California Capitol Hill Bulletin

Volume 15, Bulletin 13 — May 2, 2008    [view online]  [or see pdf version]  [or go to previous bulletin]

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.


Intellectual Property: Judiciary Reports Bill Strengthening Copyright Rules

Housing: House Financial Services Passes Housing Stabilization and Homeowner Retention Act

Education: House Education & Labor Approves 21st Century High-Performing Public Schools Act

Health: Health Subcommittee Hears Testimony on Discussion Draft of FDA Globalization Act

Climate: House Global Warming Select Committee Addresses Impact of Climate Change on Oceans

Resources: Water Resources Subcommittee Hears WRDA Recommendations

Natural Disasters: Economic Development Panel Holds Hearing on Reauthorization of Pre-disaster Mitigation Program

Immigration: House Judiciary Subcommittee Assesses Visa Use And Delays

Immigration: Senate Homeland Security Looks At REAL ID Progress

Climate: Rep. Tauscher Hosts Briefing on Transportation and Climate Change

Education: Ways and Means Hears Recommendations for Improvement to Education Tax Incentives

Demographics: PPIC Releases New Survey on Californians and Education

Demographics: Census Releases State Population & Demographic Data

Climate: Tuesday Briefing on Renewable Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction

Intellectual Property: Judiciary Reports Bill Strengthening Copyright Rules

      By voice vote on April 30, the House Judiciary Committee reported H.R. 4279, the “Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property (PRO-IP) Act of 2007.”

      Among other provisions, the bill amends provisions of U.S. copyright law that relate to inaccurate information contained in copyright registrations, the application of copyright registration requirements to civil (not criminal) infringement actions; and the prohibition on importing and exporting infringing copies of copyrighted works. It also strengthens criminal penalties and civil and criminal forfeiture provisions relating to intellectual property.

      For further information, go to: .

Housing: House Financial Services Passes Housing Stabilization and Homeowner Retention Act

      On Wednesday April 30 and Thursday May 1, 2008 the House Financial Services Committee continued the markup of H.R. 5830, FHA Housing Stabilization and Homeowner Retention Act of 2008. The committee considered more than 20 amendments Wednesday to H.R. 5830, which would expand the Federal Housing Administration’s insurance program to back new loans for borrowers threatened with foreclosure. The bill would provide $300 billion in new authority for the FHA to back refinanced loans, provided the holder of the original mortgage voluntarily reduced the debt owed to reflect the reduced value of a home. Panel members debated how to allocate counseling funds for borrowers threatened with foreclosure.

      At the start of the markup on April 24, Rep. Melvin Watt offered an amendment that would increase funding for foreclosure counseling to $210 million from $200 million, and would require that $40 million of the money be used for grants to state and local legal organizations with experience in foreclosure law. While this amendment had been rejected, panel members voted to reconsider it Wednesday. Price and others were concerned that the proposal could end up supporting advocacy groups or funding class action lawsuits. Price offered an amendment to bar the use of the funds for civil litigation. It was rejected, 33-36.

      Chairman Barney Frank offered an amendment to the original Watt language that would reduce the counseling fund set-aside to $35 million and allow counselors approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to receive the funds. That amendment was adopted, 69-0. The underlying Watt language was then adopted by voice vote.

      The committee also voted, 36-32, to adopt an amendment from Rep. Jim Marshall that would allow homeowners who have filed for bankruptcy protection to participate in the program provided they are otherwise creditworthy.

      On Thursday, after four additional amendments were proposed but none adopted, the committee passed H.R. 5830 by a recorded vote of 46-21.

      For more information, visit: .

Education: House Education & Labor Approves 21st Century High-Performing Public Schools Act

      On Wednesday, April 30, 2008, the House Education and Labor Committee, by a vote of 28-19, approved H.R. 3021, the 21st Century High-Performing Public School Facilities Act. H.R. 3021 would authorize $6.4 billion for school renovation and modernization projects for fiscal year 2009, and specifically targets funding for projects that improve schools’ teaching and learning climates, health and safety, and energy efficiency to meet certain “green” standards.

