Arch-conservative Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, the Legislature's only tea party member and a fierce advocate of gun-owners' rights, was stopped and cited for trying to carry a loaded handgun onto an airplane in his carry-on baggage. He faces a $1,000 fine and up to an year in jail. During the past year, others at Ontario International Airport who tried to carry weapons onto a plane were taken to jail, but Donnelly was cited and released.
From the Press-Enterprise's Jim Miller: "Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, faces a misdemeanor charge but was not taken into custody. Authorities have arrested people on similar charges in the past, officials said."
"Donnelly said he forgot that he had put a .45-caliber handgun in the briefcase while working in his garage Saturday. He had the gun out as protection against what he said have been death threats related to his efforts to overturn a 2011 law making scholarship aid available to college students who are in the country illegally."
"He said he hid the gun in his briefcase after his wife, who did not know of the threats, returned home."
“The issue is strictly one that I completely forgot coming back to work this morning that (the gun) was in that briefcase. It was about as heavy as it is when I carry my laptop. It just didn't register,” said Donnelly, a small businessman who represents the 59th Assembly District, which stretches from Highland to the outskirts of Los Angeles. “I'm deeply apologetic to anyone who was inconvenienced this morning at Ontario airport. It was an unfortunate mistake.”
Redevelopment agencies, ordered abolished by the Legislature as part of last year's state budget package, are pushing for legislation that would push back the Feb. 1 dismantling deadline and provide time to negotiate a new arrangement.
From Capitol Weekly's John Howard: "The state Supreme Court’s decision ordering some 400 agencies to be abolished takes effect Feb. 1. The agencies hope to push back that deadline to to April 15 negotiate a new agreement with the Brown administration and Legislature that would keep a reconfigured redevelopment system in place. A second bill, reflecting any negotiated agreements, also will be proposed."
"Redevelopment supporters said the court’s ruling effectively gave them only a month to dismantle the redevelopment agencies, a complex task."
"The two-step package signed by Brown for the strapped 2011-12 budget abolished the agencies to capture some $1.7 billion in redevelopment funds, but left open the option of letting them remain in existence if they paid fees – a provision that the court struck down. The court’s two-pronged decision effectively eliminates the agencies entirely."
"Redevelopment has been a fixture in California government for more than 60 years. The idea is that agencies use tax money to eliminate blight and improve the economic climate of communities, then reap rewards when the improved property yields great tax receipts."
As the first floor sessions of 2012 get under way, it's a new year for lawmakers, but the problems are old. The Venutra County Star's Timm Herdt tells the tale.
"The agenda is expected to unfold quickly, as Gov. Jerry Brown will release his proposed budget Tuesday and many other big issues will require action by late spring in order for elements that need voter approval to be on the November ballot."
"One annual ritual that seems unlikely this year is a protracted budget battle. Brown has made clear he intends to submit a budget plan with contingencies — a blueprint that will include about $7 billion in revenues he expects to ask voters to approve in November, and a separate plan detailing spending cuts that will have to be made if the tax measure fails."
"Because a spending plan — but not tax increases — can be approved by a majority vote, Brown said last month he does not expect to engage in serious negotiations with Republicans."
Republican Sen. Sam Blakeslee of San Luis Obispo says he's not running for reelection unless his district is ordered redrawn by the courts. Political districts have been drawn by an independent commission approved by voters, but Senate Republicans say the districts are unfair and challenged them in court.
From the Santa Cruz Sentinel's Jason Hoppin: " GOP Sen. Sam Blakeslee won't run again unless California's high court reshapes newly drawn political boundaries, a prospect many see as unlikely."
"A citizen-led redistricting effort left Blakesle, of San Luis Obispo defending a district that had swung heavily to Democrats. The San Luis Obispo Tribune quoted Blakeslee saying he would rather spend the year working on legislative accomplishments than running a hard-to-win re-election campaign."
"Widely considered a moderate, Blakeslee was one of five GOP lawmakers who were at the the center of bipartisan budget negotiations last year."
"His decision to likely forgo running running opens the door for his only announced rival, Carmel Democratic Assemblyman Bill Monning. If Democrats take the seat, they would only need to pick up one more to have the two-thirds necessary to force tax bills through the state Senate."
The U.S. Department of Justice's position on online gaming appears to be getting a warm reception in many states, but in California the situation is far from clear.
From Capitol Weekly's Alisen Boada: "The document clarifies a federal law, the 1961 Wire Act, which has a prohibition against online gaming that applies only to bets on sporting events. Many are interpreting that position as opening the legal floodgates for the acceptance of other forms of Internet gambling, including poker."
“I think most of us assumed that the Wire Act did not apply to intrastate Internet gaming, but this confirms it,” said Sacramento attorney Howard Dickstein, a specialist on tribal gaming and jurisdictional issues."
“And it also provides California with the opportunity apart from what the federal government decides to do with Internet gaming to enter into agreements with other states to increase the market, the liquidity, and viability of state authorized Internet gaming,“ Dickstein said."
"But while the memo does clarify the formerly ambiguous legal status of intra- and interstate online gaming, states must pass the legislative licensing framework, which has been California’s challenge for the past few years."