Capitol Alert

AM Alert: California passed its assisted death law. Now what?

A portrait of Brittany Maynard, a California woman with brain cancer who moved to Oregon to legally end her life, sits on the dais of the Senate Health Committee at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. March 25, 2015.
A portrait of Brittany Maynard, a California woman with brain cancer who moved to Oregon to legally end her life, sits on the dais of the Senate Health Committee at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. March 25, 2015. AP

It took a prominent interest group standing down, a bit of procedural maneuvering, some of the most personal and wrenching floor speeches you’ll see and some raw introspection by Gov. Jerry Brown, but California this year enacted a landmark policy allowing the terminally ill to obtain life-ending medication.

So what happens next?

As we’ve noted, people might not be able to get those prescriptions for a while. The law doesn’t kick in until 90 days after session ends but, because it was passed in a special session that’s technically ongoing, it could still be a while before dying Californians can receive the relief the new law offers. If a referendum drive succeeds in collecting enough signatures by early January, the law would be on hold until the 2016 election.

Uncertainty aside, advocates are pushing ahead. The group Compassion and Choices, which spearheaded California’s campaign and similar pushes in other states, is convening medical professionals at the California Primary Care Association headquarters in Sacramento today to lay out some guidelines for doctors and highlight a web page and a toll-free hotline for patients with questions about how to obtain a prescription. They’ll also urge policymakers to close the special session so the law can take effect.

DISABILITIES: Perhaps no group has been more infuriated by this year’s budget than disabled Californians, who have argued that inadequate funding for services in a time of budgetary plenty shows they’re being ignored. They’ll continue to press their case today, with advocates holding a rally on the north steps of the Capitol from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Republican Assembly members joining parallel rallies in their districts.

GEOTHERMAL: As California pushes to expand the amount of electricity derived from renewable sources like wind and solar, the geothermal energy industry has clamored to ensure it isn’t left out. Today industry members will gather in San Francisco for a conference where they’ll hear from state officials like California Energy Commission member David Hochschild.

CELEBRATIONS: Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, will celebrate his 49th birthday en Paris aujourd'hui. His Senate colleague Isadore Hall, D-Compton, turns 44.

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