Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government


It's a weighty time of year for the California Legislature. The deadline for bills to make it out of fiscal committees looms tomorrow; the window for sending bills to the governor's desk is rapidly narrowing; and policymakers are now contemplating two different plans -- one backed by Gov. Jerry Brown and Assembly leadership, the other by Senate Democrats -- for resolving California's prison overcrowding crisis.

In other words, time for a party!

Yes, as the decision days dwindle, legislative offices will be opening their doors and inviting other staffers and lawmakers to drop in, mingle and take a load off for what is being dubiously called an end-of-session block party. At least two offices will offer tacos; no word on who will be handling the sound system. BYOCutlery.

VIDEO: California's much-lauded budget reserve could be gone sooner than you think, Dan Walters says.

PRISON PROGNOSIS: Speaking of that late-blooming clash over prison spending, the Assembly Budget Committee will examine the bill now containing the governor's plan during a 10 a.m. hearing in room 4202 today.

PITCHING HEALTH CARE: The open enrollment date for Covered California, the state's federally mandated health insurance marketplace, beckons. In anticipation of the October 1 launch, Covered California will unveil today the advertising and marketing campaign it will use to try and persuade the uninsured to acquire coverage. The unveiling will be from 11 a.m. to noon at the Century Movie Theater in the Downtown Plaza.

PROVIDING HEALTH CARE: Also on the health care agenda today is a meeting of the California Health Facilities Financing Authority that will discuss, among other things, how to dole out mental health grants per the terms of a budget bill championed by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.

BUDGET BAGGAGE: Speech pathology, dentistry, land surveyors: these are all things that enjoy dedicated special funds in California. And over the years, many of them have lent money to the General Fund in an effort to ease fiscal woes. Today the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review will take a look at the status of those loans.

PHOTO: Comedian Dave Chappelle knows about block parties -- he even made a movie about one -- but he might not recognize the one in Sacramento. Sunday April 15, 2007. The Associated Press/Stefano Paltera.


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