Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

August 30, 2013
Assembly panel halts nurse practitioner expansion

Gatto.jpgProposed legislation to expand the independence of nurse practitioners failed to make it out of the Assembly's fiscal committee on Friday, joining 42 other bills likely done for the year.

Among the bills moving on to the Assembly for a floor vote are Senate Bill 4, the sole piece of legislation remaining that would regulate fracking, and SB 731, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg's bill calling for changes to the California Environmental Quality Act.

"It continues to be a work in progress at this late date and I think that reflects the delicacy of the issue," said Assembly Appropriations Chair Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles. "It's a very difficult issue. I hope he gets consensus and a product that we would be happy to vote for on the floor."

The Assembly Appropriations Committee considered 152 bills calling for $600 million in spending on their "suspense file," which is reserved for bills with annual costs of more than $150,000. Lawmakers moved through the list rapidly, passing 110 bills with a $17 million price tag.

Among those stalled in the committee were Democratic Sen. Loni Hancock's Senate Bill 283, which would allow drug felons to access food stamps, and Senate Bill 38 by Democratic Sen. Kevin de Leon. It would create an amnesty program for people prohibited from possessing guns to surrender them to law enforcement.

DemocratiscSen. Ed Hernandez's bill expanding the duties of pharmacists passed, but his measure to expand the duties of nurse practitioners -- Senate Bill 491 -- was halted. It lost the support of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners following recent amendments. The California Medical Association, which represents doctors, has staunchly opposed SB 491.

Hernandez said he will push forward with the bill next year.

"Despite numerous studies showing the safety of expanded practice for nurse practitioners, and not a single piece of contrary data offered by opponents, politics prevailed over sound public policy," Hernandez said in a statement. "The unfortunate result is that California will fall further behind in its ability to provide quality health care to our neediest population."

PHOTO: Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D- Los Angeles, in a 2011 file photo. Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli

August 30, 2013
See the bills that made it out of Senate Appropriations Committee

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The Senate Appropriations committee announced the fate of nearly 200 bills on the suspense file today. Here is a list of how different pieces of legislation fared:

Senate Appropriations

August 30, 2013
Poll: Who has the best health care ads?

Just weeks before launching an insurance marketplace under the new federal health care law, California provided an early peek at its $80 million ad campaign Thursday.

So, what do you think of the first television commercials (English and Spanish)?

Do they compel you to get online and buy health insurance?

Other states have been airing their televised offerings for weeks, if not months, and the stakes are high. Pretty soon everyone will have to carry health insurance or pay a penalty under the new law.

Check out what some others are pitching, then scroll down to take our poll. (The poll may not appear if you are using a Firefox web browser)

Connecticut

Nevada

Oregon

August 30, 2013
California Assembly 'family cap' welfare bill halted in Senate

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Lawmakers have halted the progress of a bill that would allow mothers who get pregnant while enrolled in CalWORKS to claim benefits for the child.

There were few casualties as the Senate Appropriations Committee weighed a final slate of Assembly bills on Friday, with several contentious or heavily lobbied Democratic measures advancing to the Senate floor. But lawmakers blocked Assembly Bill 271, by Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles.

Committee chair Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, cited the cost in holding the bill but still paused from a rapid-fire hearing to voice his "unequivocal" support for the measure and decry the current so-called "family cap" policy, which bars women who become pregnant while on welfare from drawing more money.

In an interview, Mitchell compared a late-session push to expand California's prison capacity to her bill's failure, suggesting that a ragged social safety net contributes to prison overcrowding by pushing impoverished Californians towards crime.

"Deep poverty has a direct correlation to criminal activity," Mitchell said, "and children born into these families, whose household incomes and payments from CalWORKS are not adjusted, leads them into deep poverty."

Bills that survived and will next face floor votes included legislation to raise the state's minimum wage, to offer drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants, to prohibit lead ammunition, to allow medical translators to acquire union representation and collectively bargain, and to provide labor protections to domestic workers.

PHOTO: Assemblywoman Holly J. Mitchell, D-Los Angeles during session in the Assembly chambers in Sacramento, Calif. on Monday, March 11, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.

August 30, 2013
Opposition arises to naming Bay Bridge span for Willie Brown

WillieBrown3.jpgLegislation that would name the western span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge for former Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown sailed through the Assembly on a 68-0 vote.

However, the measure, Assembly Concurrent Resolution 65, is facing opposition in the state Senate led by three former presidents of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

On Thursday, the three - Aaron Peskin, Matt Gonzalez and Quentin Kopp - sent a letter to Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, asking him to hold ACR 65 in the Senate Rules Committee and thus block a Senate floor vote.

The letter contends that the naming measure, introduced by Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, violates legislative rules on the naming of public facilities because it is being carried by someone who does not represent the area where the facility is located, and does not "reflect a community consensus" that the naming is proper.

The same issues were raised in an Assembly staff analysis of the measure. Just before the Assembly vote, San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting was added as a co-author of the bill, along with other legislators, but he doesn't represent the Bay Bridge. San Francisco's other assemblyman, Tom Ammiano, does represent the bridge, but he's not a co-author and, in fact, abstained when ACR 65 went through the Assembly.

"Most importantly," the letter says, "the proposed designation does not, as required by Senate rules, 'reflect a community consensus.' While we respect Mr. Brown's years of public service, Mr. Brown remains a very controversial figure in San Francisco and there exists significant concern in our community that naming the Bay Bridge for him is not appropriate."

All three of the former supervisors clashed with Brown on various occasions - particularly Kopp when Brown was Assembly speaker in the 1980s and 1990s and Kopp was a state senator.

