Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

May 27, 2014
Tim Donnelly calls financial difficulties proof he can relate

donnellyscrum.jpgRepublican Tim Donnelly said Tuesday that his past financial difficulties are evidence he can relate to regular Californians, firing back at Neel Kashkari, his better-funded rival in the governor's race one week before the primary election.

"I'm not a millionaire, I didn't make a killing off the taxpayers by running TARP and bailing out Wall Street," Donnelly said in an interview on KMJ News Talk Radio in Fresno.

Kashkari, who managed the federal government's $700 billion bank bailout known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, made about $145,000 a year while working at the U.S. Treasury Department, his campaign said.

Donnelly's remarks come after Kashkari portrayed Donnelly in a mailer as financially irresponsible. Kashkari criticized Donnelly for a foreclosure on an investment property in South Carolina in 2012, and for a $2,829 tax lien the state filed against Donnelly's former business, Donnelly Plastic Equipment Inc. San Bernardino County listed the lien as being released in March.

"Hey, I lost a piece of property in the downturn," Donnelly said. "I did everything I could to save it. I put a lot of money into it ... And a balloon payment came due and there was nothing I could do."

Kashkari, appearing immediately after Donnelly on KMJ, said Donnelly's personal finances are part of a less-than-conservative fiscal record.

"It's fiscal conservatism for everyone but him," Kashkari said, "and I think people appreciate knowing the truth."

Gov. Jerry Brown is widely expected to finish first in the primary election, with Donnelly and Kashkari competing for a spot in a runoff election against Brown in the fall. Kashkari has donated $2 million to his own campaign in recent weeks, while Donnelly has reported debts exceeding cash on hand.

Kashkari defended his role managing TARP, as he has previously, saying the program helped avert an economic collapse.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 9:40 p.m. Tuesday to include information from Kashkari's campaign about his pay while working at the U.S. Treasury Department.

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly speaks with reporters at the California Republican Party's biannual convention in Burlingame on March 15, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

May 27, 2014
California Senate passes bill to ban sterilizing prison inmates


California jails and prisons would be forbidden from sterilizing inmates for the purpose of birth control under a bill the state Senate passed Tuesday.

Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, wrote Senate Bill 1135 after the Center for Investigative Reporting found that over a five-year period, doctors under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sterilized nearly 150 female inmates without required state approvals. Former inmates and their advocates said that prison officials coerced women into consenting to the procedures if the officials thought they were likely to return to prison.

"This measure is absolutely necessary to make sure sterilizations are not performed in a coercive prison environment," Jackson told senators Tuesday.

The bill spells out limited circumstances in which prisons would be allowed to sterilize an inmate, such as if it is necessary to save her life. It passed the Senate with unanimous support and now heads to the Assembly for consideration.

PHOTO: Former Valley State Prison for Women inmate Kimberly Jeffrey with her son Noel, 3, shown in June 2013. During her imprisonment in 2010, Jeffrey says a doctor pressured her to agree to be sterilized, but she refused. Noah Berger/ For The Center for Investigative Reporting

May 27, 2014
Down-ticket statewide candidates take to California airwaves

padilla_ad.jpgWith the June 3 primary election less than a week away, candidates for a pair of lesser-known statewide offices have taken to the TV airwaves for a final push.

The campaigns of state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, who is running for secretary of state, and former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, a candidate for state controller, recently released upbeat ads in their respective contests.

Padilla's ad, "Anything is Possible," highlights Padilla's upbringing while not mentioning the secretary of state's office until almost the very end. "I'll protect voting rights for everyone and make it easier to start a business," Padilla tells the camera at one point.

Click here to see the Padilla ad.

The Padilla campaign said the ad is airing in the Los Angeles and San Francisco media markets. According to his latest campaign filing, Padilla spent $620,000 on TV and radio costs through May 17. The most recent Field Poll suggests that Padilla will clinch one of the two slots next week for the November runoff.

Pérez, though, is in a close race with Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, a fellow Democrat, for the No. 2 spot behind Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, a Republican.

Pérez has started running an ad called "Turnaround." The commercial said Pérez "partnered with Gov. Brown to pass three balanced budgets on time for the first time in 30 years."

"Now John Pérez is running for controller to keep fighting for balanced budgets," the ad says.

Click here to see the Pérez ad.

Pérez's latest campaign filing does not show any significant spending on TV and radio ads through mid-May. In areas covered by Time Warner Cable Media, the Pére campaign paid about $26,000 for ads from May 24 through June 2, according to public records.

In another down-ticket contest, the race for California superintendent of public instruction also has gotten some TV time – but not from the candidates themselves.

The California Teachers Association has paid for ads promoting incumbent schools chief Tom Torlakson. Those commercials, though, are issue-advocacy ads and don't mention the election – unlike the more than $2.2 million in CTA-funded radio ads supporting Torlakson and opposing Torlakson's main rival, Marshall Tuck.

"Anything is Possible"


PHOTO: An image from a new campaign ad by state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, who is running for secretary of state.

