Few features of California politics animate people as much as the planned high-speed rail project. Where Gov. Jerry Brown and allies see a way to modernize transportation and fight climate change, Republicans see a costly boondoggle and a perennial budget target.
A Los Angeles Times article questioning schedule and cost estimates for the project has fueled a fresh outcry. While Republicans did not succeed in their quest to have the Legislature audit the project, an Assembly budget subcommittee will hold a hearing today on the projected price tag and timeline.
Witnesses expected to testify include Dan Richard, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s board of directors, and Jeff Morales, the authority’s chief executive officer, starting at 9:30 a.m. in room 447. The Senate Transportation and Housing Committee plans to hold a similar hearing later this year.
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FANTASIZING: We get a rare Wednesday floor session today, and an Assembly bill authorizing daily fantasy sports is slated for a floor vote. The measure will allow lawmakers to weigh in on an issue that has garnered national attention and spurred an industry ad blitz against a certain member who opposes AB 1437. Also slated for a vote today is a revamped bill offering extra pay for Thanksgiving workers, a redo of last year’s failed version that applies to fewer employers.
SHEADERSHIP: The organization California Women Lead, which is focused on equipping women of both parties to succeed in politics, has a new leader. Cassandra Walker Pye, whose resume includes stints working for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California Chamber of Commerce, is taking over as president. The outfit will honor top Brown aide Nancy McFadden, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and former Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank, during an event at the Citizen Hotel tonight.
ARTSY: Today is the 40th anniversary of the California Arts Council, and an event at the Crest Theater tonight will mark the milestone with music and dance performances. Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, plans to celebrate by rolling out an arts education bill during a 9:30 am. press conference in room 1190.
CLIMATIC: Clean energy and climate policy are powering the agenda for many people today. California State Treasurer John Chiang, state Controller Betty Yee and CalSTRS CEO Jack Ehnes will be in New York City, talking about how to invest money in climate-friendly ways (like removing coal from your portfolio) in light of the Paris climate accords. Back in Sacramento, the California Air Resources Board will hold a workshop on how to spend cap-and-trade dollars on clean transportation and air programs, starting at 9:30 a.m at CalEPA headquarters.
FEELING LUCKY: The California Lottery Commission will meet today to hear updates on ticket sales, including a big windfall produced by Powerball mania. Despite the surging revenue, the lotto’s contribution to state education funding has not moved much. Starting at 10 a.m. at 700 N. 10th Street.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to correct Betty Yee’s job title. She is state Controller. Updated at 10:54 a.m. Jan. 27, 2016.