California Capitol Hill Bulletin

Volume 16, Bulletin 1 -- January 9, 2009    [view online or pdf or go to previous]


To expand communications between Washington and California, the California Institute provides periodic bulletins regarding current activity on Capitol Hill that affects our state.  Bulletins are published weekly during sessions of Congress, and occasionally during other periods.  To subscribe to the Bulletin or other California Institute announcements, visit this link.


CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE:

Economy: Judiciary Holds Hearing on Impact of Recession on Law Enforcement

Climate: Senator Boxer, Committee Hold Briefing: Investing in Green Technology as a Strategy for Economic Recovery

Transportation: UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies To Hold Briefing January 12

Resources: Delta Vision Releases Final Report

Technology: ITIF Report Highlights Value of Investing In Digital Infrastructure

Economy: Pew Center Releases Survey On Economy’s Impact On Hispanics

Education: California Receives a "C" Average in K-12 Education

Energy: January 13 Briefing by CESA and EESI to Highlight State Role in Developing and Deploying Clean Energy Technologies

Capitol Hill: Downloadable Calendar of 2009 Anticipated House Votes Dates



Economy: Judiciary Holds Hearing on Impact of Recession on Law Enforcement

        The Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing on "Helping State and Local Law Enforcement During an Economic Downturn" on Thursday, January 8, 2009.

        Witnesses included: Michael E. Schirling, Chief of Police, Burlington Police Department, Burlington,VT; Charles H. Ramsey, Police Commissioner, Philadelphia Police Department; John R. Schmidt, Partner, Mayer Brown and former Associate Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice; Mary Lou Leary, Executive Director, The National Center for Victims of Crime; and David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D., Senior Policy Analyst, The Heritage Foundation.

        During the hearing Mr. Schmidt pointed out that the city of Sacramento recently was pleased to announce that it was able to figure out a way to fill 11 vacancies in its Police Department. However, there are about 98 vacancies in the Department, he said, indicating the extent of the problem facing departments across the country

        Among the other topics raised at the hearing were:

        - the decrease in recent years of federal funding supporting law enforcement activities and the impact on communities and crime because of the reduction; for instance, Philadelphia received almost $30 million in federal funding in the 1990s, but now receives only about one-tenth that amount; whether government funding forces out potential private sector spending and the impact that has on law enforcement success; that, although there is about $1.3 billion available in the Victims of Crime Act fund, the amount of money that can be released has been capped and only about $625 million was released last year; whether COPS grants have been effective in reducing crime in communities.

        For further information and to obtain the witnesses' testimony, go to: http://www.judiciary.senate.gov


Climate: Senator Boxer, Committee Hold Briefing: Investing in Green Technology as a Strategy for Economic Recovery

        Senator Barbara Boxer and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, of which she is chair, convened an informational briefing on Wednesday, January 7, 2009 to discuss the role that investment in green technology and job creation will play in stimulating the economy.

        The two panelists were Thomas Friedman, author of "The World is Flat" and "Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America", and John Doerr, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Claufield & Byers (KPCB).

        "I believe we must mobilize our great nation once again," said Senator Boxer, in her opening statement. "We should mobilize to rebuild our aging infrastructure and we should mobilize to avoid the ravages of global warming…The good news is that the steps we take to combat global warming will create jobs, make us more energy independent and reinvigorate our economy. In these challenging times, green jobs represent the kind of win-win solution we need. Green jobs are labor intensive. They put people to work here in America…and by focusing on green technology, energy efficiency and clean sources of energy, we will make America energy independent and combat global warming.”

        The witnesses identified the need for coordinated investments and incentives to accelerate green innovation and to ensure that America establishes itself as a worldwide leader in green technology and the energy technology revolution. Both witnesses highlighted the urgency of the climate crisis and encouraged swift and large-scale federal government action.

        Witness testimony and the archived webcast can be found at: http://epw.senate.gov/public/ .


