Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

Bank_of_Rio_Vista.JPGThe Assembly Committee on Banking and Finance takes a field trip to San Francisco today for an informational hearing on the Bank on California program, an initiative encouraging poor and immigrant Californians to use mainstream financial services that got its start in the City by the Bay.

Launched statewide in 2008 by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the program is a collaboration between local governments, financial institution and community organizations that eases some requirements and lowers fees for opening a starter bank account. More than 214,000 accounts have been opened through the program, according to the office of Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, but about 7.8 percent of Californians remain "unbanked."

Dickinson, the Sacramento Democrat who chairs the banking and finance committee, introduced a bill last year that would give Bank on California a permanent home in the Department of Business Oversight. It passed through the Assembly but was held in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

VIDEO: As the transportation picture has gotten more complex, Caltrans has lost its way, Dan Walters says.

PEANUTS POWER: The California Association of Museums and the DMV are debuting new specialty license plates featuring beloved beagle Snoopy that will benefit California museums. Among those scheduled to attend the launch event, 10 a.m. at the California Museum on O Street, is Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION: Hong Kong's economic and trade commissioner to the United States is in Sacramento to promote investment in China and Asia. Clement Leung will speak at the California Chamber of Commerce on K Street at noon about business opportunities in the Asian market and how California companies can gain a foothold.

THE BUSINESS OF ART: With support from the California Arts Council, Otis College of Art and Design has completed an analysis of the state's "creative economy," examining the impact of sectors such as the entertainment industry and nonprofit organizations. The report, an expansion of the school's annual assessment of the Los Angeles region, will be released today at 3:30 p.m. at a reception in Santa Monica. State Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, plans to hold a hearing on the report next Wednesday.

MAKING THE JUMP: Are California's high school students ready for the transition to college? UC Davis researcher Michal Kurlaender discusses an evaluation of the state's Early Assessment Program, an academic preparation program for high school juniors developed by state education officials and the California State University system. The talks takes place at noon at the UC Center Sacramento on K Street.

INSIDER EXCLUSIVE: Subscribers to the Capitol Alert Insider Edition can get veteran political analyst Tony Quinn's take on key legislative races, as Republicans seek to cut into Democrats' supermajority status this year. In the third of five parts released this week, Quinn and reporter Christopher Cadelago look at key Assembly races in Southern California. You can subscribe to the Insider Edition app for iPad and iPhone.

PHOTO: A customer leaves after using the ATM machine at the Bank of Rio Vista. The Sacramento Bee/Renee C. Byer


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