Capitol Alert

Will anti-water pumping legislation be brought back from the dead?

An area of the Mojave Desert near the site of the Cadiz water project on the eastern edge of San Bernardino County in California, July 20, 2015.
An area of the Mojave Desert near the site of the Cadiz water project on the eastern edge of San Bernardino County in California, July 20, 2015. NYT

Late last week, we suggested watching this space for possible revival of Assembly Bill 1000, legislation to halt a controversial water-pumping project in the Mojave Desert that’s being pushed by the politically connected firm Cadiz, Inc.

The bill pits supporters, including Gov. Jerry Brown, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom against the heavy lobbying of Cadiz, which successfully blocked the bill in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The move was celebrated by Cadiz, which issued ads thanking Senate leader Kevin de León and Senate colleague Ricardo Lara, chair of the committee. There also were robocalls carrying a similar message of gratitude. Brown and Feinstein aren’t the only ones displeased with the bill’s stoppage, particularly given the Trump administration’s steps to speed things along. Sia, a pop star with ties to Palm Springs, sent a tweet late Friday asking de León and Lara to “Please #preserveCA and let the CAleg vote on #AB1000.”

With two days left in the legislative session, sources said the political jockeying to revive the bill are in full swing, suggesting that some of Lara’s measures had been “held hostage” in the Assembly until a deal could be reached to bring back AB 1000, though that account was disputed by others. The practice of holding bills is not uncommon in the closing days of business at the Capitol, where one house will often sit on prominent proposals to ensure they get their bills back.

Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Los Angeles, the author of AB 1000, tells us she expressed to Senate leadership her desire to bring back the measure before the end of session, but added “I have not heard of anything that I know of to be credible.”

Because of the Legislature’s new 72-hour rule, she noted, the bill could no longer be amended and still pass this year. Friedman added that she has not been a part of any negotiations, which generally include leadership and the governor’s office: “It’s not up to me.”

MORE SIGNATURES? Carl DeMaio, a leader in the effort to recall Sen. Josh Newman for his vote to raise gas taxes to pay for road repairs, says his coalition wants to repeal the taxes through a constitutional amendment rather than a standard ballot initiative. The difference? The group will need 580,000 signatures rather than 360,000 signatures, but DeMaio believes the higher threshold will prevent Sacramento officials from somehow getting around it. “We always saw this as a one-two punch, the recall, and then the statewide initiative to repeal the car and gas tax,” DeMaio said by phone Wednesday. Separately, Assemblyman Travis Allen has been working on his own gas tax repeal.

THREE CHEERS: Gov. Jerry Brown attends the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Medal of Valor ceremony recognizing officers and staff in Elk Grove.

DREAM ACT: Will California Republicans help pass a Dream Act, legislation giving legal status and protecting from deportation more than 700,000 unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children? Reps. David Valadao and Jeff Denham, Republicans who represent contested districts in the Central Valley, are coming out for the legislation, with Valadao contending that the young people, known as Dreamers, make significant contributions to society.

BERNIECARE: Meanwhile, California House Democrats are joining the state’s junior senator, Kamala Harris, by co-sponsoring the House version of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bill to expand Medicare to all. We must make healthcare affordable and universal,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, who is on the shortlist of Senate aspirants should Feinstein choose not to run for a fifth term in 2018.

CELEBRATE: Happy birthday to Allen, also a Republican candidate for governor next year, who turns 44. Democrat Jerome Horton of the state Board of Equalization is 61.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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