AM Alert: Election inches Legislature closer to full strength

jwhite@sacbee.comSeptember 24, 2013 

Politicians love trumpeting California's uniqueness. Given the number of special elections this year, the state -- or at least its politics -- seems to be very special indeed.

Today's contest will fill the 52nd Assembly District seat that Sen. Norma Torres, D-Pomona, bid farewell to once she won election to the Senate, and its outcome could get Assembly Democrats within a seat of reclaiming their two-thirds supermajority. If Democrat Freddie Rodriguez prevails over Ontario Mayor Paul Leon (an avowed Republican candidate in prior races, Leon decided to ditch party affiliations for this one), Dems will hold 53 Assembly seats.

After the victor of today's race gets sworn in, the Assembly will still be two members away from maximum occupancy, thanks to two seats opening after former Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield and former Sen. Curren Price gravitated to the Los Angeles City Council, as Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell just won Price's old seat.

BONDING TIME: As the 2014 ballot creeps closer, talk of a planned water bond measure is approaching a low boil. Today a joint hearing of the Senate Environmental Quality and Senate Natural Resources and Water committees takes a look, with Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, and Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, presenting legislation -- one bill by Rendon and another bill by Wolk -- that would drastically change the content of the bond. (In a related development, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan folks just rolled out a revamped website.) From 9 a.m. in the Capitol's room 4203.

SUICIDE STUDIED: In another out-of-session hearing, the Select Committee On Mental Health will be discussing suicide at the State Building in San Francisco. Witnesses will include Sgt. Kevin Briggs of the California Highway Patrol, a couple of suicide survivors and a prevention advocate whose son died by suicide, Lilyana Hudson of San Francisco Suicide Prevention and Rajeev Ramchand, a behavioral scientist at the RAND Corp.

ENERGY INFO: Sophisticated data analysis has come to pervade everything from baseball to presidential campaigns, and today a talk hosted by the California Energy Commission and Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, will examine how to apply data analysis to energy goals. Speakers will include CPUC Commissioner Carla Peterman, California Energy Commission chief Andrew McAllister and Ken Alex, director of the Governor's Office of Planning and Research. From 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Capitol's room 4202.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who turns 62 today.

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