Capitol Alert

AM Alert: High-profile California ballot initiatives begin collecting signatures

The death chamber of the new lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in 2010.
The death chamber of the new lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in 2010. The Associated Press

Happy Thanksgiving! The AM Alert will return on Monday.

California government may break for Thanksgiving, but democracy doesn’t rest. While the Capitol has gone very quiet this week, several of the most high-profile initiatives aiming for a spot on the ballot next November are just beginning their qualifying quests.

Last Thursday, the Secretary of State’s Office announced that a proposal to fund schools by extending the Proposition 30 income tax on the wealthy could begin collecting signatures. While popular with many Democratic politicians, the idea has middling support among California voters, and proponents of the measure – a mix of education and public employee unions – must contend with the fact that Gov. Jerry Brown promised in 2012 that the original tax would be temporary. (A competing plan backed by health care interests that would also put some of the money toward Medi-Cal is expected to enter circulation this Wednesday.)

A day later, initiatives to abolish California’s death penalty and require more campaign finance disclosure were also cleared to gather signatures. The death penalty effort, which is being pushed by actor Mike Farrell, could be among the most controversial in next year’s election. A similar proposal was narrowly rejected by voters in 2012, and a federal judge recently upheld the state’s capital punishment system as constitutional. A counter measure to speed up executions is due on the streets by Christmas. Liberals still angry over the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision allowing for unrestricted independent political spending may get excited about the campaign finance proposal, which attempts to close “dark money” loopholes by compelling nonprofits to reveal anyone who donates at least $10,000 if that money is used for political purposes.

TURKEY DROP: ‘Tis the season when California lawmakers distribute turkeys to the needy in their districts. A whole rafter of them are hosting giveaways today, including state Sens. Ted Gaines, R-El Dorado Hills, Isadore Hall, D-Compton, Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, and Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, and Assembly members Ling-Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, Beth Gaines, R-El Dorado Hills, and Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento.

NEW JOB: The California Student Aid Commission has selected a new executive director, Lupita Cortez Alcalá, who will take over in January. She previously served as a deputy superintendent of instruction and learning support in the California Department of Education.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, who turns 41 tomorrow.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff