Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

June 25, 2013
California state Senate passes enterprise zone overhaul

steinbergleno.JPGThe state Senate late Tuesday passed a proposal to eliminate California's enterprise zones after Senate Democrats negotiated a series of last-minute amendments to mollify resistant lawmakers.

The legislation, a priority of Gov. Jerry Brown's, will now head to an uncertain future in the Assembly.

The proposed overhaul of the enterprise zone program, which has provided employers in locally designated areas large tax breaks for years, would largely retain those areas' geographic boundaries but with significantly scaled back hiring credits.

The measure also includes a sales tax exemption for manufacturing and biotech research companies and about $30 million in the budget year beginning July 1 for tax credits negotiated on a case-by-case basis with the state.

June 25, 2013
Senate committee slows fast-track bill for SF basketball arena

An effort by San Francisco city officials and new owners of the Golden State Warriors basketball team to fast-track construction of a new arena on the city's waterfront slowed down Tuesday in a state Senate committee.

As proposed and approved by the Assembly, Assembly Bill 1273 would have had the Legislature bypass local and regional authorities to authorize use of publicly owned tidelands for the project, which also includes a large retail and office complex. Proponents say the project would generate new business for San Francisco and pay for improvement of a deteriorating block of piers.

However, the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee insisted that the decision on use of tidelands - without which the arena cannot proceed - would be made later in the project approval process by the State Lands Commission and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) after local studies and hearings.

"It's premature for us to make the decision at this time," the committee's chairwoman, Democrat Fran Pavley, told advocates, including the bill's author, San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting.

That means a slowdown and also gives project opponents - who include former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos - new venues to wage their campaign. The three-member State Lands Commission is composed of Gov. Jerry Brown's finance director, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom - who is also a former San Francisco mayor - and Controller John Chiang.

The BCDC, meanwhile, includes representatives of local governments surrounding San Francisco Bay, including those from Oakland and other East Bay communities who are opposed to moving the basketball team from Oakland to San Francisco, which was its original home. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was among those who spoke against AB 1273 Tuesday. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups also opposed fast-tracking approval of the tidelands use.

The proposed arena would be located on Piers 30 and 32, near the San Francisco Giants' AT&T Park.

June 25, 2013
Abel Maldonado's campaign logo bears down

AFGLogoMain.jpegWhen they discuss how a candidate or event is perceived, campaign consultants like to talk about "optics" -- what the public sees and how it shapes judgments.

There have been some interesting optics thus far in former Lt. Gov Abel Maldonado's not-yet-officially-declared quest to unseat Gov. Jerry Brown.

First there was the launch of Maldonado's crusade against prison realignment, the initiative to reduce prison overcrowding that the former lieutenant governor is using to bludgeon Brown for damaging public safety.

There are plenty of publicly visible places suitable to making a major announcement, but Maldonado's choice of a Sacramento parking garage seemed bizarre to some people. (Maldonado's campaign clarified that the choice of venue was not meant to underscore the perilous nature of parking garages; it was a last-minute scheduling choice).

And then there's Maldonado's campaign logo, featured above from his website. The use of bear imagery in a California gubernatorial campaign isn't exactly groundbreaking, but the bear seems more contemplative than ferocious, like he's a little too worried about conditions at county jails to go salmon hunting.

Jeff Corless, Maldonado's campaign manager, said the unconventional image goes with what he expects to be an unconventional run.

"It's going to be a campaign that you've never seen Republicans run before," Corless said. "Republicans need to catch up with the times and find ways to market themselves better, and it starts with logos and branding, frankly."

June 25, 2013
VIDEO: Halle Berry testifies in favor of paparazzi restrictions

Actress Halle Berry testified today in favor of Senate Bill 606 at the California state Capitol:

June 25, 2013
Jerry Brown names former Schwarzenegger aide to agency post

batjer.jpgGov. Jerry Brown has appointed Marybel Batjer, one of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's former Cabinet secretaries, to oversee state procurement, information technology and human resources under a government reorganization taking effect Monday.

Batjer, who will become secretary of a new Government Operations Agency, was one of three appointments announced by Brown's office today. In a reorganization approved by the Legislature last year, former Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency, will become secretary of the new Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency.

Brian Kelly, acting secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, will become secretary of the new Transportation Agency.

Batjer, of Reno, has been vice president of public policy and corporate social responsibility at Caesars Entertainment Corp. since 2005, according to the governor's office. She was former Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn's chief of staff before joining Schwarzenegger's administration, where she worked from 2003 to 2005.

Like Brown, Batjer, 58, is a Democrat. So are Caballero and Kelly.

The appointments of Batjer, Caballero and Kelly all require Senate confirmation. The pay for each post is $180,250 a year.

PHOTO: Then-Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn gestures to Marybel Batjer during a news conference in Carson City, Nev., in 2003. AP Photo/Nevada Appeal/Cathleen Allison

June 25, 2013
Halle Berry testifies in support of paparazzi bill

People-Halle Berry (1).jpgThe Capitol got a taste of star power on Tuesday when Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry testified in favor of a bill that would restrict paparazzi access to children.

