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California Capitol Hill Bulletin



Volume 8, Bulletin 11 -- March 30, 2001    [or see pdf version]

Census Finally Releases State's 2000 Numbers

Census Monitoring Board Members Release State Undercount Estimates; California Shortfall Appears Less Severe than in 1990

FERC Orders Inquiry of Natural Gas Price Abuse Allegations

Bush Appointments Will Fill Two FERC Vacancies

Fusion Energy Sciences Letter Near Completion

California Delegation Circulating Letter Opposing Navy Plan to Move USS Ronald Reagan From California to Washington

Oversight Hearing on Yosemite Valley Plan Held

Third Hearing Held In Series on Medicare Reform

GAO Finds Low California Voter Numbers in Largest Counties

Briefing on April 6: "Immigration and a New America: The Temporary Worker Visa Debate Numbers"


To expand communications between Washington and California, the California Institute provides periodic faxed bulletins regarding current activity on Capitol Hill which directly impacts our state. Bulletins are published weekly during sessions of Congress, and occasionally during other periods. The e-mail edition is made possible in part by in kind donations from Sun Microsystems and IBM Corp.

Census Finally Releases State's 2000 Numbers

California was the last state to have its 2000 Census figures released, with the data arriving Thursday evening, March 29. Preliminary examination of the figures indicates that California is officially majority minority, with just 47% describing themselves as non-Hispanic whites, and nearly one in three of the nation's Latinos residing in the state.

The state's population for April 2000 was estimated at 33.9 million, a figure much closer to the California Department of Finance's estimate of 34 million than to the Census Bureau's own previous estimate of barely more than 33 million. The state grew by 4.1 million people over the decade, an increase of 13.8%, which slightly exceeds the national growth rate of 13.2%. More than three-quarters of that growth was in the Hispanic and Latino population

The state's Hispanic or Latino population grew by more than 4 million to a total of 11 million, and increased from 25.8% to 32.4% of the state's population. While the number of non-Hispanic whites grew by 1.2 million, their share of the population declined from 57.2% in 1990 to 46.7% in 2000. (The 2000 figure rises to 48.8% if the "white" responses as part of multiracial entries are added.) The Asian population grew by 1 million and increased from a 1990 share of the state of 9.2% to a 2000 share of 10.9% (12.3% when all race responses are combined). The Black or African American population saw a slight increase over the decade, though the share of population fell from 7.4% in 1990 to 6.7% in 2000 (though it remains steady at 7.4% if all multiracial responses are included).

Within subdivisions of the state, there was considerable variation in growth rates. While it added more than 650,000 people, Los Angeles County grew just 7.4%, barely half the statewide rate, and the City of Los Angeles grew even slower, just 6.0%. Neighboring Orange County, which climbed from the third- to the second-largest county in the state, grew by a whopping 18.1%, and more than 70% of Orange County's growth was in persons identified as Hispanic or Latino. San Diego County, which slipped just behind Orange to third largest, grew by 12.6%, or only slightly less than the state average. San Bernardino County's 20.5% growth moved it up in rank to the fourth-largest county -- surpassing Santa Clara County, which experienced slightly-below-average 12.4% growth. Riverside County saw a huge increase, with 374,000 additional residents adding 32% to the county's rolls and moving it into the 6th rank -- past Alameda County, which saw a 12.9% increase. Other above-average growth counties included Sacramento (17.5%), Contra Costa (18.1%), Fresno (19.8%), Kern (21.7%), and San Joaquin (17.3%). As was the case with most Bay Area Counties, San Francisco (7.3%) and San Mateo (8.9%) each saw below-average growth.

Several cities experienced high growth rates, particularly Bakersfield (41.3%), but also Anaheim (23.1%), Fresno (20.7%), Fremont (17.3%), Stockton (15.6%), Santa Ana (15.1%), and San Jose (14.4%). Single-digit growth rates took place in Los Angeles (6.0%), San Francisco (7.3%), Oakland (7.3%), Long Beach (7.5%), and Glendale (8.3%). Please note that, at press time, data for only the 15 largest cities and counties in the state were available.

California county population figures for 1990 and 2000 are available in .pdf format on the California Institute's website at http://www.calinst.org/data/ca2kcens.pdf .

Further information and links to detailed Census tables are available from the Census Bureau at http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/2001/tables/redist_ca.html .

 

Census Monitoring Board Members Release State Undercount Estimates; California Shortfall Appears Less Severe than in 1990

On Thursday, March 29, the four Clinton appointees to the U.S. Census Monitoring Board (CMB), including California Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, released figures which are described as Census 2000 undercounts for all fifty states and five U.S. cities.

