Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

July 1, 2014
Das Williams promises legislative response to campus sexual violence

berkeleycampus.jpgSeveral more pieces of legislation could be in the works to address the issue of sexual violence at California colleges.

Following a state audit and a legislative hearing that found deficiencies in how campuses are handling incidents of sexual assault and harassment, Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, chairman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, said he will pursue legislative responses in three key areas: staff and student training and disciplinary action.

With time running out in this legislative session, those proposals are likely to come early next year, Williams said, if the state's three public university segments don't "do what they are already empowered to do" to handle lawmakers' concerns.

A bill from state Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, that would set an "affirmative consent" standard for campus investigations is currently pending in the Assembly.

July 1, 2014
Matsui, California colleagues ask DOT to step up oil train safety


Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, and three of her House colleagues from Northern California asked the U.S. Department of Transportation Tuesday to tighten regulations on crude oil transportation by rail before those shipments dramatically expand in the state.

In a letter to Secretary Anthony Foxx, Matsui and Reps. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, John Garamendi, D-Fairfield and George Miller, D-Martinez, asked the department to go beyond its previous emergency orders, issued after a series of high-profile accidents involving crude oil trains in the past year.

"We are especially concerned with the high risks involved with transporting lighter, more flammable crude in densely populated areas," they wrote. "Should spills or explosions occur, as we have seen over the last year, the consequences could be disastrous, costing lives, damaging property, and harming the environment."

The lawmakers requested that Foxx monitor rail industry compliance with a May 7 DOT emergency order requiring that state and local emergency officials be notified of large crude oil shipments. California's Office of Emergency Services has expressed concern that the notices have reported oil train movements after the fact rather than in advance.

They asked DOT to require petroleum producers to strip out flammable liquid gases that may be present in higher concentrations in crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken region. The oil has proved flammable in several derailments, though the government and oil industry aren't in agreement on precisely why.

July 1, 2014
California controller's race among tightest in U.S. since 2000


The margin separating Betty Yee and John A. Pérez in the race for second place in the California controller primary is smaller than those of all but four statewide elections across the country that triggered recounts from 2000 through 2013, records show.

The difference in the controller's race represents just one-hundredth of 1 percent – 481 votes out of more than 4 million ballots cast as of Tuesday, the canvassing deadline.

That is less than 19 other contests that have had recounts since 2000. Of the four races that also had .01 percent margins, ensuing recounts changed the Election Day results in two cases while upholding the results in two others.

The Pérez campaign issued a statement Tuesday saying that it is still determining if a "recount is warranted."

The chart below shows recount history since 2000, sorted by margin separating the two candidates:

Statewide recounts in U.S. since 2000
StateYearOffice/InitiativeRequested or automaticRecount resultOriginal marginRecount marginShift
Data source: The Center for Voting and Democracy
Arizona2010Proposition 112AutomaticUpheld0.01%0.01%0.00%
Minnesota2008U.S. SenateAutomaticOverturned0.01%-0.01%0.02%
Virginia2013Attorney GeneralRequestedUpheld0.01%0.04%0.03%
Virginia2005Attorney GeneralRequestedUpheld0.02%0.02%0.00%
Oregon2008Measure 53AutomaticUpheld0.06%0.07%0.01%
Vermont2006Auditor of AccountsRequestedOverturned0.06%-0.05%0.11%
Colorado2000State Education BoardAutomaticUpheld0.08%0.01%0.07%
Washington2000U.S. SenateAutomaticUpheld0.08%0.09%0.01%
Georgia2004Court of Appeals JudgeAutomaticUpheld0.08%0.09%0.00%
Montana2000Superintendent of Public InstructionRequestedUpheld0.10%0.10%0.01%
Alabama2004Amendment 2AutomaticUpheld0.13%0.13%0.00%
North Carolina2006Court of Appeals JudgeRequestedUpheld0.22%0.22%0.00%
Alabama2006Constitutional AmendmentAutomaticUpheld0.32%0.39%0.06%
Wyoming2004Amendment A**AutomaticUpheld0.35%0.32%0.03%
Wisconsin2011Supreme Court electionRequestedUpheld0.49%0.47%0.02%
Washington2000Secretary of StateAutomaticUpheld0.49%0.48%0.01%
Wyoming2004Amendment C**AutomaticUpheld0.52%0.50%0.02%
North Carolina2010Court of AppealsRequestedUpheld0.55%0.62%0.06%
Alaska2004U.S. SenateRequestedUpheld3.31%3.22%0.08%
Pennsylvania2009Superior court RaceRequestedUpheld4.59%4.60%0.02%

PHOTO: Under the watchful eyes of observers for then-U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman and challenger Al Franken, election official Kay Schuch sorts through ballots during the 2008 recount in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race. Mankato Free Press/John Cross

July 1, 2014
Kristin Olsen to be next leader of Assembly Republicans


Assembly Republicans have chosen their next leader.

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, will take over as head of the caucus from Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare. A spokeswoman for Conway said the transition will take place after November elections.

