Capitol Alert

What’s the rush? California Legislature reaches its new deadline

Last-minute amendments have defined the final days of California legislative sessions as much as lawmakers’ busy fundraising calendars and Capitol hallways jammed with lobbyists.

Some amendments involved wholesale changes to a bill, with the measures coming up for votes only hours later, if that.

Not this year. Because of voters’ approval last fall of Proposition 54, today is the last day for any bill to be amended and still be considered by Friday’s 2017 session finale.

The change is the product of the November 2016 constitutional amendment bankrolled by wealthy Republican activist Charles Munger Jr. that requires bills to be in print for 72 hours before final floor votes. It passed with more than 65 percent of the vote.

What defines a final floor vote has been a subject of debate this year, with the two houses taking different interpretations of the requirement.

Earlier this year the Assembly approved dozens of Assembly bills that had been amended less than 72 hours earlier. That prompted complaints from Proposition 54 proponents, who said they were reviewing their legal options.

Many of those bills were later amended in the Senate, requiring them to return to the Assembly for a final concurrence vote. And on measures that passed the Senate without changes, the Assembly so far has taken “concurrence in final form” votes on two bills based on its interpretation of Proposition 54.

That’s a long ways from the final days of last year’s session, which ended Aug. 31, 2016. Legislative records showed that at least 50 bills took amendments posted within three days of the floor vote in the respective house.

Among the key bills that have yet to emerge in final form is the plan to spend some $1.5 billion in revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade program. Negotiations continued on the package Monday.

Lawmakers also are trying to reach agreement on a multibillion-dollar parks and water bond for the November 2018 ballot.

PADILLA ON TRUMP’S COMMISSION: President Donald Trump’s controversial voting commission, led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, is meeting in New Hampshire today weighing whether to institute background checks before a person can register to vote. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla plans to hold his ground as a policy and ideological counterweight. Padilla, who is said to be interested in running for U.S. Senate, has used an office that has not been viewed as a natural launching pad to help build a national profile as an advocate for expanded voting rights. On Monday, Padilla tweeted that Kobach’s “proof” of voter fraud in New Hampshire “is another reason why we must stand up to this ‘fraud’ commission.”

CENSUS FIGURES: With the U.S. Census releasing some information on income, poverty, health coverage and other economic indicators beginning today, Californians will get a closer look at the economic hardship many across the state are facing. Experts at the California Budget and Policy Center will hold a briefing to examine what the new figures say about well-being here and discuss ways they believe the state can better invest in building a strong economy that works for all. They also plan to look at trends in health coverage, including the impact of federal health care reform.

TOWN HALL: Former Los Angeles Mayor and current gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigosa will hold an online town hall where he expects to address a number of issues, among them immigration, income inequality, education, housing and climate change. The virtual event is scheduled for noon to 1 p.m. More information here.

ENDORSEMENT ROUNDS: State Treasurer John Chiang, also a candidate in next year’s race for governor, hits the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce for a breakfast event at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. He’ll work to win the business group’s support.

MANY MESSAGES: A few hours before announcing his lawsuit against the Trump administration over the president’s efforts to halt the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued an unrelated news release. He’s filing of a separate lawsuit, also against the Trump administration, for what he described as illegally delaying a rule that encourages carmakers to meet or exceed federal fuel efficiency standards.

At the DACA press conference, Becerra joked that he files a lot of legal actions against Trump. Looking ahead, Becerra said his office also would be questioning officials at the consumer credit firm Equifax over a massive data breach, a rare move given that the state’s top cops generally don’t comment on pending matters. Said Becerra about the company’s executives: “As Ricky would tell Lucy, ‘you got some ’splainin’ to do!’ 

THE DACA CONTINUES: Speaking of the DACA program, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, chaired by Rep. Judy Chu, will join Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi at an event in Washington this afternoon to urge the immediate passage of the DREAM Act.

In California, leaders are putting another $20 million in the state’s health and human services trailer bill to provide support for DACA recipients.

TRUMP (and Bernie) HAPPENED? Hillary Clinton’s much-anticipated book, “What Happened,” is released today and Clinton is scheduled to appear in Davis on Oct. 9 as part of a nationwide book tour. At an appearance Friday in San Francisco, former President Bill Clinton used his wife’s book to bail a bit early from a night of tribute for the Rev. Amos Brown’s 40 years of community service. Also on hand for the event were former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, as well as Gov. Jerry Brown, who took a glancing blow at Donald Trump when he reminisced about how good life was when Clinton was president.

Before darting out, Clinton said, “You know my wife wrote a book and I got to read it.” To laughter, Clinton added: “I do what I’m told.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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