Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

June 27, 2013
'Wal-Mart' bill fails in Assembly as Democratic caucus splits

gomez.jpgThe California Assembly rejected hotly contested legislation Thursday to penalize large employers that provide workers with wages and hours low enough to qualify them for Medi-Cal rolls.

Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, was granted reconsideration after his Assembly Bill 880 failed on three roll call votes.

Gomez conceivably could take the bill up again, but Democrats will lose their supermajority Sunday, clouding prospects for a future vote.

The final tally Thursday was 46-27, eight votes shy of passage.

The vote on AB 880 was closely watched statewide as a test of Democrats' supermajority because it forced moderate lawmakers in the party to stand with or to buck their more liberal colleagues in the lower house.

June 27, 2013
Rep. Valadao erects another hurdle to high-speed rail

High_Speed_Rail.jpgFreshman Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, has erected yet another hurdle to construction of the California high-speed rail project.

Using his seat on the House Appropriations Committee, Valadao on Thursday won approval by voice vote of an amendment that says the federal Surface Transportation Board cannot take action on initial construction phases until the board has given final approval to the entire project. The practical effect would be to stop initial construction for at least the foreseeable future, as a massive and necessary environmental impact study has not yet been completed for the project.

June 27, 2013
Assembly sends Jerry Brown enterprise zone revamp

010311_HA_brown_inaug_01.JPGGov. Jerry Brown's push to restructure an enterprise zone program of hiring tax credits that has been criticized as wasteful and ineffective passed Thursday with a 54-17 approval in the Assembly.

The lower house sent the Democratic governor Assembly Bill 93, which cleared the Senate late Tuesday night.

AB 93 targets an economic development program that Brown initially tried to kill in 2011. Lobbying has been intense over enterprise zones, supported by business groups and local communities.

Meant to stimulate job creation in areas of high poverty and unemployment, the enterprise zone program has been criticized for, among other things, giving tax breaks to strip clubs and allowing firms to claim tax credits for hiring decisions made years earlier.

AB 93 would overhaul the enterprise zone program and redirect about $750 million in business tax breaks.

The measure largely would retain the geographic boundaries of existing enterprise zones but significantly tighten and scale back hiring credits.

Hiring credits would be available only to employers paying at least 150 percent of the state's minimum wage. Temporary worker agencies, bars, retailers and restaurants would be excluded - with the exception of qualified small businesses.

New programs proposed by AB 93 include a sales tax exemption for manufacturing and bioresearch companies, and a program of tax credits next year negotiated on a case-by-case basis with the state - totaling up to $30 million next year and rising to $200 million in 2015-16.

June 27, 2013
Jerry Brown vetoes own budget proposal on online education

brownsigns.jpgGov. Jerry Brown, who pressed California colleges and universities earlier this year to expand their online offerings, backed off Thursday, vetoing his own budget proposal to earmark $20 million in funding for online education.

Brown, who proposed in January to provide $10 million each to the University of California and California State University systems to expand the number of courses available online, will include that money in the college systems' annual allocation, but without requiring it to be spent on online education.

The action was one of a relatively small number of line item vetoes that the Democratic governor made as he signed the state budget Thursday for the fiscal year starting Monday.

June 27, 2013
California Legislature ratifies Madera casino deal for tribe

RB Gambling 4.JPG The Senate approved on Thursday a controversial gambling compact to allow the North Fork Rancheria Band of Mono Indians to build a casino in Madera County.

The vote marked the final step in a lengthy and unconventional ratification process. The North Fork tribe had to seek approval from the federal government, Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature to build a casino some 35 miles away from their ancestral lands.

Allowing the tribe to choose this site sparked concern from legislators about setting a precedent of "reservation shopping" instead of building only on tribal lands. Competing tribal casinos also opposed the compact, and both sides spent heavily on campaign contributions and lobbyists to make their case.

After a heated debate, the compact cleared the 40-member Senate with one vote to spare, 22-11.

Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, touted the economic benefits the casino would bring Madera County residents, tribe members and the state.

