Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

Assembly_chamber.JPGThe Legislature just came back in session last week, but lawmakers already have their first break to look forward to: Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. As a result, both the Senate and the Assembly will meet for brief, atypical Friday floor sessions at 9 a.m. before everyone heads home for the long weekend.

Not much is likely to happen, but it will allow legislators to collect their per diem allowances. Under the California constitution, lawmakers are granted tax-free living expenses on top of their salaries--as long as they are not out of session for more than three consecutive days.

According to the Assembly Rules Committee, the per diem rate was raised last month to $163 from $141.86 per day. That is still below its $173 peak from October 2008 to September 2009.

VIDEO: The path is clear for a landslide re-election for Gov. Jerry Brown, Dan Walters says.

APP-Y NEW YEAR: The Sacramento Bee is pleased to announce a major update and new design for the Capitol Alert Insider Edition app.

The new 2014 version:

  • Works on both your iPhone and iPad with a single subscription.
  • Offers faster access to our bills-to-watch guide and legislative directory, along with new district maps.
  • Includes a new section on legislative committees.
  • Lets Insider Edition app subscribers comment and share with one another.
  • Includes all the previous Insider features, including early access to Field Polls and Bee editorials on state topics and a curated Capitol Twitter feed. Easily email chiefs of staff, schedulers and legislative directors from within the app.

To subscribe, go to It's free this week, $19.99 a month after that.

IT'S OFFICIAL: Gov. Jerry Brown's press office sent out a mysterious e-mail yesterday saying that he would be making a "major announcement" in San Francisco at 10 a.m. As reported last night, Brown is expected to declare a drought emergency in California, which farmers and Central Valley lawmakers have been calling for for several weeks.

STOPPED IN ITS TRACKS: Should California's proposed high-speed rail finally get off the ground this year, construction would begin along a 130-mile stretch in the Central Valley. That region has voiced some of the loudest criticism of the plan, however, and calls to kill the project have only intensified. State Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, and Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, will be in Fresno today at 1:30 p.m. to announce new legislation aimed at stopping the project.

MLK EVENTS: Several local groups are planning rallies at the Capitol over the long weekend to commemorate King. On Saturday, Occupy Sacramento will host a march and noontime rally at the west steps "continuing the legacy of Dr. King" by calling for a living wage, immigrant rights and more. Monday's 33rd annual "March for the Dream" makes a stop at the north and west steps around 10:45 a.m. before continuing on to the Convention Center for a diversity expo.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, who turns 40 on Sunday.

PHOTO: Twenty-eight new assemblymembers undergo orientation inside the Assembly chambers on Nov. 12, 2008. The Sacramento Bee/Brian Baer


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