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Reax to Gov. Jerry Brown’s ‘State of the State’

From state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

“We enter 2013 surrounded by the most positive atmosphere in several years, and the Governor’s State of the State address points us toward the great potential that lies ahead for California. With bold action, the Legislature worked with Governor Brown to weather the storm of fiscal adversity in perhaps the most difficult period in modern California history. We handled that well; we can also handle success in the better times that lie ahead.

“I join the Governor in his call for fiscal restraint, but neither can we be afraid to be bold in our vision for California. We cannot spend money that we don’t have, and we won’t. As the economy grows, we will develop smart strategies to pay down debt, to build-up our reserves, and also to begin restoring what’s been lost when the opportunity is there to do so.

“We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work to further restore the promise of this great state.”

From state Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar:

“We share the Governor’s optimism and celebration of California’s entrepreneurial spirit, business community and educators. We are encouraged by the Governor’s acknowledgement that we need to pay down debt, develop a rainy day fund, and avoid saddling our college students with more tuition increases.

“We look forward to working with the Governor on education reforms to ensure that all California students can obtain a world class education.

“While the Governor acknowledged the loss of jobs in California and focused on job creation in Silicon Valley, he did not offer any substantive proposals for job creation or helping California’s working families. The long-term solution to California’s economic challenges is to get Californians back to work.”

From Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley:

“Governor Brown’s State of the State address was a breath of fresh air and the first time since my start in the Assembly that the dark cloud of deficits was lifted.

“To the naysayers who doubted California’s ability to bounce back from the worst global economic collapse in recent memory, the Governor reminded us that together Sacramento and California voters acted decisively and proved them wrong. Our state is on its way to economic recovery.

“I commend Governor Brown for his message of optimism and boldness that reflects a return to California the great. He outlined our past and present efforts that will continue to secure California’s status as the golden state with unparalleled education opportunities, global leadership on transportation, clean energy and climate change and an innovative, growing economy.

“While restraint is necessary to not invite the next bust cycle, restoration of essential safety net services is also important to support Californians still hurting from the economic downturn.

“I am proud that, among the achievements mentioned by Governor Brown, legislation I authored is among accomplishments that have helped pave the way for internet sales taxes, responsible for over 1,000 new jobs in the state and California’s achievement of more than 20 percent renewable energy this year.

“It’s an exciting time for California – and a proud moment for all – as we continue the work ahead of shaping a stronger economy, fueling technology, expanding health care, supporting education and combatting climate change.”

From California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro:

“Today, the Governor wasn’t so much kicking the can down the road as he was hiding the can entirely. And while we’re glad he embraced a number of key Republican proposals, there’s still no plan to create jobs. If you’re unemployed, you want action, not rhetoric.

“His bold proclamations of an economic turnaround conveniently ignored the facts: our cities are going bankrupt because they can’t pay off pension obligations, 4.4 million taxpayers have left the state since 1998 while job creators are fleeing the worst business climate in the nation, and continuing government waste and abuse undermines any promise of fiscal restraint. It’s time for a reality check.

“The overall picture of California’s economy is not nearly as good as Gov. Brown paints it, mainly because Democrats raised taxes retroactively and have virtually guaranteed future job losses to add to the millions of Californians out of work today. This all may be ‘par for the course’ for Jerry Brown, but not for those living with less through no fault of their own. They have a much more realistic outlook and our leadership would do well to accept that reality instead of trying to blur the facts.”

Much more, after the jump…
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Posted on Thursday, January 24th, 2013
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, Jerry Brown, Leland Yee, Mark DeSaulnier, Nancy Skinner, Paul Fong | No Comments »

Reactions to Obama’s gun control plan

From Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, who chairs House Democrats’ task force on gun violence:

“The president and our task force agree that we need a comprehensive approach to reduce and prevent gun violence. Executive action can and should be part of the process, and many of the executive actions announced today will have a positive influence on reducing gun violence. Now it’s time for Congress to step up and do what needs to be done to save lives. Many of the policies that will have the greatest impact on reducing gun violence will require Congressional action.

“During the next several weeks our task force will examine the president’s proposals and the proposals of others. We will continue meeting with stakeholders on every side of this issue. And we will develop a comprehensive set of policy proposals that both respect peoples’ 2nd Amendment rights and help keep our communities safe from gun violence.”

From the National Rifle Association:

“Throughout its history, the National Rifle Association has led efforts to promote safety and responsible gun ownership. Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority.

“The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law. We look forward to working with Congress on a bi-partisan basis to find real solutions to protecting America’s most valuable asset – our children.

“Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy.”

From Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who has introduced a bill to regulate ammunition sales in California:

“I applaud President Obama for presenting a comprehensive plan that will help reduce the gun violence ravaging our communities and, hopefully, stop the rash of mass shootings that have become an all-too-common occurrence.

“California has tough gun laws but our ability to address gun violence is undermined when one can bypass California rules by crossing state lines. Federal action is needed to ensure the effectiveness of our state laws.

“As public opinion shows, strong support for gun control exists nationally in favor of enforcement and regulations to bulletproof our communities from devastating gun violence.”

From Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms:

“Suddenly Mr. Obama wants to get more criminal and mental health records into the NICS background check data base and get a permanent director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Where has he been for the last four years?

“Perhaps he was too busy during his first term, while his administration was running thousands of assault rifles, millions of rounds of ammunition and countless high capacity magazines to violent criminals and drug cartel thugs through his administration’s Fast & Furious program. Now he wants to take away our Second Amendment rights when he and his friends have put more assault weapons in the wrong hands than all of organized crime?

“These firearms have been used not only to kill a Border Patrol agent, but also hundreds of people including women and children. This policy has resulted in more deaths and carnage than all the mass shootings in the United States in last ten years.

“The measures being proposed by the president will not prevent a repeat of the Sandy Hook tragedy, and he knows it. The initials ‘B. O.’ stand for more than Barack Obama. They stand for the bad odor of his blame game.”

Lots more, after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, January 16th, 2013
Under: Assembly, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, California State Senate, Dianne Feinstein, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, gun control, Jackie Speier, Leland Yee, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Skinner, Obama presidency, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 30 Comments »

Special ticket deal for gun-control forum Thursday

The rhetoric could get hot at a gun-control this Thursday evening in San Francisco.

The Commonwealth Club of California is convening a panel on “Gun Laws: California and The Nation – What Should Be Done?” at 6 p.m. Thursday in its offices on the second floor of 595 Market St. (at Second) in San Francisco.

Scheduled to participate are Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who has introduced a bill to regulate ammunition sales; Benjamin Van Houten, managing attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence; San Francisco Police Sgt. Kelly Dunn, who serves in her department’s Special Victims and Psychiatric Liaison units; and Calguns Foundation cofounder and chairman Gene Hoffman, with San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Page Editor John Diaz as the moderator.

“Our panel will discuss the national issues and California’s role in the dialogue regarding proposals to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, to pass stricter laws to buy and license guns and ammunition, to require gun vendors to do background checks on potential owners, and report sales so law enforcement can track guns and their owners,” the club says.

Tickets cost $20 for the general public or $12 for club members and are free for students with valid ID, but the club is offering a special deal in which anyone can get tickets at the member price: Just use the coupon ID “specialforguns” when ordering online.

Posted on Tuesday, January 15th, 2013
Under: Assembly, gun control, Nancy Skinner | No Comments »

Skinner brings back bill to control ammo sales

A Bay Area lawmaker is re-introducing a bill that would tighten up on ammunition sales, which aren’t tracked by current law.

“In California, it’s harder to get some cold medicines than ammunition,” Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, said in a news release, referring to the state’s law restricting sales of pseudoephedrine, which can be used as a precursor for making methamphetamine. “Something has to change.”

Skinner this past summer authored AB 2512, which would have required large ammunition purchases to be reported to local law enforcement. The bill was inspired by July’s shooting rampage at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.

Her bill also sought to close a loophole in the assault weapons law allowing individuals to have high-capacity magazines, like those found on the man who killed 26 people last Friday in Newtown, Conn. But the legislation, introduced by gutting and amending an already-existing bill, came too late in the year to have any hearings before the session ended.

Her new bill would require all ammunition purchasers to show their IDs; require all ammunition sales to be reported to the state Department of Justice; require all ammunition sellers to be licensed and undergo a background check; and
ban kits to convert ammunition clips into high-capacity magazines.

Skinner had told me last week – two days before the Newtown massacre – that she had been meeting with law enforcement and other stakeholders to develop a revised version of the bill.

“Among the most shocking details from the shooting massacre in Colorado is the undetected stockpiling of ammunition and weapons by the alleged shooter. In Newtown, the shooter had hundreds of unspent rounds. While incidents like Aurora and Newtown may be rare, we can’t let ammunition stockpiling go unnoticed,” Skinner said today. “Gun violence is an ongoing, yet unnecessary threat in communities throughout California. As lawmakers, we need to do everything we can to stop this trend.”

Posted on Thursday, December 20th, 2012
Under: Assembly, gun control, Nancy Skinner, Public safety | 21 Comments »

Skinner: Dems must choose battles, but fight some

With supermajorities in both legislative chambers, Democrats must walk a finer line than ever, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner said Wednesday.

My coffee meeting with Skinner, D-Berkeley, yielded a wide-ranging conversation about her party’s considerable new power and the responsibilities that go with it, as well as her own legislative priorities. The former Berkeley councilwoman has just won re-election to her third and final Assembly term, and she sees a productive but sensitive session ahead.

