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Sacramento Report: Providers Worry Health Care Session's Been Hijacked

Atkins tries to delay the vote to replace her, minimum wage bill gets shelved and the week in people-made-of-paper news.

The title of a flier being sent around by the Developmental Disabilities Provider Network & San Diego Regional Center kind of says it all: “A RALLY … AGAIN.”

The first rally of service providers to the developmentally disabled happened back in June, just after Gov. Jerry Brown kicked money for them out of the budget and into a special session.

Sacramento Report logoIn a report released earlier this year, the Association of Regional Center Agencies found that California spends less on each individual with a developmental disability than every other state. And yet caseloads are growing ever higher, and homes that can’t manage the financial stress are shutting down.

Speaker Toni Atkins assured service providers at the time that “#DDS funding in scope of special session on health care we’re opening Friday. Commitment hasn’t changed, only venue.”

Still, providers are on edge.

Brown tasked the Legislature with finding new revenue for the system. “We’re not dumb, we know that means taxes,” said Carlos Flores, executive director of the San Diego Regional Center, which provides services to the developmentally disabled in San Diego and Imperial counties.

Tax increases, of course, come with a high two-thirds vote bar for being passed.

“But for the sake of service providers and saving our system, I’ve just got to hope there’s a chance,” Flores said.

And even though the session was billed as an effort aimed directly at finding money for service providers, lately all the oxygen has been sucked up by bills that have nothing to do with the developmentally disabled, like a second shot at the aid-in-dying bill, and another bill that addresses recent Planned Parenthood controversies.

“The budgets passed in both houses of the Legislature included increased funding for providers of services for Californians with developmental disabilities,” Atkins told me in an email. “However, the governor chose to address the need for funding in a special legislative session. As I’ve indicated before, developmental-services funding is an integral component of the special session on health care, and I remain committed to finding a solution.”

The L.A. Daily News urged action this week on several GOP-sponsored bills that would give providers a funding boost, including SB X2-4, co-authored by Sen. Joel Anderson. But those bills are “languishing in inattention” so far, the Daily News writes.

 George Skelton defends the resurrection of the aid-in-dying bill in the special session: “All’s fair in love and war and legislative games-playing.”

Atkins Asks to Delay the Hunt for Her Replacement

Speaker Toni Atkins is staring down the end of her last Assembly term, but has asked her colleagues to hold off on voting for her replacement, the Sacramento Bee reports:

A letter Atkins has circulated asks that Democratic lawmakers to commit to voting for her replacement the week of January 5, 2016, ensuring they won’t make a move until after this legislative year concludes.

Atkins asked members to sign the letter during separate meetings with her leadership team and with Speaker hopefuls.

In an emailed statement Thursday, a spokesman for Atkins said the Democratic leader was hoping to ensure lawmakers were not distracted during the final, crucial stretch of the legislative year.

Senate Republicans, meanwhile, took an early vote on their new leader, and chose Bakersfield Sen. Jean Fuller. The GOP Caucus seemed to confirm on Twitter that this will mark the first time that Republicans in the Senate and Assembly have been simultaneously led by two women.

Minimum Wage Bill Shelved

Probably the highest-profile bill among dozens shelved this week was an effort to hike the state minimum wage to $11 an hour next year, then $13 an hour in 2017.

That would have made San Diego’s minimum wage hike, set to appear on the June 2016 ballot, moot. But it’s still unclear whether any group will rise up to mount a series opposition to the hike. Earlier this year, Lincoln Club Executive Director Ryan Clumpner said he’s not sure whether the group – seemingly a natural enemy for a wage hike – will weigh in.

What SD Legislators Are Up To

 Several San Diego legislators are backing an audit of Orange County’s Great Park debacle. (OC Register)

 Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez told me last month that she hoped to look into conditions surrounding nail salon workers; that got under way this week as she and other lawmakers promised a series of bills next year addressing exposure to harmful chemicals and wage theft. (KCRA)

 Assemblywoman Shirley Weber makes the case in the L.A. Times for her bill to make kindergarten mandatory.  (Pro tip: Weber will be talking about education issues at our next One Voice at a Time event.)

 Speaker Toni Atkins’ bill helping victims of domestic violence reclaim cell phone accounts controlled by their abusers has advanced to the governor’s desk. (Union-Tribune)

 Assemblywoman Marie Waldron writes in the Vista Press that she’s optimistic that the controversial cap on schools’ reserve funds will be lifted.

The Week in People-Made-of-Paper News

 Cardboard versions of Atkins, Gonzalez and other lawmakers appeared on the Capitol steps this week, courtesy of a protest against money in politics that included decorating cutouts of legislators with the logos of their corporate donors. (Weirdly, Cardboard Atkins and Cardboard Gonzalez are wearing the same outfits and have, apparently, the exact same body.)

 Gonzalez had some fun with a Donald Trump piñata in her office.

Golden State News

 Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote a Medium post urging state lawmakers to pass SB 32, which would codify the goal of reducing emissions by 80 percent by 2050 into state law, as well as Republicans’ “plan to terminate traffic jams in California.”

 Thank God there are studies around to confirm what we already know: California traffic is really bad; rents in California are astronomically high. Both reports are ammunition for measures the Legislature is considering, including special session bills to address road repairs and traffic, and Speaker Toni Atkins’ big measure to fund more affordable housing. (Sac Bee)

 President Moonbeam just isn’t gonna happen, folks. (L.A. Times)

 The state Department of Pesticide Regulation has responded to community concerns about harmful chemicals “with statements that contradict the findings of their own scientists and exaggerate their own policies,” reports our pal Andy Donohue. (Center for Investigative Reporting)

 Many state agencies are vulnerable to a security breach. (AP)

 California education officials deleted 15 years’ worth of standardized test scores from the website where they’re usually accessed. They say it’s not fair to compare those scores with new scores from the reimagined tests pegged to the Common Core system. (EdSource)

 The L.A. Times has a good explainer of how the state budget is affected by big stock market swings.

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