Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

August 7, 2013
Ex-lawmaker aims at altering California's presidential primaries

JD_STEINBERG_PEACE_CORREA.JPGA ballot measure proposed by former California legislator Steve Peace would attempt to eliminate partisan primaries during the state's presidential elections by cutting off public funding.

Peace helped draft the state's Proposition 14 of 2010, which opened primary elections for partisan statewide offices, the Legislature, the Board of Equalization and Congress to all voters regardless of party affiliation.

He hopes his latest proposal would extend the "top-two" primary to the presidential election.

Peace and Jeff Marston, both of the Independent Voter Project, submitted the proposal in June to "prohibit the expenditure of public funds for the private activities of political parties."

The proposed initiative, which is pending at the state attorney general's office, would discontinue the use of public funding to hold party elections, such as county central committee and presidential primary elections.

By cutting off the public funding, Peace hopes political parties would open their primaries to all voters, not just members of their own party. The secretary of state and elections officials currently use public funds to certify candidates, draw up ballots, run polling places and tally votes.

Peace said in a recent interview that parties would not be legally required to open their primaries to voters -- they would just have to fund a closed primary independently.

"If you, the Republican Party, want to say independents can't participate, fine, but you're going to have to pay for the costs to tally that vote," said Peace, who was appointed finance director by then-Gov. Gray Davis after being termed out of the Legislature.

PHOTO: Then-Finance Director Steve Peace, center, talks with then-Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg, left, and then-Assemblyman Lou Correa, about budget issues during the early morning hours on July 29, 2003. The Sacramento Bee/John Decker

August 7, 2013
California reveals insurance firms to participate in exchange


Californians shopping for health insurance through the state's new marketplace will have a dozen options to choose from, officials announced Wednesday.

Covered California, the insurance exchange created under the new federal health care law, announced a list of insurance firms that have signed contracts to sell health plans on the exchange. The list includes major players like Anthem Blue Cross and Kaiser Permanente as well as smaller companies like Molina Healthcare and Chinese Community Health Plan.

Six of those firms will also offer insurance through the Small Business Health Options Program, a program aimed at helping small businesses offer insurance to employees.

Unlike Republican-led states that have resisted implementing the health care law, California has moved to erect a marketplace and passed legislation that will enroll in more than a million new Medi-Cal customers.

It solicited competitive bids and negotiated with insurers on the plans to be offered through Covered California, where consumers will be able to comparison shop for health plans - for lower-income Californians, with the help of a government subsidy. Wednesday's announcement marked the next step toward Covered California enrollment, which begins Oct. 1.

California in May unveiled the costs for premiums under the new marketplace. Since then, state regulators have reviewed proposed rates and benefits to be offered.

"This is what was necessary to put everything in place, and now the computer programmers can put these options into the portal that will be available in about 50 days," said Anthony Wright, executive director of the organization Health Access California.

The firms that will participate in Covered California are Alameda Alliance for Health, Anthem Blue Cross of California, Blue Shield of California, Chinese Community Health Plan, Contra Costa Health Plan, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente, L.A. Care Health Plan, Molina Healthcare, Sharp Health Plan, Valley Health Plan and Western Health Advantage.

The small business program will offer plans from Blue Shield of California, Chinese Community Health Plan, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente, Sharp Health Plan and Western Health Advantage.

PHOTO: Executive Director of Covered California, Peter V. Lee addresses the media as California's health exchange held a news conference to announce how much it will cost to buy premiums under the new federal health care program in the state, at the California Museum, Thursday, May 23, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Lezlie Sterling.

August 7, 2013
AM Alert: California considers clean energy construction

Clean_Energy_Schools.jpgWith the passage and implementation of Proposition 39, California stands to receive billions of dollars earmarked for making buildings, particularly school facilities, more energy efficient. That has already generated ample debate about the best way to spend the money.

Today, the Assembly Select Committee On California's Clean Energy Economy examines some different approaches. Witnesses testifying include Andrew McAllister, commissioner of the California Energy Commission; Simon Baker of the California Public Utilities Commission; Steven Schiller of the Energy Efficiency Industry Council; and Howard Choy of Los Angeles County's office of sustainability.

VIDEO: With billions of dollars at stake, Dan Walters expects health care issues to dominate much of the Legislature's remaining time.

BOYS OF COLOR: Ahead of a meeting Thursday of the Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color, more than 100 young men will be fanning out through the state Capitol today and talk to lawmakers about the unique hurdles that they face. They have meetings scheduled with 33 lawmakers and representatives of an additional 34 offices, as of the most recent count.

MARIJUANA MEETING: The Bee's Dan Morain wrote this past weekend about how large-scale marijuana growers are skirting regulations and damaging the environment, to the consternation of officials who have scant capacity to crack down. Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Marysville, who served as Morain's guide for the piece, and Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, will discuss solutions at the state Capitol today with representatives from the state water board and from the governor's office.

OBAMA ORATION: Fresh off of a jaunt to Burbank for a taping of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," President Barack Obama will be speaking to service members today at Camp Pendleton.

CENTRAL VALLEY CONSERVATION: Efforts to preserve water habitats have occupied plenty of page space and air time lately with discussion of the proposed Bay Delta plan, and today the Central Valley gets a look. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation will hold a joint public meeting seeking comment on plans for fish and wildlife protection and water management in the Central Valley. From 1 to 4 p.m. at California State University, Sacramento.

PHOTO: Billionaire Tom Steyer, the chief financier behind the successful Proposition 39 campaign, discusses a proposal to fund energy efficiency projects at schools during a news conference at Sacramento's Mark Twain Elementary School on Dec. 4, 2012. The Associated Press/ Rich Pedroncelli

August 7, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Medical-related issues mark session's end

With California lawmakers looking at the home stretch of the legislative session, health care issues with billions at stake will receive prominent attention. Dan surveys what lies ahead.

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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