Transportation: UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies To Hold Briefing January 12

        On January 12, 2009 the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis (ITS-Davis) will sponsor a briefing on federal transportation and energy policy options. Congressman Mike Thompson is hosting the briefing, which will begin at 3:30 pm in the Congressional Auditorium at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center.

        Speakers will include Dan Sperling, Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies and a Member of the California Air Resources Board; David L. Greene, Corporate Fellow of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Visiting Scholar at ITS-Davis; Tom Turrentine, Director of the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Research Center at ITS-Davis; Sonia Yea, Research Engineer at ITS-Davis; and Mike McCoy, Director of Urban Land Use and Transportation Center at UC Davis.

        The participants will discuss efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, lessons from other nations and from sub-national GHG reduction efforts, approaches to accelerate light-duty vehicle efficiency, low carbon fuels, and the reduction of vehicle travel through smart land use planning and other means. Speakers will also discuss the basis and current implementation stage of four key California low-carbon transportation strategies: its low carbon fuel standard (LCFS); a renewed consideration of feebates; PHEV roll-out strategies; and tools to support smart land use under California State Senate Bill 375 (Steinberg). 

        ITS-Davis has organized an active university-based transportation energy program. Its programs are internationally recognized and include 50 affiliated faculty and researchers, 111 graduate students, and a $6 million annual budget. ITS-Davis runs the nation's most comprehensive comparative analysis of future fuels and vehicles, the 22-member Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS) research program. The Institute's mission is to serve the needs of society by organizing and conducting multidisciplinary research on emerging and important transportation issues, disseminating this research through conferences and scholarly publications, and enhancing the quality and breadth of transportation education. For additional information, visit http://www.its.ucdavis.edu/index.php.

        For more information on the briefing and to RSVP, contact Pilar Rivera, UC Davis Government and Community Relations perivera@ucdavis.edu or 530-752-9795.


Resources: Delta Vision Releases Final Report

        The Cabinet-level Delta Vision Committee on January 2, 2009 sent its final report to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger making recommendations for solving the Bay Delta’s environmental and water supply problems. The report rests on the conclusion of the Governor’s Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force that the goal must be to “restore the Delta ecosystem and create a more reliable water supply for California.”

        The report sets out several priorities that form the foundation for a sustainable Delta include the following “fundamental actions”:

        • A new system of dual water conveyance through and around the Delta to protect municipal, agricultural, environmental, and the other beneficial uses of water;

        • An investment commitment and strategy to restore and sustain a vibrant and diverse Delta ecosystem including the protection and enhancement of agricultural lands that are compatible with Plan goals;

        • Additional storage to allow greater system operational flexibility that will benefit water supplies for both humans and the environment and adapt to a changing climate;

        • An investment plan to protect and enhance unique and important characteristics of the Delta region.         • A comprehensive Delta emergency preparedness strategy and a fully integrated Delta emergency response plan;

        The report also sets out a timeline for action. Included in the 2009 timeline is the goal of producing legislation dealing with the following issues: water bond; water fees; Delta conservancy; enhanced administrative water rights authority for the Water Board; and water conservation. For 2010, the report calls for surface storage feasibility studies (Sites Reservoir, Los Vaqueros expansion, and San Joaquin River Basin) to be completed; for 2011 the goal is to break ground on new Delta water conveyance and to continue ecosystem restoration activities.

        For the complete report, go to: http://www.resources.ca.gov/docs/Delta_Vision_Committee_Implementation_Report.pdf .


Technology: ITIF Report Highlights Value of Investing In Digital Infrastructure

        The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s recently released report “The Digital Road to Recovery: A Stimulus Plan to Create Jobs, Boost Productivity and Revitalize America” highlights potential economic opportunities created by investing in the nation’s digital infrastructure. The report assesses three IT infrastructure projects that ITIF believes will contribute to significant immediate direct and indirect job growth and provide long term economic, political and societal impacts. ITIF estimates that a $30 billion investment in America’s IT network infrastructure this year will create 949,000 new U.S. jobs. These IT infrastructure projects include broadband networks, the smart grid, and health IT. The report outlines specific policy steps necessary to spur the investment in each project.