“We’ve been given this privilege by the voters and we want to be respectful of the privilege we’ve been handed,” she said Wednesday.

The caucus must choose its battles, she said, but not choose them so carefully that none ever get fought.

She’s in a position to help choose those battles because, as the Assembly Rules Committee’s chair, Skinner is among the Legislature’s top leaders. Rules is responsible for assigning bills to committees, setting salaries for legislative staff, waiving rules and overseeing the Assembly’s business; it’s basically an executive committee for the chamber, and its seats are coveted.

But Skinner on Wednesday said the supermajorities were achieved by votes in individual districts, not a statewide vote, and so lawmakers must move cautiously to ensure they don’t salt the field.

For example, she said, voters’ approval of Proposition 30 – Gov. Jerry Brown’s measure temporarily increasing sales taxes and income taxes for the state’s richest residents to fund K-12 and higher education – was “great,” but it would take a lot more revenue to return the state’s schools, colleges and universities to their heyday.

“There’s probably appetite for some more revenue,” she said, but it has to be something that’s palatable to voters.

For example, state Sen. Ted Lieu’s proposal to triple the Vehicle License Fee – which was slashed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, blowing a huge hole in the state budget – was withdrawn almost as soon as it was advanced last month due to public backlash. And voters in November 2010 handily rejected Proposition 21, which would’ve boosted the VLF to bankroll state parks. Voters just don’t like the VLF, Skinner said.

“We have to look at the range of … tax expenditures, what I call tax loopholes or tax giveaways, that were part of various budget deals in order to get a Republican vote” in past years, she said.

One such loophole was the single-sales factor, just repealed last month by Proposition 39; that’ll bring in about $1 billion a year, half of which for the first five years is earmarked for projects increasing energy efficiency and creating green jobs. Skinner this month introduced the Assembly version of a bill to implement that.

“But there’s others like that,” she said, citing the “net operating loss carryback” deduction that was suspended for 2010 and 2011 but will apply to 2012’s corporate taxes.

This and other loopholes, if closed, “could be worth from $2.5 billion to $4 billion, which is significant,” she said.

And of course there’s the possibility of “split-roll” reform of Proposition 13 so that residential properties remain protected but commercial properties are re-assessed more often, she said. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, already has announced a bill to tighten state laws enacted under Prop. 13 so that it’s harder for businesses to avoid re-assessment and higher taxes when property changes hands – a half-step toward split-roll that wouldn’t require voters’ approval of a ballot measure.

Lots more, after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
Under: Assembly, gun control, marijuana, Nancy Skinner, same-sex marriage, state budget, taxes | 2 Comments »

Bay Area’s new Assembly leadership assignments

Here are your Bay Area Assembly members’ leadership assignments for the 2013-14 session, made today by Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

Leadership
Speaker pro Tempore: Nora Campos, D-San Jose
Assistant Speaker pro Tempore: Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco
Rules Committee Chair: Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley

Committee and Subcommittee Chairs
Accountability and Administrative Review Committee: Jim Frazier, D-Oakley
Budget Subcommittee No. 2 (Education Finance): Susan Bonilla, D-Concord
Business, Professions & Consumer Protection Committee: Rich Gordon, D-Los Altos
Education Committee: Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo
Elections and Redistricting Committee: Paul Fong, D-Mountain View
Judiciary Committee: Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont
Public Employees, Retirement & Social Security Committee: Rob Bonta, D-Alameda
Public Safety Committee: Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco

Also, Fong was elected chairman of the Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.

Posted on Monday, December 3rd, 2012
Under: Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, Jim Frazier, Kevin Mullin, Nancy Skinner, Nora Campos, Paul Fong, Rich Gordon, Rob Bonta, Susan Bonilla, Tom Ammiano | No Comments »

Gay Scout to be honored Monday by Assembly

California Assembly Speaker John Perez will recognize and honor Ryan Andresen – the East Bay Boy Scout who was denied his Eagle rank because he’s gay – at the new Assembly’s opening session Monday in Sacramento.

Andresen, now 18, of Moraga, and his parents also are scheduled to meet with supporters including Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley; state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco; and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The Boy Scouts of America this summer re-affirmed its national policy of barring openly gay boys from membership and gay or lesbian adults from leadership. Andresen came out as gay, and though he had participated in Scouting for 12 years and satisfied all of the many requirements to attain its highest rank, Troop 212′s leaders denied him his Eagle award. The local council subsequently kicked him out of Scouting entirely.

His mother, Karen Andresen, started a Change.org petition which has been signed by almost 428,000 people urging the troop’s leaders to ignore BSA’s policy and give Andresen the award he earned.

