Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

February 24, 2014
Repeal of California transgender student rights bill fails


Efforts to overturn a law shielding transgender students stalled Monday, with advocates of the repeal failing to gather enough signatures to qualify for the statewide ballot.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced the referendum of Assembly Bill 1266 finished about 17,000 signatures short of the 504,760 valid names needed to go before voters.

Proponents of the repeal submitted nearly 620,000 signatures and still have the opportunity to review the rejected names and challenge any they believe were properly excluded.

The bill has become a flashpoint in the debate over supervising school facilities and the latest turn in the state's culture wars. It permits transgender public school students to join athletic teams and access facilities such as bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identities instead of their sex.

Transgender individuals identify with a gender different from their sex at birth. The measure's author, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, said one good thing to come from the "misguided" referendum attempt was supporters were given another forum to educate people.

"It's important that we begin to understand what transgender students are going through. I wish it was just a matter of ignorance. The forces putting this referendum together included the people that make money off promoting hate and professional fear mongers, who took advantage of what other people didn't understand," said Ammiano, D-San Francisco.

"Although it's clear that California is moving in the direction of equality and respect, this does not mean the struggle is over ... The people who belittle the rights of transgender students should know their efforts encourage the bullies. It is their intolerance that allows the violence to continue, and that violence affects every child, not just transgender students. They should be ashamed."

Some school districts have already moved to accommodate their pupils. In December, Sacramento Unified School District approved a policy to extend new rights and protections to transgender students.

Meanwhile, repeal supporters said the fight isn't over.

"Only after the secretary of state announces her count do we get a chance to look at the signatures that were thrown out and begin to challenge those results," proponent Gina Gleason said.

They contend that their collection of 619,381 signatures demonstrated the degree of opposition to a measure that opens sensitive areas to the "opposite sex."

The coalition called Privacy for All Students maintained the law makes other students uncomfortable and infringes on the will of public school parents. Karen England said in the months since the governor signed the bill they have watched the issue grow from another odd California proposal to a national push to sexually integrate bathrooms and locker rooms.

"AB 1266 has highlighted the contrasting approaches of those who believe that public policy should be shaped by an individual's self described sexual identity and those that believe that public policy should reflect sexual reality," England said. "While we have compassion for those who are uncomfortable in traditional, sex separate bathrooms, we also have compassion for those who see their privacy and safety jeopardized when boys and girls are forced to share bathrooms, locker rooms and showers."

The campaign, led by Frank Schubert, who earlier helped run Yes on Proposition 8, has been marked by bursts of drama.

Last month, it moved to the full signature count after county election officials determined it did not have enough valid signatures to succeed by random sample.

That came after Bowen declined to count more than 5,000 signatures from Tulare and Mono counties that came in two days after the Nov. 10 deadline. A judge in Sacramento ruled the late submission was appropriate because Nov. 10 fell on a Sunday and Nov. 11 was Veteran's Day.

Fewer than 50 referenda have qualified for the ballot in the last 100 years.

PHOTO: Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, was the author of Assembly Bill 1266. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

February 24, 2014
Two California bills set up battle over condo conversions

evict.JPGThe introduction of two bills sets the stage for what could be one of the 2014 legislative session's highest octane battles - whether landlords can sidestep local rent control laws and evict their tenants to convert units to condominiums.

It's a burning issue in San Francisco, where evictions and condominium conversions have proliferated due to soaring housing demand from high-income technology industry workers.

The Ellis Act, passed by the Legislature three decades ago in response to a state Supreme Court decision involving Santa Monica's rent control law, allows evictions if landlords are going out of the rental business.

Both of the bills have been introduced by San Francisco Democrats, Sen. Mark Leno and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.

Leno's measure, Senate Bill 1439, would apply only to San Francisco, allowing that city to prohibit Ellis Act evictions unless the property had been in the same ownership for at least five years.

It's aimed at investment companies that buy rental properties and quickly evict tenants to make condo conversions.

