The Buzz: California lawmakers return to fiscal windfall, drought – and the FBI

01/05/2014 12:00 AM

01/06/2014 12:18 AM

The champagne has been uncorked and imbibed, the calendars flipped and the soon-to-be-broken resolutions crafted: 2013 has passed into history.

All of which means Sacramento is preparing for the 2014 legislative session. Things officially get started when legislators return to the state Capitol today.

The coming legislative year will be marked by leadership transitions in both houses; tests of a Democratic supermajority that November elections could erase; disputes over how to spend a fiscal windfall; wading into water wars; and the ongoing turmoil around a state senator who is under the FBI’s microscope.

The Assembly is scheduled to convene at noon and the Senate at 2 p.m., sporting – almost – full houses. Despite a spate of special elections last year, the Assembly should fill all 80 seats today, while the upper house will be down only one from its maximum of 40 – Sen. Bill Emmerson, R-Redlands, resigned Dec. 1.

As we get ready to embark on another legislative odyssey, check out the video at Capitol Alert to hear about some of the stories we are watching:

– Jeremy B. White

Ballot watch

A proposed initiative to increase California’s vehicle license fee would raise up to $4 billion annually for state and local transportation programs, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. The ballot measure would ultimately charge motorists an extra 1 percent of the vehicle’s value each year. The fee has been 0.65 percent of a vehicle’s market value since the late 1990s, with a temporary increase to 1.15 percent from May 2009 through June 2011. Supporters have said they will decide this month whether to go forward.

– Jim Miller

Worth repeating

“Our people are suffering ... I’ve watched as countless congregants have left the state for Texas and other areas. ”

ROB McCOY, pastor at Newbury Park’s Godspeak Calvary Chapel and GOP Assembly candidate, telling the Ventura County Star that the California economy will be the focus of his campaign

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