Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

June 30, 2014
Yee edges out Pérez in state controller's race


A month after the primary election, Democrat Betty Yee finished 484 votes ahead of John A. Pérez for second-place in the state controller's race, officials announced Monday.

Lake County Registrar Diane Fridley used nearly all of her allotted 28 days to certify the results in the down-ballot contest that sparked a daily ritual of political junkies refreshing their web browsers.

Republican Ashley Swearengin secured a first-place finish to advance to the general election in November. Yee, a member of the state Board of Equalization, had dropped from second to third to fourth place and then back into second in the see-saw battle with Pérez, the former Assembly speaker.

The latest tally Monday had Yee at 878,191 votes and Pérez at 877,707.

Many are predicting the exceedingly close margin would spur one or both of the candidates to request a costly and time-consuming statewide recount. There were just 23 recounts out of 4,100 statewide elections nationwide from 2000 to 2013.

PHOTO: Betty Yee. Photo courtesy, Board of Equalization.

June 30, 2014
California Senate approves $305,900 for wrongfully convicted man

MC_DELEON_06.JPGThe California Senate on Monday approved paying $305,900 to a man who was imprisoned for a decade after being wrongfully convicted of murder.

The payment spelled out in Senate Bill 1031 is the latest twist in the tale of Mario Rocha, who was convicted along with two others of killing Martin Aceves at a party in Los Angeles in 1996. Rocha was sentenced to 29 years to life in prison. He filed numerous challenges while in prison and in late 2005 a Court of Appeals ruled that Rocha should be set free because he had had ineffective legal representation. In 2008, the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office dismissed the charges against him.

"Mario was wrongly convicted at the age of 16 of participating in a gang shooting even though he was never in a gang. Mario spent 10 years in California juvenile justice system as well as our correctional facilities, our prison system," Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, said in presenting the bill on the Senate floor.

"He proved by the preponderance of the evidence that he did not commit the crimes of murder or attempted murder."

Rocha filed a claim against the state for the wrongful conviction. The $305,900 proposed payment reflects the state's standard for paying wrongfully convicted people $100 per day they are imprisoned after they are convicted.

The Senate voted 27-3 to approve the payment, with Republican Sens. Tom Berryhill of Twain Harte and Anthony Cannella of Ceres voting with majority Democrats. The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.

De León said Rocha is finishing up his degree at George Washington University. The Washington Post wrote this profile of him beginning his studies there in 2009.

PHOTO: Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles at the Senate Chambers at the Capitol in Sacramento on Monday June 10, 2013. The Sacramento/Manny Crisostomo

June 30, 2014
Looming California laws address abortion, campaigns, state workers


Abortion providers, gun owners, state job applicants and school budget chiefs will be among those affected by a wave of California laws kicking in on Tuesday.

Bills signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown typically become effective the following Jan. 1. But implementation of all or part of some laws is delayed, often to July 1.

Leading the list of late-blooming legislation is a measure pushing California's minimum wage to $9 an hour starting Tuesday. Other measures are less heralded. Among the coming changes:

Family leave -- The universe of eligible family members will expand to allow Californians to take paid time off to care for siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and parents-in-law, under Senate Bill 770.

Job applicants -- State and local agencies will be unable to ask about an applicant's criminal history until later in the process. Assembly Bill 218 seeks to prevent discrimination against job applicants with past violations and came after The Bee reported the state hired an employee who had served a two-year term for embezzlement.

June 30, 2014
California's Ted Gaines fights for Tesla factory on trip to Texas


The turf war with Texas over one of California's glitziest businesses continued Monday as Republican state Sen. Ted Gaines tried to fend off the Lone Star State's efforts to recruit Tesla to build a factory there.

His shtick? Appearing in front of the state Capitol in Austin with a cardboard cut-out of the luxury electric car.

"A few weeks ago, Governor (Rick) Perry drove up to our Capitol in a Tesla. I was planning to do the same thing here in the spirit of healthy competition but it was impossible to even get a Tesla in Texas," Gaines said in a statement.

"That's not the case in California. They are already everywhere. I look forward to their expansion in my state and seeing them driven all over the country soon."

Gaines, a Republican from Roseville, and Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, are carrying legislation to try to lure Tesla to build its factory in California, arguing that the plant would create 6,500 new jobs. Senate Bill 1309 declares the Legislature's intent to "utilize financial incentives, changes to regulatory and environmental processes, and other possible tools to expedite construction in California," according to Gaines' statement.

Gaines, who is challenging Democratic Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones in the Nov. 4 election, has been posting updates from his trip to Austin on Twitter. One picture showed him surrounded by Texas news media, and a "selfie" in front of the lush grounds at the Texas Capitol noted, "they even water their lawn!" The grass outside California's Capitol, by contrast, is looking pretty yellow these days with watering cut back due to the drought.

PHOTO: With the Texas Capitol looming, Sen. Ted Gaines, left, talks with the media in Austin. Photo by Brent Lowder.