      The Committee Chairman, Rep. George Miller (Martinez), said that this was an important measure for America’s children and families. “We must invest in making every school building a place that communities can be proud of and where children will be eager to learn. This legislation begins to make that investment, and at the same time, it boosts the economy by creating new construction jobs and helps the environment by making our schools more energy efficient. This legislation is a win for children, workers, and the planet”, he said.

      For more information visit .

Health: Health Subcommittee Hears Testimony on Discussion Draft of FDA Globalization Act

      On Thursday May 1, 2008, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing to discuss the drug provisions of the Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act discussion draft. There has been rising consumer and government attention to the safety of the nation’s drug supply chain in the face of increased overseas production. The discussion draft session focused on how to help the FDA address various challenges and the specific resources and legislation needed to accomplish this.

      Foreign and domestic inspections are currently run as two separate programs, but the FDA would like to incorporate them and standardize the inspection requirements for all plants, whether in the US or abroad. Opening an office in countries such as China, one of the largest exporters of drug products for the U.S. market, could aid this goal by providing a base from which to conduct inspections as well as aid with negotiating cultural and language barriers. The FDA also suggested that the authority to subpoena documents and individuals would assist enforcement efforts and reported that their technology systems are in disrepair and obsolete and requested at least $20 million per year for several years to update their systems.

      Janet Woodcock, M.D., Director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, spoke extensively on the FDA’s goals and needed resources. She stated that, “Goals for FY 2009 include increasing foreign and domestic inspections and sampling, improving our laboratory infrastructures, continuing to develop tools for rapid analysis, and establishing an in-country presence in China.” Additionally, she noted that “any legislation should be carefully designed to avoid creating real or perceived trade barriers, and several provisions of the bill may need to be reviewed in light of U.S. trade agreement obligations. We are reaching out to the U.S. Trade Representative for further insight on these.” She also suggested that the proposed legislation more closely target and prioritize according to scientific assessments of risk.

      Mr. Ron Bone, Senior Vice President for Distribution Support at San Francisco-based McKesson Corporation, spoke in support of the legislation, saying that this legislation strikes the right balance by providing the FDA with the authority to establish federal standards, while preserving a critically important role for states to license, regulate and enforce.

      For more information on this hearing, please visit: .

Climate: House Global Warming Select Committee Addresses Impact of Climate Change on Oceans

      On Tuesday, April 29, 2008, the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming heard expert witness testimony on the effect of climate change on the world’s oceans. The hearing, “Rising Tides, Rising Temperatures: Global Warming Effects on Oceans”, centered around three drastic effects on oceans: the rise in temperature, the acidification of the oceans as a result of higher carbon dioxide levels, and the effect those changes have on essential sea-life. Sylvia Earle, Explorer-in-Residence for the National Geographic Society, and Dr. Vikki Spruill, President and CEO of The Ocean Conservancy, delivered key witness testimony.

      Earle said the oceans are experiencing an “underwater heatwave” that has effects on marine life such as coral reefs. She said that she has witnessed tremendous changes in the ocean’s natural systems throughout her life. She reminded the committee that “the ocean is our life support system…the substance of life itself.” In order to protect the ocean, she urged Congress to “swiftly and quickly increase protections for natural systems on land and at sea.” She also noted that Congress must address the effect that methane gas plays in global warming.

      Earle discussed the acidification of the oceans as well, stating that it will have a negative effect on the food chain and ultimately some commercial fisheries. She remarked: “The ocean has been trending toward acidification in recent years. That is bad for coral reefs, sea snails, clams, the planktonic young of many creatures, as well as the small green organisms with carbonate shells that dissolve in acidic water. No longer can they take carbon out of the atmosphere, generate oxygen, or produce food for other creatures.” She concluded: “There is time, but no time to waste. The next 10 years could be the most important in the next 10,000 years because of what we do, or fail to do, concerning climate change.”

