Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Moderate Dems mass for business-backed confab

Students tour the State Capitol on Tuesday May 15, 2007.
Students tour the State Capitol on Tuesday May 15, 2007. Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

Much has been made of the increased clout of business-friendly Assembly Democrats, who were showered with money in the last election cycle and then played an important role in stalling or weakening some key bills this year.

Some of them are gathering today and tomorrow at Thunder Valley Casino for a “strategic issues” conference put on by business heavies like the California Building Industry Association, the California Business Roundtable and the California Manufacturers and Technology Association – outfits who found allies among moderate Democrats as they battled Democratic leadership’s climate agenda this year.

Members of the moderate caucus (which is a bit of a misnomer since there’s no formal organization) will be speaking tomorrow. Assembly members Ken Cooley, Jim Cooper, Matthew Dababneh, Jim Frazier and Rudy Salas are on the agenda. Things kick off today with a keynote address from former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson.

TK: Legislators have increasingly focused on early childhood education as a way to erase income-driven learning disparities, an issue that could gain more traction given the incoming Assembly speaker’s background heading a child development organization. Today the budget education subcommittee will examine how the state’s transitional kindergarten program, a subject of previous budget fights, has fared.

FISHY BUSINESS: Some grim indicators about marine life are out there these days. A spike in domoic acid in Dungeness crabs has officials warning the critters are unsafe to eat just as the fishing season begins. The California Fish and Game Commission will decide whether to shut it down during an 8 a.m. meeting at the Resources Building on Ninth Street (though you could always switch to the pride of this reporter’s home state).

Also today, the Delta Stewardship Council’s science program will be reviewing the efficacy of environmental protections for endangered fish species like salmon and Delta smelt, both of which have been having a rough time of it during the drought: the “relative abundance” of smelt has plummeted to zero and masses of winter-run salmon have baked to death. Republicans and agricultural interests, meanwhile, often complain that environmental rules reserving water for fish come at the expense of farmers.

LABORING: Even as California’s economy has revived, plenty of people remain mired in poverty. A talk today at the University of California Center Sacramento will examine the challenges less-skilled workers face, including factors like job preparation and criminal records. UCLA public policy professor Michael Stoll will be speaking at 1130 K Street from noon to 1:30.

BLACK LIVES: Rallies at the State Board of Education building and on the south steps today will call on policymakers to pay more attention to African-American students. The Capitol demonstration is expected to bring appearances from Cooper, Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles, and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, who turns 41 today.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert