Capitol Alert

Padilla heads to The Hill + Newsom’s new appointments

California’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla will testify before members of the U.S. House today to ask for stronger financial support from the U.S. government in fighting voting security threats during elections.

Congress authorized $380 million last year for states to purchase updated voting machines, conduct post-election audits and fight against cyber security threats. But Padilla is expected to say the funds were “certainly not enough” and that “our democracy is under attack.”

For context: The new House Democratic majority introduced H.R. 1, the “For the People Act,” in early January. Padilla is expected to reference California’s VoteSure campaign out of the Office of Election Cybersecurity as an example of how the state is already combating election threats that H.R. 1 addresses and why additional federal help is still needed.

VoteSure aims to educate Californians about the spread of online election misinformation and provides useful tools for voters to look up their registration status and polling places, find early voting opportunities and locate voting rights information.

Padilla will also underscore the need for updated technology and proper election officials training.

“Members of the committee, you would not settle for 20-year old technology and reliability on your cell phones; our voting systems should be no different,” his prepared statement reads. “In addition to being outdated, voting equipment in many jurisdictions is at or beyond life expectancy.”

Padilla’s testimony comes in the midst of Robert Mueller’s ongoing, nearly two-year investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Padilla is expected to say that after 2016, California doubled down on efforts to improve voter confidence by combating cyber security and equipping voters with the tools to combat false information.

“If voters begin to think that their vote may not be counted, or may not be counted as cast, and they decide to not participate in an election as a result of that doubt, that is a form of voter suppression.”

If passed, the bill would tackle major voting concerns during elections, like “expand[ing] Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduc[ing] the influence of big money in politics and strengthen[ing] ethics rules for public servants.”

Also in D.C.: State Treasurer Fiona Ma will speak at a hearing to advocate for the opportunity for cannabis businesses to open bank accounts and credit lines.


The governor didn’t make news just for his decision to pump the brakes on high speed rail. Newsom flagged several new appointees during his State of the State speech on Tuesday to tackle some of the state’s key issues. Check out the new assignments below:

  • Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg will lead a new state commission on homelessness and supportive housing.

  • Newsom’s economic development director Lenny Mendonca will chair the High Speed Rail Authority.

  • Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the nonprofit Learning Policy Institute, will be the next president of the State Board of Education.

  • Joaquin Esquivel, who previously worked on water policy for the California Natural Resources Agency, is the new chair of the California water board.

  • Former California First Lady Maria Shriver will lead a task force on Alzheimer’s prevention.

Via Sophia Bollag


Today, the Assembly Education Committee will host an informational hearing on student mental health, featuring testimony from mental health experts and education officials. The committee will discuss mental health services at schools and the problems they face providing mental health services for students.

The hearing will take place at 1:45 p.m. in room 4202 at the Capitol and will include a public comment period.

Via Sophia Bollag


Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg — @Mayor_Steinberg “Honored to be named by @GavinNewsom to head a statewide Commission on Homelessness & Supportive Housing. As the governor said in his #SOTS, “While cities and counties are on the front lines, this challenge will only be solved regionally.”

MUST-READ: ‘Let’s be real.’ Gavin Newsom says he’ll cut back on California’s high-speed rail plan by Sophia Bollag
Hannah Wiley joined The Bee as a legislative reporter in 2019. She produces the morning newsletter for Capitol Alert and previously reported on immigration, education and criminal justice. She’s a Chicago-area native and a graduate of Saint Louis University and Northwestern.