First elected in 2010, Olsen has served as vice chair of the Assembly Education Committee. After Republicans voted to retain Conway as leader in the wake of sweeping election losses last year, Olsen was relegated to a smaller office amid speculation that the move was tied to leadership maneuverings. Conway will leave the Assembly due to term limits after this year.

Olsen's selection marks the latest in a series of leadership turnovers in the Legislature. Senate Democrats have voted to make Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, their next leader, effective in October, while Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, now leads Democrats in the lower house.

PHOTO: Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto speaks, as the California Legislature votes on the budget bill the State Capitol Sunday June 15, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif. The Sacramento Bee/Paul Kitagaki Jr.

July 1, 2014
California law sought to prevent recount fights


In 2010, California lawmakers approved legislation meant to reduce the incentive for expensive and contentious ballot recounts of the sort looming in the exceedingly close race for second place in the state controller's primary.

But the law went dormant at the end of last year and will have no bearing on the controller's contest between Betty Yee and John A. Pérez.

In a statement Tuesday, the Pérez campaign said it is conducting a review to "determine whether a recount is warranted."

"After nearly a month of counting votes and a vote margin of just 1/100th of one percent, out of more than 4 million votes cast, nobody would like to the see this process completed more than we would," the statement said. "Since this is one of closest statewide elections in the history of California, we have an obligation to review and ensure that every vote cast is accurately counted. During our review, we will also determine whether a recount is warranted."

The 2010 law invited counties to conduct "postcanvass risk-limiting audits" – statistical sampling to verify election results – instead of the 1 percent sampling of ballots that's been the norm since the 1960's.

The audits "have the potential to reduce the need for election recounts because the audit model begins with a small sample and gradually escalates – potentially to a full hand count – if significant differences persist between the machine and manual tally results," read a committee analysis of Assembly Bill 2023, which was sponsored by Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

July 1, 2014
State subsidy for aircraft contracts has rough landing

f-35 lightning 2.jpg

Fast-track legislation that would provide a multi-million-dollar state subsidy to help California win manufacturing subcontracts for a new Air Force plane had a rough landing Tuesday in the state Senate.

The Senate Finance and Governance Committee approved the measure, Assembly Bill 2389, but only after adding amendments to limit its effect on the state's treasury, which proponents said could undermine hopes of gaining the project in competition with other states and companies.

The Assembly approved AB 2389, carried by Assemblyman Steve Fox, D-Palmdale, last week in hopes of getting it to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk before the Legislature leaves Sacramento for a month-long summer recess later this week.

It would grant tax credits totaling $420 million over 15 years for manufacturing, including "major first-tier subcontractors," on a strategic bomber project in which Lockheed-Martin is involved in partnership with Boeing. Qualifying firms would get tax credits for 17.5 percent of wages paid to manufacturing workers on the project and Lockheed Martin appears to be the only potential qualifier.

Lockheed-Martin – which has a major facility in Fox's district – other elements of the state's aerospace industry, business groups and Brown's "Go-BIZ" investment office all support the credit. They say the economic activity generated by winning contracts in California would offset the cost.

But the Senate's leadership, including President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, want the money to come from Brown's "California Competes" program of subsidies to new business, which has financial limits, rather than be paid outside the program, which would increase its hit on the state general fund.

Fox and other backers of the bill said placing those limits might undermine California's position vis-à-vis contractors in other states in the Defense Department and refused to accept them, But the chair of the committee, Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, insisted on their inclusion and they were inserted into the bill on a 4-2 vote, sending it to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Updated at 3:37 p.m. to clarify nature of proposed project.

PHOTO: Pilots fly F-35 jets over Edwards Airforce Base on Dec. 10, 2011. The F-35, dubbed Lightning II, is being built by the world's largest defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. Photo: Lockheed Martin/Darin Russell

July 1, 2014
Corinthian to sell Heald schools as California AG scrutiny deepens


In the latest sign of the for-profit college giant's deteriorating finances, Corinthian Colleges has announced plans to sell its Heald College campuses.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris sued Corinthian last year for allegedly misleading students about the value of their education. With a parallel federal probe clamping down on Corinthian's revenue flow, the company announced recently that it was on the verge of running out of cash.

Now Corinthian is moving to sell its Heald College campuses, a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing shows. The company's board of directors has approved a plan to sell off the Heald College locations, including 10 in California.

"The Company has not yet secured a buyer for all or any subset of the Heald Schools, but has allocated internal resources to identify potential buyers and evaluate proposals for these campuses," the filing reads. "The Company intends to execute definitive sales agreements with one or more third parties for the sale of the Heald Schools within approximately six months."

As the company's financial condition has spiraled, Harris has applied more pressure. The attorney general filed additional charges against Corinthian last week, accusing the schools of misleading prospective students with false advertising that does not illuminate the education corporation's fiscal struggles.

