Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
Published: Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

And now the fun really begins.

The Legislature returns from a month-long summer recess this week with hundreds of bills, many of them highly controversial, still awaiting action before the Sept. 9 adjournment.

The recess itself was unusual, since in recent years the Legislature has remained in session through the summer due to budget stalemates. This year, with a budget – albeit a very shaky one – in place, the Capitol’s denizens can concentrate on bills.

That means renewing traditional end-of-session follies. Hundreds of lobbyists will battle over high- dollar issues, and legislators will cash in with fundraising events – an average of at least five every working day.

Fittingly, perhaps, the Legislature’s return coincides with the supposedly final vote of the new Citizens Redistricting Commission on legislative and congressional maps for the 2012 elections and beyond.

New maps mean some incumbents will be fighting for their political lives next year while others will be maneuvering to ascend the political food chain, thus making late-session campaign fundraising even more frantic than usual.

Late-session bills tend to be controversial and/or involve taking money from someone and giving it to someone else, which is fertile ground for political fundraising.

Take, for example, Assembly Bill 52, which may be the single most contentious of the hundreds of still- pending measures – subjecting the multibillion-dollar health insurance industry’s premiums to direct regulation by the state insurance commissioner.

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