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Mar 23 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: March 23, 2012

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Mission San Diego de Alcala

Good morning!

The California Legislature is in session.  But, there are no floor sessions scheduled until Monday. Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

On to today’s California headlines:

California Democratic lawmakers up their fundraising price

The price of access is going up for top donors attending this weekend’s Pro Tem Cup at La Jolla’s Torrey Pines Golf Course, an annual golf outing held to raise cash for the California Democratic Party.

Contributors looking to spend some quality time with Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg this weekend can expect to pay up to $60,000 – a $10,000 increase from recent outings, according to this year’s invite and event listings from 2011 and 2008.

The top “Two Day Platinum” price includes golf for four on Friday and Saturday, an evening with Steinberg, two nights’ accommodation, attendance at an awards barbecue and “commemorative gifts,” according to an invitation. The “Two Day Gold,” which includes the same access for two people, spiked $5,000, to $45,000 this year.

Prices for the cheaper packages, which start at $10,000 for golf for one on Saturday, a one-night stay, the awards barbecue and gifts, remained steady. Spa packages are available for interested parties who don’t want to golf.

The increased ticket price comes as Senate Democrats prepare for major battles in several swing districts where victory could mean securing a two-thirds majority in the upper house. Those targeted races, including the Stockton-area 5th Senate District, are expected to be costly battles.

The fundraiser, which starts today, is sponsored by cable industry interests, including the California Cable & Telecommunications Association, Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Jason Kinney, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats’ political operations, declined to comment on details of the fundraiser, including package prices, ahead of the event.

Admission of Democratic concern in 19th Senate District

In his weekly briefing with reporters today, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg for the first time acknowledged concern about his party’s prospects in the 19th Senate District, which covers western Ventura County and all of Santa Barbara County.

Responding to questions about an upcoming fundraiser, Steinberg said that his caucus is “highly motivated” to win enough seats in November to attain a two-thirds majority in the Senate — to “get to 27 and beyond,” is how he phrased it.

Dan Walters: Lawmakers ready to green-light California high-speed rail

Its popularity has declined sharply, many of its details have yet to emerge, and independent authorities have questioned its financial and operational viability, but California’s bullet train project is very likely to get the green light from the Legislature soon.

That’s the consensus of those who have been counting votes among the Legislature’s dominant Democrats, who can give the California High-Speed Rail Authority authorization to sell bonds and begin construction of an initial segment in the San Joaquin Valley.

And that’s true even though lawmakers still don’t know, in any detail, what linking the northern and southern halves of the state via rail would entail.

They don’t know how much the system would cost, who, if anyone, would put up its money, or whether it could draw enough passengers to cover costs without subsidies.

Assemblyman’s gun case set for Monday

A San Bernardino County Superior Court judge continued a case against an Inland assemblyman charged with two misdemeanors for bringing a loaded gun into Ontario International Airport.

Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, did not appear at the Rancho Cucamonga court Thursday because he was in Sacramento, according to his attorney, Rod Pacheco. Pacheco, who last week said he proposed a plea deal to prosecutors, declined to comment as he left the courtroom.

Pacheco, a former district attorney for Riverside County, met with San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney John Kochis and Judge Sarah Jones in her chambers for about a half-hour before they came out and she announced that they agreed to the delay.

“We’re just discussing the case and I’ll have more information on Monday,” Kochis said.

Prosecutors filed one count of carrying a loaded firearm into a city and one count of possession of a prohibited item in a sterile area — in this case, Ontario airport, according to court records.

Enjoy your morning!

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