Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

June 20, 2013
Elizabeth Emken formally announces challenge to Ami Bera

Elizabeth_Emken.jpgFormer U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Emken will once again run for office, this time challenging first-term Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove.

The Republican formally announced her campaign in a letter sent to her donors on Thursday, spokesman Mark Standriff said.

Former congressman Doug Ose also seems likely to join the field of Republicans contending for Bera's seat in California's 7th Congressional District.

Standriff said Thursday that Emken has closed on a house in Fair Oaks in order to run in the district.

In a statement posted on her website, Emken said her decision to run for Congress came from "the need to send someone to Washington who understands the struggles of our families and who is concerned about the direction of our country -- and our government."

Emken ran last year against the longtime incumbent, Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein, but came up short at the polls.

Emken has also championed autism research, serving as vice president for government relations at the advocacy organization Autism Speaks.

PHOTO: Then Republican Senate candidate Elizabeth Emken speaks during a news conference in Sacramento on April 10, 2012. Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli

June 20, 2013
Jerry Brown will support bill keeping Public Records Act intact

brownjanbudget.jpgGov. Jerry Brown will support a bill reversing a proposed weakening of the California Public Records Act, apparently resolving the controversy that has swept over the Capitol in recent days.

The resolution follows an Assembly vote this morning to undo part of a budget bill that would have made compliance with some provisions of the act voluntary for local agencies. Brown and Senate Democrats initially said they would instead support putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot next year seeking to restore the full effect of the act, but without requiring the state to reimburse local agencies for the cost of compliance.

"We support the legislative leaders' approach, which will eliminate uncertainty about local compliance with the law and, on a permanent basis, ensure that local government pays for what has long been its explicit responsibility," said Evan Westrup, Brown's spokesman.

After initially saying they would not immediately act on the Assembly bill, Senate Democrats are now expected to take up the measure undoing changes to the records act. Brown plans to sign that revised language.

The Democratic governor will also continue to support putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot next year.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at a news conference at the Capitol on Jan. 10, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton

Editor's Note: This post was updated with Westrup's comment at 2:23 p.m. on June 20, 2013.

June 20, 2013
Chevron Corp. taking political fire from both right and left

California_Greenhouse_Gases.jpgIt's been a rough week, politically speaking, for Chevron, one of the state's oldest and largest corporations, as it takes fire from the left and the right.

Chevron, which has been dodging political and legal bullets over a 2012 fire at its refinery in Richmond, is under fire from farmers, especially Republican farmers, over hefty political contributions to a group that backs Democrat Leticia Perez in her state Senate battle with Republican farmer Andy Vidak.

What makes the situation especially dicey is that the San Joaquin Valley Senate seat that one of them will fill after a special election next month was vacated by Democrat Michael Rubio after Chevron hired him as a political affairs executive.

June 20, 2013
Jerry Brown has 'nothing to add' about public records flap

brownjanbudget.jpgSAN FRANCISCO - After the state Assembly voted to undo part of a budget bill that would weaken California's open-records law, Gov. Jerry Brown hustled backstage following a speech here Thursday morning, ignoring a trail of reporters.

His spokesman, Evan Westrup, said the Democratic governor had "nothing to add" about the controversy.

Brown is expected to sign legislation making part of the California Public Records Act optional for local agencies. He signaled his opposition Wednesday to a bill by Assembly Democrats to reverse proposed changes to the law. The governor suggested that he would instead support a plan by Senate Democrats to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot next year seeking to restore the full effect of the act, but without requiring the state to reimburse local agencies for the cost of compliance.

"We all agree that Californians have a right to know and should continue to have prompt access to public records, and I support enshrining these protections in California's constitution," Brown said in a prepared statement Wednesday.

Brown's address Thursday morning was at a National Nurses United conference in San Francisco. The organization's California affiliate, the California Nurses Association, was a major supporter of Brown's election in 2010 and initiative to raise taxes two years later.

Brown spoke broadly about climate change and income inequality, familiar subjects for him.

"We have issues that are here today in this legislative session, and then we have issues that transcend the issues of today but are going to affect our lives in a very, very profound way," he said. "And sometimes we can get so caught up in the now that we forget about the tsunami that's coming at us."

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at a news conference at the Capitol on Jan. 10, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton

June 20, 2013
Darrell Steinberg considering run for Sacramento mayor

SteinbergJohnson2.JPGFacing the end of his career in the state Legislature next year, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said Thursday that he is considering a run for mayor of Sacramento.

"I'm fairly clear for myself that there doesn't appear to be a statewide constitutional office that I'm interested in running for in 2014. So as I look at other possibilities down the line, that's one possibility," Steinberg said in response to a question from The Bee about his interest in returning to City Hall, where he was a councilman in the 1990s.

The Democratic Senate leader was quick to add that he has not made any firm decisions and that he is friends with Mayor Kevin Johnson, whose term is up in 2016.

"It's not about him," Steinberg said. "I think he's doing a very good job."

Steinberg and Johnson worked closely together during the recent fight to keep the Kings basketball team in Sacramento, frequently making appearances together to block the team's proposed move to Seattle. While Johnson has not discussed the possibility of running for a third term in 2016, he has said that he does not want any job that would require him to leave Sacramento. A call to Johnson's office this morning was not immediately returned.

Steinberg told The Bee he is "not inclined to pursue" a run for Sacramento district attorney in 2014, a post he had once expressed interest in. Democrat Maggy Krell and Republican Anne Marie Schubert have already announced their candidacies for that race to replace longtime DA Jan Scully.

Steinberg has nearly $800,000 in a campaign account opened to run for lieutenant governor in 2018.

Bee reporter Ryan Lillis contributed to this report.

PHOTO: Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson clasps hands with California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg on April 29, 2013, following the announcement that the NBA would not allow the Kings to move to Seattle. The Sacramento Bee/Renée C. Byer

June 20, 2013
Assembly sends Senate a bill reversing public records changes

blumenfield.JPGAssembly Democrats sent a bill reversing changes to the California Public Records Act to the Senate on Thursday following a 52-25 vote along party lines.

Assembly Republicans said that despite their support of the records act, they would not support the budget trailer bill because it was loaded with other provisions they opposed.

Just before noon Thursday, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez issued a joint statement saying that the Senate would take up the measure.

"We agree there needs to be both an immediate fix to ensure local entities comply with the California Public Records Act and a long-term solution so the California Public Records Act is not considered a reimbursable mandate," the statement said.

Senate Bill 71 now duplicates Assembly Bill 76 minus AB 76's public records changes. Steinberg, D-Sacramento, had said Wednesday that his house would hold SB 71 if the Assembly passed it and that he would instead support plans by Sen. Mark Leno , D-San Francisco, to seek a constitutional amendment restoring the records act, but without the requirement that the state pay for local governments to comply.

June 20, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Public records reversal 'victory for freedom'

The turn of events Wednesday related to the Public Records Act is "a victory for freedom" in Dan's book.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

June 20, 2013
AM Alert: California lawmakers get literate

RB_Capitol_Dome.JPGBudget season has produced the usual furor about whether California lawmakers read all the bills they pass, but today legislators will be showing off their literary chops with a "read-in" on the north steps. It's part of a "Summer Matters" campaign spearheaded by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who's seeking to expand access to summer learning options so kids' brains don't completely atrophy over the summer months.

Lawmakers expected to attend include Sens. Kevin de León and Mark DeSaulnier, along with Assembly members Susan Bonilla, Richard Pan and Henry T. Perea. They'll be talking with students about their favorite summer reading choices.

VIDEO: It looks like the Legislature is not immune to public pressure after all, 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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