        The report identifies three major findings. First, investments in America’s digital infrastructure will spur short term job creation, with approximately 525,000 of these jobs in small businesses. Specifically, a $10 billion investment in broadband networks will generate 489,000 new and retained US jobs; an additional $10 billion investment in Health IT will generate 212,000 new and retained jobs; and a $50 billion investment in Smart power grid technology over five years will create 239,000 new and retained jobs.
        Second, the report suggests that investment in digital infrastructure will create a network effect, which will lead to an additional employment growth multiplier as a result of new consumer and business behavior, functionality, and downstream industries.

        Finally, the report indicates that investment in America’s digital infrastructure will lead to a higher level of productivity, increased competitiveness and an improved overall quality of life in the moderate to long term in a variety of ways, such as aiding economic growth, increasing worker productivity, decreasing medical errors, improving energy efficiency, decreasing carbon emissions and decreasing costs across multiple sectors of the economy.

        Examples of California’s efforts are highlighted in the report; specifically, California’s efforts to broadly deploy smart meters and the California Public Utilities Commission’s approval of Southern California Edison’s $1.3 billion program aimed at installing smart meters for 250,000 customers. ITIF indicates that individual utility and single state investments won’t be enough to spur widespread investment, and advocates multi-billion dollar federal investment and action.

        The complete report and audio and video from the report release event can be found at: http://www.itif.org/index.php?id=212


Economy: Pew Center Releases Survey On Economy’s Impact On Hispanics

        On January 8, 2009, the Pew Hispanic Center released “Hispanics and the Economic Downturn: Housing Woes and Remittance Cuts,” assessing the impact of the recession on Latinos. The survey of 1,540 Latino adults was conducted by Mark Hugo Lopez, Associate Director, Gretchen Livingston, Senior Researcher, and Rakesh Kochhar, Associate Director for Research, all of the Pew Hispanic Center.

        Among its findings are that:

        - almost one-in-ten (9%) Latino homeowners say they missed a mortgage payment or were unable to make a full payment;

        - 3% say they received a foreclosure notice in the past year;

        - more than six-in-ten (62%) Latino homeowners say there have been foreclosures in their neighborhood over the past year;

        - 36% say they are worried that their own home may go into foreclosure, and this figure rises to 53% among foreign-born Latino homeowners;

        - among Hispanic immigrants who sent remittances in the last two years, more than seven-in-ten (71%) say they sent less in 2008 than in the prior year;

        - more than three-in-four (76%) Latinos, and 84% of foreign-born Latinos, say their current personal finances are in either fair or poor shape, while 63% of the general U.S. population says the same;

        - more than seven-in-ten (71%) report that they cut back spending on eating out;

        - more than two-thirds (67%) planned to curtail holiday spending; and

        - over one-fourth (28%) report that they helped a family member or friend with a loan.

        To obtain the full report, go to: http://www.pewhispanic.org .


Education: California Receives a "C" Average in K-12 Education

        Quality Counts 2009, the 13th edition in a series of annual reports released by Education Week aimed at tracking state education policies and outcomes, gave California a "C" average in K-12 education. The report provides a state- by-state analysis of 35 different educational indicators of student success. Graded categories include a Chance-for Success-Index, including assessments of policies related to transitions and alignment, and school funding and finance equity. The report also provides information about how each state is dealing with the challenges of educating English-language learners.

        The Chance for Success Index, which assesses 13 indicators including family income, parental education and employment, among others, is designed to determine the way that K-12 education helps move individuals from child hood to adulthood and into the workforce. The report indicates that for the second year in a row, Massachusetts has the highest marks, receiving an A grade. Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and New Mexico received D grades; California received a C grade.

        Education Week also found that all states are making progress in the area of early-childhood education, and that for the first time every state has aligned kindergarten learning expectations with elementary and secondary standards, but also found that only three states: New York, Rhode Island, and Texas, require a college-preparatory curriculum as a condition of high school graduation; California does not.

