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Government & Politics
3:51 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Assembly Approves Minimum Wage Increase

Credit Valley Public Radio

California’s minimum wage would go up for the first time in six years under a bill passed by the state Assembly today. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo’s measure would raise the minimum wage from $8 an hour to $9.25 over the next three years – with cost-of-living adjustments each year after that.

“It’s been six long years – six long years - since we’ve raised the minimum wage here in California.  It’s been locked in at $8 an hour, when we know the price of rent, of clothing, of food, has all gone up during that time,” says Alejo.

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Health Care
6:01 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Budget Battle Over Indigent Care Funds Pits Brown vs Counties

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks with reporters Wednesday afternoon after addressing the California State Association of Counties legislative conference at a Sacramento hotel.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

One of the biggest unresolved issues in California budget negotiations is what to do with more than $1 billion counties currently spend on health care for the poor.  Governor Jerry Brown says counties won’t need that money once the new federal health law kicks in next year.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the counties disagree.

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Government & Politics
9:51 am
Tue May 28, 2013

California Lawmakers Rush to Meet Legislative Deadline

Credit Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

In the California legislature this is the last week for bills to either pass or fail in their House of Origin. With hundreds of bills to consider, it’s going to be a busy week for lawmakers. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento. 

In lay terms, the “House of Origin” deadline means bills need to pass out of the house where they were originally introduced, either the Assembly or the Senate, by this Friday. Bills still in consideration include measures relating to guns, medical marijuana, minimum wage and many more.

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Health Care Reform
9:34 am
Tue May 28, 2013

Costs, Coverage Will Shift in California's Individual Health Insurance Market

California’s new health insurance exchange has announced what plans and prices may look like for millions of people who will be buying individual coverage next year. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more about what the changes may mean for people already in the market.  

Some people may pay the same rate for a health insurance policy next year. But, Janice Rocco from the California Department of Insurance says many people will see a premium increase, with added benefits and fewer other costs. 

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Community
5:34 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Eight Things That Have Changed Since the Last Time Fresno State Had A New President

Incoming Fresno State President Joseph Castro
Credit Fresno State

A lot has happened in Central California since the last time Fresno State had a new president. On Tuesday, the California State University Board of Trustees  selected Hanford native Joseph Castro as the eighth president of Fresno State. He will replace the soon-to-retire John Welty, who has led the university since August of 1991. We thought we'd take a look back at how much Fresno has changed over the past 22 years.

1) The city grew. A lot.

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Health Care Reform
2:23 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

California Releases Details of Health Insurance Exchange

Details of California’s new health insurance exchange were announced today. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, about five million people are eligible to get covered through the exchange.

California is opening the exchange to comply with federal healthcare reform. Thirteen insurance agencies will offer a variety of plans. While some plans will be available throughout the state, others will be targeted to specific regions.

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Education
5:34 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Teachers Association Backs Brown's School Funding Plan

file photo
Credit Fresno Unified School District

The California Teachers Association says it backs Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to change how the state distributes money to school districts. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, that puts them at odds with legislative Democrats.

Brown’s plan includes giving more money to districts with a majority of low income and non-English speaking students. These “concentrations grants” are controversial among some legislators because they’d come at the expense of other districts.  

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Government & Politics
4:45 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Vidak's Upset Win Carries Statewide Implications

Hanford Republican Andy Vidak won a special election Tuesday to fill the vacant SD-16 seat formerly held by Michael Rubio.
Credit Andy Vidak

On Tuesday night Hanford Republican Andy Vidak scored what many are calling a surprise victory in the special election to replace former state senator Michael Rubio in the 16th senate district. Despite a sizable voter registration edge for Democrats, Vidak carried over 50 percent of the vote, enough to avoid a July runoff with the top Democrat, former Rubio staffer and current Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez.

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Government & Politics
3:18 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Legislative Democrats Want to Restore Budget Cuts, But Priorities Differ

Calif. State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) speaks at a rally to restore funding for after school programs at the Capitol Tuesday.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

As California budget talks head into their final weeks, supporters of programs suffering from years of cuts are asking for help.  Governor Jerry Brown opposes any new spending.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, Assembly and Senate Democrats have different programs in which they'd like to invest.

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Government & Politics
6:07 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

California Fire Camps Key To Reducing Prison Overcrowding

Katie Orr Capital Public Radio

Reducing overcrowding at California prisons is not easy. Generally, inmates must either be released or given more space, which is expensive. But there is a third option. Inmates can be sent to fire camps.  That's a cornerstone of Governor Jerry Brown's plan to reduce prison overcrowding in response to a federal court order.  State Government Reporter Katie Orr takes a closer look at what these camps entail.  

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Health Care
5:52 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Medical Procedures Vary By Region, According to New Study

A map from a new study by the California Healthcare Foundation displays the geographic disparities in certain medical procedures, in this case, induced deliveries.

