Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

November 18, 2013
California election officials tally costs to fill Emmerson's seat

emmersonportrait_blog.jpgElection officials in Riverside and San Bernardino counties estimated Monday that it will cost at least $1.1 million to hold a stand-alone special election next year to fill the vacancy created by the surprise resignation of state Sen. Bill Emmerson, R-Redlands.

The state hasn't covered counties' special election costs since 2007. Earlier this year, Emmerson carried a bill to require the state to reimburse counties but it stalled in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"Fiscal uncertainty is a reality for government agencies and these unplanned and unfunded elections are an immense burden on the budgeting process," Emmerson said in a committee analysis of the measure.

Emmerson's resignation takes effect Dec. 1. After that, Gov. Jerry Brown will call a special election to fill the vacancy in the 23rd Senate District. Given the calendar, it's likely that there will be a stand-alone special primary election in March or April and the special general election will be consolidated with the June 3, 2014 statewide primary ballot.

November 18, 2013
New California web tool allows sales tax rate searches

cashmachine_small.JPGCalifornia levies a statewide 7.5 percent tax on retail sales but local governments and other agencies can add surtaxes for various purposes. The overall rate reaches as high as 10 percent in some localities.

That means that the tax on an identical transaction can vary considerably, depending on where the money changes hands, but knowing what tax rate applies at which retail location has been almost impossible.

If it matters, however, a new interactive, on-line tool can tell the consumer what rate will apply.

The new Board of Equalization website allows the user to plug in an address and instantly learn the applicable rate. A purchase in downtown Sacramento, for example, would generate an 8.5 percent sales tax, but across the Sacramento River in West Sacramento it would be just 8 percent.

The highest rate of 10 percent is found in several small cities in Los Angeles County.

Board of Equalization member George Runner said he requested that the on-line tool be developed because even some retailers don't know what rates to charge because they change frequently.

PHOTO: Lead cashier Ashley De Antonio, left, and cashier Danielle Harvey practice at the cash register at the Sunflower Farmers Market in Sacramento on Friday, May 4, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton

November 18, 2013
AM Alert: STEM education symposium comes to Sacramento


So NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, renowned actress Geena Davis and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson walk into a convention center.

There is no punchline here, actually, unless you find science and math education hilarious. The above mentioned will join an estimated 2,000 teachers for a two-day conference on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education -- commonly known as STEM -- at the Sacramento Convention Center today.

The necessity of producing more STEM-trained workers has become a bit of a bipartisan talking point lately -- back when immigration reform was still being actively debated, for instance, both Republicans and Democrats endorsed automatic green cards for STEM-trained foreign workers -- and the Sacramento conference will talk about STEM curriculum and teaching, including how it fits into the coming Common Core standards.

VIDEO: There's a certain German word that can describe the activity in Washington and Sacramento these days, Dan Walters says.

CPUC QUESTIONED: The California Public Utilities Commission continues to feel the heat, which today manifests itself as a Energy Subcommittee On Gas And Electric Infrastructure Safety hearing on how the CPUC can improve its oft-maligned oversight practices.

Witnesses at the hearing, overseen by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, are expected to include Papia Gambelin of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, some experts on government risk management and a few representatives from the commission, of whom only deputy director Brian Turner had confirmed as of Friday afternoon. From 10 a.m. to noon in San Francisco's Hiram W. Johnson State Office Building.

PHOTO: Tom Torlakson speaks at a candidates forum at Sac State on September 26, 2010. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.

November 18, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Political hijinks a source of guilty pleasure

It's hard not to smile a bit at politicians running for cover in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento, 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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