        Quality Counts 2009 assessed state efforts to tackle the challenges of educating the nation's 5.1 million English-language learners and found that the achievement gap between English learners is significant. Nationally, a quarter of English language learners are deemed as 'not-making progress' towards English-language proficiency. The highest density of English language learners can be found in California; half of all English language learners come from California and Texas combined.

        Overall, California's highest grades are in the "standards" and "accountability" indicators, with A grades, but the state has the lowest grades in "overall K-12 achievement", with a D grade, and in "education spending", with an F grade. California ranks 47th in the nation in terms of per-pupil spending.

        The full report and more information on California's grades can be found at http://www.edweek.org/ew/index.html


Energy: January 13 Briefing by CESA and EESI to Highlight State Role in Developing and Deploying Clean Energy Technologies

        On Tuesday, January 13, 2009, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) are hosting an informational briefing to discuss the significant role that states are playing in developing and deploying clean energy technologies. The briefing, which includes speakers Mark Sinclair, Executive Director, Clean Energy States Alliance; Janet Joseph, Director of Clean Energy Research & Market Development, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); Tom Plant, Director, Colorado Governor's Energy Office; Rob Sanders, Sustainable Development Fund Manager, The Reinvestment Fund; Peter West, Director of Renewable Energy, Energy Trust of Oregon; and Lew Milford, President, Clean Energy Group, will also offer specific recommendations to Congress on how the federal government, working in partnerships with states, can more effectively tackle the country's energy, economic, and climate challenges.

        The briefing will be held from 2 to 3:30 pm in Room 366 Dirksen Senate Office Building on January 13.

This event is free and open to the public. No RSVP is necessary. For more information, please contact Maria Blais at maria@cleanegroup.org or (802) 223-2554.


Capitol Hill: Downloadable Calendar of 2009 Anticipated House Votes Dates

        [I created this for my calendar and then tried to adapt it for wider use ... I can't say for sure it will work with you particular computer and/or calendar. To view the calendar directly, without worrying about downloading, go to http://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=2ddnrq33hc9pu7soh146ecah0g%40group.calendar.google.com&ctz=America/New_York.]

        In theory, the downloading file will work in Outlook (it tests working there), Google Calendar, and anyplace else that accepts an iCalendar (.ics) or vCalendar (.vcs) file. That way, you can sync it to other devices.

        To use it in MS Outlook, you must "import" the file from Outlook itself ... it does not work to simply open the file separately. To import it, save this file on your computer. Then do the following from within Outlook: Click "File", click "Import and Export", select "Import an iCalendar or vCalendar file (.vcs or .ics)", click "Next", and then choose the file from your computer.

        A few important caveats:

    * When a day's session starts at 6:30 pm, the calendar entry is set for that time. For all other "votes" days, I arbitrarily set the entry for a time of 9:00 am.

    * This creates a separate, freestanding calendar entry on each 2009 House session day -- all 136 of them. To remove them from Outlook, you can search the calendar for "Votes-House", then highlight and delete them. However, I cannot confirm that all programs will delete them as easily ... caveat emptor.

    * Avoid importing the file more than once ... it will create a ton of duplicates.

    * If you're using Google Calendar, your may default to adding an email and/or pop-up reminder to every event ... and that gets pretty annoying. Remember: before importing, you might want to click on the Settings - Calendars tab - Notifications link, and then turn OFF the reminder options first.

    * Better yet, another option for Google Calendar users would be to set up a separate calendar for this. Google Calendar lets you use and see multiple calendars at once, and you can turn off this one if you want to not see or hear from it. Create a new calendar, and you can then use tools like "display only this calendar" or choose which calendars to view at a time. (Plus, it lets you just delete this one if it's not to your liking.)<>

    * The House session dates listed are taken from the House Majority Leader's official calendar in January 2009 at the time the House was sworn in. It thus will not reflect any changes (added or dropped dates) made subsequently.

        OK. If you're ready to go, the file to download/save is located here: http://www.calinst.org/pubs/HouseCal2009.ics. Alternatively, you can download it from the google link shown above. Any questions, contact Tim Ransdell.