June 30, 2014
California's huge 65-plus population poised for big growth

senior.JPGThanks to high birth and immigration rates over the last several decades, California has one of the nation's lowest proportions of over-65 residents - but it also has one of its higher elderly growth rates, a new Census Bureau report reveals.

With sharp decreases in birth and immigration rates in recent years and the aging of the huge baby boomer cohort, the report implies, California is poised for a big increase in its elder population, which is already the nation's largest.

The state Department of Finance's demographers have projected that California's over-65 population, 4.2 million in 2010, will rise to more than 6 million by 2020 and double to 8.4 million by 2030. And with the elder population growing much more rapidly than the state as a whole, it would rise from 11.4 percent of Californians in 2010 to nearly 19 percent in 2030.

At 11.4 percent in 2010, California's 65-plus population was tied with that of Washington, D.C., for sixth lowest. Alaska had the lowest proportion at 7.7 percent, followed by 9 percent in Utah, 10.3 percent in Texas, 10.7 percent in Georgia and 10.9 percent in Colorado.

However, the state had one of the nation's faster growing 65-plus populations between 2000 and 2010 in a bloc of mostly Western states recording growth rates in the 15 percent to 29.9 percent range.

Numerically, California's 4.2 million over-65 residents in 2000 was by far the nation's largest such population, followed by Florida's 3.3 million, but Florida had the highest proportion, 17.3 percent.

California also had the largest populations of 65-plus Latinos, 748,879; Asians, 561,229; and Native Americans, 26,804. Its over-65 population of African Americans, 224,133, was third highest behind New York and Florida

PHOTO: Eleanor Mitchell does some balance exercises during a fall prevention workshop at Kiwanis House in Sacramento on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton.

June 30, 2014
AM Alert: Campus sexual assault in spotlight at hearing

The Capitol Alert Insider Edition app for Android is here! Get Capitol news, early access to editorials, a curated Twitter feed and more on your phone or tablet. Just search for Capitol Alert in the Google Play store.

Title_IX_complaint.JPGOver the last several years, the issue of sexual violence on college campuses has risen to national prominence as students at dozens of schools filed federal complaints alleging that their institutions mishandled sexual assault cases in violation of Title IX, the anti-sex discrimination law.

Fifty-five universities are currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education, including UC Berkeley, where a group of students and alumni filed a complaint in February arguing that the school had created a hostile environment for female students.

Last week, the state auditor concluded that California's public universities are not adequately training all of their employees on how to handle incidents of sexual violence and should do more to educate students as well.

California is grappling with how to respond. In March, University of California updated its sexual violence and harassment policy to expand protections for victims and increase reporting requirements. A bill from state Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, would set an "affirmative consent" standard for campus sexual assault investigations.

The Assembly Higher Education Committee and the Joint Legislative Audit Committee will examine those efforts during a joint oversight hearing at 1:30 p.m. in Room 4202 of the Capitol. The hearing will explore whether California's institutions are meeting their obligations to comply with Title IX and protect students. Several universities and colleges will share how they are responding to sexual assault on their campuses.

VIDEO: Two efforts to get bond measures on the November ballot complicate Gov. Jerry Brown's campaign platform of fiscal responsibility, Dan Walters says.

EASTWARD HO: And the California-Texas rivalry grows. Following Texas Gov. Rick Perry's Tesla-fied visit to Sacramento in early June, state Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Rocklin, is headed east to promote California as the premier destination for business development. He will be at the Texas State Capitol in Austin this morning to discuss plans to win the proposed Tesla battery factory for California and to learn more about Texas' business climate.

WE SHALL OVERCOME: In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the landmark Civil Rights Act, state Attorney General Kamala Harris hosts a celebration at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles at 11 a.m. The Civil Rights Act, which ended legal discrimination and segregation in voting, education and public facilities, was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 2, 1964.

DOWN IN THE VALLEY: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is commemorating another anniversary important to California: 150 years since the land grant bestowing Yosemite National Park. The ceremony, 10 a.m. at the park's Mariposa Grove, will feature the groundbreaking of a $36-million restoration project for the grove of giant sequoias. Local congressmen Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, and Jim Costa, D-Fresno, are also slated to attend.


California bill would set 'affirmative consent' standard for campus sexual assault investigations

UC Berkeley students file complaint on campus sex assaults

University of California updates sexual violence policy

Auditor: Sexual violence training lacking at California universities

PHOTO: UC Berkeley students Shannon Thomas, 21, left, and Sofie Karasek, 20, embrace after a press conference at UC Berkeley on Feb. 26, 2014. Thirty-one female students have filed two federal complaints against the university, alleging that they've violated Title IX anti-discrimination laws by failing to protect them against sexual assaults. Bay Area News Group/Jane Tyska

June 30, 2014
Dan Walters Daily: Bond efforts at odds with Brown's image

micsjerrybrown.jpgTwo efforts to place bond measures on the November ballot complicate Gov. Jerry Brown's campaign platform of fiscal responsibility, 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: Gov. Jerry Brown talks to members of the press after speaking at a rally for crime victims on April 23, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua


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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