Following a scandal-ridden early 2014 that ultimately saw three members suspended in an unprecedented move, the California Senate will hold a "day of reflection" on ethics today.
Regular business has been cancelled so senators and office staff can attend training sessions led by Scott Raecker, CEO of the Josephson Institute, a Los Angeles-based ethics education and consulting firm, starting at 9 a.m. at the State Library and Courts Building on the Capitol Mall.
Earlier this week, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said he did not think the training would have prevented the kind of corruption alleged against senators Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, and Leland Yee, D-San Francisco. "But that's only half the point," he added.
"It is always important to look inside and to be reflective and to ask, 'Well, what practices are there that we ought to be looking at? What should we change?'"
The training, which will also include a panel discussion with three attorneys expert in political and campaign issues, is intended to reinforce best practices so lawmakers do not put themselves in legally dubious territory.
"Money in politics is a reality," Steinberg said. "We need to talk about those kinds of situations and make sure the reaction is always to separate the question of campaign and money from public policy decision-making."
The Assembly will continue as normal with committee hearings, including an informational hearing on Internet poker at 1 p.m. in Room 4202 of the Capitol.
VIDEO: In reflecting on ethics, legislators should consider not just how they fund their campaigns, but the policy decisions they make, Dan Walters says.
IN THE BAG: The contentious issue of a statewide plastic bag ban seemed to reach a resolution in January when a deal was struck between lawmakers and manufacturers. The battle is clearly not over, however, as representatives from the plastic bag manufacturing industry will gather on the south steps of the Capitol at 10:30 a.m. to protest the latest version of the bill as a "job killer."
ROUND TWO: Since the last Secretary of State debate in March, one candidate has been arrested by the FBI and subsequently withdrawn. The field remains deep, however, and the race wide open, so other candidates will gather at 11:30 a.m. at the Capitol Plaza Ballroom on 9th Street for another debate hosted by the Sacramento Press Club. Democrats Alex Padilla and Derek Cressman, Republican Pete Peterson and Dan Schnur, who has no party preference, are all scheduled to attend, but it is unclear whether Green David Curtis will be allowed to participate.
WHAT'S THE RUB?: A boom in massage establishments over the last few years has also augmented concerns that many of them are selling sex behind closed doors. Assembly members Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, and Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, along with the California League of Cities, will introduce legislation to give local governments more authority over regulating the massage industry, 11:30 a.m. in Room 1190 of the Capitol.
MONEY BACK GUARANTEE: Assemblyman Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley, will join with United Service Workers West to call for the passage of his bill allowing workers to place wage liens on their employers for compensation that they are owed. Following a press conference at 10 a.m. in Capitol Park near 12th and N streets, they will march to the California Chamber of Commerce to present a giant invoice representing $240 million they say is still owed to employees.
LET'S GET FLEXIBLE: Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee, will be joined by the California Chamber of Commerce and fellow Assembly members Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank, and Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, to discuss a bill that would permit employees to request alternative scheduling for their workweeks, 11 a.m. in Room 126 of the Capitol.
LATINA ACTION DAY: Hispanas Organized for Political Equality has secured a full slate of Capitol players to speak at its policy and advocacy conference for Latina women, today at the Sheraton Grand Hotel on J Street. Assembly members Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, and Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, kick things off at 10 a.m. with a webcast discussion about Latina representation in elected office. State Sens. Norma Torres, D-Pomona, and Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles; Assembly members Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, Jose Medina, D-Riverside, Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, Connie Conway, R-Tulare, and Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno; California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and Secretary of State Debra Bowen are also scheduled to speak throughout the day.
DENIM ON DENIM: Wearing denim in protest of a 1999 Italian Supreme Court decision overturning a rape conviction because the victim was wearing tight jeans, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault and supporters will rally on the south steps of the Capitol at 1:15 p.m. to mark Sexual Assault Awareness Month. State senators Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, and de León, and Assemblywomen Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, are scheduled to speak.
PHOTO: State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, left, speaks on a bill, while his seat mate Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, works at his desk at the Capitol on January 28, 2014. The Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli