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steinberg_leon_blog.jpgWith the primary election season and budget drama (mostly) behind us, the state Senate is finally ready to pick a new leader. They'll vote to elect the next president pro tem during today's floor session, which begins at noon.

Don't expect any surprises: Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, has been waiting in the wings for months. Current Senate leader Darrell Steinberg announced his successor early in the session, with plans to hand over the reins on Oct. 15.

"I think he will be a great leader," Steinberg said of de León in January. "He's adept at both the policy and the political side."

Despite speculation that de León's ambitions to be pro tem could be thwarted by his connection to suspended Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, who has been embroiled in a corruption scandal, no real challengers emerged.

A nascent campaign by Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, was abandoned when he got a shot at Rep. George Miller's seat in Congress, and Democrats quickly settled the leadership debate during a caucus meeting the next day.

VIDEO: A court ruling striking down several teacher protection laws has shaken up the race for state superintendent of public instruction, Dan Walters says.

LET THE BATTLE BEGIN: How does the California Republican Party plan to increase GOP representation in the Legislature this November? What districts are they targeting to prevent another Democratic supermajority? The Republican leaders of the Senate and Assembly, Bob Huff and Connie Conway, address the Lincoln Club of Placer County, 6:30 p.m. at the Timber Creek Ballroom in Roseville.

KEEPING BIZ-Y: The California Small Business Association sponsors California Small Business Day, starting at 9 a.m. at the Sheraton Grand hotel on J Street. Legislators including Steinberg, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Assemblymen John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, Dan Logue, R-Marysville, and Adrin Nazarian, D-Burbank, will present awards to small business owners from their districts and deliver remarks.

AT THE MOVIES: Over the past thirty years, college tuition has spiraled and student loan debt has soared past $1 trillion. The new documentary Ivory Tower explores some of the causes of the rising cost of higher education, and includes thoughts from Gov. Jerry Brown and others on possible solutions. Participant Media and the Michelson 20 Million Minds Foundation sponsor a free screening of the film, 6 p.m. at the Crest Theater on K Street, to be followed by a panel discussion including State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton.

SCHOOLS RULES: In August 2013, seven California school districts representing about one million students -- including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fresno and Long Beach -- were granted a federal exemption from No Child Left Behind achievement standards. Their alternate, self-designed accountability standards for improving student performance and school climate is overseen by the School Quality Improvement System Oversight Panel, which meets at 10 a.m. at WestEd on G Street for its biannual review of the districts' progress.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, R-Costa Mesa, who turns 50 today.

PHOTO: Sen. Kevin de León, talks with Senate President Pro Temp Darrell Steinberg, during the California Senate session Jan. 6, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua


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