Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

June 13, 2013
CA lawmakers push to name Bay Bridge span after Willie Brown

BRIDGE TOLLS.JPGA group of legislators is proposing to name the western span of the Bay Bridge after former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown.

Assembly Concurrent Resolution 65 recognizes Brown's accomplishments, which include two terms as mayor of San Francisco, by naming the western span the Willie L. Brown, Jr. Bridge.

"He was able to bridge all kinds of people and I think he is very deserving of this," said Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, a co-author on ACR 65. "The caveat is that it is unfortunate that they are only naming the bridge that needs the most work after him. As I understand it, that span needs the most repairs."

The new eastern span of the Bay Bridge is due to open later this year. The project has been embroiled in controversy involving faulty materials and questionable testing procedures, as reported in a series of stories by Charles Piller in The Sacramento Bee.

Brown was mayor of San Francisco when Gov. Pete Wilson signed legislation doubling tolls of five San Francisco Bay area bridges to pay for seismic upgrading and repairs on the Bay Bridge in 1997. Brown battled with lawmakers over the design and location of the bridge, which led to years of delays. In a column in the San Francisco Chronicle in February, Brown said it was worth the wait.

Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, and 10 co-authors introduced the resolution Wednesday to name the western span after Brown.

"Willie Brown has been a trailblazer in so many ways," said Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, who returned to the Capitol this week after a three week absence. Holden has been out on bereavement leave following the death of his mother, as well as a medical leave.

"My mom always said give people flowers while they can still smell them," Holden said. "(Brown) has touched so many lives in a positive way."

* NOTE: This version has been updated to delete a portion of a quote by Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, who said she misspoke.

PHOTO: California Gov. Pete Wilson, center, talks with San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, second from left, after the governor signed legislation doubling tolls of five San Francisco Bay area bridges as Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, left, Bill Lockyer, D-Hayward , and Quentin Kopp, I-San Francisco, right, listen Wednesday, Aug. 20, 1997, on Treasure Island, Calif., in the San Francisco Bay. The increased tolls are to pay for seismic upgrading and repairs on the Bay Bridge, shown in background. Associated Press//Thor Swift

June 13, 2013
Delayed release of budget bills angers Republican senators

20120104_PK_LEGISLATURE 0602.JPGWhen Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, introduced a motion in the Senate on Thursday to move the budget trailer bills to the floor, it sparked heated debate from several Republican senators.

Senate Republican leader Bob Huff, Sen. Bill Emmerson, R-Hemet, and Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, all urged the Senate not to send the bills out of committee without a public hearing.

Huff accused Senate Democrats of wanting "to skip another step" and questioned the fairness of the process. Without public debate, Huff said, the budget would not be a fair representation of the people's needs.

"Colleagues, ask yourself how comfortable you are with a final product produced by three people in a closed room that neither you, nor your constituents, have had a chance to review," Huff said.

Emmerson voiced similar concerns about what he called a "shameful" process, telling his colleagues that "the people of California deserve better."

Nevertheless, the motion passed 23-9. Links to the trailer bills were later posted online and are listed here. The Senate is expected to take up the budget Friday morning.

RELATED POST: Help us examine California's budget bills

PHOTO: Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, and then state Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, talk during a Senate session in Sacramento in January 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Paul Kitagaki Jr.

June 13, 2013
Help us examine California's budget bills

BUDGETBLAKESLEE.jpgThe California Legislature has begun to release details of the so-called "trailer bills" that will accompany the budget bill for floor votes Friday -- and possibly Saturday.

The last-minute release of the policy bills needed to implement the spending plan has become something of a tradition at the Capitol, with open government advocates complaining that the public is not given enough time to evaluate the sometimes voluminous provisions.

The Senate this morning voted to send all the bills to the floor without committee hearings, drawing the ire of Republicans.

As we start to comb through the measures looking for heretofore unknown budget provisions, perhaps Alert readers can lend a hand. Below are links to the current versions of the bills, including the main budget bill, that have been released so far.

See anything interesting -- or fishy? Email David Siders at

SB 66 - Human Services
SB 70 - Alcohol and Drug programs
SB 71 - State government
SB 74 - Corrections
SB 75 - Courts
SB 76 - Public Safety
SB 77 - Health
SB 82 - Mental Health
SB 83 - Developmental Services
SB 85 - Transportation
SB 86 - State government
SB 89 - Augmentations
SB 91 - School Finance
SB 92 - Seismic Safety
AB 110 - Budget Bill

PHOTO: Then Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, reads during discussion on the main budget bill on Tuesday, June 28, 2011, in Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

June 13, 2013
California Assembly committee stalls high-profile farm labor bill

BB_FARM_COND_0125_Labor.JPGA high-profile bill to help the United Farm Workers union secure contracts with growers has hit a roadblock in a California Assembly committee that's ordinarily very friendly to union-sponsored legislation.

The measure, Senate Bill 25, had cleared the Senate easily -- not surprisingly, since its author, Sacramento Democrat Darrell Steinberg, is the Senate's president pro tem.

However, it got just three votes Wednesday in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee -- one short of the four required -- as two Democrats on the committee refused to vote, including Salinas Assemblyman Luis Alejo, who has worn support for farmworkers' interests on his sleeve throughout his political career.

June 13, 2013
Single fracking bill remains before California Legislature

pavley.JPGThe drive to regulate the contentious extraction process called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," has narrowed in focus: lawmakers have winnowed the file of fracking-related bills to a single piece of legislation.

Senate Bill 4 by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, became the sole survivor after a bill by Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, requiring greater disclosure about the chemicals and water deployed during fracking failed to advance in committee Wednesday.

Other fracking bills have been relegated to the inactive file on the author's request, perished during floor votes or sent to wither on the suspense file. Some of those bills, particularly those that would have imposed a moratorium on fracking in California, drew vigorous opposition from the energy industry.

Senators greenlighted Pavley's bill on a 28-11 floor vote, with every no vote coming from Republican lawmakers. The bill would set up a permitting system, require energy companies to share more information with the state and with property owners and have the California Natural Resources Agency commission a study on the environmental repercussions of fracking.

It is pending in the Assembly, with Pavley's office expecting a committee referral soon.

June 13, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: California's court system is in crisis

California legislators are busy giving themselves a pat on the back over the latest state budget deal while the state's court system is getting hammered, Dan says.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

June 13, 2013
AM Alert: How diverse is California's state workforce?

LAdiversity.jpgMore than 16 years after California voters passed Proposition 209 prohibiting the state from factoring race, gender and ethnicity into hiring decisions, a bevy of public officials will be taking stock today at a state-sponsored employment workshop.

Speakers at the daylong event will include Anna Caballero, secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency; Julie Chapman, director of the California Department of Human Resources; Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP; E. Dotson Wilson, the Assembly's chief clerk; Cynthia Bridges, executive director of the State Board of Equalization; and Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, D-West Covina, (who, incidentally, is getting married this weekend).

VIDEO: Even as Sacramento heralds a new budget deal, court closures highlight the fact that the fiscal pain isn't over, Dan Walters says.


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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