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January 5, 2010
AM Alert: Another lap

UPDATE 7:30 p.m.: The Assembly has passed both SBX5 1, with a vote of 44-17, and SBX5 4, with a vote of 41-27. The Senate takes up the bills Wednesday morning. Click here for more.

The marathon to ensure California brings home the Benjamins in the Race to the Top competition for federal stimulus dollars continues today, with the latest version of the plan expected to come up for floor votes.

Legislation passed by the Senate last month has been split into two parts, though the bills have been linked through a procedural move, so both must be signed into law for either measure to take effect.

One bill will contain the bulk of the changes aimed at ensuring California qualifies for up to $700 million in federal dollars doled out by the Obama administration. Those changes address intervening in low performing schools, establishing a new commission to create tougher academic standards and assessments and expanding the use of test scores to track student performance.

A second bill includes provisions that would expand parents' ability to force changes at schools and allow some students in low-performing schools to enroll in other districts.

Language was still being tweaked last night, but a spokeswoman for Speaker Karen Bass says both houses are in agreement on the new plan.

The Assembly is set to take up the package today, with a 9 a.m. Education Committee hearing scheduled.

But it doesn't look like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who threatened to veto one earlier version passed by the Assembly, is on board yet.

"We have serious concerns about some of the drafts we've seen, but are still waiting to see the final language," said Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Camille Anderson.

So Schwarzenegger and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson will be holding a press conference at Rosa Parks Middle School at 10:45 a.m. to call for the Legislature to pass a pass a package (that he is willing to sign, that is) in time for the state to meet the Jan. 19 deadline for applying for the funds.

There was some action on the Assembly floor yesterday.

Assemblyman Steve Bradford, D-Gardena, who snagged now-Sen. Curren Price's seat in a September special election, was sworn in.

Well, sort of.

Bradford was technically sworn in last September so he could vote on the final day of the 2009 regular legislative session. Yesterday's ceremony on the Assembly floor was just a bit of pomp and circumstance to welcome the new member to the lower house.

With one spot filled, another seat opens up today.

Democratic Assemblyman Paul Krekorian is set to step down to take a job on the Los Angeles City Council.

Krekorian won that seat in a Dec. 8 special election, but his resignation, and swearing in on the City Council, was postponed until the results were certified.

The governor now have to call a special election to fill Krekorian's seat in the 43rd Assembly District.

On the topic of lower house vacancies, one open spot remaining is the seat previously held by ex-Assemblyman Mike Duvall. A runoff election between Republican Chris Norby, a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, Democrat John MacMurray and Green Party candidate Jane Rands is scheduled to take place a week from today.

Update: As The OC Register's Total Buzz reports, vote-by-mail returns indicate Norby might have already snagged a victory in the heavily Republican district.

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