Thousand Oaks, California
The California Legislature is in session.
An important deadlines to remember:
- February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.
Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.
On to the morning’s California headlines:
- Elections will bring a big shake-up on L.A. City Council – Voters across Los Angeles are poised to engineer the biggest shake-up on the City Council in a dozen years, sending seven newcomers into office in a series of contests that will unfold between March and July.Although the mayoral campaign has grabbed most of the attention this election year, with millions raised by the five leading candidates, the stakes are just as high for the city’s powerful 15-member legislative body.Term limits and other factors — illness and the election of a sitting councilman to higher office — have created the largest number of incumbent-free council races in more than a decade. Six current council members depart June 30 and a seventh — Tony Cardenas — already has moved to Congress.
- Dan Walters: California pension funds still face huge liabilities – The California Public Employees’ Retirement System has reported – with no small elation – that it has recouped virtually all of the $95 billion in investment losses it sustained during the global financial crisis.A steadfast investment strategy and a generally rising stock market are responsible for the recovery, CalPERS says.
The good news comes just a few months after Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature enacted a pension reform plan they say will shrink the long-term liabilities of CalPERS and local pension systems.
- Secret hearings in case of Chandra Levy slaying – A judge has been holding secret hearings in the case of the man convicted in the 2001 killing of Chandra Levy, the latest twist in a high-profile murder that went unsolved for years and captivated the public because of the intern’s romantic relationship with a California congressman.The meetings, held sporadically behind closed doors at the courthouse over the last several weeks, raise questions about what comes next in a criminal case that appeared resolved by the 2010 conviction of Ingmar Guandique. The illegal immigrant from El Salvador is now serving a 60-year prison sentence in Levy’s death, but the hearings could signal a problem with the prosecution of the case.
- Brown puts former prisons critic atop oversight agency – Gov. Jerry Brown says it’s time for the federal courts to end their oversight of medical care and other operations within the California prison system, and he’s named a somewhat surprising ally to help him make the case.Jeffrey Beard, who testified four years ago that California’s prisons were dangerously overcrowded, began work last week as secretary of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
- California becoming less family-friendly – Sacramento lawmakers of both parties share some responsibility. The dominant progressives’ regulatory and tax agenda continues to reduce economic prospects for younger Californians, leading many young families to exit the state. In contrast, older Anglos, the bulwark of the now largely irrelevant GOP, are committed to massive property tax breaks because of Proposition 13. Add good weather and the general inertia of age, and it’s not surprising that families might flee as seniors stay.Other factors work against parents, prospective or otherwise. The knee-jerk progressive response to our demographic problems usually entails more money be sent to the schools.But they rarely include the student-oriented reform measures such as those enacted in New Orleans (where I am working as a consultant). The poor performance of public education, clear from miserable test results and dropout rates, makes raising children in California either highly problematic or, factoring the cost of private education, extremely expensive.
- Mickelson and the Sports Star Tax Migration – America’s top-grossing golfer Phil Mickelson drove himself into a bunker on Jan. 20 when he said that federal and California state tax hikes had made him contemplate making “drastic changes” in his life—including, it was widely assumed, moving to a no-income-tax state such as Texas or Florida. But he was only stating publicly what many professional athletes are mulling privately.
- Obamacare & California: State media ignore coming headaches – Gov. Jerry Brown’s eagerness for California to be the first state to implement the federal Affordable Care Act is being reported matter-of-factly by state newspapers. Completely absent is any big-picture explanation of what this will mean for health providers, companies and individuals in the Golden State. We’re less than a year away from the state implementing policies that give employers a financial incentive to stop providing health coverage and that give individuals, especially the young, an incentive to not buy health insurance. I wrote about these enormous looming headaches last week for the U-T San Diego editorial page:
- California prison reform’s unintended consequences – The prison reform law that shifted responsibility for non-violent felons from the state to the counties is also affecting the management of more serious and violent offenders who have completed their prison terms, presenting a challenge for reform supporters and potentially undermining public support for the change.Since the passage of Assembly Bill 109, also known as prison realignment, people who violate the conditions of their parole go to jail rather than prison – including those with sex offenses and other serious and violent crimes on their records.But because of jail overcrowding, some county jails can’t house people for technical parole violations — including bad drug tests and missing appointments with parole agents. That lack of consequences can make it more difficult for parole agents to compel people to stay within the conditions of their release from prison and to keep track of offenders who are released from jail early.
- LAUSD plans to add 1,000 new campus aides for security at elementary schools – The Los Angeles Unified School District plans to make more than 1,000 new hires to bolster security at hundreds of campuses in a move some critics have called “security on the cheap.”More than 400 LAUSD elementary school campuses are slated to receive 1,087 campus aides – a minimum of two on each campus – as early as March 1, LAUSD school board president Monica Garcia told the Daily News on Friday.The $4.2 million plan comes a month after the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that killed 20 first-graders and six adults.
“Another two people on each campus can help us maintain a safe environment that can ease the minds of our employees, parents and students,” Garcia said. “This way we can focus on reading and writing, teaching and learning.”
- AEG, Koreatown developer help fund L.A. sales tax campaign – The developer of a proposed downtown Los Angeles football stadium and the company behind two planned apartment towers in Koreatown have provided about two-thirds of the funds for the group backing a half-cent sales tax increase in the city, according to the first report released in the campaign.The committee for Proposition A on the March 5 ballot reported that it had raised $185,000 by Jan. 19, with $100,000 coming from stadium developer Anschutz Entertainment Group. The City Council, which is seeking the tax increase to address a $220-million budget shortfall, approved AEG’s proposed stadium last year, which involves the demolition and reconstruction of a section of the city’s Convention Center.