Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

HSRail.jpgCalifornia's drought has pushed high-speed rail out of the headlines in recent months, but the controversial project isn't forgotten. Republican legislators continue to introduce bills to defund the project and, in February, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom pulled his support, suggesting the state should instead reallocate voter-approved rail bonds.

The Senate Transportation and Housing Committee holds a hearing to evaluate the project's potential for success at 1:30 p.m. in Room 112 of the Capitol. Among those scheduled to testify is Jeff Morales, chief executive officer of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

VIDEO: With Democrats in the state Senate now below the supermajority threshold, Republican members could swing some key issues this session, Dan Walters says.

LEADER OF THE PACK: As David Siders reported last night, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, leads all Republican opponents in the race for governor. A new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California shows that Donnelly has five times more support among likely voters than rivals like Neel Kashkari.

HEALTH REFORM REFORM: As the first open enrollment session for Covered California comes to a close, Republican lawmakers plan to introduce a bill package that would put new restrictions on the health care exchange. Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway and other members of her caucus will gather at the Urban Hive on H Street at 10:30 a.m. to announce legislation aimed at ensuring privacy protections, affordable options and public accountability.

ILLEGITIMATE INDUSTRY: The Little Hoover Commission, the independent state oversight agency, holds a public hearing on California's underground economy, including the impact of black market sales on taxes and law enforcement, at 9:30 a.m. in Room 437 of the Capitol.

ARE YOU FEELING LUCKY?: A pilot program at more than 100 gas stations in Sacramento and Los Angeles would promote the California lottery and allow for the purchase of tickets as shoppers are buying their gas. The California State Lottery Commission will hear a presentation on the proposed Play at the Pump program, 10 a.m. at the lottery commission building on 10th Street.

BACK TO THE FUTURE: Last year, economic think tank the Milken Institute released a report examining California's position in the science and technology sector. The report's author, Kristin Keough, will present the results in a policy briefing at 2 p.m. in Room 125 of the Capitol, which will be followed by panel discussion including Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank.

TO FRACK OR NOT TO FRACK: Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, who bankrolled 2012's successful Proposition 39 closing a tax loophole for out-of-state corporations, is among the panelists who will be talking about the energy and economic potential of California's Monterey Shale formation, 2 p.m. at the Citizen Hotel on J Street. The conversation is sponsored by Next Generation, the Post Carbon Institute and Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, who turns 40 today.

PHOTO: A view of a high speed train moving through a wind farm in the proposed high speed rail network. Rendering by Newlands and Company Inc.



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