Capitol Alert

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Good morning from drought-stricken California, where the lack of precipitation has become dire enough that officials on Friday nixed further water deliveries to southern users for the first time in the state's history.

That came the day after a pair of Central Valley Republicans introduced yet another water bond measure, the fourth circulating this session. As a lack of rain continues to parch the state — shriveling the livelihoods of cattle ranchers, displacing birds and disrupting fishing — lawmakers have amplified their call for a water bond measure on the 2014 ballot.

This morning, water affordability - specifically, the rates various users pay - will be in the spotlight during a joint hearing of the Assembly committees on Utilities And Commerce and Aging And Long-term Care from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m in room 437.

It's a relevant topic considering concerns that the burden of paying for the other big-ticket water item on the agenda - Gov. Jerry Brown's Delta tunnels project - could fall heavily on ratepayers.

VIDEO: A worsening drought means intensifying water politics, Dan Walters says.

RAIL REACTION: The legal fight over high-speed rail keeps chugging along. The California Supreme Court sent a challenge over the project's financing back to an appeals court last week, and today is the deadline for the Central Valley landowners suing the state to file briefs. The state's deadline comes next Monday.

GUNG HAY FAT CHOY: In honor of the Lunar New Year, the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus Foundation and the Asian Pacific Islander Capitol Association are co-hosting a celebration at Frank Fat's this afternoon. Potential attendees include both Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles.

PHOTO: Fields planted with forage seeds wait for rain at the Van Vleck Ranch Thursday January 23, 2014 in Sacramento County, Calif. The Sacramento Bee/Paul Kitagaki Jr.


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