Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

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Two distinct lobby days are attracting the interest and participation of California lawmakers today.

On the one hand are California's small businesses, gathering under the auspices of the National Federation of Independent Business. After some morning visits at the Capitol, members will head over to the Sheraton Grand to hear from former Gov. Pete Wilson, California State Controller John Chiang, and incoming Assembly speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

Meanwhile, social safety net menders will ask their legislators to re-invest in services that shrank during recession-driven slimming. Brought together by the Health and Human Services Network of California, advocates will be urged on by Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, Assemblyman Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, at a morning event on the south steps.

VIDEO: Happy birthday, Mr. Governor: with California's chief executive turning 76, Dan Walters reflects on the aging old guard of California politics and its waiting successors.

GONE BLACKFISHIN' An intensely monitored, heavily lobbied bill to ban orca shows and captive breeding at SeaWorld goes before its first committee today. We'll see if AB 2140 sinks or swims after what is sure to be one of the more heavily attended Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee hearings you'll see. Starting at 9 a.m. in room 437.

FRACK OFF: While California last year passed a law to regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the legislation fell short of what many environmentalists and more liberal lawmakers wanted: an outright ban until the disputed drilling process is proven safe. The latest moratorium bill, this one by senators Holly Mitchell and Mark Leno, goes before the Senate Natural Resources Committee today at 9 a.m.

RECONSIDERING SOLITUDE: Both public safety committees will hear bills today that rethink California's use of the Secure Housing Unit, or SHU, to house dangerous and gang-affiliated inmates. Spurred to action by a series of correctional system-wide hunger strikes, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, has a bill to end indefinite SHU detention, while Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, has legislation to enact broad oversight of SHU policies. Assembly at 9 a.m. in room 126; Senate at 9:30 a.m. in 3191.

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: Gov. Jerry Brown will deliver his annual speech to a Crime Victims Rights Month rally sponsored by Crime Victims United of California and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, will also be speaking at the noon event on the west steps.

PHOTO: The Capitol in Sacramento on Monday December 11, 2006. The Sacramento Bee/ Randall Benton.



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