While there remain disputes over the accuracy of both headcount and undercount data, the information indicates that California was undercounted by 530,000 people in the 2000 Census. While this would be the largest undercount of any state, it still represents a substantial improvement over 1990 Census, when California's undercount was 834,000 persons. Moreover, the relative discrepancy between 1990's national undercount rate of 1.6% and California's 2.7% rate was much greater than the apparent 2000 discrepancy, which shows the national undercount at 1.2% and California's slightly higher, at 1.5%.

The overall accuracy of the Census apparently improved, declining from a 4 million to a 3.3 million undercount, despite the increase in the nation's population. The newly-released figures show an undercounting improvement for most states (all but 16 of them), and the extreme undercounting seems to have lessened. The 2000 data shows no state with more than 2.0% undercounting, while California was among a dozen such states in 1990.

The Census Bureau had not yet released its data, and it quickly acted to challenge the action and to dispute the data. Census Bureau Acting Director William G. Barron said, "It appears that both the population counts and the methodology used to calculate them are seriously flawed. It is important to note that the Census Bureau is not in a position to release a final estimate for any state or city, and believes that the most accurate data currently available are the unadjusted data already released. This is because of the uncertainties discovered in analyzing results of the Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation, including the comparison with demographic analysis, as we examined the Census 2000 undercount."

CMB Presidential Member Gilbert F. Casellas said, "The sooner the scientific community has access to the data, the sooner we can help to resolve the 'uncertainties' the Bureau has described." He quoted Senator John Kerry (MA) in a March 28 hearing as saying, "There is a sense of urgency to release this data. Before it's too late, we need people -- independent researchers and scientists -- examining the data to find out if there's a problem with it and to look for solutions. The distribution of $185 billion is too important to risk not having enough time to complete a sound analysis."

The Census Bureau's Barron said the Bureau will "continue its work in this area and expects to make a recommendation this fall as to the future potential uses of adjusted data."

The eight-member CMB is comprised of four Congressional appointees, two each appointed by the House Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader, and four Presidential appointees, still serving from Clinton Administration appointments.

The data released by the Census Monitoring Board's Presidential Members is available on their website, http://www.cmbp.gov/ . The Census Bureau's press release responding to the action is available at http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/2001/cb01cs04.html .

 

FERC Orders Inquiry of Natural Gas Price Abuse Allegations

On Wednesday, March 28, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced that it will order a hearing to investigate California allegations that the El Paso Corporation sought to manipulate the price of natural gas flowing to the state in order to maximize profits by driving up California gas prices. The order was a belated victory for California officials who have sought intervention in the matter for nearly a year. FERC dismissed a claim that the company had improper internal dealings with subsidiaries regarding California gas, a ruling which the California PUC is expected to appeal, but FERC determined that further investigation was required to determine whether the company exercised market power to drive up California prices. Several legal actions are pending against El Paso Corp. for its alleged price manipulation in the California market. An administrative law judge will hold a hearing and is expected to issue a report in late May or early June.

 

Bush Appointments Will Fill Two FERC Vacancies

On Tuesday, March 27, President Bush announced nominations to fill two vacancies on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Bush nominated Pat Wood, currently Chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and Nora Mead Brownell, now a commissioner of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Senate approval is considered likely. The five-member commission has been operating with just three members for several months.

It is unclear how the two nominees will approach the California electricity crisis. Among the three current Commissioners, William Massey has supported temporary wholesale rate caps, Linda Breathitt has generally opposed caps, and Chairman Curt Hebert has adamantly opposed them. Bush nominee Wood, who was on the FERC staff during Bush's father's presidency, issued a statement saying, "On our best days as regulators, we cannot deliver benefits to customers as well as a functional market can. But the market must work right first."

 

Fusion Energy Sciences Letter Near Completion

A bipartisan Dear Colleague letter supporting federal fusion energy science efforts which is being circulated by Reps. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (San Diego) and Rush Holt (NJ) is nearing completion, and nearly half of California's Congressional delegation has joined in. Last year, a majority of California's bipartisan members of Congress signed a similar letter.

The fusion science budget at the Department of Energy has declined substantially in inflation-adjusted dollars over the past several years. In the early 1990s, fusion energy sciences funding was roughly $400 million in 2000 dollars; by 2000, that level had fallen to $250 million, although that level did constitute an increase over the preceding three years' levels. California perennially wins a large share of federal fusion science expenditures. The letter references California's energy woes, stating "If we have learned anything from the lessons of the past, it is that the response to this most recent energy crisis must be to broaden and deepen our energy options for the future and to act to address the problem in the short, medium and long-term."

To sign the letters or for more information, Congressional offices should contact Tim Charters of Congressman Cunningham's office x5-5452 or Chris Davis of Congressman Holt's office x5-5801.

