Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Why political money is so tough to regulate

Fair Political Practices Commission chair Jodi Remke, center, flanked by commissioners Patricia Wynne, left, and Eric Casher conduct business on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif.
Fair Political Practices Commission chair Jodi Remke, center, flanked by commissioners Patricia Wynne, left, and Eric Casher conduct business on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif. rpench@sacbee.com

The approximate price tag for what independent expenditure groups in California spent during the 2014 campaign season was set at $47 million.

That’s just one example cited by those who believe campaign spending has skewed the electoral process. Even with limits on direct donations and periodically updated laws dictating disclosure, trying to track the money can be a labyrinthine affair. The opacity has prompted regular calls for change, including from the opinion side of this paper, and a ballot initiative.

The Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee will hold a hearing today to examine where we stand and what might happen next, drawing on a speaker list that includes California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Fair Political Practices Commission head Jodi Remke and California Common Cause chief Kathay Feng. Things kick off at 10 a.m. at the Ronald Reagan State Building in Los Angeles; you can tune in here.

SALTY: What about desalination? It’s a question constantly asked in a drought-stricken state bordered by oceanic vastness. The short answer is that financing and environmental considerations make it tough, but today an Assembly select committee on water will delve deeper. Officials from the California Coastal Commission, the State Water Resources Control Board and the State Lands Commission will join experts and industry representatives, including from a company building a desal plant in San Diego County, starting at 10 a.m. in Los Angeles. It’s available for watching here.

WELL-OILED: Environmentalists continue to rue the defeat of a proposal to halve the state’s petroleum use, a loss that followed heavy oil industry lobbying. Today members of the Sacramento chapter of the climate change-focused group 350 (also the name of the bill in question) will hold a noon rally on the west steps of the Capitol to denounce business-friendly Democrats whose resistance helped kill the provision. It coincides with the end of a Paris climate conference that Gov. Jerry Brown attended.

CORE ISSUES: California and the federal Department of Education have clashed in recent years over school policy, but the feds have had a better time with a group of large urban “CORE” districts that satisfied the conditions for a reprieve from tough federal No Child Left Behind standards (Sacramento ended up backing off the consortium amid teachers union opposition). Today a Policy Analysis for California Education conference will examine how the remaining districts are doing. From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 1130 K Street.

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

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