Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Cap-and-trade’s last auction fell flat. Will it happen again?

Not that long ago, few politicians would have paid close attention to California’s auctions of permits to emit carbon. Those sales, the fulcrum of the state’s cap-and-trade system, were proceeding smoothly and reaping billions of dollars.

But uncertainty has since cloaked the landmark climate-change program. The last auction brought in about $10 million, far short of projections. That boded ill for an environmental tool already beset by legal skepticism and facing a political battle over its future. If the businesses who are compelled to buy permits perceive the program is flailing, that could affect how the politics play out. And beyond reducing emissions, cap-and-trade’s health directly affects how much revenue is available for programs like the high-speed rail championed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

So today’s auction could carry some serious political consequences. About 86.2 million permits are on offer, for a minimum price of $12.73 per. Another skimpy sale could send a signal to business interests about the program’s lack of stability and ratchet up the pressure to get something done in the Legislature. We won’t know the results for another week, but rest assured we’ll be paying attention.

NUMBER NUGGET: The Legislature's final weeks of session are a busy time for the hundreds of lobbyists who ply their trade within the Capitol and state bureaucracy. State filings due earlier this month show that the state had 1,810 registered lobbyists as of June 30. That compares to 1,822 at the same point in the 2013-2014 session.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Get to know Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.

HUNGRY FOR CHANGE: Cap-and-trade is one of the paramount issues that has lobbyists sweating and lawmakers counting votes in the session’s home stretch. Another is a revived measure seeking additional overtime pay for farmworkers. After the first iteration faltered on the Assembly floor, the second draft has passed a key hurdle in the Senate Appropriations Committee and now awaits a Senate floor vote. The true heavy lift will likely once again be passing the Assembly floor, not the more liberal Senate, but Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, is leading other lawmakers in a 24-hour hunger strike agitating for the bill starting at 8 am Assembly members Joaquin Arambula, Nora Campos, David Chiu, Kansen Chu, Cristina Garcia, Jose Medina, Miguel Santiago, and Tony Thurmond plan to join Gonzalez in forgoing food. They’ll break their fast during a mass tomorrow morning at the Cathedral of Blessed Sacrament.

MODEL LEGISLATOR: For those of you hoping to see Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, in a bikini, sorry: during his stint as a fashion model tonight he’ll be merely wearing a tuxedo. His moment on the catwalk comes during a fashion-show themed scholarship fundraiser for the organization Advancing Women in Transportation. Frazier chairs the Assembly Transportation Committee, making him a central figure in the perennial effort to get a transportation funding deal. He’ll be strutting his stuff during a fundraiser that starts at 5:30 pm at the Sacramento State Alumni Center.

RAISE THEM UP: Continuing a fair-minded tradition for a foul-mouthed former legislator, tonight is the latest fundraiser for the John Burton Foundation. The former lawmaker and current California Democratic Party head will once again be working to equip foster kids with the supplies they need to succeed in school. Donations will be accepted in the Esquire Building lobby from 5:30 pm to 7 pm.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert. Jim Miller of the Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.

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