This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.
Californians can now do online voter registration in 10 languages, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced Monday.
In addition to the English and Spanish versions already available, the Secretary of State's office has added Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese. Also, the RegisterToVote.ca.gov website has been redesigned to be simpler and more user-friendly, with better accessibility features for people with disabilities.
"After moving some mountains to quickly launch online voter registration in time for the 2012 presidential election season, I wanted to see what could be done to make it even better," Bowen said in a news release. "This enhanced application is a result of in-depth collaboration among dozens of experts in cultural, language, disability access, elections and technology issues, along with local officials and the California State University Accessible Technology Initiative. I am grateful to them all for their valuable input."
Community advocates had pushed for this expansion, noting that Asian-Americans in California tend to have a relatively low voter registration rate.
"California has millions of immigrant citizens who are still learning English, citizens we need as full participants in our democracy," Michelle Romero, director of the Greenlining Institute's Claiming Our Democracy program, said in a news release. "This is an important step to help bridge the voter registration gap in communities of color."
The information provided in a voter application still must be checked by a county registrar before an applicant can be added to the voter rolls; voters can check on their registration status using the state's portal to county offices. May 19 is the voter registration deadline for the June 3 primary election.
What has the power to make California's House members work across the aisle? Beer.
Reps. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, and Doug LaMalfa, R-Oroville, sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration earlier this month urging it to reject a proposed regulation that would've put a burden on small breweries while contributing to an increase in food waste. The letter was signed by 11 other House members from California -- six Democrats and five Republicans.
At issue were spent grains: by-products of alcoholic beverage brewing and distilling that are commonly used as animal feed. The FDA had proposed that breweries be forced to dry, package, and inspect all food, including spent grain used for cattle. But the agency announced Thursday it won't pursue the regulation.
"We've heard from trade groups and members of Congress, as well as individual breweries raising concerns that FDA might disrupt or even eliminate this practice by making brewers, distillers, and food manufacturers comply not only with human food safety requirements but also additional, redundant animal feed standards that would impose costs without adding value for food or feed safety," Michael Taylor, the FDA's deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, explained in a blog post. "That, of course, would not make common sense, and we're not going to do it."
Garamendi issued a news release Friday saying food safety is important, but "the FDA was proposing a burdensome and unnecessary regulation, and I'm glad they're reversing course.
"Many small breweries are helmed by people who believe deeply in conservation and sustainable agriculture," he said. "They like to buy local and stay local, partnering with area farmers to reduce food waste. It's great news that this practice can continue in California and across the nation."
Among the small breweries in Garamendi's district are Berryessa Brewing Company in Winters, Black Dragon Brewery in Woodland, Heretic Brewing Co. in Fairfield, Sudwerk Brewery in Davis and Sutter Buttes Brewing in Yuba City.