Capitol Alert

AM Alert: What’s next for CEQA?

The last time the Legislature tried to tackle CEQA in 2013, their main achievement was approving an exemption for Sacramento’s new downtown arena.
The last time the Legislature tried to tackle CEQA in 2013, their main achievement was approving an exemption for Sacramento’s new downtown arena. The Sacramento Bee file

Among the most intractable debates of California politics is what to do about the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, the 1970 law regulating the environmental impacts of development projects. Defenders hold it up as a crucial protection, while business interests and local governments are exasperated by what they see as overly burdensome requirements and abuses of the process to block construction. Political forces as large as Gov. Jerry Brown have been unable to maneuver a comprehensive overhaul of the law.

A day-long symposium hosted by the Environmental Law Society at UC Davis School of Law will explore the challenges and the future of CEQA. Kip Lipper, the Senate president pro tem’s chief policy adviser on energy and the environment, kicks things off with a discussion of recent legislative developments. Sessions follow on nontraditional uses of CEQA, the implications of adding consultations with Native American tribes to the law, and how CEQA factors into the development of California’s high-speed rail project and efforts to address climate change.

Representatives from the California Air Resources Board, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, and the Department of Water Resources are scheduled to participate in the symposium, which begins at 9 a.m. at the UC Davis School of Law.

VIDEO: With the Academic Performance Index school assessment on its way out, former Gov. Gray Davis is losing his legacy, Dan Walters says.

AROUND THE CAPITOL IN 90 MINUTES: Capitol staff looking to spice up their tours of the building can probably learn a thing or two from Assemblyman Ken Cooley. The Rancho Cordova Democrat, who first began working under the dome in 1977, will lead a 90-minute insiders’ excursion around the Capitol, starting at 9:15 a.m. on the west steps and again next Friday at the same time, with a focus on the seismic restoration of the late ‘70s.

DROP THE FEES: State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and Assembly members David Chiu, D-San Francisco, and Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, will join with advocates for homeless youth to announce SB 252, which would prohibit the Department of Education and testing companies from charging homeless students to take high school proficiency and equivalency exams, 10 a.m. at Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco.

LOSE CONTROL: The Public Policy Institute of California leads a panel discussion on the complicated implementation of California’s new school funding formula and accountability plan, which gives more control to local school districts, noon at the Capitol Event Center on 11th Street.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to state Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, who turns 37 today.

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.