Capitol Weekly tells the tale of two bills that have
Capitol insiders buzzing.
"Only in Sacramento would two of the most talked-about bills of the year involve cruise ships and helium
balloons. But the fights over these bills are getting
notice inside the Capitol not for the policy proposals,
or even their novelty factor, but for the lobbyist
wars that have erupted around them.
"They also conjure up a rarely-spoken but often whispered-about practice
in the stateís lobbying world -- when a client hires a high-powered
lobbyist, the client is not just getting an
advocate, they are investing in the support of the
lobbyistsí other clients.
"In addition, these legislative fights illustrate the
power and influence certain interest groups have over
individual legislators, and sometimes, entire legislative
"Republican legislators on Wednesday proposed a spending cap that they said would end the boom and bust cycle
of the state budget," reports Judy Lin in the Bee.
"Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and other Democrats immediately criticized GOP members
for creating a "diversion" from negotiating the budget.
"The GOP proposal would restrict state spending growth
each year to the combined percentage growth in population
plus that of inflation, which Republicans said roughly
average a combined 5 percent. If the economy grows, revenue in excess of
the spending limit would be split between funding a
new rainy-day reserve and paying down debt.
"Senate Republican leader Dave Cogdill, who was joined by Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines at a news conference in the Capitol, said he has watched
spending grow out of control. Since 2000 the general fund budget has grown 29 percent, not counting for inflation, according to
state finance figures.
"'This state has a spending addiction, and we need to
treat it,' Cogdill said. 'We need to find a way to move forward in our budgeting
processing in this state so … we don't have to face the prospect of either increasing taxes
or slashing services.'
"Bass said there are already so many spending formulas
in place that it would not be wise to add another formula
or place a hard cap on spending.
"'It really is hard to say you want to put money in reserves
when you're facing a deficit,' Bass said. 'The issue is raising revenue, and that's what we need to do.'"
"Foreclosures helped fuel the sharpest decline in California housing prices in at
least 20 years last month, and that's attracting an influx of first-time buyers who had been priced out of the market or
were waiting for prices to bottom out," reports the Associated Press.
"The median home price in California plunged 30% to $339,000 in May, the steepest decline for any month going back
to 1988, when DataQuick Information Systems began keeping
"Home buyers are now seeing median prices they haven't seen since February 2004, when the price was $322,500, the firm said Wednesday. The statewide median home
price, the point at which half the homes sold for more
and half for less, peaked at $484,000 in May 2007."
CW's John Howard writes that piecemeal health care reform bills are moving through
the Legislature in the wake of the failure of a comprehensive reform
"Although the governor’s health-care reform plan died this year in the
Capitol’s political crossfire, critical pieces have been resurrected
and are quietly moving through the Legislature. One
of the most important--already approved in the Senate and opposed by
HMOs--would force health insurers to give consumers uniform,
clear and accurate descriptions of their policies to
aid comparative shopping.
"On its face, it sounds simple. In fact, it isn’t: The world of individual health insurance policies
complicated, and advocates say health plans use that
confusion to mislead customers.
"'This is an attempt to provide better labeling, better
consumer information and better consumer protection,' said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health
Access. 'There is incredible confusion with different plans
that have different cost-sharing structures, different coverage limits, completely
different issues. Policies can be cheap and look good,
but not do anything. It helps them know if they’re buying something that’s not as comprehensive as they think.'"
Capitol Weekly reports a new summary of the number of discriminiation complaints
filed by state employees is still lacking key information.
"Every year, the State Personnel Board is charged with
collecting and analyzing discrimination complaints
in state government. The SPB is required by law to
submit an annual discrimination report to the Legislature.
"But that report shows that the overwhelming number
of state agencies still refuse to tally up the legal
and administrative costs associated with the more than
1,500 complaints filed by state employees last year.
"After listening to two and a half hours of passionate
debate, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata postponed a vote on four appointees to the state's parole board Wednesday," writes the Bee's Shane Goldmacher.
"Perata has been critical of the parole board and its
composition, particularly the predominance of past
law enforcement officials on the commission. The Board
of Parole Hearings determines when, or if, the state's life-term prisoners can be set free.
"A small parade of inmate defense attorneys criticized
three of the four nominees at Wednesday's hearing. The fourth, Robert Doyle, a former sheriff in Riverside County, received no
"Perata, D-Oakland, said the Senate Rules Committee, which holds
confirmation power, would reconvene next week to vote
on the appointees. The committee is set to meet on
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may like John McCain as
a presidential candidate, but not enough to drop his opposition to offshore oil drilling
off the California coast," reports Greg Gross in the Union-Tribune.
