Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

April 22, 2014
Amid scandal, Senate committee approves political fundraising bills

Deleon.JPGThe scandal-ridden state Senate took a step toward cleaning up its image Tuesday, when a key committee approved several bills aimed at purifying the role of money in California politics.

Most of the bills were written or amended following the federal corruption investigation of Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, and the record-setting FPPC fine on lobbyist Kevin Sloat for hosting officials at his home for lavish campaign fundraisers. Pressure mounted even further on the Senate when Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, was charged last month on charges that he took bribes and conspired to illegally sell weapons during a years-long FBI sting. Yee and Calderon have both pleaded not guilty in separate cases.

The Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee passed the following bills with a unanimous and bipartisan vote:

* - SB 1441 by Sen. Ricardo Lara: Would ban campaign fundraisers at lobbyists' homes, eliminating a rule that currently allows them to host events that cost up to $500.

* - SB 1442 by Lara: Would require political fundraising committees to file campaign finance reports four times a year, up from the current requirement of twice a year.

* - SB 1443 by Sen. Kevin de León: Would reduce the value of gifts officials can receive from any single source from the current $440 to $200. Would ban all gifts from lobbyists, eliminating a current rule that allows lobbyists to give up to $10 a month. Would prohibit officials from accepting certain kinds of gifts from anyone, including tickets to concerts, sports events and amusement parks; spa services and rounds of golf; cash and gift cards.

* - Senate Bill 1103 by Sen. Alex Padilla: Would prohibit a politician from simultaneously raising money for multiple state offices.

Other bills cleared the committee on a party-line votes, with Republican Sen. Joel Anderson voting no:

* - Senate Bill 1101 by Padilla: Would ban political fundraising during the last 100 days of the legislative session and for seven days after session ends.

* - Senate Bill 1102 by Padilla: Would increase the reporting required of small political contributions by mandating disclosure of donations of $100 or more within 24 hours during the 90 days preceding an election and within 5 business days the rest of the year.

* - Senate Bill 831 by Sen. Jerry Hill: Would make numerous changes to the Political Reform Act, including: forbidding politicians facing criminal charges from using campaign funds to pay their legal bills; prohibiting officials from giving campaign funds to nonprofits operated by their political colleagues and banning the use of campaign funds for things like rent, utility bills, vacations, tuition and gifts to family members. It would also place a new $5,000 cap on the amount of travel gifts officials could receive from nonprofit organizations, and require groups providing the travel to disclose their financial donors to the Fair Political Practices Commission.

PHOTO: Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, talks about the proposed California Accountability in Public Service Act during a Capitol news conference where he and other Democratic lawmakers announced a package of bills intended to impose new rules on public officials on Thursday March 6, 2014. At right is State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and at left is Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens. The Sacramento Bee/ Renée C. Byer

April 22, 2014
California massage fix proposed


Seeking to work out the kinks in California's disputed massage regulations, Assembly members are poised to announce a bill giving local governments broader powers to crack down on wayward operators.

In the years since California transferred oversight of the massage industry from municipal authorities to a centralized state nonprofit known as the California Massage Therapy Council, many cities have witnessed a boom in the number of massage establishments.

Local leaders have complained about their inability to regulate the mushrooming massage parlors, and law enforcement has warned of an expanded risk of illegitimate enterprises selling sex under the guise of physical therapy. In response to those concerns, a trio of lawmakers will unveil a bill Thursday meant to restore some local control.

The bill would delete a provision of the law shielding certain massage parlors from local land use ordinances. Critics of that exemption say land use rules are a critical tool for cities seeking to cap the number of massage establishments in a given area or to prevent new businesses from quickly replacing shuttered parlors. Cities would be empowered to enact additional ordinances governing areas like health code requirements and operating hours.

The legislation also tries to impose more accountability on massage parlor owners. Business managers, not just individual massage therapists, would need to get certified.

Cops and cities would have an amplified voice in massage matters. The California Massage Therapy Council, currently populated by industry representatives, would have dedicated seats for the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties, and the California Police Chiefs Association.

Assembly members Jimmy Gomez, Susan Bonilla and Chris Holden are authoring the legislation.

PHOTO: A licensed massage therapist massages a regular client at the Massage Envy Spa at Loehmann's Plaza in Sacramento on February 22, 2011. The Sacramento Bee/Manny Crisostomo.

April 22, 2014
Green Party secretary of state candidate to crash Sacramento debate


David Curtis, the Green Party candidate for secretary of state, said he will show up at Wednesday's Sacramento Press Club luncheon debate featuring four of his rivals for the state's top elections post even though he wasn't invited.

Curtis, who the latest Field Poll shows leading two candidates included in Wednesday's lineup, has criticized the press club on social media. He has challenged the organization's nonprofit status.

"I was very disappointed to learn that a social group of supposedly prominent journalists would feel it appropriate to exclude any candidates," Curtis said in an interview, adding that he only learned of the event after he saw a rival mention it on Twitter.

"That was just rude. They call me rude. Well, that's rude," Curtis added.

Wednesday's event is scheduled to feature two Democrats, state Sen. Alex Padilla and Derek Cressman, Republican Pete Peterson, and Dan Schnur, who has no party preference. Another Democrat on the ballot, suspended state Sen. Leland Yee, has been indicted for corruption and conspiracy and withdrawn from the race.

In a message posted on press club's Facebook page, president Juliet Williams said the group issued invitations to the event before the Field Poll's release. The group's board never heard from Curtis until he posted a Facebook message the weekend of April 12 . Before the board had a chance to respond, Williams wrote, "Mr. Curtis began a tirade of insulting and threatening social media posts about our organization.

"Upon receiving a phone call from our program director, Mr. Curtis became belligerent and rude, making a conversation impossible. Our decision was clear, given our intent to hold a civil and informative discussion on the issues in the race. Our organization is entitled to invite whichever speakers we choose and is under no mandate to invite everyone," Williams wrote.

Williams, a Capitol reporter for the Associated Press, noted that its panel mirrors the "four leading candidates" interviewed by the editorial board of The Sacramento Bee.

Tuesday, the San Diego-based Independent Voter Project called on candidates to boycott Wednesday's event.

"The club has justified its position by claiming that Mr. Curtis was 'rude,'" the group's leaders, former state Sen. Steve Peace and former Assemblyman Jeff Marston, wrote. "If so, it is for voters to pass judgement, not the Press Club. We speak from experience when we say every candidate has a right to make an ass of themselves, and the voters have a right to see it."

There has been only one previous forum for secretary of state's candidates, in Los Angeles on March 3. Curtis was one of six announced candidates at that event, which did not include two other people who will be on the June ballot: Democrat Jeffrey Drobman of Thousand Oaks and Republican Roy Allmond of Sacramento.

"They picked the ones that were most actively campaigning. That was the six of us," Curtis said of the March forum.

PHOTO: David Curtis of San Rafael, Green Party candidate for secretary of state in 2014. Photo courtesy of Curtis campaign.

April 22, 2014
AM Alert: Kevin Mullin seeks limit on agricultural antibiotic use

cows.JPGAs antibiotics have become a widespread medical tool, they've actually lost some of their effectiveness -- a concern underpinning ongoing legislative efforts to restrict the use of antibiotics on livestock.

Both state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, have introduced bills this session that would place limits on feeding antibiotics to farm animals, which has been linked to resistant strains of bacteria.

Mullin will be joined by doctors and consumer advocates to discuss his bill, AB 1437, during a press conference at 8:30 a.m. in Room 317 of the Capitol.

AB 1437 is one of Capitol Alert's bills to watch for the 2014 legislative session. Keep tabs on all of them on our Insider Edition app.

VIDEO: It's all about the money as legislators return from spring recess, Dan Walters says.

HEALTH CARE ACCESS: As part of the California Medical Association's lobby day, physicians and legislators will discuss a package of bills that they say would increase access to health care, 11 a.m. on the north steps. Assembly members Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley; Richard Pan, D-Sacramento; V. Manuel Pérez, D-Coachella; and Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, will present legislation.

WHAT'S UP, DOC?: Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom are scheduled to address the California chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians during the group's legislative conference, starting at 9:30 a.m. at the CSAC Conference Center on 11th Street.

A YEAR IN REVIEW: During the first year of enrollment, nearly 1.4 million Californians signed up for health insurance through the state exchange. UCLA health policy and management professor Gerald Kominski will dive into what that number means and what Covered California can learn from it, 11:30 a.m. at the UC Center Sacramento on K Street.

MUSLIM DAY: The Council on American-Islamic Relations gathers on the south steps at 10 a.m. for its third annual Muslim Day at the Capitol to call for support of legislation including SB 1005, which would extend health care subsidies to undocumented immigrants.

TO SERVE AND PROTEST: Members of the California Libertarian Party rally to oppose a measure that would change the state constitution to fill legislative vacancies by gubernatorial appointment and to promote some of their 2014 candidates. Noon at the corner of 12th and L streets.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to state Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, who turns 59 today.

PHOTO: Cows in Sacramento County feed on hay due to drought conditions on January 23, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/Paul Kitagaki Jr.

April 22, 2014
Dan Walters Daily: It's all about the money in session's second half

RBCapitolDome.JPGAs the Legislature returns from spring recess, funding battles will take focus and could determine policy for years to come, Dan says.

Have a question you'd like Dan to answer? Post it on our Facebook page.

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.


Capitol Alert Staff

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @DanielSnowSmith

Jim Miller Jim Miller covers California policy and politics and edits Capitol Alert. Twitter: @jimmiller2

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers the Legislature. Twitter: @capitolalert

Koseff Alexei Koseff edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @akoseff

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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