Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

October 10, 2013
Jerry Brown vetoes teacher firing bill

CalifHomelessVeterans.jpgGov. Jerry Brown has rejected a bill intended to streamline the process for firing teachers in California.

Brown's veto of Assembly Bill 375 marks the second straight year that high-profile legislation aimed at facilitating the teacher dismissal process failed in California. Last year, a measure by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles died in committee.

Proponents of the bill have argued that districts face a prolonged, costly fight when they move to fire teachers. While this year's measure won the crucial support of the California Teachers Association, Brown repudiated it, saying in his veto message that the bill could "make the process too rigid and could create new problems."

The bill would have limited the amount of time that a case can take after a district formally files dismissal charges and would have lifted a ban on issuing dismissal notices during the summer months. In his veto message, Brown praised the bill for curtailing "opportunities for delay."

But the governor cited concerns about language limiting the number of depositions both sides can invoke in firing disputes - five total - and rules governing whether districts can use newly surfaced evidence to alter charges.

"I share the authors' desire to streamline the teacher discipline process," Brown wrote, "but this bill is an imperfect solution."

October 10, 2013
Kamala Harris sues for-profit parent of Heald College, WyoTech

RBDemConvention.JPGA for-profit college chain intentionally deceived prospective students and investors about the value of its degrees and sought out the socially isolated and disadvantaged, according to a lawsuit California Attorney General Kamala Harris filed Thursday.

According to the complaint, Corinthian Colleges Inc. boasted of unrealistically high job placement rates -- as high as 100 percent in some cases -- while discussing in internal documents how to recruit low-income and disillusioned students who are "impatient," have "low self-esteem" or can claim "few people in their lives who care about them."

Part of that strategy entailed "aggressive and persistent internet and telemarketing campaigns" and placing spots on daytime television shows.

Corinthian Colleges Inc. tried to lure students with connections to the military by using the seals of various branches of the armed forces without government approval, according to the attorney general's office.

Originally organized under Delaware state law and based in Santa Ana, Corinthian Colleges Inc. manages more than 20 campuses around the United States. That includes Heald College locations in Fresno, Modesto, Rancho Cordova, Roseville and Stockton and a WyoTech campus in Fremont.

October 10, 2013
Study: Calif. workers compensation overhaul too new to parse

JD_COMP_STRETCHER.JPGLast year, the California Legislature -- with the blessing of Gov. Jerry Brown -- enacted its traditional, once-a-decade overhaul of the state's multibillion-dollar-a-year system of compensating workers for job-related injuries and illnesses.

Employers, insurers, medical care providers and other players in the workers' compensation system are still sorting through what the Legislature and Brown wrought. Generally, the overhaul, Senate Bill 863, raised some cash benefits but also tightened up eligibility for, or even eliminated, other benefits. This earned rare joint support from employer groups and labor unions, which had worked on the changes privately.

A new 16-state study of workers' compensation systems, covering 60 percent of the nation's workers, says it's too early to tell what the real-world effects of SB 863 will be, specifically whether its cost-saving provisions will offset the costs of increased cash payments, as its sponsors promised.

Because the effects of the 2012 overhaul are still unknown, the study from the Workers Compensation Research Institute in Cambridge, Mass., concentrated its section on California on how it compared to other states during the years following the previous overhaul in 2004.

It found that disabled California workers were receiving permanent partial disability payments more often than those in other major states and that those payments tended to be longer in duration -- thus confirming one of employers' complaints, which the 2012 reforms addressed.

However, medical payments per claim were lower in California than in most other states, confirming that the 2004 reforms had an intended effect, although legal costs were higher, "which may be related to increasing disputes over medical treatment, utilization review denials and other issues," the study said.

PHOTO: Beth Slavin of Modesto, who injured her knee on the job, lies on a stretcher at a news conference at the Capitol in Sacramento on April 19, 2005, protesting workers compensation legislation that then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the year before. The Sacramento Bee/ John Decker

October 10, 2013
Jerry Brown puts veterans housing measure on June ballot

jerrybrownprisons.jpgCalifornia voters will decide next June whether the state should restructure $600 million in bonds to help build apartments and houses for low-income veterans, under legislation Gov. Jerry Brown signed Thursday.

If approved by voters, Assembly Bill 639, by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, will shift $600 million in unused bonding authority from Proposition 12, which voters approved in 2008 to provide money for home loans for veterans, to pay for the program.

"After veterans serve our country, it's our duty to serve them," Brown said in a prepared statement after signing the legislation in San Diego. "This new reformed housing program will make life better for veterans for years to come."

The funding shift would leave the state with about $530 million in bonds for its existing home loan program.

The bill was one of 13 veteran-related bills the Democratic governor announced signing Thursday. Among the others, Assembly Bill 556, by Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, will add "military and veteran status" to the list of categories protected from discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to reporters at a news conference at the Capitol on Sept. 9, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

October 10, 2013
AM Alert: Jerry Brown to sign veteran-housing bill in San Diego

20131003brown0115.JPGSince the legislative session ended last month, Gov. Jerry Brown has headed out of Sacramento to preside over signing ceremonies for contentious measures like a minimum-wage boost and driver's licenses for immigrants.

Today's item isn't controversial, judging by the number of lawmakers who voted against it (zero). Brown will be in San Diego to put his name on a measure authorizing the issuance of $600 million in bonds to build housing for veterans, an effort to combat veteran homelessness. During a 9:45 a.m. ceremony at the Veterans Village of San Diego, the governor will sign Assembly Bill 639 into law, joined by the bill's author, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez. With Brown's signature, the proposal will go before voters on the June 2014 ballot.

VIDEO: We're about to enter a barren stretch for political junkies. Dan Walters take a look at what's doing in California politics after Sunday's deadline for the governor to sign bills.

DOGGING DOCTORS: Things get festive today in the rivalry between two potent interest groups, Consumer Watchdog and the California Medical Association. The CMA's board of directors will be in Anaheim for a meeting today, and they will be trolled by a truck circling the Disneyland Hotel and playing, on a loop, a series of 30-second musicals testifying to why doctors should be drug-tested (a word starting with the letter "P" features prominently). A closely watched, Consumer Watchdog-drafted ballot measure would mandate physician drug testing in addition to raising California's cap on pain-and-suffering payouts in medical malpractice cases.

COY-MALA HARRIS: Her office is being mysterious about it, but California Attorney General Kamala Harris will announce a "major lawsuit" at a noon press conference in San Francisco's State Building today. Stay with us to find out what the AG is unveiling.

LESSONS OF 2012: The election postmortem continues. Today, UC San Diego professor Thad Kousser will examine whether electoral reforms generated something new, or whether the 2012 cycle brought more of the same for California. From noon to 1:30 p.m. at 1130 K St.

DELTA DEFENDERS: They might disagree on other issues, but Delta-area lawmakers can at least find some bipartisan unity in their dislike of Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed water conveyance tunnels. Comedian Jack Gallagher will entertain guests at a Restore the Delta fundraiser in French Camp tonight, with planned attendees including Sens. Lois Wolk and Cathleen Galgiani in addition to Assembly members Jim Frazier, Susan Eggman, Mariko Yamada, and Kristen Olsen.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to everyone's favorite photogenic elected: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom turns 46 today.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown signs the driver's license bill for undocumented immigrants in Fresno City College in Fresno on Thursday, October 3, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.

October 10, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: California politics heading into the off-season

We're in a non-election year and rapidly approaching the deadline for Gov. Jerry Brown to decide on bills -- which means, Dan says, that things are about to get awfully quiet in Sacramento.

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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