Capitol Alert

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Ag_Day.JPGAn electronic milking cow named Buttercup and exhibits on advances in aquaculture take over the west steps of the Capitol as the California Department of Food and Agriculture once again hosts its annual Ag Day. The informational event, celebrating the state's agricultural community, starts at 10:30 a.m. for elected officials and their staff, then opens to the public for education and healthy treats at 11:30 a.m.

At noon, California Secretary of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross and Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California, announce a new marketing campaign to promote California as a destination for food tourism.

Over on the north steps at 11 a.m., Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, and a bipartisan group of more than a dozen other legislators are scheduled to welcome hundreds of young people from Future Farmers of America to the event and to discuss a new bill that would offer grants for technical education in agriculture fields.

VIDEO: Despite evidence that charter schools are outperforming their public counterparts, Los Angeles is squandering their promise, Dan Walters says.

MOVIE NIGHT: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, will join President Barack Obama and others at the White House today for a private screening of the feature film "Cesar Chavez." The film's director, Diego Luna, and cast will be there, too.

EXTRA CREDIT: The Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development is launching California Competes, a tax-credit program worth $180 million over the next two years for businesses that want to expand or relocate to California. The month-long application period begins today with a registration workshop at Sacramento City Hall at 9 a.m.

THE PEOPLE'S COURT: Groups representing businesses that say they have suffered abusive lawsuits call on the Legislature to change a legal system they argue is hurting job creation in California. Representatives from California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse and the Civil Justice Association of California, among others, will be at Tsakopoulos Library Galleria on I Street at noon.

VEGGIE TALES: If it wasn't already clear that the drought is California's hottest political issue these days, even PETA is using it for leverage. Arguing that producing meat takes too much water, members of the animal-rights organization will be showering in front of the Capitol at noon to encourage veganism.

HIGH FIVE: First 5 California, which funds programs meant to improve early-childhood development, began fifteen years ago when voters passed a tobacco tax. Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and the directors of county First 5 commissions celebrate that anniversary at 5 p.m. in the Eureka Room at the Capitol.

POLS IN TOYLAND: It could be Christmas in March for lawmakers and their staff who attend the Toy Industry Association's legislative reception, 5:30 p.m. at the Senator Hotel on L Street, where the trade group hands out goodie bags with toys and games produced by its members.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D-Burbank, who turns 41 today.

PHOTO: Jonathan Vera, 8, attempts to rope a fake bull during California Agriculture Day at the State Capitol on March 20, 2007. The Sacramento Bee/ Brian Baer



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