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GOP launches anti-McNerney ads

Under the category of, “Oh Lord, this is going to be a long election,” the National Republican Congressional Committee today launched a series of robocalls and a one-week radio buy targeting Rep. Jerry McNerney, the Pleasanton Democrat that GOP leaders hope to defeat next year.

The GOP also expanded its anti-Democratic web site, www.TheRealDemocratStory.com.

“We are hitting the airwaves and the phone lines, making sure the people in California’s 11th congressional district know how Washington has changed Jerry McNerney,” said NRCC communications chief Jessica Boulanger. “With his growing list of broken promises, McNerney will have to answer to his voters why he is marching in lock-step with Nancy Pelosi, and out-of-step with the views and values he was elected to represent.”

Anyone want to start a pool on how much money will be spent in District 11 on the 2008 election?

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Pelosi, Lantos meet with Chinese Vice Premier

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Franicsco; Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo; Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; and Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., met today in Pelosi’s office with Vice Premier Wu Yi of China. Said Pelosi:

“I was pleased to welcome Madam Vice Premier Wu Yi and the Chinese delegation to the Capitol this afternoon. In light of the significance of the U.S.-China relationship, we have a responsibility to work together to build a brighter future for the people of our two countries –- economically, politically, diplomatically, culturally, in every way.

“Today we engaged in an open and frank dialogue on issues such as intellectual property rights violations, the undervaluation of China’s currency, the genocide in Darfur and human rights in China and Tibet. I believe that the Chinese government can do more in each of these areas.

“On global warming and protecting the environment, there is an opportunity for us to build a stronger relationship to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources and to protect our environment for future generations. Members of Congress are closely following the Strategic Economic Dialogue and are hopeful that Treasury Secretary Paulson can achieve concrete results.”

On a related note, the House Foreign Affairs Committee today passed a resolution by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, calling on China to use its “unique influence and economic leverage” with the Sudan regime to help stop the ongoing genocide in Darfur. With Lantos among its several dozen co-sponsors, the legislation now goes to the House floor.

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Labor shortage could trim state’s ambitions

California probably won’t be able to attract enough college-educated workers from other states and nations to meet current, skill-driven economic projections, and so might have to rein in its expectations about what the economy will look like in 20 years, according to a new Public Policy Institute of California study released today.

The study projects that by 2025, only 32 percent — yes, still fewer than one in three — of the state’s working-age adults will have a college degree; that’s up from 31 percent in 2005. Yet the latest economic projections show more than two of every five jobs (41 percent) will require a college degree by then, up from one third in 2005. “The workforce of 2025 will be skilled, but not be as skilled — and the economy not as productive or high-income — as current projections imply,” says PPIC research director and economist Deborah Reed.

Bringing in out-of-state workers seems like a dicey proposition, the study says: Net gains in skilled workers from other parts of the U.S. have lessened in the past decade, even going negative, because California is less and less able to retain its own home-grown college graduates. That is, while 612,000 college-educated people came to California between 2000 and 2005, 658,000 college-educated Californians moved out of the state during that time — a net loss of 46,000. And the arrival rate of skilled workers from other countries would have to more than double in order to meet the projected economic demand.

So what’s to be done? The state must redouble its efforts to raise college entrance and graduation rates, the study concludes. “Public policy has a critical role to play because the vast majority of California’s college student are attending public institutions,” says PPIC research fellow and demographer Hans Johnson. “The state has significant latitude to implement policies that could directly address participation and completion rates — and if there was ever a time to do that, it’s now.”

But, in keeping with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed 2007-08 budget, the University of California Regents in March raised student fees by 7 percent starting this summer; the California State University Board of Trustees raised their student fees 10 percent. And the governor’s proposed budget eliminates state support for outreach programs.

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Microstamping debate heats up

The lobbying battle over microstamping — using lasers to make microscopic engravings on the breech face and firing pin of a gun so that it stamps the gun’s make, model and serial number onto every cartridge it fires — is reaching white-hot temperatures in Sacramento.

AB 1471 — introduced by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-West Hollywood — would require gunmakers to adopt microstamping of all new semiautomatic handgun models sold in California by 2010. The Assembly Public Safety Committee approved the bill 5-2 on April 24; the Appropriations Committee approved it 12-5 on May 16; and now it’s headed toward a floor vote.

The National Rifle Association has been dead-set against this practice from day one, and issued a news release this morning noting it’s not supported by law enforcement; a gun’s micro-stamped parts can too easily be replaced; micro-stamped cartridge cases could be used to seed crime scenes with false evidence; it’ll drive up firearm prices; and a recent UC-Davis study found the technology doesn’t work so well.

But just yesterday, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign put out a release saying Capitol Hill staffers were wowed by a live-fire demonstration of the technology last Friday in Washington, D.C. That release sought to discredit the UC-Davis study, noting it wasn’t peer-reviewed; it wasn’t commissioned by the Legislature; and it used older firearms which aren’t up for microstamping because of their age and mechanical condition (while the bill calls for using the technology only on new semi-automatics).

“Critics are going to throw everything at this bill to try to prevent real progress,” Kay Holmen, president of the California Brady Campaign Chapters, said in the release. “The fact is that the gun lobby has no real arguments against the science — and feasibility — of microstamping technology.”

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Pittsburg, Antioch leaders to testify in Washington

Pittsburg Councilwoman Nancy Parent and Gary Darling, general Manager of Delta Diablo Sanitation District in Antioch, will testify in Washington, D.C., Thursday at a congressional hearing before a subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee.

The pair will lobby for passage of a bill by Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, that will would provide a federal partner for seven Bay Area water recycling projects including one in Pittsburg and Antioch.

Parent and Darling will be joined by Larry Wilson, a director of the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

Miller introduced the bill in March and was joined by other Bay Area lawmakers, including reps. Anna Eshoo, D- Atherton, Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, Tom Lantos, D- San Mateo, Mike Honda, D- San Jose, Zoe Lofgrenm, D- San Jose, and Pete Stark D-Fremont.

In addition to Pittsburg, according to Miller’s office, the bill would help Antioch, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Pacifica, South Santa Clara County, Redwood City, and San Jose.

The bill is H.R. 1526, “The Bay Area Regional Water Recycling Program Authorization Act of 2007.” The hearing begins at 10 am. EST on Thursday in the Longworth House office building.

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Iraq funding compromise has no timetable

Here’s how some of the national media are playing it:

Johanna Neuman, for the Los Angeles Times: “Democrats today dropped demands for timetables for withdrawal from Iraq and handed President Bush a rare victory in the skirmish over a $100-billion emergency war funding bill.”

Shailagh Murray, for the Washington Post: “In the end, Republicans had the ticking clock of troop funding and the presidential veto pen on their side, and Democrats were forced to blink.”

Carl Hulse, for the New York Times: “The decision to back down, described by senior lawmakers and aides, was a wrenching reversal for some Democrats, who saw their election triumph as a call to force an end to the war.”

Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell, for Reuters: “That will be a disappointment for some Democrats who say they won control of Congress last November largely because voters wanted to see an end to the 4-year-old war in Iraq. But it was welcome news for Republican leaders who have argued Congress should not be ‘micro-managing’ the war.”

David Espo, for the Associated Press via the Chicago Tribune: “Republicans said that after weeks of struggle, they had forced Democrats to give up their demand for a date to withdraw the troops.”

CNN: “Legislative aides said Democrats expect that they will lose support of liberal members of their caucus who are holding out for language that would assure a troop withdrawal, but they also expect enough Republicans to support the bill to assure passage.”