June 23, 2012 - Lawmakers scramble to solve state's 'big 3' issues
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Title: Lawmakers scramble to solve state's 'big 3' issues
Date: June 23, 2012
Author: Wyatt Buchanan
With budget negotiations all but wrapped up - a final vote is set for Tuesday and the governor should sign it soon after - lawmakers in Sacramento say they are now going to focus on the "big three."
That would be, in no particular order, taking on the growing public employee pension costs they so far have avoided, authorizing the first round of spending for construction of the high-speed rail system and approving a "homeowners bill of rights" to respond to the foreclosure crisis.
All are controversial and it's not certain whether any will get done before lawmakers take their annual month long summer break - yes, you read that correctly - starting July 6, though Democrats said Friday the foreclosure legislation would get a vote next week.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said lawmakers will certainly try to accomplish all three, though.
"I'm not saying we'll get all three of them done before the recess, but we're going to endeavor to get as much work done as possible," he said.
By the way, Republicans in the Senate this week tried to bring up for consideration on the Senate floor several bills dealing with pensions - bills they introduced that are identical to what Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed - but were blocked by Democrats.
If lawmakers don't get all of this done by the beginning of July, they will return in August and have only until the end of that month to finish their business in the regular session.
Order of operations: As anticipated, Brown's tax-raising initiative and a competing tax initiative backed by wealthy civil rights attorney Molly Munger both qualified for the November ballot. The secretary of state this week certified that sufficient signatures were collected for both.
But what caught the eye of some in Sacramento was the way in which counties were reporting results to the secretary of state. Munger submitted signatures for her measure, which needed about 330,000 fewer signatures to qualify than the governor's because it was not a constitutional amendment, several days before Brown did.
In several counties, including the governor's home county of Alameda, elections officials reported the results for Brown's measure days before Munger's results. It had some people wondering if the governor was getting special treatment for his initiative.
Curious, we called Dave Macdonald, registrar of voters for Alameda County. He dismissed the notion of preferential counting, noting that each measure comes with a deadline for counting that officials must meet.
"We have a certain amount of time to get all of these done, so it doesn't really matter if one is done before the other," he said.
Not everyone agrees.
Stephen Weir, Contra Costa County clerk and former president of the California Association of Clerks and Elected Officials, said he believes most counties follow one practice.
"It's really simple. You do it in (the) order" they were received, he said. Weir said the county gets calls from people who have submitted signatures who complain that the count isn't fast enough.
Doing counts in the order they were received "is a good defense," he said. "It's first in, first out. I can't imagine a circumstance where we finish one out of that sequence."
And finally: Farmworkers and domestic workers have joined together to back bills in the Legislature that would require employers to give those workers overtime pay. Members of the United Farm Workers and the California Domestic Workers Coalition will hit Sacramento Monday - the 74th anniversary of the federal law that established minimum and overtime pay - to seek support of lawmakers.
Farm and domestic workers are not covered by that law, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill to give farmworkers overtime pay when he was in office. Supporters hope they get a different result from Brown.
"We're going to find out if having a Democratic governor makes a difference," said Marc Grossman, spokesman for the United Farm Workers.
Memo: Capitol Notebook appears every Saturday for an inside look at state politics.
Column: CAPITOL NOTEBOOK
Index Terms: METRO;STATE BUDGET;PENSIONS;INITIATIVES;TAXES;FORECLOSURES;RAILROADS;MASS TRANSIT;PENSIONS;STATE BUDGET;LEGISLATURE;GOVERNOR;UNIONS;LEGISLATION; Darrell Steinberg;Jerry Brown;Molly Munger;Stephen Weir;Dave Macdonald
Location(s): Sacramento, CA, USA;Sacramento;CA;USA;38.5815719;-121.4943996;1;0;0
Record Number: 231P61FD
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