reform en Major Changes Proposed for California Elections Rules <p>Two big changes to California elections could come up for debate in the state legislature in 2014.&nbsp; Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on proposals that would eliminate special elections and require cities and counties to hold their votes at statewide elections.</p> Thu, 02 Jan 2014 19:54:45 +0000 Ben Adler - Capital Public Radio 26626 at Major Changes Proposed for California Elections Rules Panel: California's Direct Democracy Process Needs Changes <p>Three former leaders of California’s three branches of government disagree about whether the state’s direct democracy process is serving voters well – but they all agree on a potential way to improve it.&nbsp; Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on today’s Public Policy Institute of California panel.</p> Fri, 25 Oct 2013 01:52:03 +0000 Ben Adler - Capital Public Radio 23525 at Panel: California's Direct Democracy Process Needs Changes CEQA Overhaul Supporters Not Happy with Current Proposal <p>As negotiations over a potential overhaul of California’s landmark environmental law enter their final weeks, supporters of rewriting the California Environmental Quality Act say the current proposal falls short of reform.&nbsp; Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.</p> Tue, 30 Jul 2013 01:42:41 +0000 Ben Adler 19159 at CEQA Overhaul Supporters Not Happy with Current Proposal Freshman Lawmakers Face Different Legislative Future <p>A new version of term limits, a new way to draw voting districts, a new system for running primary elections. Those three changes all took effect in 2012. Each was intended to moderate the California legislature. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, there is hope the changes have been effective, but so far there’s no proof.</p><p>New lawmakers are frequently sworn in at the California State Capitol. But the class taking the oath of office last December faced a different legislative future from classes who came before them.</p> Wed, 10 Jul 2013 00:34:31 +0000 Katie Orr 18060 at Freshman Lawmakers Face Different Legislative Future Governor Brown Says CEQA Changes Aren't Likely <p>California Governor Jerry Brown says he likely won’t be able to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act, (CEQA) this legislative session. He says he believes it would be difficult to move the process forward.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">But the comment took Democratic Senate President pro </span>Tem<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> Darrell Steinberg by surprise. He says he intends to continue fighting for his legislation that makes changes to </span>CEQA<span style="line-height: 1.5;">.</span></p> Tue, 16 Apr 2013 19:37:46 +0000 Amy Quinton 13704 at Governor Brown Says CEQA Changes Aren't Likely Fight Over Key Environmental Law Heats Up In Sacramento <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">What some see as California’s most important environmental law, others see as an economic impediment. The 43-year-old California Environmental Quality Act, or </span>CEQA<span style="line-height: 1.5;">, guides almost every development project in the state. </span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Governor Jerry Brown and many lawmakers say it’s time to modernize it. But As Amy Quinton reports, how to do that is a question with no easy answers.</span></p> Mon, 11 Feb 2013 17:58:40 +0000 Amy Quinton 10624 at Fight Over Key Environmental Law Heats Up In Sacramento Proposed Pension Exemption for Some California Union Members Prompts Debate <p></p><p>The author of a bill that would exempt 20,000 California union members from last year’s pension overhaul is defending the measure against criticism that it breaks a promise to voters who just approved tax increases.&nbsp;</p><p>Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo says he introduced the bill because of a conflict between the new state pension law and U.S. labor law that applies to 20,000 local and regional public transit workers.&nbsp; As a result, he says, $2 billion in federal transportation funds are at risk.</p> Sat, 02 Feb 2013 01:36:33 +0000 Ben Adler 10218 at Proposed Pension Exemption for Some California Union Members Prompts Debate New "Top Two" Election System Causes Problems For Smaller Political Parties <p></p><p><em>Editor's note: This is the second in a two-part series on the impact of California's new top-two election reform.</em></p><p>When California voters approved Proposition 14 in 2010, supporters hailed it as a way to make many races for Congress, the Legislature and state offices more competitive, thanks to a new top-two election system.</p> Tue, 27 Nov 2012 21:09:54 +0000 Joe Moore 7379 at New "Top Two" Election System Causes Problems For Smaller Political Parties Task Force Says California's Finances Unsustainable <p>A non-partisan State Budget Crisis Task Force is recommending that California develop a two-year spending plan. The report released today called the state’s current financial structure unsustainable.</p> Thu, 20 Sep 2012 22:39:29 +0000 Amy Quinton 4318 at Task Force Says California's Finances Unsustainable California Governor Signs Pension Overhaul Legislation <p>California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that he called the biggest rollback to public pension benefits in the state’s history.</p><p>Governor Brown says the changes in the state’s pension system will save taxpayers billions of dollars in the future. The legislation will increase the retirement age for new public employees and require them to pay at least half of their pension costs. It also caps the salary amount that can go toward pensions.</p> Thu, 13 Sep 2012 00:42:52 +0000 Amy Quinton 3873 at State Sets Minimum Benefits for Health Plans <p><em>CHCF Center for Health Reporting</em></p><p>SACRAMENTO – Californians now have a clearer picture of what health insurance will look like when major provisions of the federal health care law debut in 2014.