Posted on Friday, November 30th, 2012
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Gavin Newsom, John Perez, Leland Yee, Nancy Skinner | 8 Comments »

Lawmaker to show support for gay former Scout

A former Boy Scout who was denied his Eagle Scout award because he’s gay will be accompanied by an East Bay lawmaker as he delivers more than 400,000 petition signatures to the Mt. Diablo-Silverado Boy Scout Council tomorrow in Pleasant Hill.

The issue might be near and dear to Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who is the mother of a lesbian daughter.

“Ryan worked hard to earn a merit status that is being denied to him solely because he is gay – that’s unacceptable,” Skinner said today. “In speaking out, Ryan and his family have displayed incredible courage and we all need to support people who are willing to stand up and demand fairness, tolerance and equality.”

The Boy Scouts of America this summer re-affirmed its national policy of barring openly gay boys from membership and gay or lesbian adults from leadership. Ryan Andresen of Moraga came out as gay, and though he had participated in Scouting for 12 years and satisfied all of the many requirements to attain its highest rank, Troop 212’s leaders denied him his Eagle award. The local council subsequently kicked him out of Scouting entirely.

Andresen appeared last week on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

Posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
Under: Assembly, Nancy Skinner | No Comments »

Bay Area lawmakers propose ammo control law

Three Bay Area lawmakers introduced legislation yesterday that would require that law enforcement be notified of large ammunition purchases.

AB 2512 – co-authored by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley; Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco; and state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley – would require vendors who sell, supply, deliver, or give possession of more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition to an individual within any five day period to report the transaction to the local law enforcement agency where the individual resides within one day. State law does not currently require any oversight, tracking or reporting of large-quantity ammunition transactions.

Their bill also would prohibit large-capacity conversion kits or “clip kits” which allow more than 10 rounds to be shot without reloading.

This is a “gut-and-amend” of Skinner’s previously introduced bill that would’ve fined certain limited liability companies for failing to file tax returns.

The lawmakers cited James Holmes, charged with murdering 12 people and attempting to murder scores more in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, as having amassed 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the course of a few weeks without raising any red flags with authorities.

“While incidents like Aurora may be rare, gun violence is an ongoing, yet unnecessary threat in communities throughout California. As lawmakers we need to do everything we can to minimize it,” Skinner said in a news release issued today.

Hancock said California “has been a national leader in adopting thoughtful gun safety laws,” and she hopes this bill “will further protect the public from becoming a victim of gun violence and prevent tragedies like the one in Aurora, Colorado.”

Ammiano said nobody has a legal, vested interest in being able to fire off hundreds of rounds in a short time. “We’re not taking ammunition away from legitimate sportsmen and women. We just want to be sure local law enforcement has the tools it needs to stay ahead.”

Posted on Thursday, August 9th, 2012
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, gun control, Loni Hancock, Nancy Skinner, Tom Ammiano | 9 Comments »

New chairmanships for Bay Area lawmakers

Some Assembly members from the Bay Area were given influential committee chairs as Speaker John Perez reshuffled his leadership yesterday.

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, takes over as chair of the Education Committee, on which she has served since her election to the Assembly in 2008; earlier, she’d served on the San Ramon Valley school board for 18 years.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues and with stakeholders in the education community on legislation that will make the best use of our resources to benefit California’s students,” she said in a news release issues this morning. “We are currently facing unique challenges in funding education in our state, but we will hold steadfast to our mission of preparing students to be the workers, leaders and innovators of tomorrow’s global economy.”

Bob WieckowskiAssemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, takes the Judiciary Committee’s chair; a bankruptcy attorney by trade, he has served as the Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee’s chairman.

Wieckowski issued a statement saying he has enjoyed serving on the Judiciary Committee under chairman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles and looks forward “to working with the Judiciary consultants in this new position. I appreciate the Speaker giving me the opportunity to lead this important committee.”

Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Redwood City, will Chair the Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee.

Assemblyman Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa, now chairs the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee, and also steps up as Assistant Majority Floor Leader. (I love the Majority Floor Leader’s job description: “Represents the Speaker on the Floor, expedites Assembly Floor proceedings through parliamentary procedures such as motions and points of order and promotes harmony among the membership.” Harmony!)

And within the powerful Budget Committee, Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, will Chair the subcommittee No. 3 on Resources and Transportation.

Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, steps up as Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore until Sept. 1, when she’ll become Speaker Pro Tempore (responsible for presiding over floor sessions in Speaker Perez’s absence). Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, will be Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore.

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, continues chairing the Rules Committee.

Posted on Thursday, August 9th, 2012
Under: Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, Fiona Ma, Joan Buchanan, John Perez, Nancy Skinner, Nora Campos, Rich Gordon | 3 Comments »