Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

October 21, 2013
Californians driving more, but using less fuel

California Clean Car Standards.JPGOver the last three decades -- roughly the period since Jerry Brown ended his first governorship -- California's population has increased by more than 50 percent and the amount of automotive travel has doubled.

California's 22 million drivers and 27.5 million cars and light trucks rack up more than 300 billion vehicle-miles of travel each year, which works out to an average of about 13,000 miles for each motorist.

Despite the sharp growth in both population and vehicular travel, however, gasoline consumption has increased only fractionally during that period, rising from about 12 billion gallons a year to 15 billion gallons or only about 25 percent more. And a new report from the state Board of Equalization points out that in recent years, consumption has actually been declining.

There was a sharp, 4.1 percent decline in 2008 as recession hit the state since then smaller declines have been recorded, including a drop of of 1.3 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Given the high level of vehicular travel, the years-long leveling off of fuel consumption and more recent declines have been attributed to much-improved mileage in newer cars. In 1983, cars commonly got only 15 miles to the gallon but today, 30 mpg is not uncommon and gasoline-electric hybrids can approach 100 mpg.

PHOTO: In this May 26, 2011, file photo, a motorcyclist rides between lanes as traffic backs up on U.S. Highway 101 before the start of the Memorial Day weekend in Mill Valley, Calif. Associated Press/Eric Risberg

October 21, 2013
Jerry Brown to give speech at Washington think tank

brownsandiego.jpgGov. Jerry Brown, who visits Washington infrequently and typically keeps a low profile when he does, will deliver a rare speech in the nation's capital Thursday.

The Democratic governor, who will speak at a conference hosted by the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, has said in recent months that he wants to advocate for immigration and environmental policy changes on a national stage, but his remarks Thursday are expected to be focused more on budgeting.

"He's been asked to speak about how California is tackling its fiscal challenges and getting things done, at a time when gridlock and partisanship dominate national politics," Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said in an email Monday.

Also on the program Thursday are Secretary of State John Kerry, former Vice President Al Gore and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.

Brown made frequent appearances in Washington when he was governor before, from 1975 to 1983, and running unsuccessfully for president, but he has sharply limited his out-of-state travel since returning to office in 2011.

October 21, 2013
AM Alert: How did California prisons get where they are today?

RCB_20120301_REALIGN_ 0024.JPGOne of the outcomes of the late-session push to mitigate California's prison overcrowding issues was the promise of a comprehensive look at the state's criminal justice policies. Gov. Jerry Brown even cited the forthcoming effort in vetoing sentencing-related legislation.

Today, things get underway with the first hearing of the new Assembly Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment, chaired by Democratic Assemblymen Tom Ammiano of San Francisco and Reggie Jones-Sawyer of Los Angeles.

Drew Soderborg of Legislative Analyst's Office is expected to testify about how the prison population grew and how that increase affected inmates' health care. Don Specter of the Prison Law Office will address the role of the federal courts in the state's prisons. The public informational hearing convenes at 10 a.m. in room 126 of the California Capitol.

VIDEO: Dan Walters weeds out the intentions behind Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's latest big initiative on marijuana.

STATE CONTROLLER 2014: You may recall news from earlier this year about Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, running into a little trouble with the FBI. You'd think something so public might undermine a run for statewide office -- in this case, state controller. The recent announcement that Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez was entering the race probably hasn't helped, either.

But Calderon will be gathering supporters tonight at Capital Dime for a Monday Night Football-themed Ron Calderon for Controller 2014 fundraiser. It also bears noting that money continued flowing into Calderon's campaign committee even after federal agents came knocking in early June: Insurance industry organizations still pushed in thousands of dollars later in the month.

PHOTO: Inmates wait in the Roger Bauman intake facility for assessment before integrating into the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center on March 1, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Renée C. Byer.

October 21, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Gavin Newsom goes to pot

Lt Gov. Gavin Newsom continues to position himself for his next move with a new push to legalize marijuana, Dan says.

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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