Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Voting rights advocates, Secretary of State will make announcement on Scott v. Bowen

Former Secretary of State Debra Bowen at the state capitol in March, 2012.
Former Secretary of State Debra Bowen at the state capitol in March, 2012. lsterling@sacbee.com

The American Civil Liberties Union and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla will make an announcement today about a lawsuit between their two offices, Scott v. Bowen, which deals with the voting rights of former prisoners.

The ACLU, along with other civil rights groups and the League of Women Voters, sued then-Secretary of State Debra Bowen in February 2014 over her policy that felons released to new community-level supervision programs under the state’s criminal justice realignment law could not vote.

Under the California Constitution, people in prison or on parole for a felony are ineligible to vote. But voting rights advocates argued that the Legislature had created the community supervision categories as an alternative to parole for low-level offenders, and they should be allowed to vote. Although an Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor in May 2014, an appeal was still possible after the decision.

According to court documents from the ACLU, the current exclusion affects about 58,000 former prisoners and other felons.

Neither party would say Monday what they’ll announce today, but all sides will be together in Oakland at 10 a.m.

FISHING FOR PROTECTION: The California Fish and Game Commission will decide today whether to put the Pacific fisher on the state’s endangered species list.

The commission has considered the fisher’s status before, finding that the weasel-like creature didn’t warrant protection in 2010. But a court order forced the panel to vacate that decision after a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity.

The group once again seeks protection for the fisher. The Department of Fish and Wildlife has recommended protecting the fisher, but only in the southern part of the animal’s habitat. The center counters that the northern and southern fisher populations face the same threats and should both get protection.

The meeting starts at 8:30 in Fortuna and continues tomorrow.

GOVERNMENT-SPEED RAIL: The High Speed Rail Authority will ask its board for permission to look for a planning consultant to work on its San Francisco-to-San Jose and San Jose-to-Merced lines.

A contract for up to $36 million could be up for grabs. It isn’t scheduled to be awarded until November.

PROMO: Our database of state worker salaries now includes 2014 pay for University of California employees.

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