Capitol Alert

AM Alert: New bill would overhaul Cal-Access

Secretary of State Alex Padilla at the Secretary of State building Monday December 1, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla at the Secretary of State building Monday December 1, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

Cal-Access is a relic of the turn of the millennium, a buggy campaign finance and lobbying database introduced when Arnold Schwarzenegger was a mere movie star and Sept. 11 was just another day.

It’s been described as the “most knotted ball of string you ever imagined” and “a Frankenstein monster of code.”

The complaints about the system started rolling in shortly after it went live and long before it shut down entirely for a period in late 2011. In his campaign for secretary of state, Alex Padilla pledged to work with the Legislature to secure money to revamp the antiquated system. His office is in the early stages of an overhaul, a slow process expected to receive an injection of energy today with the introduction of a new bill to modernize and upgrade Cal-Access.

Padilla, Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, and a coalition of political reform groups plan to reveal Senate Bill 1349, legislation to create a user-friendly, easily accessible and data-driven system to improve compliance and increase transparency, at 9:30 a.m. in room 113 at the Capitol. The coalition says the upgrade will make “California a leader in disclosure and transparency.”

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Late for work today? Check out the downside of Daylight Saving Time.

SENATE TRIBUTE: From denouncing the historic governor’s mansion as a “fire trap” to redesigning a larger-than-life bronze statute of her husband that now occupies the Capitol’s basement rotunda, Nancy Reagan left a lasting mark on California politics.

Now the state Senate will pay tribute to the accomplishments of the former First Lady, who died March 5 from congestive heart failure at 94, with a ceremony during this afternoon’s floor session. Sen. Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, will lead a tribute in her memory, and Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, and Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, will also speak about her legacy. Several Reagan friends and family are expected to attend the ceremony, including Reagan’s son-in-law, Dennis Revell, and her husband’s longtime secretary, Kathleen Osborne.

The former First lady was laid to rest Friday next to her husband at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. Hillary Clinton, Gov. Jerry Brown, Schwarzenegger, First Lady Michelle Obama and former President George W. Bush were among scores of notable political figures who traveled to Simi Valley to pay their respects.

DATAFEST: Public health officials will descend upon Sacramento today for the third annual California Health and Human Services Open DataFest, a two-day symposium packed with presentations about how open access to free data is improving the state’s health services. The event features more than a dozen speakers, from Kaiser Permanente, John Hopkins University, Stanford University and the state’s health agencies, among others, and begins at 9: 30 a.m. at the Sacramento Convention Center.

WOMAN OF THE YEAR: In observance of Women’s History Month, each assemblymember nominated one woman from their district to participate in the 30th annual Woman of the Year event at the Capitol. The festivities, sponsored by the Women’s Caucus, kick off today with a brunch reception in the Eureka room at 10 a.m. The Assembly is set to recognize all 80 women on the floor at noon, which is followed by a lunch on the north lawn.

CELEBRATIONS:

Congratulations to Brice W. Harris, chancellor of California Community Colleges, who was honored yesterday with a lifetime achievement award from the American Council on Education.

Happy belated birthdays to Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, and Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, who all turned another year older over the weekend.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna. Alexei Koseff of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.

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