Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

July 2, 2013
Immigration activists stage sit-in in Jerry Brown's office

sitin.jpgAbout a dozen protesters -- some of them said by activists to be undocumented immigrants -- are staging a sit-in this afternoon in Gov. Jerry Brown's office to lobby him on an immigration bill, prompting law enforcement officials to block the door to his reception area at the Capitol.

At issue is legislation that would prevent local police from detaining people based on immigration status unless they have been convicted of a felony or serious crime.

Assembly Bill 4, by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, was being considered in a legislative committee as the protesters began their demonstration about noon. It is an expanded version of legislation Brown vetoed last year.

July 2, 2013
Brown schedules special elections to replace Blumenfield, Price

Enterprise_Zones.jpgGov. Jerry Brown issued proclamations on Tuesday to schedule special elections to fill two vacancies in the California Legislature.

The special elections to replace former Los Angeles legislators Sen. Curren Price and Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield will be held on Nov. 19. The primary elections will be held on September 17.

Price and Blumenfield both left the Legislature last week to take posts on the Los Angeles City Council. Price will represent District 9, and Blumenfield will serve District 3.

The departure of Blumenfield caused the Assembly lose its Democratic supermajority. Before Blumenfield's last day, the lower house crammed in several votes on bills that required a two-thirds margin to pass.

The timing of the special elections Brown set Tuesday means the Assembly will regain its supermajority before this year's session adjourns on Sept. 13 only if a Democrat captures 50 percent of the vote in a crowded special election field on July 23 in an inland Southern California district. There are seven Democrats, one Republican and one non-partisan -- Ontario Mayor Paul Leon -- in the race.

PHOTO: Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield called for passage of his enterprise zone measure before lawmakers at the Capitol in Sacramento on Thursday, June 27, 2013. Associated Press/ Rich Pedroncelli.

July 2, 2013
Another California 'job killer' bill falls by the wayside

139654.ME.0724.bigrig.1.AJS.jpgAnother bill on the California Chamber of Commerce's "job killer" list fell by the wayside Tuesday when Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson pulled a measure to bar a car dealer, including a rental company, from selling or leasing a used vehicle subject to a manufacturer's recall.

Jackson, a Santa Barbara Democrat, declared after a committee debate that she would put the bill over until 2014.

A spokeswoman for Jackson said later, "She did not have the votes. It is a two-year bill, and Senator Jackson will continue working on it."

July 2, 2013
2014 water bond talks begin with 'proposed principles'

KLAMATH_DAMS.jpgPublic discussions of a revised state water bond for the 2014 ballot were launched Tuesday with release of "proposed principles" by the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee.

An $11.1 billion bond issue was approved by the Legislature at the behest of then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009, coincident with approval of a process that resulted in a proposed twin tunnel project to carry water under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

While the tunnel project would be financed by water users south of the Delta, the bond would pay for a number of ancillary projects, including the beginning of work on two new reservoirs, and thus is a battleground for proponents and opponents of the tunnels.

The bond issue was to go on the 2010 ballot but was postponed first to 2012 and then again to 2014 as legislative leaders and Schwarzenegger's successor, Jerry Brown, concluded that it would likely fail. They say the bond issue should be made smaller and eliminate some specific projects that critics termed "pork."

The committee staged a brief discussion of the one-page outline that hinted at the political conflict over how large the bond should be and how the funds should be allocated.

One principle would "prohibit earmarks to specific water projects," which would appear to bar the specific allocations for the two water storage projects that Republicans, backed by farm groups, had insisted on including in the 2009 version, as well as some of the local projects that were placed in the bond for political purposes.

The latter included removal of two power dams on the Klamath River and a parks project in the district of Rep. Karen Bass, who was speaker of the Assembly when the bond was being written.

PHOTO: Water flows back into the Klamath River on Aug. 21, 2009, outside Keno, Ore., after being diverted by J.C. Boyle Dam upstream and running through the powerhouse shown here to make electricity. PacifiCorp announced Sept. 30, 2009 the terms for giving up four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath so they can be removed by the government to help struggling salmon runs. Associated Press/ Jeff Barnard

July 2, 2013
Muni bond industry betting on better California credit rating

Standard_Poor_2011.jpgThe multi-trillion-dollar municipal bond industry appears to be betting that California's balanced state budget and improving economy will pay off in an improved credit rating.

The Bloomberg financial news service reported Tuesday, in the wake of a generally positive appraisal by Standard & Poor's, that bond investors are demanding lower premiums for California bonds.

"The perception of California from an investor's perspective is that it's on an upswing," said Robert Miller, an executive at Wells Capital Management in Menomonee Falls, Wisc., told Bloomberg. "I don't think there is anybody out there who doesn't think that they are going to receive an upgrade at some point."

The state's credit plummeted to one of the nations lowest during years of deep recession and chronic budget deficits, but has been rising slowly.

An index of economic health devised by Bloomberg says that California's growth in the first quarter of 2013 was faster than the four next largest states, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois. Among the factors were rising home prices and lower unemployment rates.

The state budget situation is also improving with revenues during the just-concluded 2012-13 fiscal year running about $1 billion above the level assumed by the 2013-14 budget.

PHOTO: Tourists drive past Standard & Poor's headquarters in New York's financial district on Aug. 6, 2011. Associated Press/ Karly Domb Sadof

July 2, 2013
AM Alert: How to build a California water bond


There has been plenty of coverage, including in the newspaper that Capitol Alert calls home, of the contentious questions swirling around Gov. Jerry Brown's massive proposed water project. Much of it has focused on the environmental repercussions, the consequences for Central Valley farmers and the north-south standoff over water resources.

But still pending is the question of a water bond measure that is politically tied to the project. The Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee is holding a hearing today on putting together the multi-billion dollar water bond currently scheduled to appear on the 2014 ballot (it was initially going on the 2012 ballot, but the Legislature decided to postponed it). Starting at 9 a.m. in room 437.

VIDEO: The sweltering heat wave punishing California has people jacking up the air conditioning, straining the power grid and making Dan Walters wonder if renewable energy can really support the state's needs.

July 2, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: 'When the heat wave hits'

With thermometers rising across California, Dan wonders if the state will meet its goal to have one-third of its electricity come from renewable energy by 2020.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.


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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