Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Legislators’ per diem allowance rises slightly

The California State Assembly meets for an organizational session where lawmakers took the oath of office on Dec. 1, 2014.
The California State Assembly meets for an organizational session where lawmakers took the oath of office on Dec. 1, 2014. The Associated Press file

Lawmakers will shake off any lingering hangovers from last night’s back-to-session bash and gather for quick, rare Friday floor sessions at 9 a.m., before heading home for the long Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.

Under the state constitution, lawmakers receive daily tax-free living expenses on top of their salaries, as long as they are not out of session for more than three consecutive days. While the state Senate and Assembly usually meet on a Monday-Thursday schedule, the extra day will allow legislators to collect their per diem allowances over the holiday.

The per diem rate rose slightly in October to $168, according to the Assembly Rules Committee, from $163 in the 2013-14 fiscal year. That’s up from $141.86 per day two years ago, but still below a peak of $173 in the 2008-09 fiscal year.

VIDEO: This year’s biggest budget battle is over whether California is doing enough to help the poor, Dan Walters says.

ACL-NEW HORIZONS: The American Civil Liberties Union’s Sacramento office is expanding its operations and focus as it becomes the new “Center for Advocacy and Policy.” Director Natasha Minsker said they plan to double to nine employees, five of whom will be lobbyists, and develop “outside of the litigation realm” into more of a presence in the Legislature and regulatory agencies on technology, criminal justice and education issues. Longtime lobbyist Francisco Lobaco, who has worked for the ACLU of California for 27 years, is easing towards retirement, though he'll be there part time through 2015. Former Assembly Judiciary Committee staffer Kevin Baker is coming on board as legislative director.

TALKING TOUR: Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, is in town and speaking at two events in the region today. At 12:30 p.m., she will discuss the Affordable Care Act and health care quality with the American College of Surgeons at the Sierra Health Foundation on Garden Highway. At 3 p.m., Matsui will address the “Reimagining the Future of Innovation” conference at the UC Davis Conference Center.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assembly Republican leader Kristin Olsen of Riverbank, who turns 41 on Monday.

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff. Jeremy B. White of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.