Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

April 28, 2014
Jerry Brown urges committee support for reserve plan

brownjanbudget.jpg

Gov. Jerry Brown urged members of the Assembly's budget panel Monday to support his plan for a new rainy-day reserve before voters in November.

Making a rare appearance before a legislative committee, Brown received a friendly reception from Democrats and Republicans alike during an informational hearing on reserve legislation put forward by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles.

Brown said his plan would provide "protective restraint."

"When the rain comes we have to store it," Brown told the Assembly Budget Committee. "It will pinch to a certain degree, and that is what the goal is."

The proposal would divert capital gains revenue into a rainy-day reserve when it exceeds 6.5 percent of revenue. It would allow the money to be spent to pay down debt as well as setting aside money to fulfill the state's constitutional school-funding guarantee. Brown called a special legislative session on the subject earlier this month.

The Pérez legislation would replace a reserve measure already on the November ballot, ACA 4, the product of a 2010 deal. It will take Republican votes to make the switch, but Republicans on the committee Tuesday seemed to support the outlines of the Brown/Pérez plan.

Details will be worked out in the coming weeks, Brown and Pérez said. Afterward, Pérez said he wants to bring a reserve measure to the Assembly floor in two weeks, before the budget process gets underway. Brown will release his revised budget in mid-May.

"This is something that has to be done before we pass the next budget," Perez said.

Earlier Monday, though, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said, "We ought to take this up as part of the overall budget, which is only weeks away."

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at a news conference at the Capitol on Jan. 10, 2013. Randall Benton / Sacramento Bee

April 28, 2014
For California Assembly, April a month to remember

poppies.JPGAt this rate, it's becoming difficult to remain aware of all the things April stands for.

Since the start of the month, the Assembly has passed a range of resolutions making April 2014 an official occasion for awareness or acknowledgment of issues ranging from disease to flowers to microbrews.

On Monday, members opened session with a solemn hour-long ceremony honoring Holocaust survivors and enshrining the Assembly's recognition of Holocaust Remembrance Week. After the session concluded, members proceeded to make April Child Abuse Prevention Month, Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month and Alcohol Awareness Month.

Other Assembly-sanctioned ways to think of the time between March and May 2014 include California Poppy Month, California Craft Brewery Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Mathematics Awareness Month.

Unfortunately, West Nile Virus and Mosquito and Vector Control Awareness only got a week, as did National Multicultural Cancer Awareness.

Other potential April additions to the annals of state-recognized periods of consciousness, like Distracted Driving Awareness Month or School Bus Drivers Day, have not yet gotten votes in the Assembly.

PHOTO: California poppies line along the Michako Trail at the Mount Burdell Open Space Preserve in Novato, Calif., on Thursday, April 10, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/ Manny Crisostomo.

April 28, 2014
Tim Donnelly pushes for concealed carry bill

donnellyccw.jpgRepublican Tim Donnelly, who has made gun rights a centerpiece of his gubernatorial campaign, is pushing for legislation in the Assembly that would expand gun owners' access to concealed carry permits.

His bill, which he promoted at the Capitol on Monday, follows a federal court ruling in February that found the state's requirements for concealed weapons permits too restrictive.

Current state law requires applicants to show "good cause" and gives discretion over the permit process to local law enforcement officials. Donnelly, an assemblyman from Twin Peaks, said that process is "arbitrary and capricious," favoring gun owners who are well connected.

Donnelly said his legislation, which would require the state Department of Justice to issue a concealed handgun permit to gun owners who pass a background check, "would make the promise of our Second Amendment a reality for every Californian."

"A right's not a right if you can't exercise it," Donnelly told reporters at the Capitol.

Donnelly's legislation, Assembly Bill 1563, is unlikely to gain support in the Democratic-controlled Legislature, but it may further bolster his credentials with conservative activists.

Donnelly, the Legislature's most outspoken gun rights advocate, pleaded no contest in 2012 to two misdemeanor charges related to the discovery of a firearm in his carry-on bag at Ontario International Airport. Donnelly has said he forgot he had the gun.

Donnelly said Monday that he has had no personal experience with the concealed carry permit process in California, but that "maybe I would be one of the first people to apply for it under my new law."

Donnelly spoke to reporters ahead of a hearing by the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the legal status of the state's concealed carry restrictions remains uncertain.

While a three-member panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the state's requirement that applicants for concealed-weapon permits show "good cause," Attorney General Kamala Harris has asked the full court to review the ruling.

Nick Wilcox, with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said Monday that Donnelly's bill would inappropriately remove discretion from law enforcement officials about whether to issue concealed-weapon permits. He described the bill as a "political thing for Donnelly" and said it "has no hope of getting out of committee."

PHOTO: Republican Tim Donnelly speaks to reporters at the Capitol on April 28, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

April 28, 2014
California high school graduation rate tops 80 percent

graduates.JPGCalifornia's high school graduation rate topped 80 percent last year, equaling what was happening in the nation as a whole, state schools chief Tom Torlakson announced Monday.

And, Torlakson said, graduation rates among Latino and African-American students increased faster than those of white and Asian-American students, meaning the "achievement gap" is closing.

The new data "help us close the achievement gap," Torlakson said as he released the annual report.

The graduation rate for the class of 2013 was 80.2 percent - the proportion of those who entered the ninth grade four years earlier who received diplomas. Torlakson said the dropout rate was 11.6 percent while another 8.2 percent were either still in school (7.5 percent), had passed a high school equivalency exam or were in special education classes.

