FPPC fines group that backed Emmerson’s campaign

The Fair Political Practices Commission this week issued a $1,500 fine against an independent expenditure committee that backed state Sen. Bill Emmerson’s 2010 election.

“Putting Riverside First  — Bill Emmerson for Senate 2010” was funded by the California Dental Association and the California Real Estate Independent Expenditure Committee.

The group failed to promptly report a $10,000 donation from Quality Health Care for Californians during the late contribution reporting period.

Emmerson is a Hemet Republican  who represents part of the Coachella Valley.

Emmerson wants to revisit prison realignment plan

State Sen. Bill Emmerson wants California lawmakers to take another look at the realignment that’s pushed more prisoners into county jails.

The realignment was inspired, in part, by a federal court order that required the state prison population get reduced by 33,000 prisoners.

But under the Legislature-approved realignment, Emmerson’s office said 52,000 convicted felons will be shifted to local jails by 2013-14.

Emmerson says his legislation, Senate Bill 1441, would ensure serious felons who have lengthy sentences serve their time in our state prisons rather than county jails.

“Unfortunately, the governor and the majority party passed realignment without adequately weighing the consequences,” Emmerson, a Hemet Republican who represents part of the Coachella Valley, said in a statement.

“Now our county jails are overcrowded and prisoners are being released early, putting our communities at risk.”

According to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, realignment only sends low-level offender to the counties. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says the realignment “has the potential to produce a more efficient and effective statewide criminal justice system.”

But Riverside County officials have argued that the statewide realignment has increased the strain on local jails, which were grappling with overcrowding issues even before the realignment was approved.

As of January 2012, Emmerson’s office noted that more than 200 Riverside county inmates were released early because the jails were at maximum capacity.

“This is a totally unacceptable situation and severely jeopardizes the safety of the citizens in Riverside County,” District Attorney Paul Zellerbach said in a statement today.

“This bill proposes a common-sense approach to housing these more serious offenders.”

Emmerson poised for a promotion

A leadership shakeup for the California Senate Republicans could bode well for Sen. Bill Emmerson.

The Capitol’s minority party has tapped Sen. Bob Huff of Diamond Bar to succeed Sen. Bob Dutton as the Senate Republican Leader.

Huff’s promotion has already sparked a ripple effect in the party’s leadership, and Emmerson is expected to be the next vice chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

Emmerson, a Hemet Republican who represents part of the Coachella Valley, has already been a key player in the state’s budget saga.

Last year, he was one of the GOP 5 – a group of senators who kept negotiations open with Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. Emmerson now advocates for a complete reform of the state’s finances by creating a two-year budget.

Emmerson’s promotion to vice chairman would require approval from the Senate Rules Committee.

Emmerson could be hitting the ground running: Gov. Brown plans to release his budget on Tuesday.

Redistricting dilemmas

The maps are out. Now the speculation begins.

California’s proposed redistricting plan, released this morning, condenses the Coachella Valley into the same Assembly, senate and congressional districts.

The proposal shows that the 14-member commission clearly listened to the residents who testified at last month’s hearing in Palm Springs, where both Republicans and Democrats made strong arguments for defining the entire Coachella Valley as a community of interest.

But apparently they dismissed Democrats’ argument to include Imperial County in the new legislative districts, as not one map links the desert with the blue county.

Still, the maps have sparked some interesting political discussions about which candidates might be vying for office.

Republican Sen. Bill Emmerson moved to Hemet in late 2009 to run for the current 37th Senate seat, but the boundaries excludes most of his new hometown from the senate district that encompasses the Coachella Valley.

The valley’s two Assembly members also are in a quandary.

Democrat V. Manuel Perez and Republican Brian Nestande have shown an ability to work together in Sacramento, but are now facing the prospect of running for the same Assembly and or Senate seats.

Our hunch is that Rep. Mary Bono Mack let out a huge sigh of relief this morning.

Many had speculated that the 45th Congressional District may be dramatically revamped into a Democratic district, setting up a potentially tough re-election campaign in 2012.

Officials are still crunching the voter registration data, but both Republican and Democratic campaign consultants told The Desert Sun that they expect her to bode well in the new district.

“The commission has made Mary Bono Mack’s day,” said Matt Rexroad, a managing partner of Meridian Pacific in Sacramento who has led a number of local Republican campaigns.

“She should have a pretty nice seat to run for.”