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Health Care Reform
11:08 am
Wed January 30, 2013

Bill Would Extend Medi-Cal to a Million More Californians

file photo
Credit Shellie Branco / Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers will consider new legislation designed to keep the state in sync with the federal health law. As Pauline Bartolone reports from Sacramento, the legislation is part of a special session on health care that began Monday.

Lawmakers in both houses propose bills that would add more than a million people to the state’s Medicaid program.

Assembly Speaker John Perez said his bill would allow individuals with an annual income of around $15,000 dollars to get public health insurance – and that could indirectly help other Californians, too.

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Government & Politics
10:57 am
Wed January 30, 2013

California Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Gun Violence

California lawmakers say they will seek consensus as they look for ways to reduce gun violence. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, they heard from gun rights advocates, law enforcement, and gun violence prevention experts at a joint legislative hearing.

Lawmakers had a chance to hold the kinds of guns and ammunition used in recent mass shootings. They saw how easy it can be to change a gun magazine.

"He can do it in very rapid succession…that gun today can be purchased in California," said Bureau of Firearms Chief Stephen Lindley.

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Valley Edition
2:23 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

On Valley Edition: Particulate Pollution; TBI Football Policy; Valley Education; Peter Buffett

Peter Buffett, musician and author, will perform at Fresno City College February 2.
Credit C. Taylor Crothers

This week on Valley Edition, Rebecca Plevin reports on the California Air Resources Board's approval of a plan intended to bring the Valley's particulate pollution into compliance with federal standards. But residents and health advocates expressed concern that the plan doesn't act quickly enough to protect public health.

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Valley Writers Read
2:02 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Liza Wieland's "Tommy Waddel" on Valley Writers Read

Liza Wieland

On this edition of Valley Writers Read, former Fresno State teacher Liza Wieland reads her story, "Tommy Waddel", about a teenage girl who is attracted to a young boy. As the two of them become more enamored with each other, we learn how their relationship changes.

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Education
12:24 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

In Fresno, School Officials Weigh Football, Student Needs

Fresno High School (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The way Fresno high school football coaches run offseason training this spring and summer will be different than in any training season prior. The reason: offseason tackling has become a major no, no.

In an attempt to decrease the number of football related injuries among Valley youngsters, mainly concussions, the Fresno Unified School District enacted a new policy last week to ban full contact during the offseason.

So what does this mean for Valley football players?

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Environment
11:05 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Valley Residents, Health Advocates Call For Better Protection From Particle Pollution

The Fresno skyline as seen through a thick cloud of pollution (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley’s polluted air is a daily concern for Mario Talavera.

“When I go to the pharmacy, they ask why I need medicine," said Talavera, of Fresno. "For Mario, Angelica, Tomas, Jose. And for me too, Mario. I have asthma. The only person who doesn’t have asthma is my wife.”

It’s a constant stress for Fresno resident Teresa Vidales, too. Her husband, a construction worker and the family breadwinner, has asthma. One of her four kids does, too.

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Government & Politics
1:06 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Brown's Attempted Balancing Act Earns Bipartisan Praise, Criticism

Governor Jerry Brown delivered his annual State of the State speech in Sacramento on Thursday
Andrew Nixon Capital Public Radio

He quoted Franklin Roosevelt and William Butler Yeats.  And he told the stories of Pharaoh and Joseph and the “Little Engine that Could.”  Governor Jerry Brown turned to every trick in his book Thursday to push an ambitious agenda in his State of the State address – all while urging fiscal discipline from the Democratic-controlled legislature.  We have two reports today from Ben Adler and from Amy Quinton.

Ben Adler on Governor Brown's speech:

The governor packed his speech with references from the biblical …

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Artist Interviews
12:54 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Violinist Elena Urioste Brings Beloved Beethoven to Fresno

Violinist Elena Urioste
Credit Matt Stuart

As violinist Elena Urioste tells it, when she was just two years old, she knew she wanted to be a violinist, after seeing Itzhak Perlman perform on a broadcast of Sesame Street. Now as a star artist in her own right, she travels the world sharing her musical gift with thousands, including here in Central California. 

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Environment
11:00 am
Fri January 25, 2013

Brown Touts Delta Tunnel Plan in State of the State Speech

California Governor Jerry Brown called for renewed support for his Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnel plan
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown reiterated his pitch to shore up California’s water supply in his State of the State address Thursday.  But Brown’s proposal to spend $14 billion dollars on water received no response from lawmakers during a packed joint session.

As KPCC’s Julie Small reports, his message is really for consumers—and the agencies that supply water to them.

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Government & Politics
5:32 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

State of the State: Brown Says California 'Has Confounded Critics'

California Governor Jerry Brown delivers his address at the state capitol on January 24, 2013.
Credit Office of the Governor

 California Governor Jerry Brown says California has “confounded our critics.”

“We have wrought in just two years a solid and enduring budget and by God, we will preserve and keep it that way for years to come," said Brown.

In a wide-ranging State of the State Address today Brown quoted the bible, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Franklin Roosevelt, and laid out a blueprint for his next two years in office.  He included a warning for Democrats who might be eager to spend more on social programs now that the state no longer has a deficit.

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Fracking
5:24 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Environmental Group Sues State Over Fracking Regulation

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A prominent environmental group has filed a lawsuit challenging the State of California’s stance on the regulation of hydraulic fracturing in the production of oil and natural gas. 