</p><p>Acupuncture to treat pain and nausea will be covered, for example, as will tobacco cessation and vision screening.</p><p>But the jury’s still out on chiropractic care.</p><p>State lawmakers this week sent two bills to the governor that identify the services health insurance plans must cover starting in 2014 for individuals and small businesses.</p> Sat, 01 Sep 2012 13:00:03 +0000 Emily Bazar 3272 at State Sets Minimum Benefits for Health Plans Brown Announces Pension Deal; Vote Coming Friday <p>California Governor Jerry Brown says the pension deal he announced today will save the state billions of dollars. But it’s drawing criticism from unions and Republicans.</p><p>Here is some of what’s in the plan: A cap on the salary that a public employee in California could use to calculate a pension. Higher retirement ages, with reduced payments. And a requirement for employees to pay at least half of their pension costs.</p> Wed, 29 Aug 2012 02:16:47 +0000 Ben Adler 3059 at Who's eligible? State, advocates grapple over which elderly qualify for ADHC replacement program <p>They're poor. They're elderly. They're disabled. But are they eligible? Advocates and state officials are struggling to determine just who among hundreds will be allowed to continue in the program that replaces Medi-Cal's Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) system. Cash-starved California slashed the optional ADHC benefit last fall and replaced it with a leaner program called Community-Based Adult Services (CBAS).</p> Tue, 28 Aug 2012 18:01:13 +0000 Lauren Whaley 2987 at Pension Deal Nears; Unions Furious <p>A proposed overhaul of California’s pension system is angering public employee unions, as Democrats get set to unveil the details.&nbsp;The specific details are being kept as quiet as can be, but all signs point to a deal emerging by Tuesday at the California State Capitol.&nbsp;</p><p>Democrats are promising “comprehensive pension reform” that will save tens of billions of dollars over the next few decades. Assemblyman Warren Furutani says the deal won’t please everyone.</p> Tue, 28 Aug 2012 05:38:17 +0000 Ben Adler 3026 at California Voters' 'Strong Support' for Federal Health Law Grows, Field Poll Suggests <P>California health leaders say they’re ‘heartened’ with a new Field Poll that suggests state voter support for the federal health law is getting stronger.</p> <P>More than half of California voters polled said they support the health overhaul. More showed ‘strong support’ for the law than in the past two years. Thirty-seven percent of Californians oppose the law. </p> <P>California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley says she was struck by the partisan nature of the findings. </p> Tue, 21 Aug 2012 01:30:05 +0000 Pauline Bartolone 2602 at Business and Labor Groups Aim to Change California's Environmental Law <p>With just two weeks left in the legislative session, some business and labor groups are pushing to change California's complex environmental review process for building and construction projects.</p><p>Jim Earp is with a coalition of construction unions. He says the law gets abused by being used to stall new development.</p><p>“It's not always just about how many end up in lawsuits, its, and this is particularly true in public infrastructure projects, how much the delay adds to the cost of that project.”</p> Tue, 21 Aug 2012 01:10:18 +0000 Kathleen Masterson 2600 at Medicare Funding Cuts Would Hit Fresno, Rural Hospitals Hardest <p><em><strong>CHCF Center for Health Reporting</strong></em></p><p>Already reeling from big cutbacks in Medicare funding, hospitals in the Fresno area would lose another 5.4 percent of their federal reimbursement under a new analysis ordered by Congress.</p><p>Rural areas of California would be hit hardest under the Institute of Medicine study, which would pare Medicare payments to the state’s hospitals by an average 3-4 percent.</p> Fri, 17 Aug 2012 21:13:10 +0000 David Westphal 2448 at California Democratic Leaders Say It's Time for Pension Reform <p>Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has decided that now is not the time to change California&rsquo;s newly-approved process for cities and counties to enter into bankruptcy.</p><p>He&rsquo;s decided to kill the legislation authored by a Democratic Assembly member.&nbsp;The bill would have loosened deadlines on negotiations with creditors and labor groups. But Steinberg says it&rsquo;s time now for the legislature to focus elsewhere.</p> Wed, 08 Aug 2012 02:14:11 +0000 Amy Quinton 1803 at California Lawmakers Decide on Health Bills This Month <p>California state lawmakers return to the Capitol this week and they&rsquo;ll deal with a number of health bills.</p><p>A handful of bills would incorporate provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act into California law. They deal with everything from Medicaid expansion, to setting rules governing how health premiums are set, to determining minimum benefits. Anthony Wright is from Health Access.</p> Mon, 06 Aug 2012 18:07:17 +0000 Pauline Bartolone 1686 at Health Insurance Premium Rebates Headed to Californians <p>Nearly two million Californians should receive a health insurance premium rebate this week. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the rebates are the result of the federal Affordable Care Act.</p><p>The federal law requires health insurers to spend at least 80 percent of their premium money on actual health costs, rather than marketing and other non-medical expenses. Insurers who don&rsquo;t meet that percentage are required to issue refunds. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says premium rebates total about $74 million, or about $65 per family.</p> Thu, 02 Aug 2012 22:04:27 +0000 Amy Quinton 1457 at