Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

June 26, 2013
Fresno County enterprise zone gets failing grade from state

RB_Jerry_Brown_Budget_4.JPGWith Gov. Jerry Brown's effort to overhaul California's enterprise zone program pending before the state Assembly, the Brown administration this afternoon notified a third enterprise zone it had failed a state audit, this one in Fresno County.

According to a report by the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Fresno County enterprise zone -- one of 40 statewide that have provided tax breaks to employers for years -- exhibited "an overall lack of achievement and documentation for budget commitments, voucher administration and timeliness of regulatory required reports."

The report said the program was marred by lack of appropriate documentation and "areas of weak internal controls," including insufficient self-evaluations.

June 26, 2013
VIDEO: Gavin Newsom calls DOMA, Prop. 8 decisions 'historic'

Supreme Court-Gay Marriage_Gavin_Newsom.jpgLt. Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed reporters Wednesday afternoon in his Sacramento office and expressed his elation over the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8, calling it "a profound day, and a historic day."

When Newsom was mayor of San Francisco, he made headlines in 2004 by telling city clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. About 4,000 couples were issued licenses before the California Supreme Court ordered the city to stop. Wednesday, he called the Supreme Court decisions a bookmark to those actions in 2004.

"The great thing about what happened today was not a legal brief that was filed and oral arguments that were made and the Supreme Court adjudicating on equality," Newsom said, adding that it was "the human element" that underlay it all, "the narrative of people's lives, these lives that were affirmed and now are celebrated."

VIDEO: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom talks to reporters in Sacramento on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/ Amy Gebert

PHOTO: Gay rights advocates acknowledge Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, center, during a celebration at San Francisco's City Hall on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, shortly after a Supreme Court decision cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California. As mayor of San Francisco in 2004, Newsom ordered city clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Associated Press/ Noah Berger

June 26, 2013
VIDEO: California's LGBT lawmakers praise rulings

Tears and jubilation mingled at the state Capitol this morning as openly gay members of California's LGBT legislative caucus lauded a pair of U.S. Supreme Court decisions solidifying the legal status of same-sex marriage.

"This is the first time in my life," Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said, "I've felt the law truly recognized me as equal to everyone else."

One of the Supreme Court's rulings invalidated key pieces of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples. In their other ruling, the justices decided that plaintiffs backing Proposition 8, California's same-sex marriage ban that U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker struck down in 2010, had no standing to challenge Walker's ruling.

June 26, 2013
Taxpayers group fears impact of gay marriage ruling on unrelated ballot measures

coupal.jpgFearing the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage in California could hobble the proponents of other, unrelated ballot initiatives, the president of a taxpayers group said today he is considering an effort to enshrine in the state constitution the authority of initiative proponents to defend their measures in court.

After state officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown, declined to defend Proposition 8, California's same-sex marriage ban, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the proponents of the initiative lacked legal standing to defend the measure in court.

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said he is considering a ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to define initiative proponents as agents of the state for the limited purpose of defending ballot measures in court.

June 26, 2013
Jerry Brown tells California counties to issue gay marriage licenses

jerrybrown.jpgIn the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling undercutting California's same-sex marriage ban, the Brown administration told county officials this morning the ruling applies statewide - with all 58 counties required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples once a lower court stay is lifted.

"After years of struggle, the U.S. Supreme Court today has made same-sex marriage a reality in California," Gov. Jerry Brown said in a prepared statement.

"In light of the decision, I have directed the California Department of Public Health to advise the state's counties that they must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the Ninth Circuit confirms the stay is lifted," the Democratic governor added.

In a letter to county clerks and records, the Department of Public Health said that "same-sex couples will once again be allowed to marry in California." However, the letter cautioned clerks, in bold type, to issue no marriage licenses to same-sex couples until a stay is lifted by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"We do not know when the Ninth Circuit will issue this order, but it could take a month or more," the letter said. "County clerks and recorders should not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples until this order is issued."

June 26, 2013
Rapid Response: The gay marriage decisions

It was a history-making day at the U.S. Supreme Court today, with the high court striking down key aspects of the federal ban on same-sex marriage known as the Defense of Marriage Act. The justices also tossed a case appealing a lower court's decision to invalidate Proposition 8, California's gay marriage prohibition.

The responses have already started flowing in. Here's a sampling:

Gov. Jerry Brown

"After years of struggle, the U.S. Supreme Court today has made same-sex marriage a reality in California. In light of the decision, I have directed the California Department of Public Health to advise the state's counties that they must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the Ninth Circuit confirms the stay is lifted."

