Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

Court.JPGEver since Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act during his first term in 1975, there have been efforts at the Capitol to overturn the law's $250,000 limit on medical malpractice awards for pain and suffering.

Passed to address medical providers' concerns that high damages payouts were drying up their insurance market, supporters of eliminating the cap argue that it shortchanges victims of botched medical procedures and makes attorneys less willing to take up their cases.

That battle may heat up once again if an initiative sponsored by Consumer Watchdog makes the November ballot. Though pushed as a measure to require drug testing for doctors, a provision that would eliminate the medical malpractice compensation cap could make it a big-money, fiercely contested contest this election cycle.

We'll find out soon whether the initiative has qualified: Consumer Watchdog and its allies have announced that they will turn in 830,000 signatures for the measure to the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters in Norwalk at 10:30 a.m.

VIDEO: Despite billions in unfunded liabilities that grow every day, legislators continue to ignore California's teacher pension woes, Dan Walters says.

BLAST OFF: Aerospace Week launches at the Capitol today, sponsored by state Sen. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, and Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance. At 3:30 p.m, Dr. Ed Stone, the project scientist for NASA's Voyager mission, discusses the venture in Room 113. Events tomorrow include a joint hearing on California's aerospace industry at 2 p.m. in Room 127 and an informational display with a flight simulator starting at 11 a.m. on the west steps. Legislative visits follow on Wednesday.

SUPPLY AND DEMAND: Last year, the Public Policy Institute of California released a report suggesting that the state would face a shortfall of 1 million college graduates by 2025. PPIC hosts a conversation and Q&A on the issue with University of California President Janet Napolitano at the Sheraton Grand Hotel on J Street at 12:25 p.m. The event will also be webcast.

O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!: The Senate chamber gets a little more artistic this morning as the 35 finalists in California's high school Poetry Out Loud contest compete for a $200 prize and entry into the national championships in Washington, D.C., starting at 8:10 a.m.

BUTTING IN: Members from California Youth Advocacy Network, an organization that fights tobacco use among young adults, march and rally on the west steps of the Capitol at 1:30 p.m. to denounce tobacco companies, which the group says continue to target young people.

PASSING THROUGH: Surely this is one of the oddest events to ever hit the Capitol: Pharmaceutical maker Sanofi displays the "Strollin' Colon," an inflatable walk-through colon, on the north steps from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. to demonstrate what a healthy colon looks like and provide information on getting screened for cancerous polyps.

PHOTO: Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog. Photo by Kent A McInnis Jr.



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