Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

October 1, 2013
'Revenge porn' now illegal in California

IPhone.jpgSpurned lovers take note: If you live in California, don't try to redress your romantic grievances by posting naked photos of your ex online.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced on Tuesday that he had signed Senate Bill 255 by Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, that outlaws what's commonly called "revenge porn" -- maliciously posting graphic images or footage of someone "with the intent to cause serious emotional distress," in the bill's language.

Doing so now qualifies as a misdemeanor carrying penalties of six months in jail or a $1,000 fine, both of which would double for a second offense.

Cannella had argued for the bill by saying technology has outpaced the law. His legislation is intended to fill in that enforcement gap.

"Until now, there was no tool for law enforcement to protect victims," Cannella said in a news release. "Too many have had their lives upended because of an action of another that they trusted."

But civil liberties advocates worried that the bill represented an overly vague attempt to restrict online activity. The American Civil Liberties Union ended up opposing the bill.

PHOTO: Instagram is demonstrated on an iPhone on April 9, 2012, in New York. Associated Press/Karly Domb Sadof.

October 1, 2013
Jerry Brown blames 'radicals' for government shutdown

RB_Jerry_Brown_Budget.JPGGov. Jerry Brown blamed the federal government shutdown on "extreme radicals" on Tuesday, while trumpeting the opening of California's health insurance marketplace.

"While extreme radicals in Washington shut down our government, here in California we're taking action to extend decent health care to millions of families," the Democratic governor said in a prepared statement.

Brown's remarks came as he signed a handful of bills related to the implementation of the federal healthcare overhaul, a major point of contention in the government's partial shutdown.

Asked last week about the impact on California of a then-looming shutdown, Brown said, "Hard to say. The last time they shut down it didn't have much impact. But it could."

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown explains his budget proposal during a news conference at the state Capitol in Sacramento in January. Randall Benton / Sacramento Bee

October 1, 2013
On launch day, Covered California website stalls

RBCoveredCalifornia2.JPG

Technical issues have hobbled the launch of California's online health insurance portal, created as part of the federal health care overhaul.

While a dispute over the new law sent the federal government careening into a shutdown, states have stuck to an Oct. 1 open enrollment date for the new health insurance exchanges that constitute one of the law's central features. California marked the occasion with fanfare, holding official events around the state.

But a Tuesday morning visit to the online marketplace where consumers can shop for insurance plans and compare price and benefits, suggested that the roll out has slowed.

A click on the "start here" button leads to a page that takes several minutes to load. When the page does load, its formatting appears to be faulty, and clicking through to the next step brings additional delays. When The Bee called the customer support line, a recording advised that the wait for service would be longer than 30 minutes.

A non-scientific search of the hashtag "#CoveredCA" on Twitter revealed users encountering similar problems, with a steady stream of messages testifying to long lags.

"We're thinking there may be some individual browser problems but obviously the high traffic can slow it down," said Anne Gonzales, a spokeswoman for Covered California, pointing to a "very high volume" of people logging on. "We're making fixes as we go along, so it should be better later in the day, but it's up and running."

PHOTO: Executive Director of Covered California Peter V. Lee speaks to members of the press during the launch of Covered California in Rancho Cordova on Tuesday, October 1, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton.

October 1, 2013
Would moving from California to another state save on taxes?

Alaska_PIPELINE_LEASE.jpgWhen California voters approved temporary sales and income tax increases last year, they rekindled a perennial debate over whether the state's tax burden has become high enough to persuade residents to move elsewhere.

There have been anecdotal accounts of Californians relocating elsewhere, or residents of other states turning down jobs in California because of its taxes, mostly involving highly paid professional athletes. But there are no hard data yet of significant trends in those directions.

A Texas-based conservative think tank, the National Center for Policy Analysis, has entered the debate by launching an interactive website that allows users to calculate the tax effects of moving from one state to another.

Users plug in their personal economic and other data to determine how much they would gain or lose. "The tax burden in a new state can make a huge difference in your retirement plans," NCPA fellow Pamela Villarreal said in a statement accompanying the announcement this week.

As a high-tax state - fifth in the nation in total state-local tax burden as a percentage personal income - California obviously doesn't fare well in the tax-effect comparisons.

