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Senate passes extension to sell pet license plates

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- California pet lovers are one step closer to getting an extension in their campaign for a specialty license plate.

The state Senate on Thursday voted unanimously to pass AB610 by Democratic Assemblyman Jose Solorio of Santa Ana. The bill provides a 12-month extension to pre-sell 7,500 specialty license plates.

About 4,000 have been sold so far.

If the program is successful, money raised from the sale of the plates will fund spay and neuter programs.

Supporters say spaying and neutering is the best way to stop overpopulation of pets and reduce the euthanasia rate. The campaign is being sponsored by the California Veterinary Medical Board.

The bill will return to the Assembly with minor changes and then goes to Gov. Brown, who has a Welsh corgi named Sutter.

April state income tax revenues look weak

With one third of April 2012 now in the record books, one thing seems certain: the California budget hasn't gotten much love from the state's taxpayers.

Income taxes are the most important part of the state's revenue stream, and April is the single biggest month of the year for the collection of those revenues.

Through the first ten days of April, state officials report that just under $1.1 billion of income tax revenues have been collected. That may sound good, until you consider this: Governor Jerry Brown's proposed state budget assumes that $9.13 billion will be collected this month.

And so you don't need an advanced math degree to see the problem.  One third of the month has passed, and yet only one tenth of the expected tax revenues have materialized.

Governor Brown, allies raise big bucks for tax initiative

Jerry Brown is a busy guy these days.

In addition to crafting a revised state budget this spring and shepherding complex issues like high-speed rail through the Capitol, Brown is leading the charge to raise a lot of money to help qualify his tax initiative for the November statewide ballot.

All told, the governor and his political allies have raised almost $11 million, most of that in just the last few weeks.

That political fundraising effort largely reflects the fact that the governor decided to reboot his efforts just last month. After drafting a compromise with the liberal activists who were pushing a competing tax increase initiative, the new Brown Tax 2.0 hit the streets for gathering signatures on March 16.

State Capitol Museum Presents "Governor's Day" Living History Event - 4/22

State Capitol Museum Presents "Governor's Day" Living History Event - 4/22

Celebrate Earth Day 2012 by visiting and/or supporting a California State Park on Sunday, April 22! 

Operated by California State Parks, the (always free) California State Capitol Museum invites visitors to the State Capitol to step back in time to 1899-1917 to experience “Living History” in action and learn about California’s pressing issues during the turn of the 20th century.  From 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and with the help of dedicated volunteers, staff and docents in period attire portraying Governors Henry Gage, George Pardee, James Gillett and Hiram Johnson and their wives, State Capitol visitors will see re-enactments of important events from past governors and their respective administrations.

Legislator paycheck fight heads to court

The Legislature returns to Sacramento on Monday from a week-long spring recess, soon to head into the homestretch of budget negotiations.  And it's possible that those negotiations will hinge on a fascinating -- and somewhat nasty - court fight between legislative leaders and the state's chief financial officer over the meaning of a 'balanced budget.'

On Tuesday afternoon, a Sacramento superior court judge is scheduled to hear the case of Steinberg, Perez v. Chiang.  The plaintiffs, Assembly Speaker John Perez and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, assert that Controller John Chiang overstepped his legal authority last June by withholding legislator paychecks for almost two weeks.

Happy Birthday, Jerry

Once one of California's youngest governors, Edmund Gerald Brown, Jr. is now the oldest to ever serve in state history.

Saturday, he gets a little bit older.

Jerry Brown turns 74 this weekend and, to hear his staff tell it, there's nothing planned for the big day.  Spokesman Gil Duran says the governor will be quietly spending time with his family in the Bay Area.  One would surmise that includes his wife, First Lady Anne Gust Brown, and his beloved-by-all Corgi, Sutter.

Last year, he spent the big day at the state Capitol, where his staff threw him a surprise party... which they then promptly uploaded to YouTube.

Guten Tag, here's your California ballot

The first votes in California's June primary election will soon be cast by state residents living overseas.  Local elections officials today begin mailing ballot to overseas voters and those serving in the Armed Forces.  State election law says those folks get their ballots first, and that overseas ballots must be mailed out by April 21.

The rest of the state's vote-by-mail users will start getting their ballots a few weeks later, and registration for the June 5 election will remain open until May 21.

Note that voting by the mail is growing by leaps and bounds in the Golden State -- so much so, elections officials have pretty much dropped the "absentee ballot" term, as more and more people now simply prefer to fill out the ballot on their own time.