Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Five things to watch for in the final week of session

Students tour the State Capitol on May 15, 2007.
Students tour the State Capitol on May 15, 2007. The Sacramento Bee file

Happy end-of-session! I hope you all had a relaxing three-day weekend and were able to enjoy some calm before the storm that is this week.

With hundreds of bills left to consider and lawmakers pushing to finish on Thursday, expect long days, short tempers and last-minute maneuvering. Among the major issues to keep an eye on:

▪ Will the Legislature pass any tax increases? Industry opposition and general Republican aversion to raising taxes are major roadblocks to Gov. Jerry Brown’s special-session push to find new revenue for transportation infrastructure and health care, even as he attempts to reach across the aisle.

▪ SB 350 and SB 32. The climate bills, which would set ambitious alternative energy and emissions reduction standards that have divided Democrats, might be the biggest priority legislation left to resolve.

▪ Assisted death. The tremendously controversial proposal, which stalled in an Assembly committee in July, was revived during the special health session, and its authors would love nothing more than to cross the finish line this year, before supporters potentially take the issue to the ballot.

▪ Can California finally settle on statewide medical marijuana regulations? After two decades of clashing interpretations, court battles and failed legislation, Brown has stepped in to help develop a bill ahead of a probable ballot initiative next year to legalize recreational pot.

▪ Gut-and-amends. As the saying goes, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over; new bills always proliferate in the final days and hours of session. A measure requiring background checks for Uber and Lyft drivers emerged on Friday, and language is floating around to help unions soften a potentially crushing blow to their coffers. What else is left to come?

PARTY ALL THE TIME: If you’ve got a minute to slip away from the madness, head over to the north steps of the Capitol at 10 a.m. for an Admission Day celebration hosted by the California State Capitol Museum Volunteer Association. There will be cake, ice cream and the Sacramento Banjo Band to commemorate the anniversary of California’s entry into the Union as the 31st state. Devastating drought aside, the Golden State is still looking pretty good for 165.

RETURN OF THE NEUROSURGEON: In the realm of presidential politicking, California is usually a flyover state, good only for rich donors and 55 electors to the Democratic candidate. But Dr. Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who is currently surging in the Republican primary polls, seems to have found more to love. After visiting Sacramento in June for a conversation with Mayor Kevin Johnson, Carson is making an appearance in San Francisco to talk to the Commonwealth Club of California.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblymen Freddie Rodriguez, D-Pomona, who turns 50 today, and Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, who turns 70.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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