The NCPA cites one hypothetical example of a 40-year-old man making $100,000 a year and moving from California to Alaska, saying "he will have an additional $4,213 a year to spend every year for the rest of his life."

The website does not calculate differences in cost of living.

PHOTO: The Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline snakes across the Alaska tundra under the Brooks Range about 150 miles from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on Aug. 28, 2001. Associated Press/Al Grillo

October 1, 2013
California Republican Party pays off more than $1 million in debt

Jim_Brulte_Rich_Pedroncelli_AP_030313.JPGThe California Republican Party, which was essentially broke as little as seven months ago, is debt free after paying off more than $1 million in debt, party chairman Jim Brulte said Tuesday morning.

The announcement, which the party was expected to make to members today, comes as the party prepares for its biannual convention in Anaheim this weekend.

Brulte, a former state Senate Republican leader, was elected chairman of the party earlier this year in an effort to revive its brand in California. The party holds no statewide office and has seen voter registration fall statewide below 30 percent.

When Brulte took over the party, he called his job "more like a bankruptcy workout." At the time he put the figure at as much as $800,000.

Brulte initially underestimated the amount the party owed. In addition to paying off its debt, he said the party has also re-opened an office in Sacramento.

PHOTO: Former state Sen. Jim Brulte speaks with reporters after being elected as California Republican Party chairman during the CRP convention held in Sacramento on March 3, 2013. Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli

October 1, 2013
California launches health insurance marketplace

lee.jpgCalifornia launched its health insurance marketplace this morning, more than 3-1/2 years after President Barack Obama signed into law his signature legislative achievement.

At 8 a.m., Covered California switched on its online insurance exchange and began taking phone calls at facilities across the state. Many of the state's more than five million uninsured residents can now enroll for health coverage plans regardless of whether they have preexisting health conditions.

Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee described it as a historic day for the state and the nation. He characterized the health program in its early stages as nimble, innovative, self-sustaining and reflecting the diversity of the state.

"This is a day when for millions dreams come true," Lee said as the clock ticked down to the official launch in Rancho Cordova. "This is a day when people finally will have access to quality, affordable health care that cannot be denied and cannot be taken away."

Nearly everyone must obtain health insurance beginning next year or pay a penalty.

Lee said his agency was prepared for the roll out and undisturbed by the federal government shut down triggered last night, which he termed the "brouhaha that is happening in Washington."

"Our success isn't about Washington. It's not about Sacramento," he said. "It's about what happens in East L.A. It's about what happens in Oakland. About what happens in Eureka. In Lincoln. In Fresno. And what happens in county offices and clinics across the state."

The state agency has been scrambling to get the word out and make more services available to online shoppers. Still, some features of the website including the ability for small businesses to obtain coverage on the website will not be available for about six weeks.

October 1, 2013
AM Alert: Battle heats up over California's Indian gambling

CASINOSLOTS.JPGWith the California Legislature still on recess, direct democracy keeps humming. The 2014 ballot continues to take shape with the likely addition of a referendum to overturn a pact the Legislature ratified allowing the North Fork Rancheria Band of Mono Indians to build a casino miles from where their members are currently concentrated. (The Wiyot Tribe also gets a chunk of the proceeds.)

That has not gone over well with opponents, who accuse the deal's beneficiaries of "casino shopping." Today representatives of those detractors say they will deliver more than 800,000 signatures, well above the 504,760 required, to elections officials across the state.

For what it's worth, Gov. Jerry Brown -- who had to sign off on the deal -- has dubbed the incoming ballot box battle "unfortunate."

VIDEO: A new report on truancy in California doesn't just underscore an issue facing schools -- it also points to a shortcoming in how we gather data, Dan Walters says.

October 1, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: California missing key student data

A new report on truancy in California's schools highlights a glaring lack of data collection stemming from a faulty state law, 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


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. Twitter: @DanielSnowSmith

Jim Miller Jim Miller covers California policy and politics and edits Capitol Alert. jmiller@sacbee.com. Twitter: @jimmiller2

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

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

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

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers the Legislature. jwhite@sacbee.com. Twitter: @capitolalert

Koseff Alexei Koseff edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. akoseff@sacbee.com. Twitter: @akoseff

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

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