Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Definition of California ‘lobbyist’ contemplated

California Fair Political Practices Commission chair Jodi Remke conducts business during a meeting on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif.
California Fair Political Practices Commission chair Jodi Remke conducts business during a meeting on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif.

Who, exactly, is a lobbyist?

It’s not just a semantic question. California law requires people paid to influence legislation and state regulation to register and disclose their activities. Legislators have worked to broaden the definition, advancing bills to apply the label to California Coastal Commission advocates (the measure squeaked out of the Assembly minutes before a key bill deadline last month) and those who seek to win state contracts (Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed that one).

Today the California Fair Political Practices Commission will hold a meeting about tweaking the rules to account for those Sacramento creatures, often carrying titles like “consultant,” who don’t have to register despite engaging in lobbyist-like activities. FPPC officials want to change the rules to make more of those people either prove they aren’t lobbyists, or register. A potential vote wouldn’t happen for a while, but political watchdogs will discuss what the change might look like during a 10 a.m. public meeting at 428 J Street.

HEALTHFUL: Public health advocates focused on holding down coverage costs are touting some bills facing key votes. Today a measure extracting more information about prescription drug costs goes up in Assembly Health Committee at 1:30 p.m. in room 4202 (a similar bill by an embattled legislator died on the Assembly floor recently). We’re also keeping an eye on a transplanted version of a hard-fought bill to limit out-of-network charges, which perished last year amid strenuous opposition from the doctors’ lobby. The new iteration, Assembly Bill 72, should be up on Wednesday.

BILLING: Elsewhere around the Capitol we get votes on big bills almost too numerous to count. But here’s a sampling of some measures scheduled for committee votes today. In Assembly Public Safety, we get bills to remove rape statutes of limitations and to reduce drug crime sentencing. Assembly Judiciary will consider barring different prices for different genders. On the Senate side, bills up would dismantle the PUC (in the Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee), curb the use of gang databases (Public Safety), create special cottage weed licenses (Agriculture), let more felons vote (Elections and Constitutional Amendments), save dogfighting victims from euthanasia (Judiciary) and make all bathrooms all-gender (Transportation and Housing).

GUN LOBBY: If you needed a reminder of California Democratic legislators’ fervor for gun control, take a look at gun industry representatives getting castigated last week. This evening Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, who is leading Democrats in pushing stringent new gun restrictions, co-sponsors a Capitol screening of a documentary entitled “Making A Killing: Guns, Greed and the NRA.” In the basement at 5:30 p.m.

GONE TO POT: Hoping to sustain his knack for getting ahead of big-ticket liberal issues, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has presented the public face for this year’s push to legalize pot. He’ll put in some time with the true believers today, delivering the keynote address at the National Cannabis Industry Association’s big Oakland confab.

IN MEMORIAM: California Attorney General Kamala Harris will be in San Jose today to attend a memorial service for fallen San Jose Police Officer Michael J. Katherman, killed in a traffic accident last week.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa, who turns 69 today.

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