Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Partying and protest legislation as California lawmakers return

New Assembly members undergo orientation inside the Assembly Chambers on Nov. 12, 2008.
New Assembly members undergo orientation inside the Assembly Chambers on Nov. 12, 2008. bbaer@sacbee.com

Los Angeles County has finally finished counting votes, and your Thanksgiving leftovers are (hopefully) all eaten, which in even years can only mean it’s time to welcome California lawmakers back to Sacramento. They’ll make a brief appearance at the Capitol today as the newly-elected class of legislators, including 10 freshmen state senators and 27 freshmen Assembly members, takes the oath of office during swearing-in ceremonies at noon in the Senate and Assembly chambers. Then it’s another month of holiday before they return for real in January.

Never one to waste an opportunity to network, Sacramento’s political class is hosting welcome receptions all over town. The California Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus gets things going in the morning, while the afternoon features parties for the Central Valley delegation, the East Bay delegation, the Assembly freshmen class and the Assembly Republican Caucus. A “thank you” from the California Democratic Party and the Senate Democratic Caucus owns the evening. Several new lawmakers are also hosting introductory events of their own, including Sens. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, and Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, and Assembly members Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, and Evan Low, D-Campbell.

Not to fret, some business will happen as well. Since today marks the beginning of the new biennial session, a few lawmakers plan to begin introducing legislation. Perhaps the most high-profile is a push by Republicans to remove transportation fuel from California’s cap-and-trade program before new regulations go into effect Jan. 1. It’s largely a symbolic effort; a similar effort by moderate Democrats was rebuffed last summer. And although gas costs are expected to go up by at least several cents per gallon in the new year, prices at the pump have plummeted in recent weeks, perhaps removing some of the urgency from those concerns. A group led by Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno and Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, will discuss the proposal to exempt fuel distributors, 10 a.m. in Room 126 of the Capitol.

VIDEO: All things are possible, and some things are impossible, when the Legislature begins a new session, Dan Walters says.

FA LA LA LA LA: The annual holiday concert series in the Capitol rotunda kicks off today with a performance by the Salvation Army Brass Band at 11 a.m., followed by the Ding-a-Lings, a handbell choir from the Veterans Home of California, at noon. The shows continue daily through Dec. 23. Check out the entire schedule here.

TO BE OR NOT 2 BE: During election season, Proposition 2 faced no opposition campaign and passed with 69 percent of the vote, more than any other measure on the statewide ballot. Now the California School Boards Association is renewing complaints that the rainy-day fund Proposition 2 created threatens the financial solvency of the state’s school districts by limiting what they can retain in reserves. The association plans to release a report and discuss their issues with the measure during a 10 a.m. press conference at 1011 10th St.

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

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