Capitol Alert

AM Alert: With bills out of the way, it’s full steam ahead to Nov. 8

Early morning voter Pamela Morgan casts her ballot in the 2014 statewide general election at polling location in Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep school.
Early morning voter Pamela Morgan casts her ballot in the 2014 statewide general election at polling location in Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep school. The Sacramento Bee

With bill signings out of the way, it’s full steam ahead until Nov. 8.

Drug-makers and tobacco companies are leading special interest spending on ballot measure campaigns.

Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Pfizer, Amgen, Sanofi-Aventis and more than two dozen other companies have collectively given $86.6 million to fight a measure that would cap prices by prohibiting state agencies from paying more for prescription medication than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which pays among the lowest prices for drugs.

The “No on 56” campaign, largely funded by Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, has amassed $56.2 million to fight a $2 tobacco tax increase. The companies have spent more than $26 million to bombard the airwaves with ads starring a teacher and a backyard gardener referring to the measure as a “special interest tax grab.” A new ad from the health groups supporting the measure fires back, saying big tobacco preys on children and the true reason the industry opposes the measure is because it will reduce smoking.

Meanwhile in the U.S. Senate race, a contentious battle between frontrunner Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez will come to a head Wednesday as the two Democrats square off in their first and only debate of the general election.

MUST-READ: Following arrests, Sheriff Scott Jones has revoked dozens of the 8,000 concealed carry permits he’s issued to Sacramento County residents since he took office in 2011.

BY THE NUMBERS: The California Charter Schools Association, Ed Voice and the California Teachers Association are ramping up their outside spending efforts in legislative districts around the state. Heading into this past weekend, the three groups collectively reported spending $1.4 million during the previous week, more than one-half of the total spending during that time by more than 30 independent expenditure committees. The charter school-funded Parent Teacher Alliance and Ed Voice have spent the most of any outside group, a status they also held leading up to the June 7 primary. The latest reports mark a post-primary spending jump for the CTA, which frequently clashes with charter school interests and Ed Voice in the Capitol. The CTA and Ed Voice are on opposite sides of the Democrat-vs.-Democrat race in the East Bay's 14th Assembly District, while charter schools are spending heavily in San Jose's 27th Assembly District, the Salinas-centered 30th Assembly District, and Glendale-based 43rd Assembly District.

Click here to go to The Money Trail.

WORTH REPEATING: "We would do the debate and then we would not be plagued with this prospect of the presidency because Alice would have vanquished him as she has vanquished so many other really bad people."

-Willie Brown, introducing Alice Huffman at a speaking event, suggested Hillary Clinton let the president of the California NAACP take on Donald Trump at the next debate.

CELEBRATE: Happy birthday to Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, who turns 63 today.

Jim Miller of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna