Sacramento slow down

Mar 2, 2015

It’s not politics as usual at the statehouse, and no one seems to be able to figure out why.  Marc Lifsher looks at the strange lull that seems to be affecting the legislature this year.  From the Los Angeles Times:


“Veteran state politics watchers say they're dumbfounded by the Sacramento slo-mo.


“The lack of electricity in the air around the Capitol is ‘eerie,’ says Barbara O'Connor, a professor emeritus of political science and communications at Cal State Sacramento. O'Connor said she was amazed last week at the few people she saw at a restaurant popular with legislators and lobbyists. The stillness, she said, ‘could be good or could be bad, nobody knows. But it's not normal.’"


Want some proof that something strange is going on?  The Senate has tabbed the lowest new bill count (793) in a quarter century.


Maybe it’s the influence of women?  Capital Public Radio’s Katie Orr notes the rising tide of female leadership at the capitol.


“In November state Senator Jean Fuller will become Senate Minority Leader. She’ll be the Senate’s first woman Republican leader. And she’ll be joining Democratic Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen on the "big five," which also includes the governor and the Senate president pro tem. Fuller says she’s looking forward to her new role.


"’I just think it’s a very exciting time,’ she says. ‘I never dreamed it would work out this way. But it’ll be a lot of fun working with these ladies. I know them quite well.’


“Democratic political consultant Robin Swanson says it’s exciting to see an increasing number of women in leadership roles. And she says they’re all skilled politicians.


"’The women who’ve risen to those positions have had to be really political savvy to do so,’ she says. ‘So, it’s not just I’ve done the most work, or I’ve been here the longest. It literally is figuring out who is on your side and who you can get to do things.’"


The California Republican Party hosted its biannual confab in Sacramento this past weekend, hosting speakers including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and reelecting Jim Brulte as Party Chair.  And, for the first time, the party voted to recognize a gay rights group as an official volunteer party organization.


From Carla Marinucci at SFGate: "After 15 years of struggle to be allowed into the California Republican Party’s “big tent,” the LGBT group known as the Log Cabin Republicans Sunday won their battle to be chartered as an official volunteer party organization.


“Republican delegates at the parthy’s statewide convention Sunday in Sacramento voted overwhelmingly — by a 861 to 293 vote — to back the charter of the 240-member California organization of gay and lesbian Republicans as an official party volunteer organization…


“[The] level of passion from some conservative opponents was evident on Saturday when the resolution first came before the party’s volunteer committee, which unanimously passed it.


“Moments later, Assemblywoman Shannon Grove of Bakersfield brushed aside the appeals of [incoming Log Cabin chair John Musella], telling him that the state Republican Party is “a pro-family organization,” and that there was “no way” she would support the Log Cabin Republicans effort to be part of it.


“Members of Grove’s entourage later tried to physically block reporters from asking the legislator about her stance, and she herself refused to answer media questions.”


And, because we can’t have a day without something about the senate election that is still 20 months away, let’s look at the long odds for Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside), who can’t even get a boost from Jon Fleischman Christopher Cadelago has the story at the Sacramento Bee.


“’I don’t think there is anyone who thinks a Republican can win that race,’ said Jon Fleischman, a conservative blogger and former state GOP executive.


“They trail Democrats by 15 percentage points in registered voters. Chávez and a pair of former state party chairmen looking at running, Tom Del Beccaro and Duf Sundheim, have yet to demonstrate they could raise the millions of dollars needed to compete.


“’They would all be considered, frankly, to be long-shot candidates by me,’ said Harmeet Dhillon, vice chair of the state GOP.”


Some Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta land owners have just four days left to submit proof of their water rights or potentially lose them– the result of an order from the State Water Resources Control Board


“The order from the State Water Resources Control Board is driven by a longstanding dispute over scarce water supplies, one that has intensified as California appears likely to face a fourth straight drought year. But proving those water rights may be difficult: In many cases, the proof lies buried in county parcel maps and other property records dating as far back as the 1850s…


“Historically, state regulators required no record keeping of riparian water rights. Only five years ago did the water board order riparian water users to begin reporting how much water they divert each year. Many have never been required to provide legal proof of their water rights.


“’The idea that people can gather, collate and submit this information in approximately 30 days is, frankly, pretty daunting in most cases,’ said Kevin O’Brien, an attorney at Sacramento law firm Downey Brand who is helping about 30 clients respond to the order. ‘It’s not like people have this stuff sitting around in a shoebox.’”


The Supreme Court will hear arguments today in a redistricting case that could have dramatic ramifications for California.  From David G Savage at the Los Angeles Times:


“The justices will hear an appeal Monday that Arizona’s Republican-controlled Legislature has brought. The legislators want the justices to rule that only elected state lawmakers, not voters or an independent citizens commission, may draw the boundaries of districts for members of the U.S. House of Representatives.


“The case turns on the interpretation of a single word in the Constitution, but its effect could be widespread. If the challengers win, the ruling could eliminate the role of California’s voter-approved redistricting commission in drawing congressional districts…”


And, this week we will celebrate the great state of Florida, which joined the Union on March 3, 1845, becoming the 27th state.  What better way to celebrate than to follow the exploits of the state’s weird and wonderful inhabitants – whose actions so often lead to bizarre news headlines that begin with, “Florida Man…”


Today’s Florida Man headline (from the New York Daily News) pretty much tells the story: Florida man burns house after niece refuses to go on beer run.


“A Florida man allegedly lit his family's house on fire after his niece refused to give him a ride to the liquor store.


Jerome Clemons, 44, was charged with arson by Boynton Beach police Wednesday after getting into an argument over the beer run, the Sun-Sentinel reported.”


And, because, Florida -- this isn’t even Clemons’ best work.  He was also arrested in 2012 for calling 911 to report that he had a cold.


We’re here all week!

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