The 80.2 percent graduation rate was 1.3 percentage points higher than for the class of 2012, while the dropout rate was down 1.5 percentage points.

Even though the gap narrowed, graduation rates of white students (87.6 percent) and Asian-Americans (91.6 percent) were still markedly higher than those of Latinos (75.4 percent) and African Americans (67.9 percent).

As California's results were being released, a seminar in Washington on high school graduation was told that the national graduation rate was 80 percent. The report, called "Building a Grad Nation," singled out California, saying:

"As the most populous state and most diverse state, California needs to be a focus of national attention and work. With the highest poverty rate in the country, a median household income 20 percent higher than the nation's, and a population that is 61 percent non-Anglo, California is key to reaching 90 percent graduation rate nationally, but also remains a laboratory of innovation in education reform."

Updated at 11:25 a.m. with commentary on California.

PHOTO: Twins Javier and Steven Gomez wait in line before their inaugural graduation from West Sacramento Early College Prep on Sunday, June 9, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.

April 28, 2014
Mitt Romney, Pete Wilson endorse Neel Kashkari for governor

kashkaridam.jpgFormer California Gov. Pete Wilson and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, have endorsed Neel Kashkari in California's gubernatorial race, the Kashkari campaign announced Monday.

The endorsements come with Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, lagging in public opinion polls.

"Neel is the right candidate with the right message to challenge Gov. Brown, support Republican candidates up and down the ticket, and help us grow the Party in the long term," Wilson said in a prepared statement.

Gov. Jerry Brown, a popular Democrat, is widely expected to finish first in the June primary election, and Tim Donnelly, a tea party favorite, leads all Republicans in the race to finish second and advance to a runoff against Brown in the fall.

Kashkari, a moderate, hinted at a public appearance on Sunday that Romney's endorsement was coming. He also said former President George W. Bush "has been very helpful and made calls and opened doors."

While Kashkari has gained support from the Republican Party's political and consultant classes, he has struggled with the party's more conservative base. At a candidate forum in Anaheim on Sunday, the one question he was asked was if it was true he voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

Kashkari said he voted for Obama because he was getting better economic advice than the Republican nominee, John McCain.

"Yes, it is true," Kashkari said. "But I was definitely disappointed in President Obama and what he has done as president, and that's why I strongly supported Mitt Romney for president in 2012, and Mitt Romney is giving us a lot of help, too."

PHOTO: Republican Neel Kashkari speaks with reporters at Oroville Dam on March 28, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

April 28, 2014
AM Alert: LGBT youth lobby for safer schools

LGBT_flag.JPGStudent leaders from high school Gay-Straight Alliance clubs across the state are in Sacramento for Queer Youth Advocacy Day, pushing for greater school safety for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

Members from the California Legislative LGBT Caucus will address the students at 10:45 a.m. on the east steps of the Capitol, including Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, Assemblymen Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, and Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, and state Sens. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.

The students are lobbying on efforts to require schools to develop anti-bullying policies and end "willful defiance" discipline, as well as promoting the implementation of last year's controversial legislation allowing transgender students to access school facilities corresponding with their gender identity, which faced an unsuccessful repeal effort.

VIDEO: A modest state revenue increase favors Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal over fellow Democrats' calls to restore spending, Dan Walters says.

READY, AIM, FIRE: Though he's turned his attention to the governor's race, where he's leading the Republican field of contenders, Tim Donnelly's work in the Legislature isn't done yet. The Twin Peaks assemblyman will promote his bill to overhaul California's handgun carry licensing system, 11 a.m. in Room 444 of the Capitol. He will be joined by Brandon Combs, president of the gun rights group California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Assembly members Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, and Tom Daly, D-Anaheim, are addressing California's affordable housing crunch with a tax credit for low-income renters that they say will bring together tenants and landlords. The lawmakers will be joined by representatives from the California Apartment Association and Tenants Together to unveil the details, 11 a.m. in Room 126 of the Capitol.

BREAKING AWAY: A bipartisan group of lawmakers is aiming to increase military energy independence in California with a pair of bills that would allow military bases to sell back more renewable energy to the grid and receive greater state support for energy efficiency goals. Assemblymen Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo, V. Manuel Pérez, D-Coachella, and Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, will discuss their proposals at 10:30 a.m. at the traffic circle just west of the Capitol between 9th and 10th streets.

WATER POLITICS: Another day, another water bond. As the the drought remains a hot political issue in California and legislators seek to replace a measure currently on the November ballot, Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, will introduce his $9.45 billion solution to the water crisis, 10 a.m. on the east steps of the Capitol.

STRONG START: Community college educators discuss how they are redesigning basic English and math education to improve student success, 10 a.m. in Room 437 of the Capitol. The talk is sponsored by the Campaign for College Opportunity.

PHOTO: A pride flag and the American flag hang over the Sacramento LGBT Community Center on June 26, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

April 28, 2014
Dan Walters Daily: Modest revenue increases boost Brown budget proposal

brownbudgetrevise.jpgState revenue is up this year, Dan says, but the moderate increases favor Gov. Jerry Brown's more conservative fiscal approach over his fellow Democrats' calls to restore spending.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown discusses his revised budget plan at a news conference at the Capitol on May 14, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Renée C. Byer



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Capitol Alert Staff


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

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

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

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. dsiders@sacbee.com. Twitter: @davidsiders

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

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

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers the Legislature. jwhite@sacbee.com. Twitter: @capitolalert

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

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

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