"This is not a vote to say will there or will there not be gaming on the site that North Fork has. There will be gaming," Wright said. "The only thing that you are voting on today is whether or not the state will get any benefits from the gaming."

The compact also includes a revenue sharing agreement with the Wiyot tribe in Humboldt County. Wright also said that negotiations are ongoing for a possible revenue sharing agreement between the North Fork tribe and nearby Chukchansi tribe, which has opposed the casino.

Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, said although he supported the North Fork compact, he hoped a working group of legislators and stakeholders could find a more streamlined process for confirming off-site reservation casinos for the future.

"We cannot piecemeal our way continuously and we cannot be caught in the cross hairs of so many interests," de León said.

PHOTO: People crowd around the Midi Baccarat tables at the Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Rocklin in June 2010. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton

June 27, 2013
Jerry Brown signs California budget bill

brownmics.jpgGov. Jerry Brown this morning signed a $96.3 billion spending plan that will shift more education money to poor and English-learning students and expand Medi-Cal coverage to more than 1 million low-income Californians under the federal healthcare overhaul.

The signing of the main budget bill, in a celebratory event with Democratic legislative leaders, followed a relatively frictionless budget negotiation ahead of the start of the new fiscal year Monday.

Brown used his line-item veto authority to cut $40 million from the spending plan.

Legislative Democrats initially urged about $2 billion more in discretionary, general fund spending than Brown proposed. They settled for about one-tenth of that amount, however, and accepted the governor's more conservative revenue estimates. After reaching agreement with the governor two weeks ago, they said the budget represented a significant step forward following years of budget cuts.

Republican lawmakers have said the budget does too little to reduce state debt, and they objected during the budget process to late-hour changes made to the budget and related legislation.

As Brown signed the budget, one piece of his initial proposal remains unsettled - an effort to overhaul California's enterprise zone program. After the state Senate on Tuesday approved a modified version of his plan, the matter is pending before the Assembly. It would significantly change a program that has provided tax breaks to employers in 40 locally-designated areas for years.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown talks to members of the press on Tuesday, April 23, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

June 27, 2013
Census Bureau charts California's housing meltdown

RP APT CONST ROOF.JPGThe meltdown of California's once-booming housing industry is graphically illustrated in a new Census Bureau report.

In the two years after the 2010 census, California added a net 27,305 units of rental or owner-occupied housing, a gain of just two-tenths of 1 percent, one of the nation's lowest rates, the report says. When the housing industry was booming in the middle of the last decade, it was adding as many as 200,000 units each year.

California's housing growth during the two-year period was the 42nd lowest in the nation and just a third of the national rate. A few states actually saw a reduction of housing, while it boomed in states seeing big economic and population gains from the surge of oil and gas production.

Oil-rich North Dakota had a 3.7 percent gain in housing during the period, the nation's highest rate, while Texas was No. 2 at 1.8 percent, nine times California's rate. Texas added 176,793 housing units, more than six times what California added.

June 27, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Basis for Prop. 8 ruling 'somewhat troubling'

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision on Proposition 8 might have given California more than it had bargained for, Dan warns.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

June 27, 2013
AM Alert: With Jerry Brown's signature, California gets a budget

RP_BUDGET_THREE_Brown_Steinberg_Perez.JPGThis year's budget process comes to a conclusion today: Gov. Jerry Brown is poised to make the pact between him and legislative leaders official at 11 a.m. in the Governor's Council Room. Fiscal year 2013-2014, its allocations and obligations set in writing, starts Monday.

If you'd like to reflect on how we got here, you can read about the dispute over Brown's push to roll back enterprise zones; the controversy over public records act requests; the debate over how to allocate revenue generated by Proposition 39; the disagreement aboutshuffling carbon permit auction revenue around; the argument overhow much money we'll really have; and, of course, the battle over the governor's school funding overhaul, including concerns about how districts get funded and which dedicated "categorical" programs would get axed.

VIDEO: Same-sex marriage supporters are celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on Proposition 8, but Dan Walters is worried about the high court's rationale.


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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