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‘Nanny state?’ Brown vetoes diaper changing bills

So much for the “nanny state” – Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a pair of bills Friday that would’ve required more diaper changing stations across California.

SB 1350 by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, would have required the California Building Standards Commission to adopt building standards governing the installation of baby diaper changing stations in places of public accommodation for equal use by men and women. The Senate had passed it 32-0, the Assembly 67-8.

diaper changing stationAnd SB 1358 by state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, would have required buildings owned or partially owned by state or local governments, as well as certain other private buildings open to the public, to maintain at least one safe, sanitary, and convenient baby diaper changing station accessible to women and men. The Senate had passed it 29-1, the Assembly passed it 66-11, and the Senate concurred in Assembly amendments 31-2.

Brown nixed them both Friday, issuing a joint veto message.

“At a time when so many have raised concerns about the number of regulations in California, I believe it would be more prudent to leave the matter of diaper changing stations to the private sector,” he wrote. “Already many businesses have taken steps to accommodate their customers in this regard.”

“This may be a good business practice, but not one that I am inclined to legislate,” he concluded.

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Eric Swalwell gets second bill signed into law

President Obama’s signature this month of a second bill by Rep. Eric Swalwell – naming a Dublin post office for a late veteran and community activist – means the East Bay congressman now has had more bills enacted than the 69 other House freshmen.

That’s right, folks: Two bills signed into law is the best any freshman has done in this 113th Congress.

Eric SwalwellSwalwell’s H.R. 1671 renames the post office at 6937 Village Parkway in Dublin for Dr. Jim Kohnen, who died in May 2012 at age 69. The U.S. Postal Service will schedule a formal naming ceremony.

Kohnen retired from the U.S. Army Reserve as a colonel after over 30 years of service in the Corps of Engineers; during his service, he had graduated from the U.S. Army War College, the Air War College, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, earning his doctorate in education. Later in life, he was a teacher at San Leandro High School, an elected or appointed official on five local boards, and a volunteer with organizations including the Boy Scouts and the Dublin Historical Preservation Association.

“Through this Post Office, Jim will always continue to be part of his beloved community,” Swalwell, D-Dublin, said in a news release Monday.

Swalwell’s earlier successful bill was H.R. 3771, which President Obama signed into law in March. That one encouraged Americans to donate to Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts by letting them deduct contributions to Philippines recovery efforts made before April 14 from their 2013 taxes; otherwise, a person would have had to wait until he or she filed their taxes next year to claim the deduction.

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CA17: Khanna knocks Honda on attendance record

Democratic challenger Ro Khanna took Rep. Mike Honda to task Wednesday for missing floor votes on four bills the day before, including two of which he’s a co-sponsor and a third by a fellow Bay Area member.

“The bare minimum that’s expected of anyone is showing up – but Congressman Honda isn’t even doing that,” Khanna campaign spokesman Tyler Law said in a news release. “On a Tuesday of all days and with only 19 work days left, it’s shocking that he would blow off four important votes, including consideration of bills that he put his name on. People across the Bay Area are working hard every day to support their families and make ends meet – they have every right to expect their Congressman to do the same. That’s why Rep. Honda should immediately disclose to his constituents where he was yesterday and what prevented him from casting votes on their behalf.”

Honda, D-San Jose, was at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills on Wednesday to greet President Barack Obama’s helicopter; the president was on his way to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser at the home of real estate mogul George Marcus.

Asked about Khanna’s criticism, Honda explained he’s in the Bay Area because his daughter is scheduled to undergo back surgery Thursday; he intends to return to Washington, D.C., on Monday.

Khanna’s campaign says Honda has missed 447 votes during his seven terms in Congress – the worst attendance record of any California Democrat, and second-worst among all House Democrats, who’ve been serving as long as him who came to Congress when he did. In 2013, he missed 59 votes, including those on restoring the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for the poor as well as the farm bill; he was in San Jose for a campaign fundraiser at the time.

“With a dismal attendance record, it’s no surprise that he’s been unable to deliver for his constituents,” said the release from Khanna’s campaign. “After 14 years in Congress, he has passed only one bill into law – to name a post office.”