The Center for Biological Diversity says that the state’s Division of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources has failed to act on an existing state law that it says allows the regulation of the controversial practice. The lawsuit was filed today in Alameda County Superior Court. 

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Valley Writers Read
12:47 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Evelyne Holingue's “Welcome Home” on Valley Writers Read

This week on Valley Writers Read, Coarsegold author Evelyne Holingue reads her story titled "Welcome Home."  Living in the foothills presents many challenges, as Juliette and Natasha soon discover. Hear how a traffic accident takes a surprising turn for one foothill visitor. 

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Government & Politics
6:47 am
Wed January 23, 2013

In California Legislature, Moderate Democrats Hold Leverage

Credit Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

The most important members of the California legislature this year might not be the two Democratic leaders - despite the two-thirds supermajorities they hold in each chamber.  And it almost certainly won't be the Republicans. 

They've been courted for key votes in recent years but now don't have the numbers to block any bills on their own.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the leverage in this legislative session may well lie with a newly-critical voting bloc: moderate Democrats.

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Government & Politics
3:41 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Fresno, Bus Driver Union At Odds Over Work Rules, Pay Cut

A Fresno Area Express bus at Roeding Park (file photo)
Credit Federal Transit Administration

Drivers who operate the city of Fresno’s bus service, known as Fresno Area Express will tell you that despite that some may thing, theirs is not a cushy job.

"It’s the equipment, it’s riding in a seat. You’re constantly bouncing up and down, you’re constantly turning the steering wheel. There’s a number of knee problems, shoulder problems, hand problems, by repetitive motion,"  says Rick Steitz, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1027.

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Valley Edition
12:44 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

On Valley Edition: Fresno FAX, Trash, Kettleman City Health; Flu; Janka

This week on Valley Edition, Juanita Stevenson reports on the dispute between Fresno FAX bus drivers and the city of Fresno. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra Romero brings an updated report on the battle over Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s plan to outsource Fresno’s residential trash service. We also look to the effects of pollution caused by diesel in Kettleman City in a report by 89.3’s Rebecca Plevin. Jonathan London, an assistant professor of Human and Community Development at University of California, Davis, also chimes in on the discussion.

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Government & Politics
12:42 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Fresno Home Trash Service Supporters, Opponents Wait For Outsourcing Decision

Marina Magdaleno and other outsourcing opponents rallied in front of Fresno City Hall Friday Jan. 18 to turn in just under 40,000 petitions to put the decision of outsourcing in the hands of voters.
Credit Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

The waiting game has just begun for both sides in the battle over the outsourcing of Fresno’s residential trash service.

For the past month opponents of Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s plan to outsource the city’s home trash service have hustled to collect signatures in order to meet a January 18 deadline to put the decision in the hands of voters.

More than 50 people escorted around 35,000 signatures in seven sealed white boxes into the City Clerk’s Office on Friday.

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Environment
11:06 am
Tue January 22, 2013

Kettleman City Residents Work to Reduce Diesel Pollution

Maria Saucedo, left, and Anna Martinez, both community organizers with Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, monitor diesel idling "hot spots" in Kettleman City.
Rebecca Plevin Valley Public Radio

Anna Martinez was standing on a street corner in the tiny farmworker community of Kettleman City when she heard the familiar sound of a truck engine roaring to life.

She pointed to a diesel truck parked on a lot next to three others. The lot was just one block from State Route 41, and another block or so from a huge agricultural field.

“We’ll see how long he’s going to idle,” said Martinez, a community organizer with Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice. “He’s just now starting his truck - see all the emissions and black smoke.”

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Government & Politics
5:40 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

New Audit Reveals California PUC Misrepresented Funds

California’s Public Utilities Commission has a math problem: Its budget staff has been misreporting the balance in special funds the agency manages.  That’s the finding of a new state audit that blamed the mistakes on “general confusion and lack of knowledge.”  

The Public Utilities Commission manages 14 special funds that use monthly fees from consumers to pay for special programs like the Universal Lifeline telephone service for low-income Californians.   It turns out that in 2011, agency staff miscalculated how much those funds held.

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Air Quality
5:35 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

NASA Flights Over Fresno, Bakersfield Hope to Predict Air Quality From Space

A NASA P3-B aircraft flys over Porterville on Wednesday as part of project to learn more about air pollution in the San Joaquin Valley
Penn State / NASA

NASA scientists and aircraft took to the skies above Fresno and Bakersfield today. It's part of a project that one day hopes to predict and air quality from space.

Two aircraft, including a converted Navy P3-B flew repeated loops over various valley cities today, one of them as low as 1,000 feet, to gather air samples. It's part of a program NASA calls DISCOVER-AQ which aims to better understand pollution spikes and how pollutants react with sunlight throughout the day. 

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High Speed Rail
4:12 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

High Speed Rail Systems Team Up to Pursue Trains

A computer rendering of California's planned high speed train system.
Credit California High Speed Rail Authority

The California High Speed Rail Authority will work with Amtrak to seek out manufacturers of high speed trains. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the two systems hope by teaming up they can lower costs.

 Amtrak and the California High Speed Rail Authority say by working together they hope to advance high speed projects on both the east and west coast.

Amtrak is looking to eventually purchase 32 trains for its east coast system, and California is hoping to acquire 27 trains that operate 220 miles per hour. California

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