Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Clinton and Trump square off in first presidential debate

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a "commander-in-chief forum" hosted by NBC in New York on Sept. 7, 2016.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a "commander-in-chief forum" hosted by NBC in New York on Sept. 7, 2016. The Associated Press

Though it’s taking place nearly 3,000 miles away, there is no bigger political story today than the first presidential debate.

Airing live from Hofstra University in New York at 6 p.m. PDT on all the major broadcast and cable news networks, the opening clash between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump is the ultimate must-see TV: Will Clinton dominate the stage and reverse her sinking momentum? Can Trump command policy discussions and quiet critics who say he’s not presidential? And how nasty will the insults get?

Whoever comes out on top, it’s unlikely to have much impact in deep blue California, which continues to be solidly behind Clinton. Despite slipping significantly since July, she’s still leading Trump by 17 percentage points in this heavily Democratic state, according to the latest Field Poll.

Sacramentans have an added incentive to tune in: “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, who grew up in Rancho Cordova and attended Sacramento State, is moderating. Holt was inducted last year into the California Hall of Fame – on the same night as the third Republican primary debate.

THE GRATE DEBATE: Check out The Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman’s take on the candidates’ debate preparation.

PSYCHOTROPIC MEDICATION: Damning news coverage about the widespread use of psychotropic medication in California’s foster care system and a scathing audit on the lack of state oversight into the appropriateness of these prescriptions vaulted the long-overlooked issue into the Capitol. Over the past two years, legislators passed a series of laws designed to curb the overuse of mind-altering drugs that can cause obesity and tremors while failing to address the underlying traumas of vulnerable children. The Senate Human Services Committee and the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services will jointly hold a follow-up hearing to discuss the problems uncovered by the audit and possible solutions, 1 p.m. in Room 3191 of the Capitol.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Holt reflected on how growing up in California helped fuel his career on the red carpet for the California Hall of Fame induction ceremony last October.

BILL DRILL: Gov. Jerry Brown whittled down his pile of bills over the weekend.

THIS IS NOT A DRILL: California’s homelessness crisis is severe enough that it finally caught the attention of state politicians. With an estimated 115,000 people without stable housing, some advocates are even calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a statewide emergency. Among them is Cover the Homeless, a nonprofit that ministers to individuals living on the streets of Los Angeles. The group is planning to picket outside the Capitol at 9:30 a.m., urging Brown to proclaim a state of emergency on homelessness in Los Angeles County, so that local governments and organizations can receive more funding to build housing.

WORTH REPEATING: “Most of us who moved here didn’t come here for any reason other than...we were drawn by the weather, the climate, the natural resources available.” - California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols on California’s environmental appeal.

IN THE WEEDS: The state of marijuana in California may be soon be “legal,” with Proposition 64 holding a 2-to-1 lead among voters in a recent Field Poll. But advocates, investors and government officials have plenty more to discuss at the third annual State of Marijuana conference, taking place over the next two days aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, including local bans, potential conflicts with federal law, and how to get into the business. State Controller Betty Yee – whose narrow victory over former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez in the 2014 primary pot groups took credit for – is scheduled to deliver a keynote address on Tuesday.

CELEBRATIONS: A belated happy birthday to Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who turned 65 on Saturday, and Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, who turned 72 yesterday.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff