Capitol Alert

Xavier Becerra nomination for attorney general moves to California Senate

Xavier Becerra suggests beer summit on religious liberty with GOP lawmaker

At his Assembly confirmation hearing on Jan. 10, 2017, Attorney General nominee Xavier Becerra suggested grabbing a beer with Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, to further discuss his concerns on religious liberty. Video courtesy of the Cal
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At his Assembly confirmation hearing on Jan. 10, 2017, Attorney General nominee Xavier Becerra suggested grabbing a beer with Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, to further discuss his concerns on religious liberty. Video courtesy of the Cal

Welcome to the AM Alert, your morning run-down on California policy and politics. To receive it regularly, please sign up for it here.

It’s been a smooth ride to the California attorney general’s office so far for Rep. Xavier Becerra. The Los Angeles Democrat, who was appointed to replace newly elected Sen. Kamala Harris, breezed through a friendly confirmation hearing in the Assembly last week and was overwhelmingly approved by a vote of the full house days later.

Will the Senate, which takes up Becerra for consideration this week, prove any more challenging? Unlikely. Senate leader Kevin de León has already expressed support for Becerra as an ally to take on the incoming Trump administration, and he’s got a strong Democratic majority behind him.

There could still be a few fireworks in the process if Republicans decide to press Becerra when he appears before the Senate Rules Committee, 10 a.m. in Room 113 of the Capitol. In particular, comments Becerra made last week distinguishing between religious liberty protections for individuals and institutions under the First Amendment angered some conservatives, who have not had a chance to publicly confront him on that matter.

Becerra also has yet to address a few major issues that would be under his purview as attorney general, including efforts to resume executions in California after voters last November approved Proposition 66.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Remembering the late California State Librarian Kevin Starr.

WORTH REPEATING: “That’s what I believe.” – U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, saying on “Meet the Press” that she’s convinced Russian hacking altered the outcome of the presidential election.

AIR CARE: Among the fights that held up Senate Bill 32 last session was oversight of the California Air Resources Board, the powerful regulatory agency that will oversee implementation of the law’s ambitious new goals on greenhouse gas reduction. Legislators complained that the unelected board has too much latitude to determine state policy, part of a broader effort to claw back authority from the administrative branch that they feel was lost under the old system of term limits. That oversight begins with a hearing in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, 9:30 a.m. in Room 3191 of the Capitol, where Chair Mary Nichols will discuss the board’s responsibilities under the federal and state clean air acts.

DROUGHT DILEMMA: Is the drought finally over? California has been hopeful after an unusually wet winter drenched the north with rain and snow, but further south, more than half the state remains seriously parched. With that stark divide in mind, the State Water Resources Control Board is trying to decide whether to extend its emergency conservation mandate through October. The board will hold a public workshop on its regulations, 10 a.m. at the Cal/EPA Headquarters on I Street.

ROAD REPAIR: A special session on transportation funding ended last November without any progress, and it wasn’t among the issues Gov. Jerry Brown highlighted when he unveiled his budget proposal last week. So the business, labor and local government groups hoping for a deal to finance billions of dollars in repairs for California’s crumbling roads and highways have their work cut out for them this year. The Fix Our Roads coalition, which is pushing now to get a funding package worked out sooner than the final budget process in June, will try to jumpstart those negotiations with a press conference at 1:15 p.m. at the Sacramento Convention Center West Lobby.

POLICING THE POLICE: As the national outcry over police brutality reached a fever pitch two years ago, California lawmakers passed Assembly Bill 953, anti-racial profiling legislation requiring law enforcement to report detailed information on their stops. The state Department of Justice has developed guidelines for the data it would like officers to collect and is taking public comments on the proposal through the end of the month. It will hold a hearing on the guidelines at Chabot Elementary School in Oakland at 6 p.m., with another in Fresno scheduled for next week.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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