Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Landmark California teacher case enters next phase

Julia Macias, one of the nine student plaintiffs in the Vergara case, speaks outside Los Angeles Superior Court, June 10, 2014.
Julia Macias, one of the nine student plaintiffs in the Vergara case, speaks outside Los Angeles Superior Court, June 10, 2014. NYT

A court case with the potential to upend how California hires and fires teachers enters a new phase today.

The initial ruling in Vergara v California dealt a direct challenge to the state’s educational status quo. It deemed unconstitutional laws that govern when teachers get tenure, dictate how they are fired, and mandate that rookie teachers go first in times of budget-driven layoffs. It handed education reformers a major victory in a national fight over teacher employment, all the more significant because it happened in California, a state where the California Teachers Association holds significant sway in the Capitol and lawmakers reject the types of changes at stake.

Oral arguments on the appeal happen today at the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles. In the state’s corner is the CTA, which has assailed the lower court ruling and joined California in filing an appeal. They’ll share oral argument time with the state today; their national teachers union brethren have weighed in, too. The plaintiffs have high-power attorney Theodore Boutrous, Jr., who helped argue the successful challenge to Proposition 8 and is representing Apple in its clash with the feds.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, shares his camping gear and memories.

TAX TOCK: Months of negotiations over replacing an expiring tax on healthcare plans were expected to culminate in floor votes today after lawmakers earlier this week advanced a measure pairing an expanded tax on managed-care organizations with more spending on services for the developmentally disabled. But those votes have now been pushed back to Monday.

WELL-OILED: After Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers failed in last year’s quest to mandate a 50 percent reduction in oil use, Brown at the time brushed it off as a setback, arguing the cuts could be achieved without legislation. A Union of Concerned Scientists panel will examine how that would work today during a 1:30 briefing in room 3191.

HOMELESSNESS: With the Senate pushing a $2 billion plan to combat homelessness, expect the issue to get plenty of play this year. The Senate Budget Committee will examine where things stand today, drawing on witnesses like a National Alliance to End Homelessness representative and Sacramento’s homeless services coordinator. Former Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg will also be on hand. After session wraps up, in room 4203.

MENTALITY: Later in the day, Steinberg will be on the Sac State campus for the unveiling of legislation by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, that would create a college mental health grant program.

OF VOTE: California officials spend a lot of time pondering how to boost voter turnout, and a Los Angeles conference today will examine what could be next for California elections. Speakers at the event, put on by the Future of California Elections Project, are expected to include California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, along with his counterparts from Colorado and Oregon, as well as an array of experts and local elections officials. The Padilla panel is at 9 a.m.

CORRECTIONS DEPT: In Wednesday’s alert, the Bee incorrectly reported that Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom would attend a California Travel and Tourism Commission meeting. The commission’s chief executive gave an update to the board about her conversations with Newsom over the past few months during the meeting. Newsom was not present.

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

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