Friday, September 09, 2005

Friday Morning Quarterbacking

Let's check in with capitol staffer and regular guest commentator MS on the final hours of session:

So, another legislative session come and gone. And other than a few last minute plays and political maneuverings, it was a fairly typical late night session around here; food in almost every office, alcohol flowing freely, staff roaming the halls in search of entertainment while members alternated between caucusing and conducting actual work on the floor (sometimes). The usual legislative suspects were out in force; our friends gut & amend, drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, tax/fee increases, universal healthcare; you name it. And of course the Senate adjourned first, which had staffers in the Assembly pounding desks in frustration as again we sat here for an additional 3 hours.

Of the more interesting actions last night, Speaker Pro-Tem Leland Yee’s violent video games bill made a return to the Assembly despite its earlier defeat this year, and passed with an overwhelming majority of votes – many of them Republican. Last minute deals also continued special tax provisions for your author’s drink of choice last night: flavored malt beverages (or FMB’s to those in the know). Sales of jello shots in California were banned (except at bars), and the use of props on the floor for this bill set a number of nearby staffers (and members) to salivating. A surprising number of environmental/health related bills bit the dust, reminiscent of July’s house of origin deadline when the moderate Dem Caucus (do they really exist?) banded together to defeat those measures deemed unfriendly to business. Speier (SB 739) and Kuehl (SB 646) lost major bills they had managed to move from the Senate. Where’s Carol Migden to cast Assembly votes when you need her?

Perhaps the two biggest issues of the night…SB 1, the Governor’s pet Million Solar Roof’s bill was never set for hearing in Assembly Utilities Committee. The bill, stalled over hostile labor amendments added by the Speaker in the last weeks of session, was unable to be negotiated to movement, although this source has it on good authority that direct talks took place involving the Governor into mid-evening. Also, the building is buzzing about Sen. Martha Escutia’s supposed absconding with 3 assembly bills from the Secretary of the Senate (I mean the actual, physical bills, jackets and all), which then somehow never made their way to the Chief Clerk to be brought up on the Assembly floor. Certainly sounds odd; I was under the impression members were never under any circumstance supposed to physically handle bills.

So the next move belongs to the Governor. The expectation around here is that there will be a large number of vetoes, partly in preparation for the now official campaign season, and in retribution for SB 1, the Senate non-confirmation of Cindy Tuck to the Air Resource Board, and general ill-will between the Gov and Democratic Majority in general. Stay tuned as the veto pen wipes out gay marriage, drivers licenses (again), and a host of other Dem legislation that the Cal Chamber has been opposing all year long.

Stay tuned for the fall drama, and go buy a TiVo now, cause trust me on this one…you’re going to get sick of television commercials long before Nov. 8th.

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