Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government


Students First, the Sacramento-based education advocacy group headed by school reform crusader (and wife of Sacramento major Kevin Johnson) Michelle Rhee, has launched a major blitz in advance of a hearing today on Senate Bill 441, a union-opposed teacher evaluation bill that was granted reconsideration after registering a 4-4 committee vote last week, with Democrats and Republicans on both sides.

The push has included an email blast inviting supporters to organize and train ahead of the hearing, a radio spot and a full-page ad in Tuesday's edition of The Sacramento Bee. It looks unlikely that SB 441 will make it to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown, but Students First is clearly flexing its muscle on this one. The bill goes before the Senate Education Committee at a 9 a.m. hearing in room 4203.

VIDEO: Gov. Jerry Brown talks about dismantling California's "wall of debt," but Dan Walters says the governor is ignoring a mountain of liabilities looming beyond it.

CEQA OVERHAUL: There's already been plenty of back-and-forth about the prospects of amending the California Environmental Quality Act. Today a series of CEQA bills, including one by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, get a hearing before the Environmental Quality Committee today, starting at 12:30 p.m.

DAIRY DIALECTIC: To the annals of fascinating Capitol interest clashes you can add a dispute between the milk and cheese industries. They're feuding over AB 31, which would alter how California prices its milk, which cheese producers say would damage their bottom line. The bill goes before the Agriculture Committee today at 1:30, in room 126.

TOBACCO TAX: Health advocates are rallying at the Capitol in support of a bill by Senator Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, that would hike the price of cigarettes. Representatives of the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association in California will be joining de León at 12:30 p.m. on the west steps.

LABOR PROTECTION: Labor and immigration advocates are joining Assemblyman Roger Hernández, D-West Covina, today for a press conference backing Assembly Bill 263, which would strengthen workplace protections, including for immigrant workers (Steinberg highlighted similar bills yesterday). Art Pulaski of the California Labor Federation, Gabriela Villareal of the California Immigrant Policy Center and Jeannette Zanipatin of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund will be at the 11 a.m. press conference, in room 317.

FOSTERING ADVOCACY: The governor has drawn praise for his plan to streamline school funding by eliminating specific funding streams called "categoricals," but that doesn't mean everyone is happy. Current and former foster youth with the organization California Youth Connection are rallying on the north steps at 8 a.m. this morning to protest the fact that Brown's budget proposal would do away with Foster Youth Services programs as a categorical administered by the County Offices of Education.

On a related note: back in the 20th century, The Bee wrote about a young woman named Ida Lockett who was struggling to overcome an upbringing that shuttled her between different foster homes. Lockett went on to found California Youth Connection, and tonight she will be honored, along with Steinberg, at a celebration of CYC's 25th anniversary.

PHOTO CREDIT: Michelle Rhee during a Sacramento Press Club appearance on May 24, 2010, when Rhee was still chancellor of the Washington DC Public Schools system. By Manny Crisostomo/The Sacramento Bee.


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