Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

July 3, 2013
Senate OKs bill letting transgender students pick facilities

20110405_ha_anti_bullying6958.JPGLegislation that would allow California students to choose the bathrooms, locker rooms and sports teams that best match their individual gender identities squeaked out of the Senate with a 21-9 vote Wednesday.

The Assembly passed the bill in May. Its next stop is the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown.

Authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, Assembly Bill 1266 generated pointed questions about whether a bill couched in tolerance and inclusiveness could alienate some students and parents. Skeptical lawmakers said it might encourage biologically male students to join women's teams and dominate.

Calling the legislation "an extraordinarily consequential bill," Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, said the bill would impose "no standard of evidence to verify what gender (students) declare that day."

July 3, 2013
California Legislature stalemates over teacher discipline bill

Buchanan.jpgThe Legislature appears to be in a stalemate over changing the disciplinary process for teachers -- an issue that arose out of a high-profile molestation case involving a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Last year, the Senate passed a bill by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, that would make it easier to fire teachers who are accused of gross misconduct, such as sexual abuse. But the measure, Senate Bill 1530, died in the Assembly Education Committee due to strong opposition from teacher unions.

The measure's demise generated broad editorial criticism, and the political fallout reverberated in last year's elections. One Democratic Assembly member who refused to vote for the bill, Betsy Butler of Santa Monica, lost her seat to fellow Democrat Richard Bloom, who hammered her on the issue.

This year, the unions sponsored their own teacher discipline bill, essentially streamlining the process now engraved in the law but not going nearly as far as the Padilla measure.

The union-sponsored measure, Assembly Bill 375, whizzed through the Assembly with strong Democratic support but on Wednesday was rejected by the Senate Education Committee.

The bill, carried by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, garnered four votes from Democrats on the committee, one short of the five required, but no other members voted -- echoing how Padilla's measure had died in the Assembly Education Committee.

Wednesday's non-voters included the chairwoman of the committee, Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Cañada Flintridge. Buchanan chairs the Assembly Education Committee and had voted against the Padilla bill last year.

PHOTO: Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan D-Alamo, in 2009. The Sacramento Bee/Manny Crisostomo.

July 3, 2013
California bill to restrict long-term school bonds moving again

SCHOOLS_0154.JPGLegislation to crack down on California school districts' issuance of long-term "capital appreciation bonds," which had stalled in the Senate after passing the Assembly, is moving again.

On Wednesday, the Senate Governance and Finance Committee, on a 5-0 vote, approved the measure, Assembly Bill 182, after its author, Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, softened its restrictions on the bonds.

The changes, however, did not placate school district representatives, who continued to oppose the measure, arguing that it will damage their ability to meet needs for new school construction and upgrading, especially in areas with relatively low levels of taxable property.

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer pushed for the legislation, arguing that the use of the CABs, as they have been dubbed, puts local taxpayers on the book for interest payments to bond buyers that may be 10 times or more of the original loan amounts.

July 3, 2013
Protesting at Jerry Brown's office not always productive

sitinbrown.jpgThe anti-deportation activists who staged a sit-in at the governor's office Tuesday were milling about a Capitol hallway when a passerby shook his head and offered some advice.

A sit-in would accomplish nothing, said Irwin Nowick, a longtime Senate staffer, certainly not the activists' stated goal of a meeting with Jerry Brown.

"You don't jam this guy," he said.

There is precedent for this opinion. Brown was governor before, from 1975 to 1983, when a fired state janitor hoping for an appointment with Brown waited in his reception room five days a week for 475 days, at times sleeping in his car.

The sit-in only ended in 1983, when Brown left office and his successor, George Deukmejian, met with the fired janitor, Jonathan LaSalle.

The anti-deportation activists had a shorter time horizon in mind - six or seven hours, perhaps. Nearly a dozen of them arranged themselves on the floor and on chairs in Brown's reception area.

They hoped to press Brown to support a bill that would prevent local police from detaining people based on their immigration status unless they have been convicted of a felony or serious crime. Brown vetoed similar legislation last year, but he suggested in his veto message that it could be amended to gain his support, and administration officials said they are working with lawmakers on that revision.

Over the course of the afternoon the protesters outside Brown's office ate lunch and huddled around their laptops and their smart phones. The number of people inside Brown's office dwindled.

By the time Blanca Vazquez, of Oakland, emerged, six remained.

"They offered to let us sit on the couches," the 23-year-old woman said, "but we refused."

The office closed, and after 7 p.m., two people were cited and released.

The protesters left without meeting the governor, they said, but members of his administration will see them next week.

Bee photographer Hector Amezcua contributed to this report

PHOTO: Five immigration activists, including a legal observer, sit in Jerry Brown's reception area to lobby him on an immigration bill on Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Pictured, from left to right, are Hugo Gonzalez, Kenia Alcocer and Alex Aldana. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

July 3, 2013
AM Alert: Summer break starts for California Assembly

assempty.JPGThe weather report says we're likely to suffer under the sweltering Sacramento sun for a few more days, but at least some of us to get to escape: Members of the California Assembly are heading back to their districts after the end of business today, when their summer recess officially begins.

In a more contentious budget year -- particularly one in which lawmakers didn't risk losing their pay -- they might be compelled to stick around.

But because the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown have wrapped up their budgetary business, the summer schedule proceeds as planned. Members of the lower house return in early August.

VIDEO: What is potentially the most important bill going through the Legislature this year? Dan Walters' answer might surprise you.

APPROPRIATIONS ACCUMULATION: Before Assembly members leave, though, they'll have to work their way through a mountain of bills looming before the Appropriations Committee today. There are about 90 bills on the file today -- think of it as a pre-recess final exam for lawmakers.

July 3, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: California's new oil boom?

Senate Bill 4 deals with the controversial issue of fracking in California, and Dan says its potential long-term effects may make it the most important piece of legislation this year.

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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