May 27, 2014
California Democrats call for gun restrictions after Isla Vista killings

IslaVista.JPGOn their first day back in the Capitol since the killing Friday night of six college students near UC Santa Barbara, Democrats in the California Legislature said the state should do more to keep mentally ill people from obtaining guns.

Democratic Assembly members Das Williams of Santa Barbara and Nancy Skinner of Berkeley announced they will introduce a bill that would allow concerned family members or friends to notify authorities when a loved one is at risk of committing violence, permitting law enforcement to investigate and potentially prevent them from buying firearms.

"The tragic incident in my hometown of Isla Vista is not a result of gun laws failing. Rather it is a horrific example of how our mental health laws and gun control laws are not working together," Williams said in a statement.

In the state Senate, President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said he plans to introduce a package of policy and budget proposals Wednesday that address mental health care, criminal justice and public safety, including more training for law enforcement.

He said he was planning to make the proposals regardless of the Isla Vista killing Friday, in which 22-year-old Elliott Rodger is suspected of killing six people and injuring 13 others before killing himself. But the incident creates new urgency for the conversation, Steinberg said.

Steinberg said he believed Rodger fooled police into thinking he was well-adjusted when they came to check on him after his parents alerted them of a violent rant he had posted online. He asked if the incident might have been prevented if police had also checked on Rodger's record of purchasing guns.

Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Santa Barbara Democrat, decried what she called a "culture of violence" in movies and video games and a society that has allowed mass shootings to continue. She was among the Democrats who called on the Legislature to take action to prevent more killing as the Senate eulogized the victims of Friday's rampage and held a moment of silence in their honor.

PHOTO: State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, who represents the community of Isla Vista where six young people were killed on Friday, May 23, leads senators in a moment of silence in their memory, at the Capitol on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli.

May 27, 2014
California porn condom bill clears Assembly floor


Responding to pleas to address a burgeoning public health issue in the adult entertainment industry, the California Assembly on Tuesday advanced a measure requiring the use of protection like condoms in pornographic movies.

Assembly Bill 1576 garnered the bare minimum 41 votes necessary for passage. Abstaining from voting were several Assembly members from the Los Angeles area, where the porn industry is a significant force.

Protecting adult actors has become a recurring focus for Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, whose attempt last year fell short. Hall argues that unsafe sex poses an imminent health hazard, pointing to a number of porn performers who have contracted HIV. AB 1576 is his latest effort.

"This industry has been largely self-regulated and has done an inadequate job of protecting its employees," Hall argued on the Assembly floor. "We need to begin to treat the adult film industry just like any other legitimate, legal business in California," he added. "Legitimate businesses are required to protect employees from injury in the workplace."

Opposing the bill is California's powerful adult entertainment industry, represented by a group called the Free Speech Coalition. Rigorous testing for sexually transmitted diseases makes Hall's bill unnecessary, they contend. They warn that new restrictions would muffle an economic engine that generates $9 to $13 billion a year, according to a committee analysis.

Los Angeles County already requires condom use for adult movies filmed within county lines. If the rule blankets all of California, according to opponents like the Valley
Industry and Commerce Association, pornographic movies will join the trend of film productions relocating to other states.

Industry critics have also raised constitutional issues with the testing regimen, administered by California's Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, the bill would mandate. Studios would need to document that employees had consented to the release of testing data, an imperative skeptics called unworkable for employers.

"What this is is a mandate, and this is a mandate that I'm afraid these businesses are going to have trouble meeting," said Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks.

PHOTO: A health educator with the County of Sacramento opens a packet that includes condoms and information to get tested for SDTs during a public health fair at Sacramento State on April 12, 2011. The Sacramento Bee/Lezlie Sterling.

May 27, 2014
California lawmakers paid most, national survey confirms


California's legislators have seen their incomes go up and down in recent years due to decrees by the state's salary commission, but remain the highest paid in the nation, according to a new survey by Stateline, a Pew Charitable Trusts website.

With base salaries of $90,526 per year (leaders receive a bit more) and tax-free "per diem" payments of $141.86 per day, seven days a week as long as the Legislature is in session, California lawmakers' pay is approached only by salaries in No. 2 Pennsylvania, Stateline reports.

However, Stateline's data on California are a few months out of date. Last year, the California Citizens Compensation Commission voted to raise legislators' base salaries to $95,291 effective last December and is contemplating raising them again this year.

Legislators' pay in the Stateline report ranges downward to zero in New Mexico, although its lawmakers do receive $159 per day for living expenses.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown leaves the Assembly floor after he delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature on Jan. 22, 2014 at the State Capitol. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

May 27, 2014
'Student success fees' part of California budget debate

tuition_protest.jpgDirectly challenging Gov. Jerry Brown's budget priorities, Senate and Assembly committees last week proposed spending another $95 million to $100 million for California State University next year.

CSU has been asking for the additional funding boost since January, when Brown suggested an increase of $125 million, or 5 percent, for the system in 2014-15.

