Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Brown lays out vision as FPPC looks closer at influence spending

Gov. Jerry Brown shows a card with the state budget as he delivers the 2014 State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature on Jan. 22, 2014 in Sacramento.
Gov. Jerry Brown shows a card with the state budget as he delivers the 2014 State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature on Jan. 22, 2014 in Sacramento. hamezcua@sacbee.com

It seems oddly fitting that a major change in how California special interests disclose their lobbying expenses might occur while most of the political world is looking elsewhere.

Today is Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State speech, an opportunity for the governor to lay out his goals for the remainder of his fourth and final term. Last year Brown pledged to pursue a big expansion in renewable energy while slashing petroleum use (he secured some of that), and a transportation funding deal (nothing doing for now). We’ll be watching starting at 10 a.m. in the Assembly chambers.

Meanwhile, over at the Fair Political Practices Commission’s J Street headquarters, political ethics watchdogs will seek to throw some light on an obscure corner of the influence edifice. Much of the money interest groups spend falls into a catch-all “other payments to influence” category, a black hole that covers everything from office expenses to ad campaigns. During the thick of last year’s bruising climate change fight, for example, the Western States Petroleum Association listed $6.1 million of its $6.7 million advocacy tab in the “other” category. The FPPC wants to require more details and they are scheduled to consider tougher rules today.

TRACK ‘EM: Who is your state legislator, what bills is (s)he carrying and where does (s)he get money? Find out with our Track the Legislature feature.

GAS OUTCRY: As methane continues spewing from the Aliso Canyon facility in Porter Ranch, the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing this evening to take regulators and the responsible utility to task. Officials from the Southern California Gas Company, which operates the leaking facility, and the California Public Utilities Commission are scheduled to testify during the 5 p.m. hearing at Granada Hills Charter High School. Senators have already floated a bill package in response to the official state of emergency. A webcast of the hearing can be viewed here.

KAMALACTION: California Attorney General Kamala Harris will be wearing her Senate campaign hat in Sacramento today, meeting with people at her new K Street office at 2 p.m. Her Senate rivals from both parties were making the rounds in Sacramento on Wednesday.

VIDEO OF THE DAY:

Tom Steyer and Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, joined a coalition of medical and labor groups at C.K. McClatchy High School earlier this year to launch a petition to put a tobacco tax increase on the November ballot.

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

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