 

California Delegation Circulating Letter Opposing Navy Plan to Move USS Ronald Reagan From California to Washington

The California Congressional Delegation is currently circulating a letter to the Chief of Naval Operations expressing the delegation's "strenuous objection" to a recent Pentagon decision to move the homeport of the nuclear carrier USS Ronald Reagan from San Diego to Washington state. The change of homeport was requested by the Commander of the Naval Air Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

The California letter notes that, "After an exhaustive four year process involving numerous public hearings and the consideration of input from individuals, agencies and organizations, the Navy last January issued a record of decision supporting that initial finding. The Navy sought and received the strong support of the California delegation throughout that arduous process." The decision to homeport in San Diego was recently reversed by the Navy and it is now considering redirecting the carrier to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Bremerton in Washington state. The letter goes on to state, "Not only do we find it unacceptable that some within the Navy are suddenly reversing course, but we are irate that we were not informed that the carrier homeporting was being reconsidered."

For more information or to sign the letter, please contact Nancy Lifset in Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's office at 5-5452.

 

Oversight Hearing on Yosemite Valley Plan Held

The House Committee on Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands held and oversight hearing on the Yosemite Valley Plan/Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on Tuesday March 27. The oversight hearing was chaired by Rep. George Radanovich (Mariposa) though the Subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Joel Hefley (CO) Providing testimony were the following witnesses: Rep. John Doolittle; Mr. John Reynolds, Regional Director Pacific West Region of National Park Service; Mr. Gary Gilbert, Chairman Board of Supervisors, County of Madera; Mr. Doug Balmain, Chairman Board of Supervisors, County of Mariposa; Mr. Gregory Oliver, Tuolomne County Counsel; Mr. Ed Hardy, Owner and Operator of Bass Lake Lodge in California; Mr. Dennis Szefel, President Delaware North Parks Services; Mr. Jay Thomas Watson, Regional Director California/Nevada Regional Office of The Wilderness Society; and Mr. George Whitmore, Chairman Sierra Club's Yosemite Committee.

Mr. Reynolds reported on the Yosemite flood recovery efforts, the Yosemite Valley Plan and how it relates to the flood recovery effort, and on future projects included in the plan. He reported that the flood recovery program is on track and that a substantial portion of the program has been completed. He indicated National Park Services would begin to obligate the balance of the flood recovery funds on the portions of the Yosemite Valley Plan that were affected by the flood in 1997. In addition to the flood recovery efforts, the Yosemite Plan according to Mr. Reynolds also identifies many projects requiring additional funding and further approval from Congress and the administration.

Of the witnesses appearing before the subcommittee some, including Mr. Gary Gilbert Chairman of the Board of Supervisor for the County of Madera and Mr. Gregory Oliver, Counsel of the County of Tuolumne, expressed concern about the Yosemite Valley Plan and requested the subcommittee halt it's implementation. Mr. Gilbert described the process under which the plan was developed as "flawed"and called for the plan to be set aside and that no funds be appropriated for implementation. Mr. Oliver requested the subcommittee not implement the plan until Tuolumne County's concerns were addressed. One of the major concerns of this county is how the conversion from the use of private vehicles for auto touring to mass transit tourism will impact the natural and socioeconomic environments of the county.

Other witnesses indicated overall support for the plan with concerns outlined. Some of the concerns of Mariposa County in which the Yosemite Valley is located include: providing sufficient alternative parking and overnight accommodations; appropriate relocation of employee housing and work sites; preservation of historic structures; and providing regional public transportation sufficient to attain the goals of plan and the needs of County. Mr. Balmain expressed a commitment by Mariposa County to work with NPS to achieve the goals of plan.

Questions from members of the Subcommittee focused on issues of whether there was sufficient public comment in developing the plan, the issue of destroying historic bridges to meet standards set by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and the issue of replacing private vehicles with buses into the Valley. Rep. John Doolittle in particular, who provided testimony to the subcommittee indicated concern regarding the proposed removal of historic bridges as well as the use of buses for transportation into the Valley.

To view the testimony from the hearing please visit the subcommittee's website at http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/parks/index.htm . To view the Yosemite Valley Plan please visit the following website: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planning/yvp .

 

Third Hearing Held In Series on Medicare Reform

On Thursday March 27 the House Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Health held the third hearing in a series of hearings on Medicare Reform. In this hearing entitled Medicare Reform: Laying the Groundwork for a Prescription Drug Benefit, the subcommittee heard testimony from: Dr. Dan Crippen, Director of the Congressional Budget Office; Mr. John Poisal, Statistician in the Office of Strategic Planning in the Health Care Financing Administration; Mr. Michael Cohen, President of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices; Mr. Max Richtman, executive Vice President of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare; Ms. Maya MacGuineas, National Board Member of Third Millennium. Also testifying were two Medicare beneficiaries, one without prescription drug coverage and one with retiree prescription drug coverage both providing personal accounts.