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco

"Thank you, Supremes, for stopping the Proposition 8 and DOMA madness in the name of love. Now any Californian will be able to marry the person he or she loves and the federal government will recognize that marriage. This is not total victory, of course. There are LGBT people in most states who don't have marriage equality yet. The fundamental questions are of justice and equality and the Supreme Court's recent rulings on voting rights and affirmative action make it clear that these struggles don't end all at once. We still have to watch out to protect the rights of lesbians, gays and transgender people - and all people who suffer discrimination or inequality for any reason. Let's keep building on the Bill of Rights, and make sure no one loses out because of where they come from, because of how poor they are or because of who they love."

June 26, 2013
Live Chat: Discuss U.S. Supreme Court's Proposition 8 ruling, 9 a.m.

Please join Dan Morain at 9 a.m. for a live chat focusing on the Supreme Court's ruling on the challenge to California's Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban.

June 26, 2013
Prop. 8 dismissed, defense of Marriage Act struck down

By Michael Doyle

McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court made history Wednesday with two victories for marriage equality, in California and nationwide.

In a pair of highly anticipated decisions, the divided court effectively undercut California's Proposition 8 that banned same-sex marriage. Separately, the court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a law that denies same-sex married couples federal benefits. Together, the decisions provide an emphatic, if incomplete, win for advocates of same-sex marriage.

Read the court's Prop. 8 decision here

The decisions address different issues, and neither declares a broad constitutional right to same-sex marriage that covers residents of all 50 states. But in each case, acting on the final day of the term that began last October, a slim 5-4 court majority endorsed a position that helps same-sex marriage cause as well as individual couples..

"We're proud of you guys," President Barack Obama said in a broadcast telephone call from Air Force One to the two same-sex couples who had challenged Proposition 8, "and we're proud to have this in California."

The Proposition 8 case involved a challenge to the 2008 California ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage. On Wednesday, in somewhat of a strange-bedfellow alliance, the court concluded that the supporters lacked the legal standing to defend the measure. For same-sex couples in California, the real-world result could be they might be able to secure marriage licenses within about 25 days, if not sooner.

Read the court's decision on DOMA here

Standing is the legal term for being eligible to file a lawsuit. To have standing, an individual must have a significant interest in the controversy and must either have suffered an injury or face an imminent threat of injury.

"It is not enough that the party invoking the power of the court have a keen interest in the issue," Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., wrote for the 5-4 majority, adding that "because we find that petitioners do not have standing, we have no authority to decide this case on the merits, and neither did the 9th Circuit."

The decision eliminates a lower appellate court ruling and leaves intact a trial judge's order blocking Proposition 8 from taking effect. At the very least, this means that two same-sex couples who filed the lawsuit against the ballot measure may marry. Advocates say that other same-sex couples in California should be able to take advantage of the ruling, though that same-sex marriage opponents suggest this might require further trial-level clarification.

California Gov. Jerry Brown and California Attorney General Kamala Harris have advised county officials that they must resume issuing same-sex marriage licenses once a legal order is received from the appellate court. Typically, it takes about 25 days for a Supreme Court ruling to filter down to the lower courts, though advocates hope it can happen sooner.

June 26, 2013
Supreme Court strikes down Defense of Marriage Act

McClatchy Newspapers

The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the politically charged centerpiece of the Defense of Marriage Act, in a marked victory for marriage equality.

Issuing the first of two long-awaited decisions involving same-sex marriage, the divided court said the 1996 law violates the constitutional guarantees of equal protection.

"DOMA divests married same-sex couples of the duties and responsibilities that are an essential part of married life," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.

Kennedy joined court's four liberal justices in the 5-4 decision.

June 26, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Star power outshines the constitution

The legislature is starstruck at the expense of freedom of the press and the constitution, 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 26, 2013
AM Alert: Sacramento braces for Proposition 8 Ruling


It has been a momentous week for the U.S. Supreme Court, but in some ways it seems the daily drumbeat of decisions has been building up to today: at 7:00 a.m. PST, the justices are expected to announce the legal fate of Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage. Stay with The Bee throughout the day for updates.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris is holding a press conference to discuss the anticipated (and by the time you're reading this, probably released) ruling in Los Angeles at 10:30 a.m. Here at the State Capitol, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, and members of the LGBT Legislative Caucus will be reacting during a 10:30 a.m. press conference in room 317.

VIDEO: When it comes to press freedom, Dan Walters says the Legislature seems willing to make exceptions for celebrities.


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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