2011-08-27 "Proof GOP is going to (but not helping) the dogs" by Wyatt Buchanan and Marisa Lagos from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
Ever since the Republican Red Tide that swept the country stopped at the Sierra Nevada in November, we've been wondering how California's GOP would attract new party members.
(By the way, the Sierra also gave the Donner party problems in November, but that was a snowy winter nearly 165 years ago, and we digress.)
The influence of Republicans, who hold just 43 of the Legislature's 120 seats, has been threatened again recently by newly drawn districts, particularly in the Senate. But judging by some votes cast in the Senate last week, members of the state's Grand Old Party aren't quite ready to aggressively work to win over new constituencies.
First was a bill to prohibit the state from entering in contracts in excess of $100,000 with businesses that do not offer spousal benefits to employees in legally recognized same-sex marriages. All the Republicans opposed it.
Then came a resolution to request that the state rename the Eastshore State Park, which stretches from Richmond to Oakland, for Sylvia McLaughlin, who was instrumental in saving San Francisco Bay from environmental degradation. After Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach (Orange County), questioned it, the resolution was opposed by 11 Republicans, with two not voting.
Of course, since Democrats have nearly a two-thirds majority, both measures passed easily.
The coup de grace was AB971, a bill to re-enact the California Sea Otter Fund, a voluntary program that is paid for by people checking a box on their tax filings saying they want to contribute. Since 2006, when it went into effect, the fund has received more than $1.3 million for research on the health of the adorable creatures.
Instead of agreeing unanimously to the bill, Senate Republicans asked for a roll-call vote. The final tally was 33-3.
Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, who presented the measure, and who is normally a paragon of civil discourse in the chamber, let it go a bit on this one.
"Who's against the sea otters for God's sake?!" he exclaimed.
The "no" votes came from three Republicans: Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville (Sacramento County), who is looking to challenge another conservative Republican in the next primary; Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine (San Diego County), and Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar (Los Angeles County).
The kicker: Anderson and Huff are the top two contenders to be the next Senate Republican leader.
Don't tell me how to track my dog: Senate Republicans weren't the only GOP lawmakers making hay out of measures relating to animals this week - apparently saving dogs and cats from euthanasia doesn't make the partisan cut either.
On Thursday, the Assembly debated (and passed) a bill that would require shelters and pet owners to implant a microchip into animals adopted from a shelter or released back to their family after being lost. The rice-size chips allow officials to more easily reunite lost pets with their owners, and cost less than $50.
The change, according to Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, could save taxpayers up to $300 million a year - the amount the public pays to euthanize pets.
Assemblywoman Linda Halderman, R-Fresno had this response: "I rise in utter astonishment, that with a $4 billion budget deficit, we are talking about microchipping dogs." The measure passed, 45-21. As for what Dickinson thought of his colleague's opposition?
"My response to her is 'woof'," he said.
Oh so awkward: Now, we present some of the most cringe-inducing moments of the week at the Capitol.
First up, Gov. Jerry Brown's Thursday news conference on his job creation proposal, which relies on undoing a corporate tax break passed as part of the February 2009 budget deal. Brown called the break "perverse and outrageous" and said "very few people knew, including the governor, what the hell they were doing" when they passed it.
Standing right next to Brown was Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who negotiated the tax break with former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He grabbed the microphone and said, "Of course we knew what we were doing, and it was an outrageous demand." He explained that Democrats agreed to it because the GOP agreed to temporary tax increases.
Steinberg wasn't the only one snubbed by Brown this week. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who rolled out his own jobs plan a few weeks back - only to have it overshadowed by the governor's - was nowhere to be seen at that event. Not to be outdone - or forgotten - his office released this statement following Brown's news conference:
"I applaud Governor Brown for his renewed and vital focus on job creation and for adopting three of the key points in our recently released Economic Growth and Competitiveness Agenda - executive sponsorship, a jobs czar and focus on manufacturing," Newsom said in the written statement. "I look forward to continuing our work."