The testimony of Dr. Crippen of the CBO provided the subcommittee with information on the financial pressures facing the medicare program as a whole, indicating Medicare will spend $237 billion in FY 2001, almost 25% more than five years ago, and counting for 12% of the estimated federal spending. He provided information on beneficiaries' current spending on prescription drugs and existing coverage, and outlined the following four fundamental decisions Congress must consider in designing a drug benefit: Who may participate?;How will program costs be financed?; How comprehensive will coverage be?; and Who will administer the benefit and under what conditions?. Dr. Crippen also assessed of the cost of covering prescriptions drugs for medicare enrollees.

Mr. Poisal of HCFA provided information on an analysis of data on prescription drug use and spending patterns of Medicare beneficiaries. The study, recently published in Health Affairs, Growing Differences Between Medicare Beneficiaries With and Without Drug Coverage, Volume 20, Number 2, indicates that in 1998 the U.S. had a total spending of $91 billion for prescription drugs. The analysis demonstrates that beneficiaries with drug coverage had higher utilization and expenditures than beneficiaries without coverage and that the gap in expenditure and utilization between these two groups has increased.

Future hearings by the Subcommittee in it's series on Medicare Reform will target various aspects of the Medicare program and examine the areas in need of improvement. To view testimony from this hearing please visit the Subcommittee website at http://waysandmeans.house.gov/health.htm .

 

GAO Finds Low California Voter Numbers in Largest Counties

In a written response to Sen. Christopher Bond (MO), the U.S. General Accounting Office examined the voting age population and the number of registered voters in each of the 40 largest U.S. Counties, nine of which are located in California. The figures show that California's voter registration percentages (the ratio of registered voters to voting age population) is relatively low compared to those of large counties in most other states.

In the nation's largest county, Los Angeles, 3.9 million of the 6.7 million persons of voting age population were registered to vote. In other words, Los Angeles County had 58% voter registration. The level in Illinois' Cook County (Chicago), the second-largest, was 68%, and in third-largest Texas' Harris County (Houston), it was 77%. The fourth largest, San Diego County, had 65% of eligibles registered to vote, and fifth-largest Orange County had 58% of the voting age population registered. Among other California counties on the list, 14th-largest Santa Clara County showed a voter registration level of 59%, 17th ranking San Bernardino County registered 60% of its eligibles, number 20 Alameda County registered 68%, number 21 Riverside County registered 58%, 29th-ranked Sacramento County was 71% registered, and in 39th-largest Contra Costa County, 71% of the voting age population was registered.

While the 52% level in Miami-Dade County was the nation's lowest, California counties held the title of second-, third-, and fourth-worst in registration percentages, and the state's counties held six of the bottom ten slots. Of the 40 largest U.S. counties, every California county scored below average.

The GAO chart is on the Institute website at http://www.calinst.org/data/cntyvote.pdf .

 

Briefing on April 6: "Immigration and a New America: The Temporary Worker Visa Debate Numbers"

On Friday, April 6, the Population Resource Center in conjunction with the California Institute will host a briefing entitled "Immigration and a New America: The Temporary Worker Visa Debate Numbers." The briefing will feature remarks by Dr. Philip Martin, Editor of Migration News, Co-Chair of Migration Dialogue, and Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at University of California, Davis. Also making remarks will be Dr. B. Lindsay Lowell, Director of Research for the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University. The briefing will be moderated by the Honorable Anthony C. Beilenson. It will take place from 11:30 am - 1pm in Room 121 of the Cannon House Office Building.

Recent Census data notes that over 28 million (10.4% of the U.S. total) are foreign born, the largest number in U.S. history, and estimates of the number of undocumented immigrants have nearly doubled, from 6 million to 11 million. Over one million immigrants, including 300,000 undocumented immigrants, enter the U.S. every year. At the same time, current immigration policy is increasingly focusing on expanding temporary worker programs. Paralleling last year's expansion of the skilled labor pool via H-1B visas, current immigration policy debate focuses on the expansion of the low-skilled labor pool via H-2A agricultural work visas, and the legalization of undocumented immigrants with long term residency in the US raises various questions. The briefing will attempt to explore the economic and fiscal consequences of expanding temporary worker programs, impacts of allowing hundreds of thousands of farm workers and computer systems analysts to receive short-term work visas, changes in mechanization and production, impact on job training for the skilled labor pool, what might happen in an economic downturn, and, more basically, the impacts of temporary worker programs within the larger context of U.S. immigration policy.

Please join Professors Lowell and Martin, two of the nation's leading immigration economics scholars, in a discussion of these questions and their latest research on the temporary worker visa debate. To RSVP, please email mailto:prc@prcdc.org or call 202-467-5030.

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