Capitol Alert

AM Alert: California politicians consider the future of a changing state

Former Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa returns to Sacramento to participate in the Public Policy Instiute of California’s day-long “California—State of Change” conference.
Former Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa returns to Sacramento to participate in the Public Policy Instiute of California’s day-long “California—State of Change” conference.

What policy priorities will the Legislature’s new leadership tackle this session? How should California capitalize on its recovering economy? Where will groundbreaking policies on climate change and corrections take the state? The Public Policy Insitute of California will attempt to answer these questions and more during its day-long “California—State of Change” conference, starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Sheraton Grand Hotel on J Street, which features influential figures from across state politics.

Assembly members Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, Rocky Chávez, R-Oceanside, and Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, participate in a morning session on how lawmakers are adapting to California’s changing demographics. Treasurer-elect John Chiang, former Assembly Speaker and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, a recent candidate for state controller, follow with a discussion on how government can adjust with innovations of its own.

Later in the day, former state Sen. Joe Simitian and California Chamber of Commerce President Allan Zaremberg chat about the econony. A panel on major state projects, featuring Jeff Morales of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Mary Nichols of the California Air Resources Board and former Sen. Art Torres, closes out the day.

VIDEO: A new higher education funding proposal from Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León exposes rifts with Gov. Jerry Brown and former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, Dan Walters says.

COLLEGE CRISIS: What’s the future of public higher education in California? That’s been a hot topic lately, with potential tuition hikes and state funding levels prompting much debate among policymakers. Robert Birgeneau, a physics professor and former chancellor of UC Berkeley, shares his thoughts on the changing role of public universities during the UC Center Sacramento’s 10th anniversary celebration, noon at its office on K Street.

BANK JOB: California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross visits the Second Harvest Food Bank in San Jose at 10 a.m. to announce “Farm to Food Bank Month,” celebrating the contributions of farmers and ranchers to food donation programs in their communities. California farmers and ranchers have already donated more than 140 million pounds of food to food banks this year, according to the department. The event also features Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and representatives from the California Association of Food Banks.

LICENSE TO THRILL: The expected increase in demand from AB 60, which will allow undocumented immigrants in California to apply for drivers licenses starting Jan. 1, has prompted the Department of Motor Vehicles to open four new license processing centers across the state. Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, and Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, will be on hand to dedicate the San Jose processing center, the only one in Northern California, at 8 a.m.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine, who turns 54 today.

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