Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Alex Padilla looks to boost California voter turnout

Then-Sen. Alex Padilla, center, at a secretary of state debate in Sacramento on Sept. 11, 2014.
Then-Sen. Alex Padilla, center, at a secretary of state debate in Sacramento on Sept. 11, 2014. The Sacramento Bee file

When he was elected as secretary of state in November, Alex Padilla inherited one of the most maligned posts in California government. From an old and confusing campaign finance disclosure system to a backlog of business filings, the Secretary of State’s Office faces a wide array of challenges.

The most visible is California’s sinking voter turnout; Padilla won during an election where participation hit a record low of 42.2 percent. He has taken that on as one of his biggest initiatives, and recently proposed legislation to automatically register every person eligible to vote.

Padilla will headline a Public Policy Institute of California program on civic engagement and voter turnout, noon at the Sheraton Grand Hotel on J Street. Following a one-on-one conversation with Padilla, a panel of experts including Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles, political consultant Mike Madrid and Kathay Feng, executive director of Common Cause, will discuss how the state can reverse declining voter engagement.

IN THE ARTLAND: The nonprofit Californians for the Arts is hosting a lunchtime celebration, 11:30 a.m. on the north side of the Capitol, to honor its 2015 legislative “arts champions”: senators Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, and Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, and Assembly members Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, and Adrin Nazarian, D-Sherman Oaks. The reception, which features a brass band and Mexican puppet show, follows a hearing of the Joint Committee on the Arts, 9:30 a.m. in Room 2040, which will unveil the second annual assessment of California’s “creative economy.”

HEY MR. DJ: Former Assemblyman Tim Donnelly may have lost his bid for the governor’s office, but he’s not receding from public life – his new radio program, “The Tim Donnelly Show,” debuts today. The Twin Peaks Republican will be “broadcasting from deep behind enemy lines in the occupied territory of the socialist republic of California,” weekdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Victorville’s Talk 960 or streaming online.

BILLS TO WATCH: SB 4, the proposal to expand Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented immigrants, gets its first hearing in the Senate Health Committee, 1:30 p.m. in Room 4203. After marching to the Capitol on Monday, supporters will again rally for the bill, noon on the south steps. SB 277, the mandatory vaccinations legislation, next appears before the Senate Education Committee, 9 a.m. in Room 4203, for what is sure to be another contentious session. After threats by anti-vaccine advocates, the Senate has stepped up security for at least one lawmaker.

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