Santa Cruz, California
The California Legislature is in session today.
Lengthy senate sessions M-F this week. Noon-5pm today then 10am start times thru Friday- which btw is the last day to amend bills on floor
The California State Senate’s Schedule is here and the Assembly is here.
California Governor Jerry Brown is in Las Vegas today. Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom is in charge of California.
On to the links:
Democrats want to push initiatives to November
The California Democratic Party’s 2011 drive to reshape the 1911-vintage initiative process to its political advantage appears to be picking up steam as the legislative session nears adjournment.
Gov. Jerry Brown has already vetoed one bill that would have banned initiative petition signature-gatherers from being paid by the name. But the state Democratic Party has called for change, several other restrictive measures are pending and Democrats are noodling around with requiring all initiatives to go on the November ballot, rather than having some decided in the June primary.
“We’re considering it,” Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said Monday.
Democrats fear that pending measures opposed by their public employee union allies might pass in June, when Democratic voter turnout would be low, but would be much less likely to win in November, a presidential election with a big Democratic turnout.
The so-called “paycheck protection” initiative, which would bar unions from deducting political funds directly from members’ paychecks, worries union leaders the most. It would severely reduce their political clout – which is, of course, why conservative groups want it.
Nothing has appeared in print yet, but to affect the 2012 elections, the election shift would have to pass before the legislative session ends on Sept. 9.
Whether Brown would sign it, however, is problematic, since he’s already indicated an aversion to partisan changes in election laws by vetoing the measure that restricted how signature-gatherers are paid. And it would overturn a legal interpretation 40 years ago by Jerry Brown when he was secretary of state.
Senate pulls plug on Perez priority
One day into the final two weeks of the legislative session, lawmakers and their staffs are bracing for gridlock in Sacramento as the State Senate rejected the Assembly speaker’s top legislative priority Monday.
Legislators and Capitol staffers are concerned that Assembly Speaker John A. Perez will take some sort of punitive action against them in response to the defeat of his Assembly Bill 46, which sought to disincorporate the Los Angeles County city of Vernon. A tiny city, but plagued by corruption, Vernon is home to fewer than 100 residents but roughly 1,800 businesses. The speaker made it his top priority this year to dissolve the city.
The Senate, however, had other ideas. Amid concerns that disincorporating the city would affect businesses and jobs, senators of both parties spoke loudly against Perez’s bill, saying it was a drastic step that would needlessly hurt the economy. The bill died on a 13-17 vote, with a whopping 10 senators abstaining.
The concern now is what Perez may do in response to this public defeat. Perez has developed a reputation for confrontation and retribution. For weeks now, he’s been engaged in a war of words with Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, who has challenged the speaker over cuts to his office budget and the secrecy surrounding them.
Brown will now decide commutation bill
It’s now up to Gov. Jerry Brown to decide whether victims and their families should have a say before some inmates are set free early.
By a unanimous vote Monday, the Assembly sent Brown the legislation that was sparked by a killing near San Diego State University.
Assembly Bill 648 would require a 10-day notification to prosecutors when a clemency application to the governor is filed. Prosecutors could then relay the request to victims and families who may want to protest.
Brown, a Democrat, has not taken a position on the bill, but previously has said he would “look with some suspicion” on any measure seeking to limit a governor’s powers steeped in the constitution.
However, he did add that, “I would look at anything that would be sensible from the point of victims.”
If signed into law, the legislation could provide a small measure of satisfaction for the parents of Mesa College student Luis Santos, who was stabbed to death during the October 2008 brawl.
Esteban Núñez, the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, later pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the death and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.
But then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, intervened on his last day in office, reducing the sentence to 7 years. Later, he revealed he did it as a “favor” for former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, a Democrat. The two forged close ties over the years, despite being from different political parties.
“Of course you help a friend,” Schwarzenegger told Newsweek magazine.
The measure is being carried by San Diego Assemblyman Marty Block, a Democrat. San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is the sponsor, with the support of Fred and Kathy Santos, parents of the stabbing victim
Former L.A. prosecutor Gil Garcetti backs ending CA death penalty
A former Los Angeles County district attorney joined an effort to end California’s death penalty Monday, backing an initiative proposed for the November 2012 ballot that would replace capital punishment with life prison terms.
“The death penalty in California is broken and it is unfixable,” Gil Garcetti said at a news conference held to release details of the proposed ballot measure. “It is more likely that the convicted murderer will die in prison before execution is imposed.”
A recent study estimated the state spends $184 million annually on death penalty cases and incarceration above what it would cost to convert the terms to life behind bars. The former prosecutor said the ballot measure would devote $100 million over three years to law enforcement from money the state could save by ending capital punishment.
The ballot measure would also require murderers to work in prison, with their earnings going into a victim compensation fund, said Jeanne Woodford, a former San Quentin State Prison warden.
Woodford, also a former California corrections secretary, now is executive director of Death Penalty Focus, which works to eliminate executions.
Garcetti is one of 104 law enforcement officials who signed a support letter after lawmakers last week shelved a bill by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, that would have put a similar initiative on next year’s ballot. Hancock’s bill failed to get enough votes to clear the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Garcetti served two terms as top prosecutor in the state’s most populous county before he was defeated in 2000.
Enjoy your morning!