Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State and the beginnning of the legislative session

Watch replay of Gov. Brown's State of the State

Gov. Jerry Brown delivered his 13th State of the State address Thursday morning. 

Our politics team will continue to offer full coverage and analysis of the speech, an annual address delivered from the Assembly chamber at the state Capitol. You can also keep up to date via our Twitter feed, and get a daily dose of politics and government news from our Essential Politics newsletter.

It was judgment day for dozens of bills in the Legislature

 (Ken James / Bloomberg)
(Ken James / Bloomberg)

State lawmakers faced one of the final major hurdles in clearing legislation before an end-of-month deadline.

The powerful Appropriations committees met Thursday to determine the fate of dozens of bills, most of them carryover proposals from last year that must pass their houses of origin by Jan. 31. 

Several high-profile bills cleared committee, including an Assembly bill to allow ballot selfies on social media, another that would regulate the fantasy sports industry, and one that would grant families on welfare assistance a monthly voucher to buy diapers. The Assembly Appropriations committee also signed off on a bill that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to make their sales tax payments in cash.

The Senate Appropriations Committee sent on a measure on charter bus safety that came in response to the deadly Northern California bus crash that claimed the lives of several Los Angeles-area students, but shelved a bill that would have closed a loophole in Proposition 13 that allows some commercial properties to escape reassessment if they are sold to more than one person.

The focus moves now to the Senate and Assembly floors, which must pass these bills by next week to keep them alive and move them through to the next house.

Times staff writer Patrick McGreevy contributed to this report.

Fresno's mayor praises Obama for federal help

Yes, you read the headline correctly.

It's not often that the mayor of Fresno gets a chance to speak from the lectern inside the White House briefing room, let alone a Republican mayor often talked about back home as a contender for statewide office in 2018.

But such was the case Thursday, when Mayor Ashley Swearengin praised the Obama administration's help for communities like hers. It was Swearengin who welcomed the president on the tarmac for his Central Valley visit in 2014.

Swearengin's comments came in response to a question from my colleague, Michael Memoli. And while she suggested policy trumped politics, it might not hurt a GOP candidate in California to get some attention for bipartisanship.

Needless to say, the Obama team quickly tweeted out the video.

Gavin Newsom endorses Kamala Harris for U.S. Senate

 (Phil Willon/Los Angeles Times)
(Phil Willon/Los Angeles Times)

Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom on Thursday endorsed longtime friend and San Francisco political ally Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris for the U.S. Senate.

Newsom said he knew Harris long before both became major Democratic political players in San Francisco -- he as mayor and Harris as district attorney.

"If you can survive San Francisco politics, Washington, D.C., is a cakewalk," Newsom told a crowd of Harris supporters at her Sacramento campaign office.

Newsom, who is preparing for a 2018 bid for California governor, described Harris as an ethical and pragmatic leader, and one who cares about Californians.

Harris was first elected attorney general in 2010, and was reelected in 2014.

She told supporters that, if sent to Washington, she would make education among her top priorities. She touted her efforts to combat truancy and reduce the number of high school dropouts, and also outlined her efforts to win a $20-billion settlement from the nation's top banks in the wake of the foreclosure crisis.

The attorney general also criticized Washington politicians who conflate immigration policy with criminal justice policy.

Harris said the overwhelming majority of immigrants who come to the United States without proper documents are decent, hardworking people. 

"An undocumented immigrant is not a criminal," Harris said.

She acknowledged that there are exceptions, alluding to the case of five-time deportee Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who shot and killed 32-year-old Kate Steinle in San Francisco. If those individuals are found guilty, they should be "locked up as long as we can."

Harris is the current front-runner in the race to succeed retiring Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate. Her biggest rival is fellow Democrat Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange.