      Spruill said that the ocean is one of the primary victims of global warming, and the greatest impacts of global warming will be ocean related . She pointed to the relationship between our oceans and atmosphere and global warming. She commented: “Over 80 percent of the excess heat produced by the greenhouse effect has been absorbed by the ocean… The ocean stores vast amounts of heat and distributes it across the globe; far more than does the atmosphere. There is more heat in the first ten feet of ocean than in the entire atmosphere…Our lives are intertwined with ocean. We are dependent on the ocean…through vast physical cycles, the biosphere, and economics.” Spruill went on to describe the effects this has on weather conditions, referencing several natural disasters that were global warming related.

      She emphasized that the ocean has an impact similar to that of the atmosphere in regulating temperature, and that paying attention to what’s happening in the oceans is important in understanding weather trends. “We think of climate as atmospheric – as the extremes of weather we experience from day to day – wind and storm, rain and snow, heat and cold, blue sky and clouds. Without the ocean, however, our weather would be far harsher and much less stable. The ocean is a great buffer, protecting us from extremes of heat and drought”, she said.

      For more information visit .

Resources: Water Resources Subcommittee Hears WRDA Recommendations

      On Wednesday, April 30, 2008, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment heard proposals from the Army Corps of Engineers and industry experts for the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2008.

WRDA authorizes studies and projects for navigation, flood damage reduction, hurricane and storm damage reduction, shoreline protection, and environmental restoration. This includes issues of water storage, water transportation infrastructure and levee safety, three issues at the top of California’s water concerns.

      Secretary John Paul Woodley, Jr., Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), and Mr. Warren Williams, General Manager and Chief Engineer for Riverside County (CA) Flood Control and Water Conservation on behalf of The National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies (AFSMA), delivered testimony.

      Secretary Woodley said “America’s water resources are important not only for their profound ecological significance but also for their economic significance in contributing to the wealth and well being of our nation.” He emphasized that the Army Corps sought to emphasize three principles in advancing new policy: “First, the significance of a Systems Approach; second, the importance Public Safety and Life-Cycle Management; and third, the opportunities afforded by new flexibility in Modernized Financial Management.”

      A “Systems Approach” integrates the idea that water systems are intertwined, that systems’ considerations must be woven into projects, and that all political jurisdictions within watershed areas should be engaged in all projects. The “Public Safety Life-Cycle” refers to the extent to which infrastructure is regularly impacted by natural occurrences or disasters, such as regular flooding or hurricanes. And finally, “Modernized Financial Management” refers to a better system of prioritizing which projects will receive resources.

      Williams, on behalf of AFSMA, said that Congress must enact WRDA, and he offered numerous recommendations for its enactment. Among the most significant was his recommendation that the Federal Government offer “sound floodplain management incentives.” He commented: “NAFSMA urges that a sliding cost share formula for federally-partnered flood damage reduction projects be developed based on a community’s rating in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Community Rating System (CRS). We would urge that the 35% local cost share be reduced for non-federal sponsors that are carrying out sound floodplain management activities and have achieved a strong rating from FEMA as part of the CRS program.”

      He also offered the following recommendations:

– New Construction Flood Damage Reduction Projects

– Establish Levee Safety Committee

– Authorize Corps to Accept Local Funds to Carry Out Levee Certification Work

– Cost Sharing for Strengthening and Retrofits to Federally-Partnered Projects

– Crediting for Ecosystem Restoration Activities Linked with Levee Safety Strengthening and Retrofits

– Raise Cap on Credits for Levee Safety Activities

– Encourage Corps of Engineers to Coordinate With Other Federal Entities and State and Local Agencies to Streamline Permits Needed for Operations and Maintenance Activities

      For more information visit .

