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Business & Economy
12:36 pm
Sat September 1, 2012

AAA: Labor Day Holiday Travel Up

Freeway traffic on Interstate 10 in Southern California (file photo)
Credit Michael R Perry / Licensed via Creative Commons via Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelrperry/6868181303/

The latest AAA forecast says a higher number of Californians will be traveling over this Labor Day holiday weekend.

According to the auto club, 3.7 million Californians will travel 50 miles or more.

“This is a modest increase of 3.4 percent over last year," said Cynthia Harris, who is with AAA Northern California. She says “modest” increases in travel numbers have been the norm over the past four years.

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Health Care
6:00 am
Sat September 1, 2012

State Sets Minimum Benefits for Health Plans

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

CHCF Center for Health Reporting

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.

Acupuncture to treat pain and nausea will be covered, for example, as will tobacco cessation and vision screening.

But the jury’s still out on chiropractic care.

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.

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Government & Politics
4:01 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Governor Brown OK's Highway 99 Casino For North Fork Tribe

An artist's rendering of a proposed casino that the North Fork Rancheria hopes to build along Highway 99
North Fork Rancheria

California Governor Jerry Brown announced Friday that he has approved plans by the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians to build a casino along Highway 99 in Madera County. 

The proposed casino would occupy 305 acres on Highway 99 at Avenue 17, near the Madera Municipal Airport. The proposed casino is around 40 miles from the tribe's headquarters in North Fork. 

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Health
3:12 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

CDC: As Many as 10,000 Yosemite Visitors At Risk of Hantavirus

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The hantavirus outbreak in Yosemite National Park that has sickened six and killed two could grow much larger, according to the Centers For Disease Control. On Friday the CDC  issued a health advisory, warning that as many as 10,000 people who stayed at tent cabins in Yosemite National Park between June 10 and August 24th may be at risk for the disease. 

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Environment
11:29 am
Fri August 31, 2012

California Tests Cap and Trade System

California officials are ramping up for the greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade market this November, where companies will be required to pay for their pollution. The state held a trial auction to test the new system for selling carbon credits on Thursday.

The main goal of the test run is to make sure the software works smoothly and prevents attempts to game the bidding system, according to, Stanley Young who is with the California Air Resources Board.

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Sacramento
11:14 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Speaker Pérez Previews Calif. Legislature's Final Day

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

If there’s any last-minute wheeling or dealing on this final day of the California legislative session, Democratic Assembly Speaker John Pérez will surely be involved. The speaker’s top priority is a pair of bills he calls the “Middle Class Scholarship.” They would raise a billion dollars by ending a tax break for out-of-state businesses and put that money towards helping some families pay for college. Pérez spent a few minutes Thursday discussing that and more with Capitol reporter Ben Adler.

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Hantavirus Outbreak
8:58 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

Yosemite Hantavirus Cases Grow, Now Six Infected

Yosemite National Park (file photo)
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The outbreak of hantavirus among people who visited Yosemite National Park continues to grow, as two additional people have been diagnosed with the disease, according to the California Department of Public Health. That brings the total number of Yosemite related cases this year to six. Most of the individuals who became infected stayed at tent cabins in Curry Village earlier this summer. 

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Health
2:41 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

Fresno's Saint Agnes Medical Center Fined After Towel Left In Patient

Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Officials with the California State Department of Public Health today issued fines against 14 hospitals for not complying with various licensing requirements that according to the state, resulted in serious injuries or deaths.

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Housing
11:58 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Foreclosures Drop, But Still Remain High

Merced has been among the communities hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Foreclosure-related home sales fell 10 percent in California during the second-quarter compared to last year. But repossessions still accounted for a big percentage of homes sold. Listing service RealtyTrac says four out of every 10 California homes sold between April and June were foreclosures.

Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s Vice-President said that number, "is extremely high. We’d expect to see less than 5 percent of all sales be foreclosure-related in a normal, healthy market."

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11:25 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Scientists Warned Officials About Hantavirus In Yosemite

Lead in text: 
Calls by scientists to warn Yosemite visitors on the dangers of hantavirus apparently went unheeded by park officials until recently. Christina Jewett of California Watch reports that a document from 2010 indicates that public health officials had suggested steps to reduce the risk of infections in the park's tent cabins, and to educate the public about the disease.
Yosemite National Park California public health scientists have twice recommended in the past five years that Yosemite National Park authorities educate visitors about hantavirus, a rare disease that is linked to the deaths of two park visitors, one illness and a possible fourth this summer.
10:53 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Rotary Donates Water Filters to Monson Residents

Lead in text: 
Many rural Tulare County residents can't drink water from their wells due to nitrate pollution. But now a group of Visalia Rotarians are working to change that, by donating $15,000 worth of reverse-osmosis filters to residents in the small community of Monson.
Although Monson residents each have their own well, none of them can safely drink from them because of high nitrate levels. Guadalupe Perez cannot drink her water or cook with it, she said. Like many residents, she purchases her drinking water in Orosi a few miles away. But that is about to change.
State Parks
10:32 am
Thu August 30, 2012

California Lawmakers Pass Bill Designed to Prevent Another Parks Scandal

Many state parks were threatened with closure, while $54 million in funds sat unused in a
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers have approved a bill designed to improve the state’s accounting practices in hopes of avoiding the kind of scandal that happened with the parks department.

In July, an unreported surplus of $54 million was discovered in two special funds accounts in the parks department. A later audit found accounting discrepancies in other state special funds.

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Labor
5:13 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

New Study Says California Temp Workers More Likely To Be Poor

A new UC Berkeley study says temporary workers in California are more likely to live in poverty than their co-workers.

Miranda Dietz is with the university’s Center for Labor Research and Education. She says “temps” hired through staffing agencies to work in data entry, nursing, accounting and other jobs, earn an average of 18 percent less per hour than their co-workers.

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Government & Politics
3:42 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Lawmakers Pass Open Carry Ban on Rifles, Shotguns

California lawmakers have sent a ban on openly carrying unloaded shotguns or rifles in public to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown. The measure follows a similar ban approved last year on openly carrying unloaded handguns in public.

Republicans strongly opposed the bill. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly argued many Californians are simply expressing their fundamental right. “They’re not criminals! Do not criminalize more Americans because they believe in the 2nd amendment!

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Government & Politics
1:38 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Kern County to Pursue New Jail With $100 Million Grant

The Kern County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to accept a $100 million state grant that would help fund construction of a new jail at the existing Lerdo pre-trial facility. As a condition of the grant, the county also committed over $22 million in matching funds to support construction of the facility, which will house around 800 mostly medium security inmates.

The county had previously been awarded a similar grant in 2008, but had to reject the funding because it was unable to allocate the matching funds required the state. 

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Environment
11:21 am
Wed August 29, 2012

Effort to Approve Mine on Jesse Morrow Mountain Falls Short

Jesse Morrow Mountain
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Plans for a controversial aggregate mine on Jesse Morrow Mountain east of Sanger have stalled after the Fresno County Board of Supervisors failed to approve the project after a marathon meeting Tuesday night. The supervisors were being asked to reverse a decision by the Fresno County Planning Commission, which rejected the project in May. 

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Pension Reform
7:16 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

Brown Announces Pension Deal; Vote Coming Friday

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.

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.

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Animal Control
5:38 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

Local SPCA Says Contract Extension Talks Are Dead

Fresno City Hall
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Talks between the Central California SPCA and the City and County of Fresno on continuing the organization’s contract for animal control services beyond October 1, 2012 have fallen apart.  County and city leaders had hoped to reach an agreement to extend the current contract on a temporary basis through the end of the year to give more time to find a permanent solution.

The organization's executive director Linda Van Kirk issued the following statement today:

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Health
4:08 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

New Yosemite Hantavirus Infections, Death Reported

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Officials at Yosemite National Park have announced that a second person has died after contracting hantavirus during a park visit, and another is likely sick from the disease.  Earlier this month, two other people were diagnosed with the rare pulmonary disease and one died from the illness.

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Valley Edition
12:43 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

On Valley Edition: Immunization Law; Shrinking Middle Class; Learn2Earn

This week on Valley Edition, we revisit the issue of the state's efforts to replace the former Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) program with the new Community Based Adult Services (CBAS) program. Advocates for those with severe disabilities say the new program is turning away many who should qualify, but the state disagrees. Lauren Whaley brings us a special report from Sacramento.

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