Capitol Alert

AM Alert: California policymakers look to Australia for drought answers

Tree stumps, boulders and rocks normally covered by Folsom Lake lay exposed by two years of drought.
Tree stumps, boulders and rocks normally covered by Folsom Lake lay exposed by two years of drought. The Sacramento Bee file

California policymakers have done about all they can to deal with the state’s historic drought: urge residents to use less water, pass a bond with money for more storage facilites, cross their fingers that Mother Nature will soon relent.

So that leaves them to wait – and talk. There’s always more to say about how California is managing the drought.

Is this dry spell is a harbinger of things to come? How do we conserve state ecosystems as water resources dwindle? What can California can learn from Australia’s severe drought in the ‘90s and 2000s?

All those topics are up for discussion at a half-day conference hosted by the Public Policy Institute of California, starting at 9 a.m. at the Sheraton Grand Hotel on J Street. State Sens. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, and Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, and Assemblymen Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, and Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, will also participate in a panel on legislative priorities.

VIDEO: The race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer is like a game of musical chairs, Dan Walters says.

ARTS FOR ALL: Who participates in the arts and why? The National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council host a panel discussion on engaging audiences and the arts as an economic engine, featuring NEA Chairwoman Jane Chu, 11 a.m. at Capital Stage on J Street.

REACHING OUT: Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, is in the middle of its second open enrollment period. Executive Director Peter Lee will be at the Asian Americans Advancing Justice headquarters in Los Angeles at 11 a.m. to announce new efforts aimed at increasing enrollment among California’s Asian-Pacific Islander community.

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.