Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and City Hall
It is good to be back in Thousand Oaks this morning!
The California Legislature is not in session for a summer recess.
The California Assembly has adjourned until August 6, 2012 and the California State Senate is also in adjournment.
On to today’s California headlines:
Democrats would need to gain 25 seats this year to recapture control of the House of Representatives, and “the road to the majority runs through California,” Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi once declared.
Democratic operatives had expressed private hopes that the party could pick up as many as eight seats in California’s 53-member House delegation this year, although their more public goal was five or six seats.
In the aftermath of the June 5 primary, Democrats’ hopes for a big California gain and resuming control of the House that they lost in 2010 have plummeted. Democrats may gain California congressional seats this year, adding to the 34 they now hold, but it’s likely to be one or two at most. They could lose ground.
Gov. Jerry Brown approved a flurry of new laws Friday, including an exception to the ban on texting while driving, an increase in fines for staging bear and rooster fights, and a prohibition against law enforcement officers having sex with arrestees.
They will take effect in January.
Brown announced Friday that he had signed 48 bills. One will permit drivers to dictate, send and listen to text-based communications as long as they do so using technology specifically designed for voice-operated and hands-free operation.
Assemblyman Jeff Miller (R-Corona) introduced the measure to include texting in the hands-free exception that exists for use of a cellphone while driving. The new law, AB 1536, “will allow Californians to communicate safely and responsibly while on the road,” Miller said.
Brown also doubled from $5,000 to $10,000 the maximum fines for people convicted of causing bears, bulls and roosters to fight with other animals or with humans. The same measure raises maximum fines for spectators at the fights from $1,000 to $5,000.
Sen. Bill Emmerson (R-Hemet) primarily wanted to end cockfighting, but bears and bulls are in the same section of existing law.
“Cockfighting is a cruel and inhumane sport that is a growing concern in the inland Southern California region and throughout our state,” said Emmerson, whose bill is SB 1145. “Clearly, our penalties and fines are not stiff enough to prevent this brutal sport from taking place.”
Less than a third of California’s voters participated in the June primary election, the secretary of state’s office said Friday, and the majority did so by mail.
Turnout for the June 5 election was 5,328,296, or 31%, and 65% used mail-in ballots instead of voting at the polls on election day.
Among the counties, turnout was lowest in Los Angeles County, where just 21.8% of voters cast ballots. It was highest in rural Sierra (59.2%), Alpine (58.6%) and Amador (57.1%) counties. Sierra and Alpine conduct their elections entirely by mail.
Mail-in voting in this election broke the record set in the May 2009 special state election, in which 62% of ballots were cast by mail, officials said.
Even as the California Republican Party struggles for relevancy, one of its national leaders is trying to change the dynamic in November by pushing a roster of congressional candidates who include a pro-choice woman and a Latino often shunned by his own party.
And both of those candidates – unlike many of their GOP colleagues nationally – have refused to sign pledges never to raise taxes.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, one of the party’s chief national recruiters when it won back control of the House in 2010, is trying to raise $3.6 million for the new Golden State Victory Fund for a handful of congressional races in November. It is a joint effort of the state Republican Party and the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The immediate goal: to thwart Democrats trying to pick up five House seats in California en route to the 25 seats they need to reclaim House control.
Enjoy your morning and Dan Walter’s Daily video: California wins another national distinction