Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

June 5, 2014
Boxer, Feinstein, Capps introduce gun bill

DianneFeinstein.jpgNearly two weeks after a mass shooting in Isla Vista, Calif., a trio of the state's Democratic lawmakers introduced federal legislation intended to keep guns out of the hands of people who pose a risk of committing violence.

The Pause for Safety Act, sponsored by Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein with Rep. Lois Capps of Santa Barbara, would enable family members and others to seek a court order to stop a dangerous person from purchasing or possessing a firearm.

"We must do everything in our power to keep firearms out of the hands of those who pose a serious risk of harm to themselves or to others," Feinstein said.

On May 23, 22-year-old Elliott Rodger stabbed three people and shot three others in a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara. He then died of a self-inflicted gunshot. Rodger was undergoing treatment for mental illness and family members worried he might hurt himself or others. But law enforcement officers didn't see any red flags when they interviewed him before the burst of violence.

"It is haunting to me that the family of the gunman was desperate to prevent an act of violence and alerted police, but they were still unable to stop this tragedy," Boxer said.

Feinstein knows the issue personally. In November 1978, former San Francisco Supervisor Dan White shot and killed both Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk at city hall. Feinstein, then president of the Board of Supervisors, found her colleagues' bodies, and it fell to her to deliver the shocking news to the media.

Though a series of horrific mass shootings in recent years in Virginia, Arizona, Colorado and Connecticut has driven a new push for stricter gun laws, gun-rights groups have pushed back. A bipartisan bill to broaden background checks for gun purchases failed in the U.S. Senate last year, as did an effort by Feinstein to renew a ban on military-style assault rifles.

The latest bill comes as members of Congress are preoccupied with midterm elections. The National Rifle Association has typically opposed any legislation, state or federal, that seeks to limit firearms possession, and has funded efforts to defeat lawmakers who support such measures.

Three state lawmakers, meanwhile, are pushing a similar bill in California.

"We need reasonable, common sense solutions so that we all feel safe in our homes and out in our communities," Capps said.

CORRECTION: This post has been edited to reflect the number of people who died of gunshots in Isla Vista. It is four, not seven.

PHOTO: In this April 18, 2012, file photo Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., head of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite

June 5, 2014
Teenage birthrates continue decline in California

babyhand.JPGThe number of babies born to teenage mothers in California continued a years-long decline in 2012, and the birthrate also fell, according to a new report from the state Department of Public Health.

Between 2000 and 2012, the department reported, the number of births to mothers 15 to 19 years old declined from 55,373 a year to 34,921 a year, and the birthrate declined by about half. For those 15 to 17, the birthrate dropped from 26.5 per 1,000 girls in that age group to 13.1, and for those 18 and 19 years old, it dropped from 77.1 to 43.1.

The decline closely paralleled a national decrease in teenage motherhood and also was experienced in all ethnic groups, but significant differences among ethnic groups remained.

The birthrate among Latino teenagers dropped from 77.3 per 1,000 in 2000 to 38.9 in 2012, among whites from 22.3 to 10.2, among African-Americans from 59.1 to 30.8, and among Asian-Americans from 15 to 5.

The report also found wide disparities among the state's 58 counties, ranging from a low teenage birthrate of 10.1 per 1,000 girls in wealthy, suburban Marin County to a high of 53.7 in rural, largely Latino Tulare County.

PHOTO: Grandmother Oi Nguyen, of Stockton feels the hand of her granddaughter and Sacramento's 2014 New Year baby, Milan Le Dao. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.

June 5, 2014
AM Alert: State parks overhaul commission holds public workshop

RB_Russian_Gulch_State_Park.JPGTwo years ago, an investigation by The Bee uncovered a major financial scandal in the California Department of Parks and Recreation: The agency had hidden more than $20 million in "surplus" money, even as it set about closing 70 state parks amid massive budget cuts.

The revelations led to the resignation of state parks director Ruth Coleman, the firing of several top officials in the department and the creation of a volunteer commission to analyze and overhaul the state parks system. Among its other troubles, the agency had deferred more than $1 billion in maintenance at its 280 parks.

The Parks Forward Commission has prepared a draft report on its recommended operational and cultural changes to the department, and it will hold a public workshop to solicit feedback at 3 p.m. at the Capitol Plaza Ballroom on 9th Street.

VIDEO: Despite his federal indictment on corruption charges, state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, had a surprisingly good election night, Dan Walters says.

ELECTRIC FEEL: Looking ahead to a more eco-friendly future, the California Energy Commission is pushing to have 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025. The commission continues its annual process of updating the state's Integrated Energy Policy Report with a public workshop assessing California's plug-in vehicle infrastructure, 9 a.m. at the California Energy Commission building on 9th Street.

UNCAPPING CARE: By now regular visitors to the Capitol, in-home caregivers funded by the state continue their push to overturn a proposed budget cap on the number of hours they can work with a rally at 10:15 a.m. on the south steps. Thousands of workers are expected to attend, as are state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, and Democratic Assembly members Richard Pan of Sacramento, Roger Hernández of West Covina, Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego and Al Muratsuchi of Torrance.

WHAT A CATCH: It's not quite the frog jump, but friendly competition returns to the north lawn of the Capitol at 10:30 a.m. with a casting competition hosted by Trout Unlimited and California Trout. Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Twain Harte, and Assemblymen Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, and Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, are scheduled to participate in the event, which promotes sport fishing and the conservation of California's trout and salmon populations.

I SPY: Much has been made of the United States government's domestic surveillance programs, but what about surveillance efforts abroad? UC Davis law professor Anupam Chander discusses mass surveillance between the U.S. and China, and how it's affecting the Internet and international commerce, noon at the UC Center Sacramento on K Street.

PHOTO: A waterfall in Russian Gulch State Park in Mendocino on November 8, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton

June 5, 2014
Dan Walters Daily: Leland Yee has surprisingly good election night

yee_press_resized.jpgDespite a federal indictment on corruption charges, state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, performed strangely well in Tuesday's secretary of state primary, 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: State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, leaves Federal Court in San Francisco on March 26, 2014. Bay Area News Group/Karl Mondon

June 5, 2014
Jerry Brown, lawmakers mull incentives to land Tesla factory

Brown_signing_bills.JPGGov. Jerry Brown and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg are floating the possibility of regulatory changes or financial incentives to persuade Tesla Motors Inc. to build a massive battery factory in California, one of several states competing to host the facility.

Steinberg, D-Sacramento, will introduce so-called "intent" language Thursday regarding locating a large battery factory in the state, according to a Brown administration official and Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, who is working with Steinberg on the legislation.

The bill is only a marker, but it signals to Tesla the significance of the $5 billion factory to the Brown administration and lawmakers. Bill language is expected to suggest the possibility of financial incentives or regulatory changes, but it will not say what those might be.

Tesla, which makes luxury electric cars, is considering several states for the location of its "Gigafactory," which is expected to employ about 6,500 workers at full build-out. The Palo Alto-based company has said the factory likely will be built out of state.

The effort by Brown and lawmakers is not specific to a bid in Sacramento County to locate the battery factory at Mather Airport's business park.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

The bill comes after Toyota recently announced plans to close its Torrance headquarters. Brown, who is seeking re-election, has been criticized by Republicans for what they say is California's overly burdensome regulatory climate.

Gaines said the Tesla conversations are bipartisan.

"We ought to be doing everything we can to retain that factory within the borders of California," he said.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown signs bills in Sacramento on March 24, 2011 as Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco look on. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua



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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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