"It is unacceptable yet not surprising that Corinthian Colleges continues to illegally target vulnerable Californians – including low income individuals, single mothers and veterans returning from combat – by lying about its dire finances and failing to tell prospective students that the schools to which they apply will all be sold or closed," Harris said in a statement last week accompanying the charges.

PHOTO: In this June 30, 2009 file photo, Larry Wostenberg teaches an engine management systems class at Laramie, Wyo campus of WyoTech, one of the schools owned by Corinthian Colleges Inc. AP Photo/Mead Gruver.

July 1, 2014
California legislators look to change campus 'rape culture'

Title_IX_complaint.JPGAs colleges continue to grapple with the increasingly public issue of campus sexual violence, California lawmakers are weighing how to address a "rape culture" that some say has been overly tolerated by the state's public universities.

During a joint oversight hearing Monday afternoon, members of the Assembly Higher Education and Joint Legislative Audit committees questioned whether schools in the University of California and California State University systems need harsher punishments for perpetrators and greater legislative oversight to ensure they are complying with federal requirements to investigate and report incidents of sexual violence on their campuses.

"What I see is a mistrust of the universities to handle the problem," Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, said following testimony from student representatives. "Without consequences, I don't know that we can fairly expect the sentiment or behavior to change."

The hearing followed a state audit, released last week, that concluded California's universities are not doing enough to ensure all employees are trained to handle incidents of sexual violence. It also recommended more education be provided to students about prevention and campus resources available to them if they are assaulted.

July 1, 2014
AM Alert: Regulators weigh emergency drought enforcement


Good news for Android users! Capitol Alert's Insider Edition app is now available for your phone or tablet. Learn more at

When Gov. Jerry Brown signed drought legislation in March, state water officials were granted new authority to set emergency enforcement measures during dry periods. Now facing an ongoing crisis and lack of compliance with current regulations, the State Water Resources Control Board will consider exercising that power during a two-day meeting that begins today.

The move comes after the board has issued over 7,900 curtailment notices to "junior" water rights holders. Notifications ask junior rights holders -- most acquired their licenses after 1914 -- to stop or reduce diversions from rivers and streams because state law requires available water to be parceled out by seniority.

But fewer than 20 percent of these rights holders had shown that they had implemented the restrictions, as of mid-June. Rights holders are also entitled to an appeal under the board's notices, which can delay curtailment action in the process. Because the notices apply to specific time periods, the holdup has become a concern for the board.

With its enforcement proposal at today's board meeting, regulators are looking to expedite the curtailments by issuing orders that force rights holders to divert water immediately or face a fine. The proposed action still leaves the ability to appeal, but it requires water rights holders to comply with the curtailment in the interim. The board meets at 9 a.m. in the Cal/EPA Building on 1001 I Street.

VIDEO: As California ages, the whole structure of the state will have to change, Dan Walters says.

FAMILY TIES: A large expansion of the state's paid family leave program is set to take effect today as the provision hits the 10-year mark. State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, and Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development David Lanier will join policy experts to celebrate the anniversary at 9:30 a.m. on the North Steps of the Capitol.

FROM BILL TO LAW: In addition to the family leave expansion, several other measures approved last year are set to kick in today. Jeremy White has more in a post on the Capitol Alert blog. Three highlights: 1) Minimum wage will increase to $9.00. 2) Campaign finance regulators can now launch investigations during an election cycle. 3) Disability insurance policies are required to cover severe mental illnesses.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: University of California President Janet Napolitano will give a presentation to the State Board of Food and Agriculture about the UC Food Initiative. Napolitano will make her pitch at the California Department of Food and Agriculture on 1220 N Street at 11:45 a.m.

ALSO: The board will hear a cap-and-trade presentation from California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols at 10:15 a.m., followed by a panel on carbon markets at 10:45 a.m.

HIGH NOON: Former gubernatorial candidate and Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, is taking questions on Reddit at 12 p.m. The online Q&A is billed as a "great opportunity for pro-gunners to ask questions and express sentiments to a man who has 'skin in the game' and has battled the policies of anti-gun politicians for years in the roughest affront on American gun rights, the California theater."

ROTUNDA RAMADAN: The Council on American-Islamic Relations and state legislators will host its annual Ramadan dinner for elected officials, staff and inter-faith leaders in the Capitol Rotunda. Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, Assemblymember Roger Dickinson and Assemblymember Mariko Yamada are among the lawmakers hosting the program. The invitation-only dinner marks the end of the day's fast and will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m.

PHOTO: Dennis Callahan visits a gorge near his home in Outingdale on June 18. The community depends on water diverted by the El Dorado Irrigation District from the Middle Fork of the Cosumnes River, a water right that was ordered shut off by the state. The district is continuing to serve Outingdale residents, however, because they have no other source of water. Lezlie Sterling/The Sacramento Bee.

July 1, 2014
Dan Walters Daily: California's aging population has profound impact

Elderly.JPGAs California gets older, the whole structure of the state will have to change, 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: Ben Shaffer is escorted by driver Stacy Hatton to the Elephant Bar restaurant in Sacramento on August 13, 2009. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton


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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