UPDATE @ 5:32 P.M.: This just in from Honda’s campaign…

Ro,

Congressman Mike Honda has dedicated his life to his community: after serving in the Peace Corps, he worked as a high school science teacher, principal, Santa Clara County Supervisor, State Assemblyman, and now Member of Congress. Over his career, he has mentored and developed countless others with a similar desire for service. You have rightly praised his leadership on issues affecting Asian-Americans, and said that he is “an outstanding Representative for our area.”

All of this work has required personal sacrifices: time spent serving the community has often meant time away from his family. Many excellent public servants make these sacrifices, though it’s a part of the job that isn’t mentioned much. But as anyone with a family can tell you, there are times when your family must come first. Some of these moments for Congressman Honda have come during the past fourteen years: the loss of his wife of 37 years, the passing of his mother, the birth of his first grandchild, and, this week, a major surgery his daughter is undergoing. During those times, he made the decision to miss votes so he could be there for his family.

You’ve made it abundantly clear that you will do anything to get into Congress. But I hope that you will at least refrain from attacking Congressman Honda for being with his family during their time of need.

Sincerely,

Vivek Kembaiyan
Communications Director
Mike Honda for Congress

UPDATE @ 8 P.M.: Aaaaannd… this just in from Khanna’s campaign!

Dear Vivek,

Thank you for your letter.

We all honor Congressman Honda’s many years of service, and the sacrifices he’s made along the way. We also respect Congressman Honda’s family responsibilities, and wish his daughter a speedy recovery.

Nonetheless, Congressman Honda’s record of missing 447 votes is the second worst attendance record of any Democrat who came to Congress when he did. Surely all of Rep. Honda’s Democratic colleagues take their family responsibilities seriously as well.

In addition, it is clear that many of the missed votes took place while Congressman Honda was focusing on politics, not delivering for his constituents. One example was skipping last year’s crucial vote to restore SNAP funding because the Congressman was at a fundraiser.

All of this would be easier if Congressman Honda showed his constituents the respect of transparency and publicly released his schedule – something that we have asked for repeatedly.

While we respect Congressman Honda’s family responsibilities, we simply cannot accept your incomplete explanation of the Congressman’s lackluster attendance record at a time when Silicon Valley needs representatives who are up to the task of leading us into a new economic future.

Sincerely,

Tyler Law
Press Secretary
Ro Khanna for Congress

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Spotlighting suspended senators’ money & votes

You might have a harder time finding their legislative histories now, but three state senators who are in trouble with the law are being spotlighted by a Berkeley-based nonprofit that tracks money in politics.

MapLight.org reminded the public Monday that their site makes it easy to find the industries and individuals who have given the most (at least, those who’ve given the most through legal channels) to embattled state senators Leland Yee, D-San Francisco; Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, and Rod Wright, D-Inglewood.

Yee was indicted Friday on six counts of bribery, one county of conspiring to take bribes and one count of conspiring to traffic guns. Calderon was indicted in February on bribery charges. Wright was convicted in January of voter fraud and perjury related to not living in the district he represents.

Here’s a taste of MapLight’s data – lists of the top 10 interests that have given the most to those three senators from 2009 through 2012:

Leland Yee
Public Sector Unions — $81,800
Health Professionals — $54,720
General Trade Unions — $45,103
Insurance — $42,000
Pharmaceuticals & Health Products — $23,528
Gambling & Casinos — $20,100
Telecom Services & Equipment — $18,300
Accountants — $18,100
Real Estate — $16,820
Poultry & Eggs — $15,600

Ron Calderon
Insurance — $92,200
General Trade Unions — $57,600
Pharmaceuticals & Health Products — $38,900
Public Sector Unions — $38,250
Telecom Services & Equipment — $28,747
Health Professionals — $26,600
Real Estate — $24,200
Oil & Gas — $21,950
Electric Utilities — $20,500
Tribal Governments — $17,100

Rod Wright
Insurance — $99,707
General Trade Unions — $81,050
Public Sector Unions — $76,400
Telecom Services & Equipment — $62,989
Tribal Governments — $61,500
Beer, Wine & Liquor — $56,440
Gambling & Casinos — $56,191
Oil & Gas — $54,050
Pharmaceuticals & Health Products — $46,650
Real Estate — $42,900

The state Senate voted 28-1 on March 28 to suspend the three senators, and their official websites were “wiped” over the weekend of their legislative histories, biographies, news releases and so on.

