Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

May 24, 2013
Condoms for adult films bill stalls in California Assembly

condoms.JPGThe Assembly Appropriations Committee moved 221 bills proposing $700 million in spending off the suspense file and onto the floor Friday in preparation for a vote next week.

The committee, which is tasked with reviewing all bills with a fiscal implication for the state, considered 365 bills in all.

Appropriations Chair Mike Gatto, D-Silver Lake, said the committee cut 80 percent of the $3.5 billion in proposed spending on the suspense file.

"I think we always have to weigh the costs and benefits of bills before us," Gatto said. "We did a good job of doing that."

Among the bills that failed to pass the committee were:

May 24, 2013
California's Senate District 16 could be headed to runoff


It appears the announcement that Republican farmer Andy Vidak won outright former senator Michael Rubio's seat may have been premature: an updated vote count puts Vidak below the 50-percent-plus-one threshold he needed to surpass to avoid a runoff against his Democratic opponent, Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez.

An updated total posted on the Secretary of State's website at 3:21 this afternoon gave Vidak 49.8 percent of the vote and Perez 43.8 percent.

The Secretary of State's office faces a May 31st deadline to certify the results of the election; so far none of the four counties that comprise parts of the former 16th Senate District (it has since been redrawn out of existence) have sent in their certified results, according to Secretary of State spokeswoman Nicole Winger.

Here are the current county-by-county vote margins:

May 24, 2013
California homeless rights bill fails in Assembly committee

ammiano.JPGAssemblyman Tom Ammiano's bill to create legal protections and support services for homeless people stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Friday.

Ammiano, D-San Francisco, proposed several protections for homeless people, including the right to counsel when accused of crimes like loitering. His bill also called for cities and counties to build hygiene centers, which would have cost as much as $216 million to build and another $81 million a year to maintain.

The California Chamber of Commerce included AB 5 on its annual "job killers" list, saying it imposed "costly and unreasonable mandates on employers."

In a statement, Ammiano said he was disappointed that the "Homeless Person's Bill of Rights and Fairness Act" failed, but that he understands the state's budget picture.

Ammiano said he plans to start working right away to pursue another approach to ensure homeless people are not treated as criminals.

Ammiano was more successful with AB 473, which would create a division within Alcoholic Beverages Control to regulate the production, transportation and sales of medical cannabis. The measure won passage in the committee Friday.

IIMAGE CREDIT: Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, in a 2009 file photo. Hector Amezcua/The Sacramento Bee

May 24, 2013
Federal appeals court upholds California's Medi-Cal rate cut

The full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Friday upheld Gov. Jerry Brown's 10 percent cut in payments to hospitals, doctors, pharmacists and other providers of medical care to the poor under the state Medi-Cal program.

The cut, adopted by Brown and the Legislature two years ago to help balance the state budget, was nullified by federal Judge Christina A. Snyder, but a three-judge appellate panel reversed the rejection. That decision was upheld Friday by the full appeals court. The cut had been suspended by court order while the appeal was under way.

The case was in federal court because of a series of suits challenging the federal government's approval of the state action. Friday's ruling upheld the right of the federal government to approve the reduction. Attorneys for the providers and health care advocacy groups said they may seek a rehearing of the case and/or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The provider rate reduction was aimed at saving the state several hundred million dollars a year and is included in Brown's latest budget, which is now undergoing scrutiny in the Legislature. It's the centerpiece of a larger conflict over reductions of "safety net" health and welfare services that pits Brown against their advocates, with Democratic legislators caught in the middle.

May 24, 2013
California Senate votes to regulate e-cigarettes


Electronic cigarettes would be subject to the same prohibitions as regular cigarettes under a bill passed Friday by the Senate.

Perhaps you've had this experience: you're sitting in a bar and you see what appears to be someone smoking a cigarette, blatantly violating an indoor smoking ban; you get a little closer and realize that the person is in fact drawing on an e-cigarette, exhaling vapor that's distinct from the acrid smoke produced by conventional cigarettes.

That would no longer be possible under Senate Bill 648 by Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, that would ban e-cigarettes inside public buildings, near a playground, inside restaurants and on an airplane. It would also restrict the places where e-cigarette companies could advertise.

Corbett said she had authored the legislation in pursuit of "consistent regulation" that holds the burgeoning e-cigarette industry to the same standards as tobacco-based products, and added that studies of e-cigarette smoke had found harmful particles of metal components.

"This bill does not ban the use of e-cigarettes," Corbett said, "it just treats them the same as other cigarettes."

The measure passed on a 21-10 vote. One of the dissenting lawmakers, Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, argued that e-cigarettes are an effective way to help people quit regular cigarettes, something he asked senators to consider given the fact that "we spend tens of millions, billions of dollars trying to get people off cigarettes."

"While it may not be perfect, it's a step in the right direction," Anderson said of substituting the futuristic-looking smokes for conventional cigarettes, adding that e-cigarettes have given "a new lease on life" to constituents who have struggled to kick the habit.

PHOTO CREDIT: A pack of "blu" brand electronic cigarettes. Friday, Aug. 27, 2010 by Gerry Broome/The Associated Press.

May 24, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Lawmakers will heed budget deadline

How do you get a budget passed on time? Threatening to take away California lawmakers' salaries helps, Dan explains.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

May 24, 2013
AM Alert: Judgment day for California Assembly suspense bills

dailyfile.JPGWith a potentially per-diem-wrecking three day weekend ahead, a schedule shuffle has left us with an unusually busy Friday. Much of the action is in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which will be sifting through more than 300 bills currently on the suspense file to decide which can advance and which are trapped in legislative limbo. (For a look at how the Senate suspense bills fared, click here.)

Other than that, we have some Assembly budget subcommittees and a meeting of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. We'll try to let you know how long lawmakers spend in the building before skedaddling back to their districts.

VIDEO: We're moving closer to crunch time on the budget, but Dan Walters expects lawmakers to finish their work on time.

GAVIN'S GRADUATION GAB: We've had a stretch of graduation ceremonies that have included commencement speeches from Gov. Jerry Brown (Berkeley) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (UC Davis law school). Today it's Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's turn. He'll be addressing students at the College of Marin starting at 6 p.m.

FUEL STANDARDS: California's landmark carbon emissions law requires, among other things, that the state establish a low carbon fuel standard that reduces by 10 percent the amount of carbon emitted by fuels sold in the state. The Air Resources Board is holding a public workshop to discuss some new proposals during a 9:30 a.m. meeting at Cal EPA on I Street.

MONSANTO MARCH: As part of an international day of protest, advocates are rallying Saturday in Sacramento against agro-giant Monsanto, whose seed patent protections were recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. The demonstration starts at 11 a.m. on the Capitol's north steps and will include a march down the Capitol Mall. As of this writing, the Facebook group for the event lists about 1,800 people as attending.

PHOTO CREDIT: Does the Assembly Daily File contain a list of legislative triumphs or dashed dreams? We'll find out today. Jeremy B. White / Sacramento Bee.


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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