David Siders/ The Sacramento Bee
In this photo taken Aug. 29, 2014, a sign outside O! Deli, a restaurant at the state Capitol, says the eatery is closed “due to a personal emergency.”

A popular eatery inside the state Capitol building was closed Friday after the U.S. Marshals Service effected what is known as a “till tap,” taking money from the cash register to satisfy a court order.

Deputy U.S. Marshall Frank Newsom said two agents seized money at O! Deli, on the 6th floor of the Capitol building, without incident late Thursday afternoon or evening.

Newsom said he did not know the nature of the court order or how much money was seized.

A union, Unite Here Local 49, applied for a written statement of judgment for $22,907 against the restaurant’s Dam Khan a day before the till tap, according to court filings.

Jose Luis Villegas/ jvillegas@sacbee.com
State schools chief Tom Torlakson meets with parents in Sacramento to talk about Common Core Standards on January 8, 2014.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson will appeal the June court ruling that California’s teacher tenure laws are unconstitutional, he decided Friday.

“The people who dedicate their lives to the teaching profession deserve our admiration and support. Instead, this ruling lays the failings of our education system at their feet,” Torlakson said in a statement.

“Its vagueness provides no guidance about how the Legislature could successfully alter the challenged statutes to satisfy the Court,” the statement continued. “Accordingly, I will ask the Attorney General to seek appellate review.”

The judge in the controversial Vergara v. State of California case issued a final ruling late Thursday affirming that California rules establishing a two-year probationary period for teacher tenure, the process for firing teachers and seniority-based layoffs unfairly deprived students of their constitutional right to a quality education.

Rich Pedroncelli/ AP
State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, right, thanks Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco for his remarks about him during a ceremony at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014.

The state Senate on Friday approved legislation prohibiting private EMTs and other contractors from using logos for public agencies they serve without identifying themselves as contractors.

Senate Bill 556, by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, was supported by the California Labor Federation and California Professional Firefighters.

The California State Association of Counties, League of California Cities and EMT and paramedic organizations opposed the measure, saying it was unnecessary and could obscure the identities of public agencies contractors are serving.

The measure was approved 23-11 along party lines. Padilla said it would apply a “basic standard of disclosure” to private contractors, and there was no debate or discussion.

Randy Pench/ rpench@sacbee.com
Workers drill a 1,000-foot test well in search of water for surrounding wine grapes near Chowchilla on March 4, 2008.

Friends, it seems as though we were just laughing about Coolio’s appearance at the back-to-session bash, and now it’s already the end of August.

After laudatory sendoffs for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, who are termed out at the end of the year, there’s only one thing left for the Legislature do this session: its work.

Expect today to be a long one, as lawmakers try to push through all of their remaining bills so they can head home and campaign for re-election. Three amendments to the Political Reform Act – including requirements to disclose donors on political ads, report travel destinations on gift forms and file quarterly, rather than semiannual, campaign finance reports – are not eligible to be taken up until Saturday, so the Senate and Assembly could keep going past midnight to avoid coming back this weekend to finish.

Among the big remaining battles to watch out for as Sunday’s deadline to pass legislation looms ever closer: a bill that would authorize regulation of California’s diminishing groundwater supply, a historic change that is strongly opposed by Republicans, and the plastic bag ban, which has been grabbing headlines all session long. While support for the bill has ebbed and flowed almost hour-by-hour over the last couple of days, it once again appears to be headed for the governor's desk.

Hector Amezcua/ hamezcua@sacbee.com
The state Senate honors outgoing Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg on August 28, 2014.

You would think California lawmakers all love each other after Thursday's fawning farewells for the departing leaders, Dan says.

Have a question you’d like Dan to answer? Post it on our Facebook page.

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

GHT2T77DQ.2Multimedia Photojournalist
Manny Crisostomo/ mcrisostomo@sacbee.com
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Gov. Jerry Brown and then-Assembly Speaker John A. Perez during a press conference at the Governor's Office of Emergency Services on Wednesday, February 19, 2014.

Separation of powers be damned: fond farewells allow exceptions.

In a rare foray onto the Legislature’s turf, Gov. Jerry Brown appeared on the Assembly and Senate floors on Thursday to bid farewell to termed-out Assembly Speaker emeritus John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles and outgoing Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.

After proclaiming in the Assembly that “I don’t like roasts,” the governor emulated the spirit of a sendoff that combined good-natured ribbing with praise of Pérez’s legacy.

“Your mushroom theory of government has no equal anywhere in the world, and a lot of people want to be transparent, they want to know everything – well I’ll tell you, your way of keeping everyone in the dark was a real winner,” Brown said to applause and laughter.

An effort to help workers recover back wages by allowing them to slap liens on their employers’ property failed Thursday in the California Senate when numerous Democrats withheld their votes.

The failure of Assembly Bill 2416 demonstrated the power of the California Chamber of Commerce, which had labeled the measure a “job killer.” Employers argued the bill would have launched costly and unfair legal battles. Labor unions who backed the bill said it would solve a current problem, where filing claims for stolen wages can take more than a year, giving employers the chance to close shop.

