Feb 29 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: February 29, 2012

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California Railroad Museum, Sacramento, California

Good Morning and Happy Leap Year!

The California Legislature is in session. Today’s schedule is here.

Events around the Capitol:

  • IMMUNIZATIONS: Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, unveils his Assembly Bill 2109, intended to ensure that parents are given accurate information about immunizations. The event runs from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in Room 444.
  • MORTGAGES: Attorney General Kamala Harris is joining Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and others to unveil what they’re calling the Homeowner Bill of Rights, a package of bills that would reform the mortgage process in the state. The presser starts at 11 a.m. in the Capitol’s Room 1190.

On to today’s California headlines:

Support for gay marriage takes dramatic leap in California, new poll shows

A new poll shows gay marriage has arrived in California – in public opinion if not in state lawbooks.

Golden State registered voters now favor same-sex unions by 59 percent to 34 percent, a 25-point gap that is the largest margin of support for the issue in the three-plus decades the Field Poll has been asking the question.

The new Field survey shows support has leapt markedly in the three and a half years since California voters approved Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, 52.3 percent to 47.7 percent.

The poll showed increases in support virtually across the board – among voters under 64, non-white voters, Catholics, Republicans and nonpartisans.

Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said the move to a 25-point gap goes beyond the gradual increase in support that has been expected as young voters age and “replace” older voters in the electorate.

“This is now showing that opinions are changing irrespective of generational replacement,” DiCamillo said. “This is real change.”

As more states approve same-sex marriage – Washington and Maryland this month became the seventh and eighth states where legislatures have given their OK – the legal battle in California continues.

Game official: cougar killing no one’s business

California Fish and Game Commission President Daniel Richards said Tuesday that there is “zero chance” he will resign over a photograph showing him grinning as he holds up the body of a mountain lion he shot, killed and ate in Idaho recently.

In a letter addressed to Assemblyman Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, one of dozens of public officials who called for Richards’ resignation in recent days, Richards blasted lawmakers and others for their criticism of his hunting expedition and mocked their condemnation of the kill.

Richards wrote that he did eat a cougar for dinner, did not use a high-powered rifle and said he has “consistently supported” conservation efforts as a commissioner when they were backed by scientific evidence. He compared his actions to a California official gambling in Nevada.

While it’s legal to kill the big cats in Idaho, California has banned the hunting of mountain lions since 1972, and voters have twice renewed that restriction. After the photo surfaced online this week, at least 40 lawmakers and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom called for his resignation.

Newsom, in a letter, said the “actions call into question whether you can live up to the calling of your office,” and “do not reflect the values of the people of California.”

Richards was unapologetic.

Dan Walters: California legislators show their hypocrisy over hunting issue

Dan Richards, who chairs the California Fish and Game Commission, is under fire in the Capitol because he killed a mountain lion in Idaho and posed with his trophy for a picture that was later published on a hunting publication website.

Forty Democratic legislators signed a letter to Richards saying he should resign. “Your actions raise serious questions about whether you respect the laws of the people of California and whether you are fit to adequately enforce those laws,” the lawmakers told Richards. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom later joined the chorus.

So let’s get this straight.

First of all, Richards is not Dan Richard, who chairs the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority and has more than enough controversy of his own.

Back to Richards, the Fish and Game Commission chairman.

Mountain lion hunting is illegal in California, thanks to a ballot measure approved by voters in 1990. It is, however, not illegal for mountain lions to hunt human beings, as several attacks attest.

Nor is it illegal to hunt mountain lions in Idaho, and Richards’ trophy was perfectly legal. “I’m glad it’s legal in Idaho,” he told the Western Outdoor News website.

So Richards appears to be guilty only of offending the sensibilities of the Legislature, whatever they may be.

Herdt: Has the California GOP hit bottom?

Attending California Republican Party conventions in recent years as an observer has always been something of a surreal experience. They are gatherings of like-minded people who enter into convention halls and then pretend that there is no world outside.

I first attended one of these events in 1998. At that time there were 5.3 million Republican voters in California, 7 million Democrats and 2.6 million independents.

Fourteen years later, there are about 1 million more independents, about a half-million more Democrats — and about 200,000 fewer Republicans.

In other words, over the last 14 years the California electorate has grown by the equivalent of the entire population of Nebraska, but not a single one of those Cornhuskers chose to register as a Republican.

Enjoy your LEAP morning!

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