Full text of Gov. Brown's State of the State

Miss the speech? Want to know where Gov. Jerry Brown went off-script and what was notably absent from his remarks? Fear not, you can read the full text of the State of the State, with helpful annotations from our Sacramento politics team, here

In email to campaign supporters, Brown touts water tunnels

Gov. Jerry Brown dusted off his rarely used campaign email account to send supporters a copy of his State of the State address not long after delivering the speech. The email had the subject line "California: The Great Exception" and included a prominent link to a video promoting the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnels project, which would replumb the state's water hub.

"One of the key points is the need for a reliable system for moving water in California," reads the email's introduction, before directing viewers to a "cool video" on the plan. The twin tunnels — a legacy project for the governor — were notably not mentioned in his address.

California ethics panel approves more detailed lobbying disclosure

 (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Special interest groups will have to disclose many more details of how they are spending money to influence California officials under new rules approved Thursday by the state’s ethics panel.

Currently, corporations, labor unions and other groups must report the money they pay directly to lobbyists, along with the identity of the advocate.

But the rest of the cash they spend on consultants, television and radio campaigns, public affairs and mail is reported as a lump sum in a category called "other payments to influence," without any explanation.

“The amount of money that is being spent in the dark is extremely compelling,” said state Fair Political Practices Commission member Eric Casher.

The panel on Thursday voted to require, starting in July, that lobbying firms report details of any payment to influence of $2,500 per calendar quarter, including money spent on mailers, TV ads and polls.

“In order to make sure people are playing by the rules, we need this type of information,” said Jodi Remke, chairwoman of the panel. “It puts a light on what is going on.”

The newly disclosed information will include the name and business address of the payee, the amount paid and the primary purpose of the payment.

Purposes will be disclosed by codes broadly designating activities that include:

--Payments for public affairs, which includes coalition building, grass-roots campaigns,, news releases, media campaigns, literature and mailings.

--Polling and public opinion research:

--Lobbying events, including rallies or hearings to influence legislative or administrative action.

--Advertising spending, including billboards, print, radio, television, text, email and other electronic communication.

--Money paid to lobbyists and consultants for researching, analyzing or drafting legislation, and recommending strategy on pending bills and administrative proposals.

Remke said the new rules may reveal which former legislators are working behind the scenes to help clients without registering as lobbyists because they don’t meet thresholds for payments received to directly communicate with elected officials.

Remke made reference, without using names, to former state Sen. Michael Rubio (D-Bakersfield) and former state Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno), who resigned from the Legislature to go to work in the government affairs offices of Chevron and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, respectively.

“I think we are going to get [disclosure of] the people like the former members who leave the Legislature early, join Chevron, join the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers, but call themselves government relations advocates,” Remke said. “But we know what they are doing. They are exposing their clients to the [legislative] members and doing other things short of direct communication.”

Brown weighs in on California's water wars

"Water goes to the heart of what California is and what it has been over centuries," Gov. Jerry Brown said during his State of the State speech. "Pitting fish against farmer misses the point and grossly distorts reality."

Jerry Brown for 2018?

Gov. Jerry Brown began his State of the State address with an off-script joke about his long run as California's governor.

"Three more years to go. That is, unless I take my surplus campaign funds and put a ballot initiative on the November ballot to allow fourth-term governors to seek a final fifth term," Brown said.

'Profoundly uncertain' world, says Brown

In a short speech with a long view of California, Gov. Jerry Brown used his State of the State address to challenge lawmakers to better balance the cyclical nature of success and setback that has dominated state government for the better part of two decades.

"The challenge is to solve today's problems without making those of tomorrow even worse," the governor said in his annual speech delivered from the Assembly chamber.

View from the floor

Here at the state Capitol we often think we have more control over things than we actually do. But the truth is that global events, markets and policies set the pace and shape the world we live in.

Gov. Jerry Brown in his 2016 State of the State

George Skelton weighs in on speech

Brown wraps up State of the State speech in less than 20 minutes

On climate, Brown says 'humankind must change its ways'

Jerry Brown addresses budget

Four more years?

Gavin Newsom introduces Gov. Jerry Brown