Depending on where they practice, doctors in different parts of California are more likely to recommend certain procedures. It’s a phenomenon called “variance.” A study from The California Healthcare Foundation shows it’s a consideration both patients and physicians should be aware of. The Foundation’s Maribeth Shannon says doctors might not realize what they’re doing.

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Environment
4:35 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Environmentalists Lobby To Change Brown's Proposal For Cap and Trade Funds

file photo
Credit Valley Public Radio

Environmental groups have begun a lobbying campaign to stop California Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal to divert money from the cap-and-trade program.

Environmentalists say money from the sale of carbon pollution permits is supposed to go to programs that help further reduce emissions. Brown wants to borrow $500 million for the general fund.

Vien Truong with the Greenlining Institute says environmental advocates are angry. She says that money could be used for clean air programs in low-income communities.

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Arts & Culture
8:44 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Fresno Composer Fuses Classical, Mariachi, To Bring Music To Kids

Composer Benjamin Boone is working to fuse classical music and mariachi and bring music into the schools.
Credit Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

This weekend the stage of the Saroyan Theatre will be filled with hundreds of young musicians, with hundreds more in the audience. It’s all part of an effort by a Fresno composer to break down the boundaries between classical music and mariachi, and to bring young audiences into the world of music, in a fun, interactive way. Valley Public Radio's Rebecca Plevin reports.

--------------------------------------------

It’s Sunday afternoon and the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra is rehearsing a new, mariachi-inspired song.

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Government & Politics
12:05 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Brown Going After Enterprise Zones in Budget Proposal

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown is proposing drastic changes to California’s Enterprise Zone program in his latest budget. The zones are located in blighted areas and businesses operating within them can claim tax credits from the state.

Craig Johnson is President of the California Association of Enterprise Zones. He says Brown’s changes would essentially eliminate the state’s 40 Enterprise Zones. He says the state already has high taxes and high regulations and eliminating tax credits won’t help.

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Education
12:29 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Welty Offers Advice For The Next Fresno State President: 'Have A Thick Skin'

Fresno State President John Welty (file photo)
Credit FresnoStateNews.com

Fresno State President John Welty will retire this summer, bringing an end to a 22-year tenure as head of the university. He recently sat down with Valley Public Radio's Joe Moore to reflect back on his career.

Interview highlights:

Welty on advice to his successor:

Good luck, have a thick skin, and take time to laugh at yourself from time to time.

Welty, (who is a member of the NCAA Board of Directors) on paying student athletes:

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Development Watch Blog
7:44 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Fresno To Get High-End, High-Rise Downtown Restaurant?

The top two floors of the 16-story Pacific Southwest Building could soon be home to a new restaurant and lounge, according to city officials.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

UPDATED: 5/17/13 (see below)

Could Fresno foodies soon be enjoying a gourmet meal at the top of the tallest privately-owned building in Central California?

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin suggested as much  with this interesting nugget of information during her State of the City address today:

"Plans were just submitted in this particular city's downtown for a high-end restaurant and lounge on the 15th and 16th floors of the tallest building in Central California."

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Government & Politics
5:34 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

New Study Gives Snapshot of Realignment Results

(file photo)
Credit California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

The California Corrections and Rehabilitation Department offered a glimpse today of how realignment is working. The program diverts low-level offenders to county jails in an effort to reduce state prison overcrowding.

A study done by the department compares inmates released pre- and post- realignment. It found post-realignment offenders were re-arrested at a lower rate than pre-realignment offenders. Both groups were convicted of new crimes at nearly the same rate. The department’s Jeffrey Callison stresses this is just a snapshot.     

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Government & Politics
5:13 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Assembly Passes TRUST Act, Again

Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano says the TRUST Act will prevent immigrants from being deported for relatively minor infractions. (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The California Assembly has passed a bill that limits when local law enforcement agencies can turn undocumented immigrants over to federal authorities. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

The TRUST Act says local police cannot turn undocumented immigrants over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for minor crimes. Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano says this will prevent immigrants from being deported for relatively minor infractions.

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Government & Politics
4:42 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Swearengin Focuses On Business, Industry Growth in 'State of City' Speech

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin delivers her 2013 "State of the City" address

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin says the the city's economy is on the road to recovery in 2013, thanks in part to growth in the local food processing sector.  

"I'm telling you that things are getting good around here when it comes to industrial expansion and expanding our food business," Swearengin told the crowd. 

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Government & Politics
12:21 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Democrats Pushing to Limit Prop 13

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

Some Democrats at the Capitol are attempting to chip away at California’s fabled Prop 13. But supporters of the property tax limiting measure are digging in to fight back. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

Proposition 13 limits property taxes in California. But it also requires a two-thirds vote of the public to increase any special taxes. Six Democratic sponsored bills making their way through the Senate would lower that voter requirement to 55 percent approval.

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