Sen. Kevin De León, D-Los Angeles, authored Senate Bill 606, which would expand the definition of harassing children to include actions like "alarming, annoying, tormenting or terrorizing conduct" as well as increase the punishment for those actions. It would make aggression from photographers and the press, as well as other attacks, illegal when directed at children.

Despite opposition from First Amendment groups, the bill passed the committee on a 5-0 vote, and will head to the Assembly Judiciary Committee next.

De León said the bill would "protect children who are particularly vulnerable to harassment because of their parents' employment." The senator said children of celebrities, law enforcement officers, and public figures are especially vulnerable to attack because of their parents' jobs.

De León said children in those families deal with hardships that a normal child should not have to understand, and that lawmakers often have a hard time understanding.

That's where Berry came in.

June 25, 2013
Sacramento flood-control projects get increased funding

HA LEVEE WORK.JPGThe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has allocated $115 million for Sacramento region flood control projects, $17 million more than President Barack Obama requested in his 2013 budget.

Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, said in a statement Tuesday that the increased funding "speaks to the recognition of our urgent need to bolster our flood defenses."

"This funding is critical for Sacramento's flood protection priorities and will help our region achieve 200-year flood protection, protecting lives, property and infrastructure," she said.

The corps allocations include more than $100 million alone for the Folsom Dam to support ongoing efforts to raise the dam and construct an auxiliary spillway.

It also includes more than $13 million for design work for levee improvements in Natomas and Sacramento, as well as improvements for flood protection in South Sacramento.

June 25, 2013
Six pediatric dental firms chosen for California health exchange

peterlee.jpgSix insurance firms will offer pediatric dental coverage on California's new health-care exchange beginning in October.

Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Delta Dental, Health Net, Liberty Dental and Premier Access Dental were the firms selected Tuesday by Covered California, the state exchange.

Unlike comprehensive health insurance, Californians are not required under federal law to purchase pediatric dental care, which is available to serve children and teenagers up to age 19.

But Covered California Director Peter V. Lee said that providing affordable dental policies is a key part of the exchange's mission to boost health statewide, particularly for young and vulnerable residents.

"Dental care is a vital component of overall health, and especially critical for our state's children," he said. "Access to dental services as a youngster means better health, both for children and as they get older."

June 25, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: It's rush hour in the Capitol this week

The Democrats are trying to speed things up and Republicans are trying to slow things down during the last week Democrats hold a supermajority in the Assembly, 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 25, 2013
AM Alert: California looks at state centers for the disabled


We don't often use this space to give shoutouts to the competition, but you may not have had a chance to read Center for Investigative Reporting's series on abuse at California's centers for the developmentally disabled. In addition to winning general plaudits from the award-givers, the series shone light on a topic that's the center of a hearing today.

The Assembly's Select Committee On State Hospital And Developmental Center Safety is taking a look this morning at how the system is implementing new safety measures. Starting at 2:30 p.m. in room 127.

VIDEO: Why are Assembly Democrats suddenly in a rush to finish their business? Dan Walters explains.

SENTENCING SCRUTINY: Prison realignment is back in the news with last week's federal directive compelling California to immediately start releasing inmates. The Little Hoover Commission has been looking into realignment-driving sentencing decisions in California, and they'll be reviewing their findings during a hearing today in room 100 of the Legislative Office Building, starting at 9 a.m.

While we're on the subject, the Assembly Public Safety Committee is running through some crime-and-punishment bills that have been released from the Senate. That includes a bill by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, to penalize parolees who sever their monitoring devices and legislation by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, that would make it tougher to put juveniles in solitary confinement.

BERRY SPECIAL TESTIMONY: Sacramento is no stranger to movie stars, what with our action hero ex-governor and our baseball-assumption-upending advocate for California women, but the fact that Halle Berry is testifying at the State Capitol today should still generate some buzz. Berry will be speaking in favor of a bill by Sen. Kevin de León (also getting a Public Safety Committee hearing) that would crack down on paparazzi-type activity directed at children.

LOOK WEST, CALIFORNIA: Gov. Jerry Brown got a chance to bolster California's international ties during his recent business-building trip to China, and today the Legislature is picking up where he left off. A select committee is holding a hearing on strengthening California's investment and business dealings in Asia, starting at 2 p.m. in room 126.

WINNING WINES: "Top winery in California" seems like a pretty coveted title given the competition, and today lawmakers are giving out awards for five standouts in the upcoming California State Fair's commercial wine competition. On hand for the presentation will be Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, and Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro, D-Arcata -- both of whom chair select committees on wine -- and California Department of Food & Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross. The ceremony will be at 10 a.m. in room 127.

FREE LUNCH: Speaking of gastronomic Capitol events, lawmakers and staff will be treated to lunch today courtesy of Yum! Brands, the parent company of chains like Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut. The complimentary grub accompanies a food drive, with attendees encouraged to bring non-perishables that will be donated to the River City Food Bank. From 11:30 a.m. on the south steps.

PHOTO: The California state Capitol in Sacramento, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2008. The Sacramento Bee/Michael Allen Jones.


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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