Capitol Alert

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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.



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