Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Session hangover? Do some yard work

Dan Diaz, the husband of Brittany Maynard, the California woman with brain cancer who moved to Oregon to legally end her life last fall, discusses his support to the reintroduction of right to die legislation during a news conference Aug. 18, 2015.
Dan Diaz, the husband of Brittany Maynard, the California woman with brain cancer who moved to Oregon to legally end her life last fall, discusses his support to the reintroduction of right to die legislation during a news conference Aug. 18, 2015. AP

Call it the Monday after. With lawmakers making a relatively early exit Saturday morning after a lighter-than-usual end-of-session scramble, in legislative parlance, the desk is clear.

Unless it’s Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. The Governor’s Office estimates he has about 640 bills to consider over the next month. For bills that passed in the regular session, he has 30 days to act, until Oct. 11. For special session measures, such as the Assembly Bill 2x-15 to let doctors prescribe life-ending drugs to people with terminal illnesses, he has 12 days.

And on that score, the former Jesuit seminarian will be getting plenty of advice. On Saturday, the Catholic Conference made an early plea for a veto. Edward “Ned” Dolejsi, the group’s executive director, decried the fact that the bill was revived and passed in a special session called to address health care funding.

“It is a sad reality and a sobering cultural commentary that an extraordinary session called to address a billion dollar hole in the Medi-Cal budget can pass an assisted suicide bill but can’t find a way to pay for primary care, second opinions, specialty cancer or end of life care for the 12 million vulnerable Californians who participate in the Medi-Cal program,” he said in a statement. “Pope Francis invites all of us to create our good society by seeing through the eyes of those who are on the margins, those in need economically, physically, psychologically and socially. Looking through those eyes, ABx2 15 is bad law for California. We ask the governor to veto this bill.”

Supporters of the assisted death bill, including Dan Diaz, the widower of Brittany Maynard, had a celebratory press conference after the bill’s historic passage on Friday. “Having the desire to have a gentle death is not unique to one side or the other,” Diaz said. “It’s something all Californians should have.” His voice cracking, Diaz held a portrait of a smiling Maynard: “The expression on her face relates to how she would be feeling today: Pride and happiness that this bill now moves forward and gets to the governor’s desk and hopefully becomes law.”

Earlier, in the Senate chamber, Diaz acknowledged, “Brown’s the big question. He hasn’t given us an indication one way or another.”

YARD WORK: Grounds crews this morning will mulch a patch of the Capitol’s east lawn area as part of ongoing efforts to model water conservation in California’s symbolic front yard. Workers with the Department of General Services will use a technique called sheet mulching to turn about 1,000 square feet of lawn into a plot that, according to a department press advisory, “helps turn the soil into a sponge, rich in organic matter that infiltrates and holds water ... By using the sheet mulch process, this one lawn conversion alone will help sequester more than a ton of carbon.”

The mulching technique avoids tearing out grass or killing it with chemicals by laying an barrier such as cardboard or newspaper over the lawn and then covering it with mulch. The statehouse and its grounds have become a public display of conservation since Brown’s order for the state to pare back water use. Last year, state officials decided to continue watering the trees but stopped watering the grass and left planting beds around the Capitol bare.

Today’s event is the latest in a series of drought education efforts by Save Our Water, a partnership between the state and local water agencies. Its water conservation campaigns have included “California Gold,” which encouraged Californians to take pride in letting their lawns turn brown.

The organization is now moving to a new campaign calling on residents and businesses to make permanent changes that save water, such as drought-tolerant landscaping, fixing leaks and replacing water-wasting fixtures.

The new motto: “Fix it for Good.”

The mulching demonstration, scheduled for 10:30 a.m., is part of a larger water conservation expo open to the public on the Capitol grounds from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Best wishes to Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, who turns 42 today.

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