"The governor told reporters Wednesday that the state
would maintain its long-held stance against offshore drilling, despite the
positions taken this week by both the Arizona senator
and President Bush. He also suggested that scrambling
for new sources of crude oil in response to the recent
drastic upturn in fuel prices represented a step backward
at a time when America needs to move forward in its
quest for energy independence.
"A federal moratorium on new oil drilling off most U.S.
coastal waters has been in effect since 1981. McCain on Tuesday proposed lifting that ban as part
of his energy policy if elected president.
"Bush followed suit Wednesday in Washington, releasing
a statement urging Congress to lift the ban to allow
the United States to boost its domestic oil production.
"Schwarzenegger's response: Get out. He said he was willing to hear new ideas
to ease the energy crunch, but lifting the offshore
drilling ban wasn't among them.
“'We're serious about that, and we're not going to change that,' he said."
The U-T's James Sweeney looks into why a Indian tribe, which
joined three other tribes in spending $100 million to urge voter approval of new gaming compacts,
hasn't ratified its own compact.
"The Sycuan band of El Cajon still has not ratified
its revised compact, and the delay is expected to cost
the state at least $30 million, the Schwarzenegger administration recently
"The answer may be simply the immediate expense – at least $18 million a year to the state – that the new deal would cost Sycuan before it adds
a single slot machine. The slumping economy and rising
fuel prices have reduced traffic to many Indian casinos
in the nearly two years since Tucker signed Sycuan's expanded new deal.
"The tribe also may be reassessing its options in light
of a recent federal judge's ruling that could limit the revenue the state can
seek from tribes in the future. That case, involving
a lawsuit brought by the Rincon band of North County,
is on appeal.
"Whatever the reason, the development came as a surprise
to many when the administration's Department of Finance lowered some revenue projections
because Sycuan has not ratified its amended compact."
"A California legislative committee passed two bills yesterday that would allow the state
to revoke licenses from teachers who plead no contest
to certain sexual or drug offenses or have had their licenses revoked in another state," reports the AP.
"The bills by Sen. Bob Margett, R-Arcadia, and Sen. Jack Scott, D-Pasadena, close loopholes in California's teacher-credentialing system that have allowed some teachers
to stay in the classroom after they have been accused
or even convicted of serious crimes.
"In unanimously approving both bills, the Assembly Education
Committee rejected arguments from the California Teachers
Association, which opposed the legislation.
"The ACLU and the gay-rights group Equality California also opposed Margett's bill. They argued that it could unfairly punish gay
men caught soliciting or having sex with other adult
men in public restrooms.
"Margett's bill also would extend the statute of limitations
for disclosing past teacher misconduct.
"Both bills were prompted by an Associated Press investigation
last year into sexual misconduct by teachers that found
2,570 educators nationwide whose teaching credentials had
been revoked, denied, surrendered or sanc-tioned between 2001 and 2005 after allegations of sexual misconduct. The AP's investigation in California confirmed at least 313 cases in which teachers had been punished for sexual
"UC Berkeley's plan to build a state-of-the-art athletic training center next to Memorial Stadium
is on hold until the university can prove the project
would not violate state earthquake-safety laws, a judge ruled Wednesday," report Carolyn Jones and Charles Burress in the Chron.
"In a 129-page ruling, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara Miller said UC's proposal, the subject of a trial last year, raises
safety questions, although the project mostly complies
with state law.
"'This in no way affects our ability to build the center,' said UC spokesman Dan Mogulof. 'This is a great ruling for us.'
"A lawyer for tree-sitting activists who have been perched in a grove
of trees outside the stadium for the past 18 months, said the ruling was favorable to his clients.
"'We are ecstatic,' said Stephan Volker, attorney for the California Oak Foundation, which
sued the university two years ago. 'We believe this project is now dead.' The city of Berkeley and a group of neighbors living
near the stadium also filed lawsuits to block the project."
And from our There's No Place Like Florida Files,
AP reports, "Three Central Florida deputies are being reprimanded
after an officer was bitten and hospitalized by an 8-foot alligator.
"It all started when deputies responded to a call of
an alligator roaming around an apartment complex.
"Witnesses said the deputy threw a towel on the alligator,
on its back and tried to wrestle it. Baughman was thrown
off the back
and then bitten, witnesses said.'His pants ripped up and blood
was gushing out and everything,' witness Carlos Martinez said. "He
started limping away and the alligator was laughing
at him. The dude
then shot it twice in the head."The Volusia County Sheriff's Office said a second officer, Deputy Jason Stickles, 27, shot the alligator repeatedly.
"The alligator was hit but did not die and continued
to roam the apartment complex.
"A trapper eventually came out and killed the animal
with a bang stick.