But the Legislature's proposed added funding would come with a condition -- a moratorium on the controversial "student success fees" that have spurred protests at campuses across the state in the past few months.

"We don't want to saddle our CSU students with further debt," said Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education. "We wanted to send a strong signal to our state and our students that the Legislature is making public higher education among our top priorities."

The fees, which vary by location but usually run several hundred dollars per semester, have been implemented at 11 of the 23 CSU campuses in recent years to generate revenue for initiatives that improve student success and completion rates. This includes hiring new faculty, adding more course sections and buying new technology.

But critics of the fees say they are a workaround to the tuition freeze implemented in 2012 in exchange for increased state support. As more schools considered new fees this spring, students demonstrated outside the CSU Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach and at campuses from Sonoma to San Diego.

Meredith Turner, director of governmental relations for the California State Student Association, which represents CSU students, said they are not looking to eliminate the fees completely. Many campuses implemented them through a student vote, because students wanted to finish their degrees faster.

"While we don't think these fees are a great solution, do you really think it's a great idea to take away the ability for campuses to address their own needs?" she said.

But the moratorium, which would prohibit CSU schools from raising or implementing new success fees for at least a year, should be used to find improvements, such as greater transparency and student input in how the money is used, she added.

"Hopefully this will mean, moving forward, we won't have to look at additional means of getting funding," Turner said. "Hopefully fewer and fewer new fees will need to be added."

It's unclear how much of that additional money CSU will see. Brown has expressed repeatedly that he does not plan to increase higher education funding beyond the level in his January budget proposal.

If Brown rejected the Legislature's proposed funding increase, Muratsuchi said they could still pursue a moratorium on student success fees through legislation.

CSU was not available for comment.

PHOTO: Sarah Garcia, 19, joins a handful of other students at the California State University Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach on September 19, 2012, to protest a potential hike in fees. Los Angeles Times/Rick Loomis

May 27, 2014
California elections: AD 9 field narrows as Rodriguez-Suruki exits

Rodriguez-Suruki.jpgSolidifying the field days before a primary election, Diana Rodriguez-Suruki has ended her campaign for the 9th Assembly District race and thrown her support to fellow Democrat and Elk Grove City Councilman Jim Cooper.

"I have gotten to know Jim over the course of this campaign. He brings significantly more
experience to the job than his remaining opponents and is committed to working on the issues that affect children and their families," Rodriguez-Suruki said in a statement.

By bowing out, Rodriguez-Suruki - currently a Sacramento City Unified School District trustee - has left two Democratic candidates vying for a top-two spot in the heavily Democratic district. Cooper faces a challenge from Sacramento City Council member Darrell Fong. Rodriguez-Suruki's name will remain on the ballot, but she will not campaign for the seat.

Business security consultant Tim Gorsulowsky and computer technician Manuel Martin populate the Republican field in the district, seeking a seat that Assemblyman Richard Pan has vacated as he seeks a state Senate seat.

Voters go to the polls next Tuesday.

May 27, 2014
AM Alert: California party chairs get roasted

turbo_roaster.JPGDemocrats and Republicans will square off on the political battlefield next Tuesday, so why not prepare with a partisan showdown of a more lighthearted nature?

The California Roast, that annual tradition of raunchy jokes and even raunchier jokes, features state Democratic Party chairman John Burton and state Republican Party chairman Jim Brulte as co-honorees this year. Rumor has it that whoever is funnier will win the governor's office in November.

Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer and former Assembly Speaker Curt Pringle are slated to do the roasting. The festivities, hosted by the California Center for Civic Participation to benefit its youth education program, begin at 6 p.m. at the Sheraton Grand Hotel on J Street. Tickets are $300.

VIDEO: The only thing that will stop the oil industry from pursuing California's Monterey Shale formation is economics, Dan Walters says.

DOWN TO THE WIRE: The deadline for bills to pass out of their house of origin is Friday. With hundreds left to consider and committees not allowed to meet this week, the Senate and Assembly will be spending more time than usual in their chambers, debating and voting on legislation. (How much time, exactly, is not yet clear). The fun begins when both houses convene at noon for floor session.

LIEN IN: Janitors, security guards and other members of the Service Employees International Union rally on the north steps of the Capitol at 10 a.m. to call for the passage of legislation that would allow workers to place wage liens on their employers for compensation that they are owed.

I SPY: If a roast is not your thing, the Sacramento Press Club and the Center for Investigative Reporting host a screening of the short documentary "The State of Surveillance" and a panel discussion on the increasingly sophisticated surveillance capabilities of California law enforcement, 5:30 p.m. at Beatnik Studios on S Street.

PHOTO: A chicken takes the heat. The Sacramento Bee

May 27, 2014
Dan Walters Daily: Low estimates for Monterey Shale won't cut interest

oil_rigs_sunset.JPGThe only thing that will stop the oil industry from pursuing California's Monterey Shale formation is economics, Dan says.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

PHOTO: Oil rigs pump oil from the ground in Baldwin Hills of West Los Angeles on Sept. 29, 2006. The Sacramento Bee/ Brian Baer


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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