Capitol Alert

Lobbying ramps up on tax increase, road repair package

Commute traffic east bound on Highway 50 near the 59th Street exit on Wednesday, September 23, 2015. Statistics indicate higher numbers of traffic fatalities are tied to more cars on the road.
Commute traffic east bound on Highway 50 near the 59th Street exit on Wednesday, September 23, 2015. Statistics indicate higher numbers of traffic fatalities are tied to more cars on the road.

With the deadline to pass a $5.2 billion a year road-spending package looming, interests are ramping up lobbying campaigns to propel or doom California’s largest potential transportation funding overhaul in a quarter century.

Proponents last week launched statewide television and radio ads in English and Spanish to urge legislators to pass the package. The groups also paid for special targeted ads calling out a mix of eight moderate Democrats and potentially vulnerable legislators in swing districts by name.

Funded by coalitions of supporters – building trades unions and contractors, among others – the ads specifically urge voters to tell Sens. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, and Anthony Cannella, R-Modesto, and Assemblymembers Catherine Baker, R-Dublin; Adam Gray, D-Merced; Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield; Sabrina Cervantes, D-Riverside; Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton; and Al Muratsuchi, D-Manhattan Beach, to support the deal.

“Tell your state legislators, ‘fix our roads,”’ a man narrating the ads says. “The longer they delay, the more we’ll pay.”

Meanwhile, Assembly Republicans posted a video on social media that blames Democrats for the state’s road problems. The ad says that over the years Democrats have raised vehicle and gas taxes to fix roads, but then used the money for other programs.

“The result? Extra hours on crumbling roads that cost motorists thousands in repairs,” the ads says. Now Democrats are attempting to raise taxes again to fix the issues they’ve ignored, the ad asserts.

Despite Democratic super majorities in both houses of the Legislature, political leaders face major hurdles to pass the package with a two-thirds vote.

The governor and Democratic legislative leaders set a Thursday deadline to approve the legislation, setting the stage for a highly concentrated lobbying effort this week.

WORTH REPEATING: “We’ve been lied to.”

– Fundraising letter from gay rights group Equality California, alleging that the North Carolina Legislature did not repeal the “bathroom bill,” but “sold out the LGBT community”

SB 54: Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León may ask the Senate for a floor vote soon on his controversial “sanctuary state” bill prohibiting local and state law enforcement from using their resources to assist federal authorities with immigration enforcement.

Initially introduced as an urgency measure, the bill required approval from two-thirds of the Legislature. Last week the pro tem amended the bill to remove its urgency status, which means it now needs only a majority vote but would not take effect until Jan. 1. It also signals that he may have been unable to rally the votes. The current version also calls on the state to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement up to 60 days before the release of an undocumented immigrant with a violent or serious felony conviction.

The Service Employees International Union expects hundreds of its members to descend on the state Capitol Monday to rally in support of the bill and other measures related to immigration in the Trump era. The union expects to kick off at 10 a.m. near the Capitol Rose Garden.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Watch Giants left fielder Angel Pagan take down a fan running on the field, the subject of a new bill in the California Senate.

FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR ALL: The American Civil Liberties Union says at least 400 of its members will turn out at the Capitol today for its annual conference and to lobby California lawmakers on legislation related to bail reform, immigration and religious freedom. Expect leaders of both houses of the Legislature to stand alongside them with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and a school of lawmakers. The rally begins at 11 a.m. on the west steps.

MUST READ: The Bee’s Jim Miller offers a cautionary financial tale for those trying to slice up the state.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna