This is it. We can't win the battle over AB 52 this afternoon, but we can lose it. We can lose it if the bill doesn't come off of suspension so that it even gets to the full Senate Appropriations Committee so that we can see who the heroes and villains are. That decision will probably be set in the minds of Senators in a few hours.
You may have seen serious diaries from jpmassar and quirkier ones from me asking you to call these six Democratic Senators and ask them to support AB52.
Senator Christine Kehoe (Chair) -- (916) 651-4039
Senator Elaine Alquist -- (916) 651-4013
Senator Ted W. Lieu -- (916) 651-4028
Senator Fran Pavley -- (916) 651-4023
Senator Curren Price -- (916) 651-4026
Senator Darrell Steinberg -- (916) 651-4006
Bear in mind: Constituents' Calls Matter Most!
Now I'm going to give you some insider details about the state of play and what we need to do now -- as in, before 4:00 p.m. PST if possible. The takeaway is: if you are in the current 28th State Senate District or what will be the new 26th State Senate District, you should be calling Ted Lieu. Now. I'm not sending along instructions from anyone official; that's just my sense -- as someone who has been paying close attention -- of how things stand.
That is, specifically: Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Lennox, Lomita, Manhattan Beach, Marina del Rey, Redondo Beach, Torrance, West Carson, and parts of Long Beach and Los Angeles) current district and , and/or his new District, SD 26, which includes Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades and the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Again: (916) 651-4028.
I made six calls this morning to the Democratic State Senators, aided tremendously by the previous spadework that others have done. Here's what I found:
Chairwoman Kehoe: This is the most important call that everyone can make. She's a good Senator, but given the power and influence she has as Chair she is probably under enormous pressure. We need her on our side. My earlier update:
I just asked a smart and circumspect staffer in Kehoe's office if Kehoe's office could address the concern based on the comment from Lieu's office that the bill might not come off of the suspense calendar. He was neither encouraging nor discouraging, explaining why a bill in general might remain on the suspense calendar (including the possibility of the sponsor changing it into a 2-year bill; someone more knowledgeable may want to explain that one) -- and I was left more discouraged than encouraged.
At this point, I'm neither encouraged nor discouraged by the response: I'm just activated. Are you?
Alquist: Her office has been telling people that she voted for the bill on the Health Committee and voted for it to be sent to Appropriations. That's great. CALL HER AND THANK HER! But -- it's also not good enough. A Senator can do all of that good stuff as a "freebie" if he or she knows that it will be scuttled -- privately (by not getting off suspension) or in a public vote (tomorrow) -- down the line. The Appropriations version of the bill is in its final form. We want her to make an unambiguous commitment. But, even if she doesn't, I'm optimistic about her.
Lieu: I'm saving Lieu for last.
Pavley: Exemplary! She's for it. Her office also said that if there's some meeting today to discuss what happens now, as I Kehoe's office at least implied would or could be the case (it wasn't entirely clear), she has not been asked to be part of it. That's of some concern.
Price: He represents a low-income area -- but so did two of the Assembly people who were the biggest problems for the bill on the Assembly Appropriations Committee, Jose Solorio and Charles Calderon. He needs to get calls. The staffer I spoke to "was just filling in"; we don't know what his position is.
Steinberg: Delightfully informed staffer. Steinberg is for it. She has not heard rumors of the bill not being likely to come off of suspension. Steinberg has not supported any amendments to it. I believe that we can count on him.
Now back to Lieu: I am not happy right now. He should try to make us all happier.
Lieu's office, when asked whether the bill would be coming off of suspension, said that the author (Asmb. Feuer) would probably be the one to know, that legislators often don't take stands on bills until they see the final language, and that in many cases there are amendments that could change the bill, etc.
Well, guess what? Bills can't be amended between now and tomorrow, so the bill is already in the form it will be in when he votes (or helps to kill it in secrecy) tomorrow. So this is ... let's use the term "beside the point." Sen. Lieu can take a stand now. If he is wise, he'll do so.
I asked the staffer to pass on a message to Sen. Lieu. I told him that if the bill doesn't go forward, that any contributions that Sen. Lieu gets from the health insurance industry between now and the SD 26 election in 2014 will hang like a millstone around his neck. His new district contains Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills. Democratic voters there will be attentive, aware, and unforgiving. We'll keep track this very significant vote. Blaming him if it doesn't make it out of suspension may be unfair -- for all I know, he might support it and Kehoe and Price or Alquist might be the ones to knock it down -- but frankly absent a firm commitment ahead of time to support the bill, that's what I'm going to do. He's in a vulnerable position, moving into a new district, and he should know that his viability depends on the success of this bill. (You get onto Appropriations and you have to take the heat.)
My conversation with Asmb. Feuer's office: I spoke to another wonderfully informed staffer in the office of Asmb. Feuer, the author of the bill. She said that the Assemblyman appreciates our efforts to contact the members of the Senate Committee and that today is the crucial day to do so. She says that the issue now is making sure that it gets off of the suspension calendar. They are working hard, I get no sense of panic or pessimism, but they frankly don't know if it will come off suspension and they know that this is a critical hurdle. You just don't know until it happens. She is interested in knowing it anyone else hears rumors, more clear than the odd statement made to cooper888, about it possibly not coming out of suspension. Right now, that doesn't really even rise to the level of being a real rumor; it could just have been a staff member giving a weird answer. But we'd like to pin people down today on this point.
So, everyone: you want to be involved in politics?
Here and now, this afternoon, is your chance!