Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Darrell Steinberg returns to Capitol to promote mental health legislation

Former Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg drops the gavel for the last time on his final day leading session on Aug. 30, 2014.
Former Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg drops the gavel for the last time on his final day leading session on Aug. 30, 2014. The Sacramento Bee file

With Friday’s deadline for bills to move out of policy committee fast approaching, lawmakers are making last-minute pitches to ensure that their favored legislation is not forgotten.

State Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, and Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles, who chair special mental health committees in their respective houses, will unveil a mental health legislative agenda for the session, 10:30 a.m. in Room 1190 of the Capitol. Among the bills to be highlighted are SB 11, requiring additional behavioral health training for law enforcement; AB 1006, allowing courts to sentence defendants with mental illnesses to a treatment facility instead of jail time; and AB 1299, to ensure mental health services follow foster children if they transfer between counties. Former Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who launched an institute to advance mental and behavioral health policy after terming out of the Legislature last year, will be on hand to lend his support.

Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, will be on the east side of the Capitol at 11 a.m. to urge passage of legislation to overhaul the accreditation process for California community colleges. Last year, a scathing state audit slammed the accrediting agency for acting inconsistently and without sufficient public disclosure, particularly in the ongoing case of City College of San Francisco, which had its accreditation revoked in July 2013. The two bills, one of which would open the accrediting agency’s closed meetings, will get their first hearing before the Assembly Higher Education Committee, 1:30 p.m. in Room 126.

JUDGMENT IN JUDICIARY: It will be a busy day in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which takes up the controversial mandatory vaccine bill during a special session at 1:30 p.m. in Room 4203 of the Capitol. (Will lobbyists and staffers get another special security line to avoid the crowds?) The committee will tackle its other business at 9:30 a.m. in Room 2040, including SB 145, which would penalize hospitals that call 911 instead of treating drunk patients, which briefly stirred the controversy surrounding a now-abandoned sale of the nonprofit Daughters of Charity Heath System to the for-profit chain Prime Healthcare Services; SB 588, a priority of organized labor that would increase enforcement around the perpetually thorny issue of wage theft; and SB 358, part of a push this year to close the gender pay gap.

NOT IN OUR SCHOOL: California led the nation last year when it passed the first “affirmative consent” law requiring a new approach to rape prevention on college campuses, and the Legislature’s interest in addressing campus sexual assault is only expanding this year, including a bill that would begin “yes means yes” education in high school health classes. Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and other members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus will host a free screening of The Hunting Ground, a documentary about rape at U.S. colleges, 6 p.m. at the Crest Theatre on K Street.

SEA CHANGE: Once a star-studded desert resort, the Salton Sea is now a toxic stew of agricultural runoff from the Coachella and Imperial valleys. But there are ongoing efforts to save the state’s largest body of water, which is steadily shrinking, and avoid further environmental problems as its polluted seabed is exposed to the desert winds. The Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency, holds a public hearing on the environmental, governance and funding challenges of restoring the lake, 9 a.m. at UC Riverside’s Palm Desert campus.

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