according to the Coast Guard, in fatalities with 50 and in injuries with 398.

However, California was second in accidents (365), in fatalities (49) and in injuries (249). The state has been trending downward in boating accidents, the report's five-year spreadsheet also showed, but the number of fatalities has remained fairly constant, ranging from a low of 45 in 2008 to 52 in 2011.

PHOTO CREDIT: The Peters & May hydroplane race boat driven by JW Myers at Granite State Beach in Folsom on Thursday, September 8, 2011. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton

May 13, 2013
California lags nation in reduction of carbon dioxide emissions

EPA_AIR_QUALITY.jpgAlthough California fancies itself a leader in the reduction of greenhouse gases, the state has the nation's second highest level of energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide and has lagged the rest of the nation in reducing those emissions, according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Under Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown, California has adopted a mandate that utilities shift to at least 33 percent of its electrical power coming from non-emitting renewable sources such as wind, solar and geothermal by 2020. It's also adopted a "cap-and-trade" system to compel sources of carbon emissions to reduce their impact.

The EIA report, however, says that California's 369.8 million metric tons of energy-related carbon emissions in 2010 made it second only to Texas' 652.6 million metric tons. But between 2000 and 2010, while the nation's emissions were dropping by 4.2 percent, Texas' fell by 8.3 percent and California's by just 3 percent.

On a per-capita basis, California's energy carbon output dropped from 11.2 metric tons to 9.9 tons - one of the nation's lowest levels and barely half the national average of 18.2 tons. However, the state's per capita decline during that period, 11.2 percent, was lower than the national average decline of 12.6 percent. Texas' per capita decline during the decade was 23.8 percent.

PHOTO CREDIT: Smog covers downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, March 12, 2008. Monica Almeida/The New York Times

May 13, 2013
Environmental group's cable TV ad hits Jerry Brown on logging

clearcutad.pngA Northern California environmental group has begun airing advertisements on cable TV stations criticizing Gov. Jerry Brown for allowing clear-cut logging on thousands of acres of forest land.

Marily Woodhouse, co-founder of the Manton-based Battle Creek Alliance, said today her organization paid $3,000 to air spots this month on CNN, MSNBC and other cable networks in Sacramento.

The tiny ad buy is part of an ongoing conflict between environmentalists and business interests over the state's management of logging on private land. One ad features a photograph of the Democratic governor in a superimposed pair of sunglasses.

"Where's the real Gov. Jerry Brown?" a narrator says. "We don't know where this Jerry Brown impostor came from, but will the real one who values California's inhabitants and natural resources over the wealthy, special interest, short term profiteers please come back?"

The criticism is highly general, and Battle Creek Alliance neither objects to nor advocates for any specific policy in the ad. Woodhouse said she decided to air it because on logging issues, generally, "we've worked on this for a long time but really gotten nowhere."

Richard Stapler, a spokesman for the California Natural Resources Agency, said in an email that California has "the strictest timber harvest regulations in the country" and that the administration "remains committed to protecting and preserving our rich natural resources, while supporting important economic activities."

Editor's note: This post was updated at 1:10 p.m. to include Stapler's response.

PHOTO CREDIT: A screen shot of one of the ads.

May 13, 2013
Senate report details oversight issues with California drug counselors

pillbottles.jpgLax oversight has allowed sex offenders, other convicted criminals and individuals continuing to struggle with substance abuse to become certified drug and alcohol counselors in California, a state Senate report released today has found.

The report, by the California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes, details lapses with the reporting and oversight process for the state's 36,000 registered or certified substance abuse counselors, as well as cases of counselors who were able to continue to work in the field even if their original certification was revoked or they failed to complete required training requirements.

The investigation identified at least 23 registered sex offenders certified as drug and alcohol counselors, a finding the report calls "the most dramatic example of the pitfalls of the state choosing to ignore criminal histories." Two were convicted of sex offenses while they were approved to work as counselors.

Unlike most large states, California does not require criminal or other background checks for drug and alcohol counselors. The agency that regulates the counselors, the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, also does not track arrests or convictions that occur after certification, leaving it up to the employers and private certification agencies, including several based in Sacramento, to discover and report issues with counselors.

That arrangement had, in some cases, allowed individuals with criminal backgrounds or ongoing substance abuse issues to remain eligible to treat patients seeking help with their addictions.

May 13, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: California's lawyer glut spurs legislation

Dan notes a bill before the California Legislature that would make more work for the glut of lawyers passing the state bar exam.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

May 13, 2013
AM Alert: Sun, sun, sun, here it comes (to the Capitol)

Beatles.JPGSen. Kevin de León and Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, both Los Angeles Democrats, kick off the week by greeting a bunch of Los Angeles first-graders coming to the Capitol to promote solar power. Clean energy and schools are at the heart of a fight between de León and Gov. Jerry Brown over how to allocate half the roughly $1 billion expected from the tax code changes enacted by November's Proposition 39. Brown wants the money to go to schools and community colleges based on enrollment. De León says preference should be given to economically disadvantaged schools. It's probably just a coincidence that de León will be under the rotunda at 9:30 a.m. with dozens of children from Echo Park singing the Beatles' famous tune, "Here Comes the Sun."

APPROPS: Afterward, de León walks upstairs to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is scheduled to slog through nearly 100 bills today. Among those on the agenda: Senate Bill 700, by Sen. Lois Wolk, D- Davis, which would create a 5-cent tax on paper and plastic bags and direct the money toward local parks; and Senate Bills 491 and 493 by Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, which would expand the kinds of services nurse practitioners and pharmacists may offer - a huge area of conflict with the doctor lobby.

IMMIGRATION HOLDS: The lower house gavels down at noon, with plans to take up several bills including an immigration proposal by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano. Assembly Bill 4 is the San Francisco Democrat's second attempt to reduce the number of undocumented immigrants who are deported for minor infractions. The bill prohibits local law enforcement agencies from holding people they arrest for federal immigration authorities unless they've been convicted of a serious or violent felony. Last year Brown vetoed a similar measure, Assembly Bill 1081.

MOTHER'S MILK: We're not talking about money this time. Assemblyman Richard Pan and the Breastfeeding Coalition of Greater Sacramento will be honoring three companies today on the Capitol's West steps for being "Mother-Baby Friendly Workplaces." Employees of Golden 1 Credit Union, Aerojet and VSP Vision Care nominated their companies for providing comfortable spaces for them to pump breast milk at work after their babies were born.

PHOTO CREDIT: A press release from Environment California says students from Betty Plasencia Elementary School in Los Angeles will sing a Beatles tune inside the Capitol today. This 1967 photo by UPI Tony Gale / Pictorial Press London shows The Beatles: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison.


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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