Capitol Alert

Summer recess – and a trip or two – ahead for California Legislature

Gov. Jerry Brown, center, leads legislators with Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, after they passed climate change legislation on Monday.
Gov. Jerry Brown, center, leads legislators with Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, after they passed climate change legislation on Monday. hamezcua@sacbee.com

They’ve got cap and trade settled and a whole slew of demanding bills either killed or pressed out onto either chamber floor. Now, lawmakers have a monthlong break before the Legislature reconvenes from summer recess on Aug. 21.

Not everyone always chooses to slow down and unwind. The state Senate will send its 17th official delegation to Japan on July 27 to strengthen positive ties between the two regions. Members – Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and Sens. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, Bob Hertzberg, D-Los Angeles, Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, and Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens – will hold bilateral meetings with state and local government leaders in Japan to discuss topics ranging from the economy to public health. Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, who took the second-most amount of sponsored trips last calendar year (with $23,156 in travel), will also be attending. The trip will be paid for by members with their campaign funds.

They’ll return on Aug. 5, with two weeks left to relax.

Such trips aren’t uncommon for members of the California Legislature, who often take to land or sky on breaks and go on tours not on their own dimes, but with the backing of business groups, labor unions, foreign governments and their campaign donors.

Sponsored travel is sanctioned as long as the trips are considered educational – like last year’s California Foundation for the Environment and the Economy-sponsored excursion to Australia, where lawmakers learned about drought response, or to Germany and the Czech Republic, where they got more familiar renewable energy. It’s also allowed if they give a talk or sit on a panel while they’re on the trip.

In 2016, legislators accepted at least a reported $515,000 in free airfare, lodging, meals and other travel gifts, according to statements filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission. That was down from 2015, when legislators accepted at least $612,000 in free travel, but much more than in previous years.

In case you were wondering, Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, who accepted more in sponsored trips last year than any other legislator (worth $26,790 over 10 trips) will not be taking a sponsored trip this month.

When the Legislature returns in August, Gov. Jerry Brown has promised it will address housing.

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BREAKING GROUND: On Friday, Brown will join local, stale and national transportation, business and government leaders in Millbrae to commemorate the start of the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project. The project seeks to convert Caltrain services from diesel equipment to high-performance electric trains, in line with Brown’s legislative agenda. Proponents expect it will reduce freeway congestion and travel times fro the 65,000 weekday commuters, improve regional air quality and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at the Millbrae Caltrain Station, and is open only to invited guests and credentialed media.

CAREER PATHWAYS: California Community Colleges launches their Career Education Campaign today on the North Steps of the Capitol, to rebrand and raise awareness statewide for the more than 200 career education programs offered on its 114 campuses. The awareness campaign supports the CCC Vision for Success. Starting at 9 a.m., you can expect to see Chancellor Eloy Oakley and Vice Chancellor Van Ton-Quinlivan, as well as Rebecca Miller of SEIU United Healthcare, Nicole Rice of the California Manufacturing & Technology Association, Cassandra Jennings of Greater Sacramento Urban League and Jim Mayer of CA Fwd. There will also be career demonstrations on skills like virtual reality welding, emergency medical training, aviation, culinary arts; and booths manned by the I Can Afford College Campaign and the Career Education Campaign.

HEALTHY SPACES: Plenty of chemical elements compound to make up our springs, gyroscopes, high-speed aircrafts, missiles, spacecraft and communication satellites. One prominent element regulated at the federal level is beryllium, which in too-large quantities can cause adverse health effects such as acute beryllium disease and lung cancer. Foundry workers, furnace tenders, machine operators, metal fabricators and even dental technicians could face these too-large quantities.

The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board will hear a proposal today to adopt federal standards limiting exposure to beryllium, and to enact other provisions to protect employees, such as requirements for exposure assessment, respiratory protection, personal protective clothing and hazard communication. Though the board expects to adopt the proposal, the public hearing will allow people to voice compelling reasons for California to deviate from the federal standard and for the board to solicit comments on proposed effective dates. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. at 1600 Pacific Highway in San Diego.

THE BASICS: Join the Native American Heritage Commission for a hearing and roundtable on the basics of protecting tribal cultural resources under the California Natural Resources Agency (CEQA), following the passage of Assembly Bill 52 in 2014, which affords California’s native people a voice on development that could affect their sacred sites and reforms CEQA. Speakers will include Merri Lopez-Keiffer, the commission’s secretary; Terrie Robinson, the commission’s general counsel; and Courtney Coyle, an attorney. The meeting begins at 1 p.m. at the Caltrans District 11 Building, at 4050 Taylor St. in San Diego.

The speakers ask that attendees review these materials before joining them at the hearing.

BRING YOUR SUNSCREEN: Kaiser Permanente’s weekly Walk to Thrive in downtown Sacramento takes off from the Capitol Mall Farmers Market at 6th and Capitol Mall at 11:45 a.m. today. Be sure to register before you go.

DINNER PARTY: The Republican Women of San Francisco, Federated, will host their monthly dinner meeting tonight at the St. Francis Yacht Club, featuring guest speaker Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Men and women both are welcome to attend the dinner, which begins at 6 p.m. You do not have to be a member to attend the meeting.

WEED IN YOUR WATER: Have you ever wondered how your water quality might be affected by commercial recreational and medicinal grow cannabis cultivation? The State Water Resources Control Board today will host the first of two hearings on a draft of a Cannabis Cultivation Policy, where staff will discuss proposals to protect springs, wetlands and aquatic habitats from the negative impacts of cannabis cultivation and how best to limit water quality degradation in surface and groundwater resources.

The meeting today – which begins at 4 p.m. – and the one next Thursday are open to the public, and a public comment period is open through Sept. 6. All meetings will be at the Joe Serna Jr. CalEPA Headquarters Building at 1001 I St. in Sacramento.

CELEBRATE: The Bee would like to wish a happy birthday to Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, who turns 38 on Friday. The Bee would also like to wish Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, R-O’Neals, a happy birthday. On Saturday, he’ll turn 63.

Rennie Svirnovskiy, 916-321-1310, @RennieYS

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