PHOTO: Former Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown during a roundtable meeting Thursday, July 8, 2010 at the State Capitol in Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.

August 30, 2013
California has nation's 10th highest medically uninsured rate

healthcare.jpgWith the new federal medical insurance program on the verge of implementation, California has the largest number of medically uninsured residents of any state, but its percentage of uninsured is only 10th highest, according to a new Census Bureau report.

Just over 20 percent of Californians under the age of 65 were uninsured in 2011, the last year for which data are available. Texas had the highest rate, more than 25 percent, while Massachusetts had the lowest, less than 5 percent.

The report covers counties as well as states and reveals that in California, wealthy Marin County has the lowest rate of uninsured at 12 percent -- about the same as Iowa's rate, the nation's eighth lowest.

California has more than six million residents without medical insurance and is among the states that have most vigorously embraced the Affordable Care Act. It is implementing the optional extension of Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) to more low-income residents and has set up an exchange, Covered California, to facilitate acquisition of insurance by individuals and employers. State officials believe that the state's medically insured total will be reduced at least by half with those steps.

PHOTO: Nurse Practitioner David Weller, left examines patient Jose Andino at The Effort medical clinic in North Highlands on Friday, July 13, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton

August 30, 2013
Steinberg pushes bill to help Sacramento arena project

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By Jeremy B. White
jwhite@sacbee.com

A bill hastening the environmental review process for the planned downtown Kings arena would forestall the threat of lawsuits while keeping to a tight NBA-imposed deadline, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said on Friday.

On Thursday night, The Bee's Tony Bizjak reported that the Democratic leader and other area lawmakers would advance a bill to speed up the arena review process. In an interview with reporters this morning, Steinberg called the bill a mechanism for keeping the arena project on track.

"I have been an unabashed supporter of this once in a generation economic development opportunity in the hub of our region, and I will be backed by a majority if not all the members of the greater Sacramento delegation," Steinberg said.

Steinberg stressed that the bill would not exempt the arena building from the environmental oversight required by the California Environmental Quality Act. But it would allow the city to exercise eminent domain and claim land for the arena while the environmental review is under way.

"We just want to make sure that while whatever is required by the environmental document is done by the project developers and the city, that the project is not held up by months or years by a lawsuit which lingers for a long time," Steinberg said.

Similar concerns about lawsuits bogging down development have surrounded this year's push to alter the California Environmental Review Act. Steinberg has carried the CEQA overhaul bill, which is before the Assembly Appropriations Committee today, and while he said the Kings arena language would not go into the CEQA bill he drew a parallel between the two.

"When it comes to infill projects, when it comes to high wage, big job-opportunity projects, we ought to do all that is reasonable to expedite the process," Steinberg said.

PHOTO: Senate President Pro Temp Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento during session in the Senate chambers in Sacramento, Calif. on Monday, March 11, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

August 30, 2013
AM Alert: Appropriations apocalypse hits California Legislature

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Forget floor votes and the governor's pen -- the road by which bills become law travels first through Appropriations. And with today being the final day for bills to get out of fiscal committees, we'll know by the close of business which bills march on to the next step and which ones will expire or be left to shrivel on suspense file. Some of the more significant legislation whose fate will be revealed:

Senate

-A bill that would hike California's minimum wage
-Several different gun control bills
-A bill to grant drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants
-A bill altering which agency oversees the state's drinking water fund
-This year's loudly trumpeted attempt at a so-called "Domestic Workers Bill of Rights"
-A bill tweaking CalWORKS rules to allow women who get pregnant while on welfare to claim benefits for the child
-A bill nixing the use of lead bullets
-A bill creating a new program allowing medical translators to gain union representation
-A bill expanding the time frame in which the families of fallen cops and firefighters can claim compensation

Assembly

-A bill restricting nonprofit campaign activity that has unified counties and cities in opposition
-A bill expanding what nurse practitioners can do and a scope-of-practice bill affecting pharmacists.
-A bill punishing cities whose charters exempt them from prevailing wage requirements
-Even more in this year's raft of gun control bills
-A bill to regulate hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking"
-An earthquake warning system bill
-Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's CEQA bill
-A bill restricting the use of solitary confinement for juveniles
-A bill cracking down on parolees who remove their tracking devices

VIDEO: The Legislature reaches an important milestone today, Dan Walters says.

COVERED CALIFORNIA: A day after California's coming-soon health insurance marketplace revealed its advertising campaign, Covered California executive director Peter V. Lee will hold a town hall on what to expect. At Sacramento City college, starting at 2 p.m.

BIRTHING DAY: Well, this adds some meaning to the term "Labor Day." On Monday, people affiliated with the organization ImprovingBirth.org will be rallying at the State Capitol building to advocate for fewer Cesarean section births. Starting at 10 a.m. on the west steps.

PHOTO: Senate Appropriations Chair Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles at the Senate Chambers at the Capitol in Sacramento on Monday June 10, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Manny Crisostomo.

Editor's note: A previous version of this post misstated the number of scope-of-practice bills being heard. There are two, not one.

August 30, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Last per diem session for California lawmakers

Today marks the final time this year the Legislature will meet on Friday in order to claim their $140-a-day stipend, Dan says.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.



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Capitol Alert Staff


Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. jwhite@sacbee.com. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. achance@sacbee.com. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee. smith@sacbee.com

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. ccadelago@sacbee.com. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert. mmassimino@sacbee.com

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. lrosenhall@sacbee.com. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. dsiders@sacbee.com. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. dwalters@sacbee.com. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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