But you can still find a list of bills each has introduced by visiting the state’s legislative information page and typing in their names. And their campaign finance histories are still available through the Secretary of State’s database: Follow these links to Yee, Calderon and Wright.

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CA17: Khanna & Honda argue Honda’s record

Congressional candidate Ro Khanna’s campaign claims Rep. Mike Honda is inflating his record on jobs and education, while Honda claims Khanna doesn’t understand how Congress actually works.

My earlier post on Khanna’s jobs agenda drew a response from Honda’s campaign, which in turn led Khanna’s campaign to reiterate claims it first made Feb. 14 that Honda has accomplished little during his seven terms in the House.

“Congressman Mike Honda has authored only one bill in his entire Congressional tenure that became law: ‘to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1750 Lundy Avenue in San Jose, California,’” Khanna’s campaign said in an e-mail Tuesday afternoon. “Not a single bill that Congressman Honda has authored (other than the aforementioned post office naming) has been voted on in the House.”

Khanna’s belief that this means something underscores his lack of political experience, Honda’s campaign retorts.

“Because of how Congress works, with only a certain number of bills getting passed every year, legislators who want to get things done have to be savvy about how they go about it: there’s a big difference between just having your name on a bill and actually delivering results. And Mike Honda delivers results,” spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said.

So, let’s hash this out, one issue at a time, after the jump…
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Padilla touts ‘blackout period’ for fundraising

California lawmakers would be prohibited from raising campaign funds in the final 100 days of a legislative session, under a state Senate bill announced this week.

Alex PadillaIt’s one of four campaign-reform bills put forth by state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys, who perhaps not coincidentally is a candidate for Secretary of State, which among other things is the state’s chief elections officer.

Padilla’s other three bills would tighten campaign contribution reporting requirements; prohibit candidates or officeholders from having more than one campaign committee for a state office at any one time; and require public disclosure of campaign communications.

Amending the Political Reform Act of 1974 requires a two-thirds vote of each legislative house plus Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, Padilla noted.

“Clearly, I cannot do this alone. I will need the support of my colleagues and the governor,” he said. “I believe that the reforms I am proposing will provide a clearer view of the source and use of campaign money, and reduce the likelihood of an unseemly overlap of public policy and campaign contributions.”

SB 1101 would emulate similar laws in 29 states by creating a fundraising “blackout period” of 100 days before and seven days after the end of a legislative session, during which a member of the Legislature could not solicit or accept campaign contributions. That way, Padilla reasons, that lawmaker couldn’t take money during critical budget votes and at the end-of-session rush when all sorts of last-minute “gut-and-amend” measures are up for votes.

SB 1102 would require contributions of $100 or more to be electronically reported within 24 hours during the 90 days before an election and within five business days during the rest of the year. For now, contributions of $5000 and above must be reported electronically within 10 days and contributions of $1000 and above must be reported within 24 hours within 90 days of an election. The requirement also would apply to independent expenditure committees supporting or opposing candidates for state offices, and to statewide ballot measure committees.

SB 1103 would prohibit an officeholder or candidate from declaring candidacy and raising money for more than one state elected office at a time; current law allows multiple simultaneous committees, which could be used to cumulatively raise far more than established campaign contribution limits.

SB 1104 would require all campaigns to electronically report all campaign-funded communications – mass mailings, slate mailers, and advertisements supporting or opposing a candidate or measure – that they do within 90 days of an election to the Secretary of State’s office within one day. Outside of the 90-day window, they’d have to be reported within five days.

“While our current system does provide full disclosure, it lacks timely full disclosure,” Padilla said. “Current law governing disclosure keeps the public and the press in the dark much of the year. Denying the public and the press timely disclosure fuels distrust.”

More, including a rival candidate’s critique, after the jump…
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