On to today’s California headlines:
Lobbying heats up over wage debit card bill on Jerry Brown’s desk
Among the dozens of lobbying battles playing out in Gov. Jerry Brown’s office this month is one over an obscure bill that would curtail a growing trend: paying workers with debit cards carrying wages that can be withdrawn at stores, banks and ATMs.
Unions are backing Senate Bill 931, which would put new restrictions on so-called “payroll cards” by limiting the fees issuers can charge when workers access their wages.
Banks are fighting the bill, arguing that the proposed fee limits will make it impossible for them to profit on the product. They say the bill is so restrictive that it amounts to a de facto ban on payroll cards.
Employers have sided with banks in the effort to shoot down SB 931. They like payroll cards because they’re cheaper to process than paper checks, and – unlike direct deposit – can be issued to low-wage workers who don’t have bank accounts.
The bill is among hundreds that Brown must sign or veto by Oct. 9.
California Republicans blocked an attempt by party moderates Sunday to push the state GOP toward the center on immigration, abortion, guns and gay rights.
The closely divided vote by a state Republican Party committee in Los Angeles marks the latest skirmish between conservatives and centrists over the direction of the state GOP.
Moderates steered through a draft of the state party platform earlier this year that retreated from opposition to same-sex adoption and domestic partner benefits, avoided any mention of overturning Roe v. Wade and dropped a demand to end virtually all federal and state benefits for illegal immigrants.
Alarmed conservatives said the draft pushed by moderates would erase the party’s traditional, conservative values. In a 60-55 vote Sunday, a party committee sidestepped those changes an adopted a slightly revised version of the party platform adopted in 2008.
The vote was preliminary the party will not adopt a final version of its platform until next year.
Advocates for a rewrite say the California party needs a makeover Democrats control the Legislature, hold every statewide office and enjoy a growing registration advantage.
The proposed changes came at a time when Washington conservatives have displayed new clout on Capitol Hill, and the push toward the center appears out of step with leading Republican presidential candidates who have been pulling the party to the right on fiscal and social issues.
The current platform, adopted in 2008, says state guns laws “disarm law-abiding citizens” and calls for the end to waiting periods to purchase firearms and inclusion of a right to carry concealed weapons in the state constitution. In the proposed version that was bypassed Sunday, a single sentence is included on gun ownership, saying the party supports Second Amendment rights.
The proposed rewrite states the party “supports traditional marriage,” a significant retooling from 2008, when the platform said marriage should be defined as between a man and woman, and schools should not teach homosexuality as an “acceptable … lifestyle.” Californians have twice voted to outlaw same-sex marriage, but a federal judge last year declared the latest ban, known as Proposition 8, unconstitutional. The ruling is being contested in court.
The 2008 platform calls for the denial of most benefits to illegal immigrants, would require immigrants to learn English and makes English the official language of the government. In the retooled version proposed by moderates, it says the federal government should secure the border and reach an agreement on immigration reform.
The vote came a day after the party showcased a new effort to reach out to Latino voters, who have long shunned the California GOP.
Despite a booming population, California counted more registered Republicans in 1988 than it does today. The party is in danger of slipping under 30 percent of registered voters statewide Democrats hold 44 percent, or an edge of 2.3 million voters. Independents outnumber Republicans in 14 of the state’s 53 congressional districts.
The real news is that, quietly, outside the party, a plan — yes, a real plan — for longterm grassroots outreach is taking shape. Some of the state’s top conservative Latino political operatives are starting a pilot program in Los Angeles to recruit candidates for local seats. Called Grow Elect (a 527 program that would recruit candidates) and Grow Educate (a 501.c 4 ) they’ve identified 50 municipal and school board seats in the county where the population is 35 percent or more Latino. That’s their initial target for 2012. It’s a start.
They’re talking with major donors and activists and party officials in a cohesive way that hasn’t been tried before.
“In the past, we didn’t feel welcomed by the party,” top Latino LA organizer Luis Alvarado told me. So what does not feeling welcomed really mean? “It’s like you’re wearing a USC shirt and you walk into a UCLA frat party.”
To go with her first story this week in the print Hollywood Reporter, former City Hall reporter Tina Daunt has also joined the staff as the trade’s contributing editor for politics. “In the lead-up to the 2008 presidential election, Daunt wrote the Los Angeles Times’ popular Cause Celebre column, the first regular newspaper column to specialize in the intersection of Hollywood and politics with an emphasis on the industry’s critical role in
fundraising for candidates and causes,” THR says in a story about the hire. “‘Hollywood activists are among the country’s most powerful and dynamic political players,’ Daunt said. ‘Each election cycle, they raise tens of millions of dollars for candidates and causes. I’m excited that The Hollywood Reporter has given me the opportunity to cover the industry’s role in the country’s political system.
Enjoy your morning!