Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

August 22, 2013
Could online disclosure rule out Sutter Brown?

sutterbrown.jpgThe state's Fair Political Practices Commission on Thursday put off until next month a proposal to make it easier to identify bloggers and social media users who get paid by campaigns for their posts.

The regulation, which is likely to be adopted in some form, would require campaigns to disclose the names of people paid to post online content and say where it appears, unless the post itself mentions the author is being paid.

The purpose, said Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the FPPC, is to inform the public when online content "is masquerading as someone's opinion, as opposed to paid opinion."

Steve Maviglio, a political consultant and co-publisher of the California Majority Report, a Democratic blog, spoke against the measure at the commission meeting. He said it is unnecessary, unenforceable and overly broad.

He mused about the potential effect of the regulation on one Twitter account, in particular - that of Gov. Jerry Brown's dog.

The person who runs the account is a mystery, but that could change depending on who the handler is and how the account is used, if at all, in a future campaign.

"Sutter Brown will be outed by this regulation," Maviglio said, adding he doesn't know if that is a good or bad thing.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sutter Brown makes an appearance at the Capitol on Feb. 14, 2011. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

August 22, 2013
With new money, California schools report less stress

.SCHOOLS_0154.JPGWith billions more dollars to spend, California's school districts are exhibiting fewer signs of financial stress, a new survey from EdSource, a California public education research organization, concludes.

EdSource surveyed officials in California's 30 largest districts, which together account for a third of California's 6 million students.

"Our 2013 survey shows that these school districts are experiencing fewer stresses this year compared to last," the report concluded. "Most notably, there has been a dramatic reduction in teacher layoffs. In addition, many districts have been able to restore some or all of their instructional days trimmed in the prior three years because of budget cuts.

"The foreclosure crisis has eased significantly, and unemployment is lower than it has been in five years, which means some students are likely to be experiencing less stress at home. That should relieve at least some of the pressures on schools to provide a range of support services to ensure that students succeed."

The 2013-14 budget enacted in June provided enough money to keep school spending roughly flat, in comparison to the cuts that had been enacted in previous years, when the state faced severe deficits. The new money came from a temporary sales and income tax increase approved by voters in 2012, along with revenues from a slowly improving economy.

August 22, 2013
California's public workers among nation's best paid

RB_Capitol_Dome.JPGCalifornia's 2.2 million state, local government and public school workers were among the nation's highest paid public employees in 2011, according to an annual survey by the Census Bureau.

At an average of $4,604 per month, California's public employees - both full-time and part-time - had the nation's third highest salary levels among the states, slightly behind New York's $4,679 and New Jersey's $4,642. The District of Columbia topped all at $5,862. California's salary level was 26.1 percent above the $3,652 national average.

California's full-time public employees ranked No. 1 among the states at an average of $5,952 per month but were No. 2 when the District of Columbia was included. New Jersey was No. 3.

The state's 2.2 million public workers were by far the nation's highest total, but with 11.1 percent of the nation's 19.3 million state and local government employees, California's share was slightly lower than its share of the U.S. population.

However, because of its high salaries, the roughly $119 billion spent on California's state and local government payrolls in 2011 was about 14 percent of the nation's total, above its percentage of the national population.

PHOTO: The California Capitol dome. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton

August 22, 2013
AM Alert: Medical translators push California lawmakers


The gradual phase-in of the new federal health care law has spurred plenty of action at the state Capitol: legislation to expand access to Medi-Cal, as well as bills to enlarge the scope of practice for various types of medical professionals. Today the focus turns to a bill by Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, that would establish a program for medical interpreters, allowing them to join public unions and collectively bargain while drawing on newly available federal money for interpreters.

Supporters will be rallying on the north steps for Assembly Bill 1263, which currently resides on the suspense file. Attendees will include foreign-language speaking constituents who represent a wide range of ethnic groups and representatives of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees -- which could get a new source of dues it if ends up representing translators -- in addition to Pérez and Assembly members Richard Pan, Phil Ting and Sharon Quirk-Silva.

VIDEO: It's that time of year again: Dan Walters is officially in gut-and-amend watch mode.

COVERED CALIFORNIA: Speaking of implementing the health care overhaul, California's new insurance health exchange meets today. The board of directors will furnish updates on what standard plans include, enrollment regulations and the 2014-2015 contracting schedule, starting at 10 a.m. at the California Department of Health Care Services building.

PUBLIC RECORDS: Remember the furor over the budget bill that would have given local governments more authority to turn down public records requests? Today an Assembly budget subcommittee will review a proposed constitutional amendment, produced in response to the public records bill fallout, clarifying that local agencies must pay for such requests. In room 444, after session.

THE WATERS AROUND YOU: From insurance premiums to public policy to environmental protection, climate change could sent ripples through California governance. A Little Hoover Commission hearing today examines some of the effects. With Charles Lester of the California Coastal Commission, Ann C. Chan of the California Natural Resources Agency, Stephen G. Bushnell of the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company and experts on environmental law and public policy. Starting at 9:30 a.m. in room 437.

HERE THEY STAY: High drama has trailed the process of building the Sacramento Kings a new arena, particularly last week's bombshell revelation that would-be Seattle financier Chris Hansen had funded an anti-arena drive. Today Bee reporter Ryan Lillis, who helped break that story, hosts a Sacramento Press Club talk on whether the arena is good public policy. Joshua Wood of Region Builders and Sacramento City Councilman Steve Hansen will represent the "pro" side, while consultant Tab Berg and Jim Cathcart, founder of Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork, will speak on behalf of those who would like a public vote on the project. At The Broiler Steakhouse, starting at noon.

TRAVEL TRAVAILS: The rules for disclosure requirements around travel payments will be one of the topics the California Fair Political Practices Commission considers at its meeting today, from 10 a.m. at 428 J street.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, who turns 36 today.

Our new Capitol Alert Insider Edition app is already getting some glowing bipartisan reviews. Check it out, and check the app out here:

PHOTO: A trauma team at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California, finishes an operation on a gunshot victim on June 23, 2013. Barbara Davidson/ Los Angeles Times.

August 22, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: At session's end, 'mushroom bills' proliferate

With the remaining days to pass bills dwindling, Dan says to be on the lookout for bills whose intent suddenly and drastically changes.

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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