Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

November 12, 2013
Dianne Feinstein pushing for customers to keep their health plans

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein believes if you like your current health insurance plan you should be able to keep it.

Feinstein, D-Calif., said Tuesday she was cosponsoring legislation honoring President Barack Obama's oft-repeated pledge allowing individuals who buy their own health plans to retain their current rates and health providers.

The bill by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., would let those who purchased coverage after the passage of the federal health care reform to hold onto the plans unless their insurer pulls out of the individual market.

Feinstein's support, the first from a senator representing a deep blue state, underscores the discomfort among some Democrats with the health law's uneven roll-out, including computer glitches that have hobbled early enrollment in several states. Earlier Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton was quoted saying he believed Obama should stand by his original commitment.

In her statement, Feinstein said the bill "provides a simple fix to a complex problem."

"The Affordable Care Act is a good law, but it is not perfect," she said. "I believe the Landrieu bill is a commonsense fix that will protect individuals in the private insurance market from being forced to change their insurance plan. I hope Congress moves quickly to enact it."

November 12, 2013
California's Latino Caucus boots Ron Calderon from its board

20130311_HA_LEGISLATORS1424.JPGAlready bereft of his committee assignments, Sen. Ron Calderon has also lost his spot on the California Latino Legislative Caucus' executive board.

On the same afternoon that the Senate Rules Committee voted to dissolve Calderon's committee assignments, prompting a denunciation from the besieged legislator, the California Latino Legislative Caucus said Calderon would be lifted from the caucus's eight-member board. Sen. Norma Torres, D-Pomona, will replace him.

"Unfortunately, recent allegations against one of our Caucus members, Senator Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), threaten to overshadow our accomplishments and undermine the integrity of the Caucus as a whole," Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, the caucus's chair and a Rules Commitee member who voted to temporarily suspend Calderon's committee posts, said in a statement.

"We take these grave allegations seriously," Lara's statement continued. "While we make no judgment as to the veracity, we have a duty to protect the integrity of a distinguished Caucus."

Calderon's ties to the increasingly powerful Latino caucus have come under magnified scrutiny after the group appeared in an FBI affidavit alleging that Calderon accepted bribes. The affidavit claims that Calderon was involved in a leadership struggle that was ultimately resolved when the Latino caucus channeled $25,000 to an entity controlled by Calderon's brother, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon.

PHOTO: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, left, speaks with Senator Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, during session in the Senate chambers in Sacramento on March 11, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.

November 12, 2013
Ron Calderon, stripped of committee assignments, rejects federal allegations

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After being stripped of his ability to participate in legislative committees, Sen. Ron Calderon on Tuesday denounced "false allegations and illegal acts" leading to his being disciplined.

While Calderon's statement did not explicitly make mention of an FBI affidavit alleging that the Montebello Democrat had accepted bribes from an undercover agent and a hospital executive, it faulted a "federal agency" for unfairly targeting Calderon. In his first direct rejection of the affidavit's version of events, Calderon defended his work in the Legislature, including his chairmanship of the Senate Insurance Committee, and again lashed out at the media.

"I have not been charged or convicted with any unjust doing, yet I am being treated by this committee and some media outlets as if I had," Calderon said in reference to the Senate Rules Committee. "The appropriate action to take would be to allow me to continue the work I was elected to do and to allow me to remain on my committee assignments."

The strongly worded statement followed the Senate's Rules Committee unanimous vote on Wednesday to remove Calderon as chair of the Senate's insurance committee, and remove him as a member of the banking, environmental quality and government organization committees. The committee also voted to disband a so-called "select committee" chaired by Calderon and focused on the film and television industries.

"Our job here is not to determine whether or not there have been any violations of criminal law," said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who chairs the rules committee.

"Our job is to uphold the code of ethics of the Senate and the standard of conduct expected of elected officials. It is in an attempt to strike that balance that I believe this decision is not only sound, but it is necessary."

November 12, 2013
Anthem Blue Cross latest to grant extension of health policies

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As turmoil over terminated health insurance policies continues across the nation, Anthem Blue Cross of California on Tuesday became the latest company to grant a brief extension to some of its customers.

The company announced the move after failing to issue timely notices, allowing roughly 104,000 consumers with expiring policies to keep their coverage through February 28. Typically, only those who purchased plans before the March 2010 passage of the federal health care law meet the cutoff for "grandfathered" status.

"The affected members were inadvertently omitted from the original mailing," said Darrel Ng, a spokesman for Anthem Blue Cross.

Policyholders have until Dec. 15 to notify the company to temporarily extend their plans.

Upward of 1 million Californians are receiving letters informing them their plans do not comply with the federal health care overhaul. Officials from the state exchange, Covered California, estimate nearly 600,000 people who buy their own insurance plans should expect to pay more.

November 12, 2013
AM Alert: California Senate weighs Ron Calderon's committees

MC_CALDERON_01.JPGFresh off honoring the nation's military veterans, California lawmakers will meet today to shape a veteran lawmaker's political future.

The fallout from the leaked FBI affidavit implicating Sen. Ron Calderon led Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, to request last week that Calderon should be stripped of his committee assignments.

Today, the Senate Rules Committee meets to consider the request -- and as Steinberg chairs the Rules Committee, the outcome of today's 1 p.m. meeting in the Capitol's room 4203 may be a given.

Assuming Calderon does lose his committee posts, that raises some questions about what comes next. So far only one lawmaker has publicly called for Calderon's full resignation, which Calderon has rejected, and Steinberg's office has said the committee changes are pending the conclusion of the federal probe. But it's anyone guess how long it will take, so we may have a committee-less Calderon operating under a cloud any time he casts votes on the Senate floor.

VIDEO: Dan Walters parses the apparently contradictory poll numbers on Gov. Jerry Brown.

November 12, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Jerry Brown's predicament on poll numbers

How can a California electorate seemingly pleased with Gov. Jerry Brown's performance be so lukewarm about giving him another term? If nothing else, Dan says, it shows the political distance Brown has traveled.

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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