Natural Disasters: Economic Development Panel Holds Hearing on Reauthorization of Pre-disaster Mitigation Program

      On Wednesday, April 30, 2008, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management held a hearing on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Pre-disaster Mitigation Program. The hearing, entitled “Saving Lives and Money through the Predisaster Mitigation Program,” focused on the reauthorization of the program, which will otherwise sunset on September 30, 2008. The program provides assistance on a competitive basis to states and localities to perform specific projects to protect communities from natural disasters such as seismic strengthening of buildings and infrastructure and relocation of buildings out of floodplains.

      Multiple studies support the cost-effectiveness of this program. A 2005 Congressionally-mandated study by the Multihazard Mitigation Council (an advisory body of the National Institute of Building Sciences) concluded that the program saves an average of four dollars for every dollar spent, and a similar 2007 study by the Congressional Budget Office found that future losses are reduced by about $3 (measured in discounted present value) for each $1 spent. There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence of the program’s success in saving lives and property such as in the 2001 earthquake in Seattle.

      David I. Maurstad, Assistant Administrator and Federal Insurance Administrator at FEMA’s Mitigation Directorate, requested that the program be reauthorized through 2013 and spoke of its success. While it takes time to realize avoided losses, the program nonetheless saves lives, reduces property damage, directs response and recovery efforts to where they are needed most, and decreases reliance on Federal disaster funds. Maurstad also discussed an aggressive new schedule reflecting feedback FEMA has received from PDM constituents that will address Congress’s desire that FEMA obligate all available PDM funding in a timely manner. In FY 2007 100 million was made available out of which only 52.3 million has so far been awarded. Brent Woodworth President / CEO of Global Crisis Services, Inc. and chair of the Multihazard Mitigation Council (MMC), a voluntary advisory council of the Congressionally authorized, nonprofit National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), counseled that pre-disaster mitigation grant programs should not rely solely on benefit cost ratios as the selection criteria for investment as not all benefits can be easily measured. Intangible benefits such as flood-prone land being reclaimed as naturalized wetlands should also be given due consideration. Additionally, he advised Congress that mitigation is most effective when carried out on a comprehensive, community-wide, long-term basis.

      For more information on this hearing, please visit: .

Immigration: House Judiciary Subcommittee Assesses Visa Use And Delays

      On Wednesday, April 30, 2008, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, chaired by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (San Jose) held a hearing on “Wasted Visas, Growing Backlogs.” Witnesses were: Michael Aytes, Associate Director for Domestic Operations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Donald Neufeld, Acting Associate Director, Domestic Operations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Stephen A. Edson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services, U.S. Department of State; and Charles Oppenheim, Chief, Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State.

      Mr. Aytes explained to the Subcommittee that a total of 1,052,415 persons became Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) of the United States in 2007. The majority (59 percent), were already living in the United States when they adjusted status to permanent residence, he said. Of all new LPRS, 2/3rds were granted permanent residence based on a qualifying family relationship with a U.S. citizen or LPR. The leading countries of birth for new permanent residents, Aytes testified, were Mexico (14 percent), China (7 percent), and the Philippines (7 percent). He pointed out that along with the State Department, USCIS has made changes to maximize the use of the limited number of visas that are available annually. These changes include: increased staffing, enhanced analytical capacity, more detailed and strategic management of monthly production, and close partnership with DOS to share greater information.

      Regarding the backlog in visa applications, Aytes said that backlog elimination efforts in FY2006, as well as the infusion of appropriated funds, culminated in an increase in production. While production declined in FY 07 after completing the backlog reduction effort and subsequent temporary staffing, he asserted, production is up substantially in FY 2008. For the first half of FY 2008, increased productivity through operational and staffing enhancements has resulted in increased visa usage of 16.6% over the same period last year, he noted. While acknowledging that challenges remain, he believes that USCIS is showing improvements because of changes made in the process. As of April 25, 2008, USCIS had adjudicated over 65 percent of its FY 2008 target for employment-based visas.

      Secretary Edson also contended that State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs has made “dramatic improvements to the visa process since 9/11.” He noted that it has mandated the use of an electronic visa application form (EVAF) and transitioned to full electronic connectivity with partner security clearance agencies. These enhancements have allowed the Bureau to improve service and security despite the dramatic annual increases in the volume of visa applications. He also noted that it has now fully transitioned from two to ten fingerprints to ensure consistent screening of foreign nationals entering the United States.

      Regarding use of visas, he noted that the Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division’s main responsibility is the administration of the complex series of annual numerical limitations on immigrant visas, subdivided by preference category and country, which are set by law. Where demand exists, Edson said, State’s goal is to have the issuance level come as close as possible to 100% of the numbers available each year without exceeding the limits that Congress has established. It also wants to maintain a steady flow of applications throughout the year to ensure appropriate use of government resources and to provide good customer service to applicants. Over the past three years, he said, State has shown a proven record of using over 95 percent of the annual worldwide numerical limit.

      For the testimony of the witnesses, go to: .

Immigration: Senate Homeland Security Looks At REAL ID Progress

      On April 29, 2008, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia held a hearing on “The Impact of Implementation: A Review of the REAL ID Act and the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).”

      Among the witnesses at the hearing were: The Honorable Stewart A. Baker, Assistant Secretary for Policy , U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Mr. Derwood K. Staeben, Senior Advisor, Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, Office of Passport Services, Border Crossing Card Renewal, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Department of Statement, The Honorable Donna Stone, President, National Conference of State Legislatures, and Mr. David Quam, Director of Federal Relations, National Governors Association.

      The U.S. REAL ID Act was designed to enhance the security of driver’s licenses, and WHTI is based on the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that people crossing the U.S. border have their identities securely verified.

      Secretary Baker briefed the Subcommittee on the rule promulgated in January 2008 that sets minimum standards for the states to follow in issuing driver’s licenses. He noted that although the rule required the states to meet the standards by January 2010, all have been granted extensions of that deadline. Nevertheless, he said, many of the states are “well on their way” to meeting the standards, and Maine has recently passed legislation to implement the new rule. On the WHTI, Baker testified, that DHS is working with the Department of State to implement the policy which requires that individuals entering the United States at both air and land borders present a passport or other acceptable secure identification document. He said that State is working to produce passport cards that will reduce the cost of passports for people who live along the border. DHS is also continuing to work with state DMVs and Canadian provinces to develop enhanced drivers licenses acceptable for border crossing purposes (and compatible with REAL ID standards). He concluded: “We will be prepared to implement this requirement as soon as Congress allows us to do so. By law, we may not implement this important security reform before June 1, 2009. Over the next 13 months, we will complete the infrastructure at our ports of entry and work to ensure that travelers have access to WHTI-compliant documents.”

      Mr. Staeben detailed the record-breaking demand for new passports with which State has had to deal, and testified that State is implementing a long-term strategy to provide the staffing levels and infrastructure necessary to meet the increased passport demand generated by WHTI. It has hired hundreds of additional passport adjudicators and support staff and continues to recruit aggressively, he said. In addition, it has also established a reserve corps of passport adjudicators to supplement the full-time Passport Services staff when necessary.

      Ms. Stone testified that while state legislators share the goal of improving the integrity and security of state-issued identification, they do have some concerns with the implementation of both REAL ID and WHTI. While commending DHS for providing flexibility and reducing the costs to states of implementing REAL ID, Ms. Stone noted these continuing concerns:

      - the federal government’s commitment to fund the REAL ID;

      - the connectivity to and governance of the databases, including privacy protections, that states will need to access in order to electronically verify the validity of identity documents;

      - the true cost of the REAL ID, including the user fees states will have to pay when accessing these databases;

      - privacy protections; and

      - the department’s recognition of state legislatures’ critical role in implementation of the


      With regard to WHTI, Ms. Stone stated that many state legislatures are concerned about some implementation issues, “particularly as they relate to technology; Passports, Passcards, and costs; and the state Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) option that the Department of Homeland Security is making available through Memoranda of Agreement with various states.”

      Mr. Quam testified that, in addition to concerns with some particulars of the program, the Governors also very concerned that the federal government will not full fund the REAL ID program. “Specifically, Congress should provide $1 billion to cover the up-front cost of REAL ID this year and commit to providing additional funds to offset the ongoing costs of meeting this federal mandate,” he testified. This amount is a far cry from the $90 million that Congress has appropriated to date for the program.

      With regard to the WHTI, Quam argued that it is “critical that the federal government consult with states whenever security-oriented legislation or agency actions impact the flow of commerce and traffic across United States borders to ensure that such initiatives both protect the public and minimize unnecessary burdens on international travel, tourism, and trade.”

      To obtain the testimony of all the witnesses, go to: .

Climate: Rep. Tauscher Hosts Briefing on Transportation and Climate Change

      On Friday April 25, 2008, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (Alamo) held a briefing on “The Role of Transportation and Land Use Policies on Climate Change.” At the informational session, panelists discussed how to encourage smart growth and incorporate public transit strategies into a new transportation bill with the goal of reducing green house gasses.

      The briefing panelists included Steve Winkelman, Transportation Program Director at the Center for Clean Air Policy, and Geoff Anderson, President of Smart Growth America. Winkelman stated that current transportation bills are heading in the wrong direction — increasing car usage and eroding the reduction in green house gas emissions from emissions requirements. Panelists also stressed the need for collaboration between federal agencies such as DOT, EPA, and DOE in supporting innovative policies.

Education: Ways and Means Hears Recommendations for Improvement to Education Tax Incentives

      On Thursday, May 1, 2008, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measure held a hearing to address Education Tax Incentives. The hearing investigated the use and effectiveness of Title IV student aid – such as the PELL grant – and tax preferences as tools to lessen the burdensome costs of higher education.

      Michael Brostek, Director of the Tax Issues and Strategic Issues Team for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and Karen Gilbreath Sowell, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy for the Treasury Department, delivered the primary witness testimony.

      Brostek said “Title IV student aid and tax preferences provide assistance to a wide range of students and families in different ways. While both help students meet current expenses, tax preferences also assist students and families with saving for and repaying post-secondary costs.”

      However, while the incentives are available, they are being underutilized by eligible families. He commented: “Some tax filers do not appear to make optimal education-related tax decisions. [A limited analysis] of 2005 tax returns indicated that 19 percent of eligible tax filers did not claim either the tuition deduction or a tax credit. In so doing, these tax filers failed to reduce their tax liability by $219, on average, and 10 percent of these filers could have reduced their tax liability by over $500. One explanation for these taxpayers’ choices may be the complexity of postsecondary tax provisions, which experts have commonly identified as difficult for tax filers to use.” Furthermore, many filers who do use incentives do not use the one that would bring them the greatest benefits. In order to improve the effectiveness of these incentives, the GAO recommends “simplifying the grants, loans, and tax preferences” in order to “reduce complexities in higher education financing.”

      Sowell reminded the Committee that tax incentives are simply “one aspect of an array of other programs” directed at reducing the cost of higher education. She said these other programs must be taken into account when considering the “efficacy” of tax incentives. Sowell emphasized that education is important to the Administration, and they “recognize that there is room for improvement in the tax benefits” currently provided for in the tax code.

      One improvement she mentioned was the potential consolidation of tax credits into one single credit that covered all groups. She said, however, while efforts can be made to consolidate credits, Congress must start by looking at clear, simple ways to help children and families afford higher education, and must not forget to consider non-tax based assistance that is available to those families. For more information visit .

Demographics: PPIC Releases New Survey on Californians and Education

      On Wednesday, April 30, 2008, the Public Policy Institute of California released the latest PPIC Statewide Survey: “Californians and Education.” The survey included questions about where education ranked on Californians’ list of concerns, increased taxes for public education, the achievement gap between minorities and white students, and the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE). The study found that education ranks as the second biggest concern for Californians, after the economy.

