Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Hearings begin for plans to abolish, enforce death penalty

rpench@sacbee.com

Advocates on both sides of California’s decades-old debate over the death penalty will make their respective cases during a pair of joint committee hearings today to discus anti- and pro-capital punishment measures seemingly on track for the November ballot.

The issue at hand: There are more than 700 people currently on death row in California and only 13 prisoners have been executed since 1976.

Proponents of an initiative to end the death penalty – The Justice That Works Act of 2016 – argue that the system is costly and ineffective. Led by former M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell, supporters want to replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole and a requirement that inmates pay restitution to victims. A state fiscal review of the measure pegs the savings at $150 million in the first few years.

Meanwhile, death penalty supporters are pushing an initiative meant to expand the death penalty’s use. Advocates of the Death Penalty Reform and Savings Act of 2016 also highlight the current system’s cost and inefficiencies, while seeking changes meant to speed up the process and spare victims from having to wait decades for justice. The proposal may increase costs related to court proceedings, according to a state review, while decreasing costs for the state correctional system.

Proponents of both initiatives say they’ve collected enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The anti-death penalty hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. in room 126, with the pro-death penalty hearing slated to follow in the same room at 1:30 p.m.

CAPITOL SUMMIT: Business interests will flood Sacramento for the California Chamber of Commerce’s annual summit, a gathering of 200 chamber members to discuss national campaigns and state policy issues with Capitol insiders. The summit kicks off at 10 a.m. with a talk from Allan Zaremberg, chief executive of CalChamber, followed by a panel discussion with local journalists. The summit concludes Wednesday at the chamber’s 91st annual Host Breakfast, where Gov. Jerry Brown is slated to address a crowd of 1,200 at the Sacramento Convention Center.

HE’S BACK: Bernie Sanders returns to California to rally supporters in Los Angeles County tonight after thousands turned out in Sacramento last week to hear the Democratic underdog’s anti-establishment message. While closely monitoring Tuesdays primary elections in Oregon and Kentucky, Sanders will gather supporters at the Tennis Stadium at the StubHub Center on the Cal-State Dominguez Hills campus. Doors open at 5 p.m., with the Vermont senator slated to take the stage at 8 p.m.

FOLLOW THE MONEY: As elections near, special interests are pouring funds into legislative races and ballot measures. Track the cash at The Money Trail, our campaign finance tool. Here’s a look at the latest ballot measure committee totals.

CELEBRATE: Happy birthday to Sen. Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, who turns 62 today.

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