Ammiano's bill, Assembly Bill 2405, would allow any local government to prevent condo conversions if it has not met the state's designated need for housing in the community, particularly the need for low- and moderate-income housing.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee appeared with Leno at a news conference Monday to plug his bill. The state's landlord and real estate lobbies, anticipating that anti-condo conversion legislation would be introduced, have been gearing up to block passage.

PHOTO: Renters and renter rights advocates demonstrated for better protections for renters, the creation of more affordable housing and to end the Ellis Act, during a march at the Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli)

February 24, 2014
Ron Calderon is in custody awaiting arraignment


Sen. Ron Calderon turned himself into authorities this morning and is now in custody awaiting arraignment on corruption charges this afternoon in Los Angeles.

Calderon will be arraigned sometime after 2 p.m., said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the United States Attorney's Office, which is prosecuting the case.

Last week, a federal grand jury indicted Calderon on 24 criminal charges including bribery, money laundering and tax fraud, and indicted his brother, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon, on seven counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Tom Calderon was arraigned Friday and pleaded not guilty. Authorities said Ron Calderon was traveling on Friday and agreed to turn himself in today.

Ron Calderon's lawyer, Los Angeles attorney Mark Geragos, said he would have a statement later today.

PHOTO: Sen. Ron Calderon speaks to the media outside the Senate chambers on Monday, June 10, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Manny Crisostomo

February 24, 2014
AM Alert: Fake guide dogs come under Senate scrutiny

AOC_BODRuthComp_318w.JPGIt turns out not every guide dog you see on the street is actually helping a blind person. A growing number of individuals are dressing up their pets in fake gear to bring them where animals are normally prohibited, causing a headache for the disabled and businesses alike.

The Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development has scheduled an informational hearing for 11 a.m. in Room 4203 of the Capitol to address the problem of service dog fraud. Though misrepresenting a pet as a service animal is already a misdemeanor in California, the hearing aims to educate the public and determine whether any policy changes are necessary, the committee office said.

The panel will hear from the disabled community, guide dog trainers and representatives as well as from the restaurant, retail and lodging industries. Among the concerns to discuss: untrained fake service dogs can become a nuisance, but businesses are not allowed to require proof of a service animal's legitimacy.

VIDEO: With the governor playing it safe in an election year, Democrats' legislative wish list will have to wait, Dan Walters says.

CHP FUNERAL: Gov. Jerry Brown is in Fresno today for the funeral of two California Highway Patrol officers who were killed last week after their squad car flipped over while swerving to avoid a pedestrian. Officers Brian Law and Juan Gonzalez will be honored at the Save Mart Center at Fresno State University at 10 a.m.

MANY TONGUES: The Judicial Council of California meets in San Francisco today to begin discussions on expanding language access in the judiciary for limited English speakers. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye told The Bee in December that one of her priorities for 2014 is ensuring interpretative assistance for the more than 200 languages and dialects spoken daily in California courts.

PICTURE THIS: The Senate Panoramic Floor Photograph, a sort of class picture for the session, was originally scheduled to be taken today, but it was abruptly cancelled on Friday, the same day authorities announced that Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, had been indicted on corruption charges. The Office of the Senate Desk, which organizes the photograph, said too many senators would be absent on Monday and the shot would be rescheduled soon.

PHOTO: Ruth Welland gets a treat and some water out for her guide dog, Sylvia, after classes at Sacramento City College. November 9, 2010. The Sacramento Bee/Autumn Cruz.

February 24, 2014
Dan Walters Daily: Democrats' legislative wish list will have to wait

Dem_caucus.JPGIn an election year, Gov. Jerry Brown doesn't want to rock the boat, Dan says, so a very liberal agenda is unlikely to become law.

Have a question you'd like Dan to answer? Post it on our Facebook page.

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

PHOTO: Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, walks to a democratic caucus meeting on Feb. 3, 2009. The Sacramento Bee/Brian Baer


Capitol Alert Staff

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. Twitter: @DanielSnowSmith

Jim Miller Jim Miller covers California policy and politics and edits Capitol Alert. Twitter: @jimmiller2

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers the Legislature. Twitter: @capitolalert

Koseff Alexei Koseff edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @akoseff

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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