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Shutdown: Glimmer of hope, calls to ease harm

Thursday afternoon brought some glimmer of progress toward ending the federal government shutdown, as well as California House members’ renewed calls to mitigate the shutdown’s harms.

From the office of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“This evening in the Roosevelt Room, the leaders laid out the House proposal to temporarily extend the debt limit, formally appoint budget negotiators, and begin immediate discussions over how to re-open the government. No final decisions were made; however, it was a useful and productive conversation. The President and leaders agreed that communication should continue throughout the night. House Republicans remain committed to good faith negotiations with the president, and we are pleased there was an opportunity to sit down and begin a constructive dialogue tonight.”

Meanwhile, 10 California Democrats took to the House floor today to complain of the damage that the shutdown is doing to the Golden State’s economy, even while there are enough House votes to reopen the government immediately.

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said the North Coast’s tourism economy is taking a beating as visitors are turned away from federal lands including Point Reyes National Seashore, Redwood National Park, and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, causing local businesses to lose money.

“Visitors from all over America, and in fact all over the world, come to the North Coast’s public lands. Thanks to the Republican shutdown much of that economic activity is grinding to a halt,” Huffman said. “Let’s stop posturing, let’s stop the PR stunts, let’s stop the ‘Hollywood storefronts,’ stop deflecting, and stop insulting the intelligence of the American people. Let’s have an up or down vote to reopen our public lands and, indeed, to reopen our government.”

Elsewhere, Rep. Eric Swalwell announced he and other Bay Area lawmakers are urging U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to ensure that employees at national laboratories –contract workers who facing furlough if the shutdown goes on much longer – will get back pay once the federal government reopens, just as the House already has approved for federal workers.

Swalwell, D-Pleasanton represents Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national laboratories in Livermore, where 7,500 government contractors will be furloughed without pay starting Oct. 18 if the shutdown doesn’t end first.

“National lab employees in Livermore should not have to suffer because of a shutdown caused by the Tea Party,” Swalwell said in a news release. “Lab employees are dedicated public servants who are supporting our country’s national and energy security, and just because their paychecks stop doesn’t mean their bills won’t keep coming.”

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, represents the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, where 1,500 employees are at risk of being furloughed. “They are our nation’s premier scientists and engineers who daily are engaged in cutting-edge research that is changing the world,” Eshoo said.

And Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is in the district of Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland.

“Congress has moved to provide back pay to hundreds of thousands of federal employees across the country who continue to suffer furloughs due to the unnecessary Republican shutdown of the government,” Lee said. “The scientists, technicians, and workers at our national labs make enormous contributions to this nation, and they deserve to be paid for their work..”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, is signing the letter too, as a longtime supporter of national lab and the fusion research conducted by the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore.

“We take pride in the cutting-edge advancements in our scientific research, but budget cuts and now a government shutdown are threatening these important undertakings,” Lofgren said. “It’s irresponsible political gamesmanship for Republicans to continue to refuse to put a clean funding bill before the House for a vote. If they did, it would pass, ending the harm that is being done to furloughed workers like these scientists and the vital research they are engaged in.”

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‘Mr. Newsom Goes to Washington’

(Sorry, Frank Capra.)

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office says he’ll be making rounds in Washington, D.C., tomorrow trying to drum up business for California.

At 11 a.m. EST, he’s scheduled to meet with Brazilian Ambassador Mauro Vieira to discuss opportunities for continued cooperation between California and Brazil. The economic growth agenda Newsom rolled out in June cited the need to gear up for exports and global trade.

At 1:30 p.m., he’s to meet with former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who now is chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, to discuss California’s film and tourism industries.

And at 3 p.m., he’s supposed to meet with U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson to push California as a target for innovation and job creation. Newsom’s economic growth agenda also recommended that the state aggressively seek to host one of three new satellite sites of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is a Commerce Department agency.

None of the meetings will be open to the press.

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Arnold’s new Japanese TV ad

Long-time readers of the Political Blotter will remember our old “Schwarzenegger video of the week” feature, wherein we enjoyed our governor’s finer moments on film, as a pitchman and otherwise caught on tape. We ran out of entertaining Japanese commercials a while ago, but the governor now has made his return to Japanese television with a new ad to sell… California!

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Same-sex marriage a boon for tourism?

Watch for those flights and hotels to fill up quickly starting next month. From the Associated Press, via the Washington Post:

ALBANY, N.Y. — Same-sex marriages legally performed elsewhere will be recognized in New York in response to a state court ruling this year, Gov. David Paterson’s spokeswoman said Wednesday.

State agencies, including those governing insurance and health care, must immediately change policies and regulations to make sure “spouse,” “husband” and “wife” are clearly understood to include gay couples, according to a memo sent earlier this month from the governor’s counsel.

Gay marriage is not legal in New York, and the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, has said it can only be legalized by the Legislature. But the memo, based on a Feb. 1 New York Appellate Division court ruling, would recognize the marriages of New Yorkers who are legally wed elsewhere.

The appellate judges determined that there is no legal impediment in New York to the recognition of a same-sex marriage. The state Legislature “may decide to prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages solemnized abroad,” the ruling said. “Until it does so, however, such marriages are entitled to recognition in New York.”

Massachusetts is currently the only U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but its residency requirements would bar New Yorkers from marrying there.

New York residents could instead flock to California, where gay couples will be able to wed beginning June 17 _ unless that state’s Supreme Court decides to stay its own ruling. Upon their return home, in the eyes of the state, their unions would be no different from those of their heterosexual neighbors.

Our county clerks’ offices are gonna be jammed