Capitol Alert

AM Alert: California lawmakers meet in the lobby

A traditional penny toss at the end of session showered Queen Isabella at the Capitol rotunda on Saturday, August 30, 2014.
A traditional penny toss at the end of session showered Queen Isabella at the Capitol rotunda on Saturday, August 30, 2014. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Ah, lobby days. The ritual of interest groups, from the unavoidable to the obscure, sending members to Sacramento demonstrates the endless varieties of influence legislators experience in the course of a legislative cycle.

Take today. A couple of heavyweights will be bending ears. The League of California Cities, which regularly fights perceived attempts to limit local autonomy, will get the VIP treatment for its morning event at the Embassy Suites. Expected speakers include Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, and Senate Minority Leader Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield.

Another potent player, the California Association of Realtors, will dispatch hundreds of members to the Capitol. Housing remains a powerful and divisive issue in a state grappling with a dire shortage driven by some of the nation’s priciest real estate, and the realtors organization spent around $1.2 million on lobbying last year.

Then there are the smaller-scale players. Veterans who attend community colleges will be pressing to better fund resource centers for those who served. And in a development sure to delight animal lovers and self-described “dog moms” across the Capitol, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will host adoptable furry friends on the north steps, starting at 10 a.m., while advocating for bills to prohibit dog or cat euthanasia using carbon dioxide, to prevent dogs seized from fighting rings from being automatically labeled vicious, and to boost police animal cruelty training.

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PAYLESS: When last we checked in on the California Citizens Compensation Commission, they were pushing Gov. Jerry Brown’s pay to around $183,000 and bumping rank-and-file lawmakers to the six figures. The panel was scheduled to meet today but had to cancel for lack of a quorum. Only four of the panel’s seven seats are currently filled, one with a Sacramento Kings executive, so a single absence pushed them below the minimum attendance level. A Brown spokesman said their timing for making appointments will hinge on finding the right candidate. The commission must meet by the end of June.

JEANIUS: If people look a little casual around the Capitol today, it’s not because you forgot today was Friday. Folks will don jeans for an annual California Coalition against Sexual Assault event protesting the notion that a person’s outfit has any bearing on her safety. Members of the California Legislative Women’s caucus plan to participate, and denim-rocking supporters will gather for a 10 a.m. rally on the south steps. Also present will be female janitors backing legislation to curb sexual violence in the janitorial industry.

IN THE WEEDS: Marijuana legalization is on everyone’s minds these days. Today a pair of drug policy experts from the RAND Corporation will be talking about lessons to be learned from states that have already legalized it – a popular topic – and how California’s massive legal weed market would be different. From noon to 1 p.m. in room 127.

INSURED: A proposed merger of Aetna and Humana could have big implications for the health insurance market. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is holding a hearing on the plan in room 113 starting at 9 a.m.

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

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