Here's a test of your political savvy: What's the clearest sign that the legislative session is almost over?
If you said frenzied activity in the Senate and Assembly, you get a passing grade in a civics class. But here's the answer we were looking for: the increasing proximity of fundraisers to the state Capitol.
August has been a pretty good month for watering holes and restaurants in downtown Sacramento. September shouldn't be bad, either.
At least 80 senators, Assembly members and candidates scheduled fundraisers during the final weeks of the 2013 legislative session, according to news accounts. Even retiring members with no campaign debts, such as state Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, are getting in on the action.
Most of these breakfasts and luncheons and cocktail parties are in walking distance from the Capitol. To make all this money-grabbing more convenient for legislators, who, as our civics students point out, are supposed to be busy legislating, a Sacramento Bee's editorial cartoon imagined a remodeled Capitol, with some of the busiest fundraising venues relocated to the first floor.
For now, you still have to take a short walk in hot weather if you enjoy paying $1,000 (and up) to sip chardonnay and nosh on hors d'oeuvres.
Here's another question: If you had an abiding interest in some piece of pending legislation, would you risk skipping a fundraiser for an undecided or wavering lawmaker?
True, there were plenty of fundraisers at the start of the year, too. And the pace was indeed slower in legislative committees and on the Assembly and Senate floors.
Perhaps that's why so many of the spring fundraisers involved getaways — golf at Pebble Beach, luxurious spa days, ballgames, even a junket to Las Vegas — as opposed to this month's breakfasts, lunches, cocktail receptions and dinners.
Then again, is it possible that the legislative schedule was light by design to accommodate all those fun-in-the-sun fundraising opportunities?