Capitol Alert

AM Alert: O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!

Kirk Malan with the Department of General Services places lights on the state Christmas tree near the west steps of the Capitol on Nov. 6, 2014.
Kirk Malan with the Department of General Services places lights on the state Christmas tree near the west steps of the Capitol on Nov. 6, 2014. The Sacramento Bee file

It’s already been here for a month, but the Capitol Christmas tree will get its official welcome this evening during the 84th annual tree lighting ceremony. Featuring performances by a California Army National Guard brass quintet, students from two Oakland charter schools started by Gov. Jerry Brown, violinist Allison Zhang and St. Paul’s Baptist Church Choir, the festivities begin at 4:30 p.m. on the west steps.

The Capitol Christmas tree traditionally highlights California’s services for the developmentally disabled: Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown will light the tree this year with the assistance of 9-year-old Jeffrey “J.J.” Paris of Sonora, a fourth-grader who practices Kung Fu, participates in Cub Scouts, raises goats, and receives support from Stockton’s Valley Mountain Regional Center for an autism spectrum disorder and Tourette syndrome. The tree, a 61-foot tall white fir from Latour Demonstration Forest near Redding, is decorated with 900 ornaments made by children and adults with developmental disabilities.

This year’s ceremony, however, comes amid an uncertain funding future for those programs, which advocates say have been pushed to the brink of collapse by inflation, minimum wage hikes and new federal regulations. After shooting down a reimbursement rate increase this summer for nonprofits and businesses that assist the state’s developmentally disabled population, Brown threw the issue into a health care special session. When lawmakers left Sacramento in September, it was still unresolved, and little progress has been made since.

WATCH: Last year, The Bee spent the morning with 9-year-old Kimie Metcalf as she prepared to light the Capitol Christmas tree.

COME ALL YE FAITHFUL: Only three years until the next election for California governor! Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has already been traveling the state to build up support for his campaign, which he announced all the way back in February. His next stop is today in Los Angeles, where he’ll welcome members of the California Nurses Association to their conference on safety, patient care and the effect of climate change on public health.

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?: Lawmakers are doing some advance work before the new legislative session begins next month. The Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Downey City Hall to discuss the workers’ compensation system in Los Angeles. The Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Girls and Women of Color meets at 6 p.m. at Cerritos College in Norwalk to discuss factors that promote and limit success for minority women.

FA LA LA LA LA: The holiday music program continues today in the Capitol rotunda with the Golden State Accordion Club at 11 a.m. and the Renaissance Choir of Sacramento at noon.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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