      Following are some key findings of the survey:

      -       More than half (53%) of the state’s residents say the quality of K-12 public schools is a major problem.

      -       A strong majority (60%) of Californians choose K-12 public education as the area they would like to protect from budget cuts

      -       Among all residents, 49 percent are willing to pay more, and 48 percent are not, to improve education. Democrats (60%) are more likely than independents (48%) or Republicans (33%) to agree to higher taxes. The divide is regional as well; a majority of San Francisco Bay Area residents (57%) are willing to pay more, but many in the Central Valley (52%) and Inland Empire (51%) are not.

      -       Overall, seven in 10 (69%) say the dropout rate is a big problem, followed by teaching children with limited English skills (46%) and teacher quality (28%).

      -       Most Californians believe that schools located in low-income areas have fewer resources.

For more information visit .

Demographics: Census Releases State Population & Demographic Data

      On Thursday, May 1, 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau released new statistics in an annual data set entitled: National and State Population Estimates by Age, Sex, Race and Hispanic Origin: July 1, 2007. Highlighted statistics include the growth of the Hispanic population to 45 million residents, or 15% of the nation’s total, with California housing the largest number.

      The nation’s overall minority population reached 102.5 million in 2007 — 34 percent of the U.S. total. California had a minority population of 20.9 million – more than 20 percent of the nation’s total. Two of every three California minority group members is Hispanic, according to the Census data. The state houses 13.2 million (nearly one-third) of the nation’s Hispanics.

      California’s 5 million Asian residents represent one third of the nation’s 15 million total, and since July 2006 the state saw the largest numeric increase (106,000). After Hawaii, where Asians make up 55 percent of the population, California’s proportion is second highest; 14 percent of Californians are Asian.

      California’s overall population has grown to 36.5 million, with the largest age group being ages 45-64, with 8.6 million people in that range. California’s median age is 35.8 years, a slight increase of 0.2 years above the 2006 median age.

      For more information visit .

Climate: Tuesday Briefing on Renewable Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction

      On Tuesday, May 6, 2008, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) will hold a briefing on the potential role of renewable energy electricity generation technologies in reducing US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The briefing is titled “Can Renewable Energy Meet the Urgent Challenge of Climate Change?” and will take place from 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm in Room 253 of the Russell Senate Office Building.

      The briefing is geared toward promoting renewables energy sources and broadening the role of federal policy in advancing their usage. The briefing sponsors state, “What has not been ever explored is what renewable energy can do if given a full-out effort by the United States. Other countries, in addressing the urgency of climate change, have made renewable energy a fundamental component of their climate strategies. As a result of these all-out efforts, we have seen explosive growth in jobs and renewable energy technology deployment in many countries, including Germany, Japan, Denmark and Spain.”

      The briefing will include representatives of several pro-renewables groups, including Randy Swisher, Executive Director of the American Wind Energy Association; Karl Gawell, Executive Director of the Geothermal Energy Association; Jeff Leahey, Senior Manager of Government and Legal Affairs for the National Hydropower Association; and John Stanton, Executive Vice President at the Solar Energy Industries Association.

      This briefing is open to the public and no RSVP required. For more information, contact Fred Beck at [email protected] or 202-662-1892.

To contact the California Institute, visit our contact page. To subscribe to the weekly California Capitol Hill Bulletin or announcements of upcoming events, visit our subscribe page. The California Capitol Hill Bulletin is an email and fax publication devoted to the nexus between California and Washington DC — summarizing key Congressional or Administration activity from a uniquely or significantly California-oriented perspective. It is published free of charge on a weekly basis by the California Institute for Federal Policy Research and distributed to subscribed readers. To be removed from our lists or to change your memberships, visit our list management page.


Validated HTML 4.01