“AB 2416 provides workers who are victims of wage theft with an avenue to claim the wages they are rightfully owed,” said Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, as he presented the bill by Assemblyman Mark Stone on the Senate floor.

As Lara spoke, workers from the SEIU union watched from the gallery above. The bill failed when it received only 13 yes votes, leaving the measure eight votes short of passage. It is eligible for reconsideration on Friday.

GT12TABAN.4Senior Photojournalist
Renée C. Byer/ rbyer@sacbee.com
Gina Russel, 59, of Oroville, Calif., holds a flag in support of the State of Jefferson in front of the California state Capitol on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif. Supporters of the 51st State of Jefferson traveled there to present and submit declarations to withdraw from the state of California signed by boards of supervisors from Siskiyou and Modoc counties.
GT12TAB70.4Senior Photojournalist
Renée C. Byer/ rbyer@sacbee.com
Supporters for the State of Jefferson bow their heads in prayer in front of the California Capitol on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif. They were there to pass out declaration of separation papers to lobbyists.

After a rally at the Capitol marked by chants of “The time has come for 51!” and a surprise appearance by Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, supporters of the State of Jefferson presented their “declarations of separation” to the California Legislature on Thursday.

The declarations from Modoc and Siskiyou counties, expressing their desire to withdraw from California because of a lack of representation in Sacramento, marked the first official step in the secession movement’s long-running efforts to re-form as a new state in Northern California.

“We’re here not because we feel any ill will toward California,” said Mark Baird, a pilot and rancher from Yreka who has helped organize the Jefferson movement. “Our problem is (lawmakers) don’t have empathy for us because we’re so far away.”

Baird addressed a crowd of about 70 from across Northern California, clad in green shirts and carrying green flags bearing Jefferson’s seal. The yellow circle with two X’s stands for “double-crossed by Sacramento.”

Rich Pedroncelli/ AP
State Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, left, talks with Sen. Richardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, during the Senate session, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif. By a 52-16 vote the Assembly approved de Leon's bill SB967, that changes the definition of consent for campuses investigating sexual assault cases.

The California Senate unanimously sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill Thursday that would require California colleges to adopt rape-prevention policies that include a standard of affirmative consent for sexual activity.

The measure, Senate Bill 967 bill by Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, was inspired by a number of assaults on college campuses in recent years and frustration by victims who said they didn’t get sufficient support from college authorities. It requires the college sexual assault policies to mandate a standard of “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement” from both parties in a sexual encounter, according to an analysis of the bill. The measure drew some opposition in the Assembly earlier this week as a form of “nanny government” but sailed through the Senate on its final vote, drawing bipartisan support.

“As the father of a young college-age daughter, I was stunned, I was quite surprised when I read the statistic that 20 percent of young women have been sexually assaulted on a college campus,” said de León, the incoming Senate leader.

“These are our daughters, they are our sisters, they are our nieces.”

Scott Condon/ AP
Environmental activist and billionaire Tom Steyer speaks at the American Renewable Energy Day Summit in Aspen, Colo., on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014.

Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmental activist who is spending heavily on political races nationwide, said Thursday that he plans to pour $1 million into legislative contests in California this year, possibly including Democrat-versus-Democrat races.

Steyer, a former hedge fund executive, said he will focus spending on voter registration and turnout operations for Democratic candidates who support environmental causes.

“There’s nothing, you know, in our bylaws that I’ve read that says we can’t get involved in D-on-D races, and we have,” Steyer said in an interview with The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board.

Steyer’s remarks come at the end of a legislative session in which he pushed unsuccessfully for a tax on oil extraction and legislation requiring a two-thirds vote of the electorate in any county before hydraulic fracturing could go forward in that area.

Hector Amezcua/ hamezcua@sacbee.com
Then-Assemblywoman Julia Brownley on Tuesday, June 1, 2010 near a photo of a turtle that was displayed to illustrate the dangers of plastic bags, part of a recurring annual effort to ban the items.

With a prominent grocery workers’ union back in support, the California Assembly voted on Thursday to impose a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.

Just days after the measure could not muster the 41 votes needing to pass, falling short at 38, it passed on a 44-29 vote. Seven Democrats who withheld votes on the previous attempt pivoted to vote aye.

The measure now moves to the Senate, where it has yet to be tested with a floor vote.

Lawmakers turned back Senate Bill 270 on Monday as the United Food and Commercial Workers Union withdrew crucial labor backing for the sweeping prohibition. Central to the union’s reversal was a provision allowing grocery stores to offer paper or reusable bags for a minimum 10-cent fee.

Paul Sakuma/AP

A bill to allow government regulators to monitor oil refinery shutdowns is drawing heavy criticism from media organizations because of its potential impact on the California Public Records Act.

The measure, introduced by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, in the wake of the massive fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond in 2012, would allow regulators to complete detailed inspections during planned, periodic shutdowns called “turnaround.”

It would also expand the definition of what constitutes a trade secret and tighten access to information about the refineries through the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. Media organizations have registered their opposition, contending the ability to access records would be hanstrung.

“From our prospective, it’s not only a perversion of the Public Records Act but a perversion of the public’s role in government oversight,” said Jim Ewert, general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association.

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