Capitol Alert

AM Alert: How 2016 will test California’s election woes

California Secretary of State at the Secretary Alex Padilla on Monday December 1, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif.
California Secretary of State at the Secretary Alex Padilla on Monday December 1, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif.

After the 2014 election produced the worst turnout numbers in California history, and a commensurate level of worry about faltering voter participation, electoral experts are wondering if 2016 will be any better.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla and legislative allies have pushed ideas like expanded mail ballots and near-automatic registration as potential antidotes. Today Padilla will lead a panel exploring how the state can boost participation next November.

Other experts at the event, which is being put on by a group called Future of California Elections, will include California Voter Foundation head Kim Alexander, UC Davis civic engagement expert Mindy Romero and Sacramento County Registrar of Voters Jill LaVine. From noon to 1:30 p.m. at UC Center Sacramento.

SPILL IT: Half a year after the Refugio oil spill dumped barrels of crude in the ocean, senators Hannah-Beth Jackson and Ben Allen are getting an update on how the cleanup has proceeded. Experts scheduled to testify at the 1 p.m. Refugio committee hearing in Manhattan Beach include Tom Cullen of the California Office of Spill Prevention and Response, Los Angeles County officials and locals on how their beaches are faring.

INSURANCE INCREASE: Now that California is extending broader Medi-Cal insurance to undocumented immigrant kids, wonks are examining the scale of such an expansion. A Public Policy Institute of California briefing will delve into what it could mean to bring an estimated one-half of California’s huge undocumented population under a larger insurance umbrella. From noon to 1:30 p.m. at 1020 11th Street.

SUB-SIDIN’ AWAY: Lawmakers were able to pass an elusive groundwater management package last session in part because the warning signs of overpumping had become too loud to ignore, including the fact that parts of the Central Valley were sinking at an alarming rate. That has consequences for gas and oil drilling and could be endangering pipelines. Today the California Energy Commission will be digging deeper into the implications starting at 1 p.m.

HOME ON THE RANGE: One of the less heralded uses of California’s cap-and-trade bounty is spending to preserve farmland against urban encroachment, with the proposed budget jumping from $5 million to $40 million. Today the Strategic Growth Council, the organization managing the money, will hold a Tulare workshop on how it works. Starting at 1 p.m. at the Energy Education Center.

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