Nearly two years ago, lawmakers set aside $24 million to seize guns from thousands of people banned from having them, but progress on the Armed Prohibited Persons System database has been slow.
A report released last month by the California Department of Justice showed that the backlog of more than 20,000 prohibited gun owners, set to be cleared over the course of three years, had been reduced by less than one-fifth from the year prior. The department blamed hiring challenges, and said the backlog would have grown by another 7,000 people without their work.
Senate Republicans jumped on “the failure of DOJ to meet its own commitments to the Legislature,” calling for a hearing on the program to have justice officials explain how they had already spent 40 percent of the money. (The criticism comes as Attorney General Kamala Harris is ramping up her U.S. Senate bid, which has faced no significant challengers so far.)
That oversight was wrapped into a previously scheduled department budget review, which will take place in Room 113 of the Capitol upon adjournment of the Senate floor session. Stephen Lindley, chief of the state Bureau of Firearms, will testify.
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PARENT POWER: The California State PTA, which advocates for parents at the Capitol, gathers at the Sacramento Convention Center this weekend for its 116th annual convention. The conference kicks off at 8:45 a.m. with a symposium organized by education news website EdSource, which includes prominent NYU education Professor Pedro Noguera, Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor and California State Board of Education President Michael Kirst. California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye will be the evening’s keynote speaker.
WATERLESS WORLD: California officials are still working through how best to confront the state’s historic drought, with more revisions to mandatory water cuts and severe penalties for violations proposed just this week. Ellen Hanak, director of the Public Policy Institute of California’s new Water Policy Center, will visit the Sacramento Press Club to explain the essentials on California water and “why we all have a stake in the drought response,” 11:45 a.m. at the Capitol Plaza Ballroom on 9th Street.
STRAY SPRAY: The state Department of Pesticide Regulation is currently working on new guidelines for agricultural pesticide use near schools. (A report last year found 48 schools in Sacramento and Yolo counties operating within a quarter mile of where pesticides are applied.) Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, and state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, will lead a briefing on the science of pesticides and opportunities for policy action, noon in Room 317 of the Capitol.
IMMIGRATION IDEAS: After a record number of undocumented immigrants were deported during her tenure as U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano didn’t receive the warmest welcome to her new position as president of the University of California. She has since embarked on a tour of contrition, which includes a keynote address today at a conference on immigration in California hosted by the National Journal, where Napolitano will discuss UC’s financial aid policies for undocumented students and her support for President Barack Obama’s controversial executive immigration action. The event, 10 a.m. at the Tech Museum in San Jose, also includes former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, R-Oceanside, who is running for the U.S. Senate.
LATINATION: The Campaign for College Opportunity is out with its latest report on higher education attainment among California Latinos. Now comprising about half of high school graduates in the state, boosting Latino college completion will be crucial for closing an expected 1 million degree shortage over the next decade. While schools have been increasing outreach and enrollment in recent years, Latinos remain underrepresented in the University of California and California State University systems.