CA lawmakers back in the saddle again

CA lawmakers back in the saddle again

capitolFrontSACRAMENTO — After a nice long winter's rest, the California Legislature is back in the saddle again. And they hit the ground running, immediately bringing back many bills that did not pass in 2013.

Gov. Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, are proclaiming that their 2014 goals include building up a budget reserve and paying down long-term debt. Brown is expected to include a reserve cushion in the budget proposal he will release Friday.

But that ambition will clash with Steinberg and Perez' announced desires to restore funding to many social programs cut during the recession and increase spending on education, in particular on universal preschool programs and increasing funding to colleges and universities. Other legislators are advancing bills that spend more.

The bills are baaaaacck

Quickly on Monday, the Democratic majority in the Assembly voted to suspend the rules, allowing them to bring back 19 bills they were unable to pass through the committee process last year. The bills were re-referred to the Assembly Rules Committee, from which they will be passed out to various committees for hearings and passage this year.

Briefly, the bills are about:

AB 59: parcel taxes;

AB 148: renewable resources;

AB 177: gun buyback credits;

AB 232: minors and the Internet;

AB 319: disaster management insurance;

AB 468: salmon;

AB 504: California Environmental Quality Act;

AB 515judicial review;

AB 585homeless veterans assistance program;

AB 690infrastructure financing districts (redevelopment);

AB 745land use and housing;

AB 778: employment and workforce demographic study;

AB 987: personal and home care aide training program;

AB 1072mortgage loan modification;

AB 1170: voter registration cancellation for invalid address;

AB 1193safety design criteria for bikeways;

AB 1234long-term health care insurance from the state;

AB 1271workforce development;

AB 1335: sex offenses against the mentally disabled.

CalWatchdog.com will focus on these bills in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, on the floor today…

Prior to the New Year, the Assembly had a few empty seats due to members leaving for other elected offices. During the legislative break, three elections brought in new Assembly members. Speaker Perez conducted a short ceremony and administered the oath of office to Freddie Rodriguez, D-Pomona; Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles; and Matt Dababneh, D-Sherman Oaks.

Assembly members and state senators then gave more than 15 floor speeches praising former South African President Nelson Mandela. Some spoke movingly about Mandela helping end South Africa's apartheid system of racial segregation.

The New Year and the Calderon scandal

During the fall recess, Al Jazeera published a leaked FBI affidavit in the Sen. Ron Calderon scandal. The affadavit alleges Calderon took bribes from an FBI agent. Steinberg removed Calderon from all committee assignments.

Yesterday, Steinberg also gave Calderon a new home in the Senate, assigned a desk on the outskirts of the Senate floor. Calderon will be sitting by himself. The only seat next to him was recently vacated by the surprise Dec. 1 resignation of state Sen. Bill Emmerson, R-Redlands.

When questioned by reporters, Steinberg said, “I’m doing what I think is in the best interest of the house.”

Calderon told reporters, “I don’t have a problem sitting there, as long as I have a microphone and I can present my bills and vote.”

“I have done nothing wrong,” Calderon added. “That will come out in the wash. It makes it difficult to do my work, but I’m managing.”

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