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Government & Politics
4:36 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Budget's on the Books: Brown Signs $96 Billion Spending Plan

California Governor Jerry Brown signed the state's budget into law today in Sacramento.
Credit Office of the Governor

California has its new budget for the fiscal year that starts on Monday.

Governor Jerry Brown signed the $96 billion general fund spending plan today at the State Capitol with Democratic legislative leaders at his side.

The governor said the budget is balanced and responsible – while still investing in education and health care.

“We know that for the last 10 years, that there’s been boom and bust.  In fact, going back for 40 years, it’s been the sorry tale of most governors to leave town with a ton of red ink.  I don’t want to do that,” said Brown.

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Government & Politics
10:05 am
Thu June 27, 2013

In Fresno, Advocates on Both Sides of Prop 8 Mark Occasion

Yesterday, Central California residents reacted to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to not rule on Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved bad on gay marriage. Valley Public Radio's Rebecca Plevin reports that advocates on both sides of the issue gathered in Fresno to mark the occasion.

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Reese Ramirez wore a rainbow, beauty pageant-style sash across his chest that reads “Mr. Trans Fresno 2013.” He explained that the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on Proposition 8 is uplifting.

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Government & Politics
8:43 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Democrats Rejoice, Republicans Search for Answers After Gay Marriage Rulings

Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and members of the California Legislature's LGBT Caucus react to Wednesday's U.S. Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage at the State Capitol.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

If California’s elected officials are a microcosm of the state’s population, they proved it after Wednesday’s same-sex marriage rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Democrats rejoiced – including many gay lawmakers who’ve led the push for marriage equality.  Many Republicans searched for an appropriate response, and some expressed frustration.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

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Government & Politics
6:16 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

California Legislators React to DOMA, Prop 8 Decisions

Speaker of the Assembly John A. Pérez addresses the media following today's Supreme Court decision
Credit The office of Speaker John A. Pérez

The U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage rulings – including the one overturning California’s Proposition 8 – have reverberated through the state Capitol.

Assembly Speaker John Pérez is the first openly gay person to lead the lower chamber:

“This is the first time in my life that I felt that the law fully recognized me as being equal to everyone else.” says Pérez.

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Government & Politics
5:21 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Court Decision Spurs Fresno Marriage Proposal

After 16 years together Rio Waller proposed to Naomi Hendrix after finding out about the Supreme Court's ruling.
Credit Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

  Today's U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage was cheered by activists throughout the state, including in Fresno. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra Romero reports from Fresno’s Tower District one same sex couple chose to celebrate the justice’s decision with a marriage proposal.

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When Rio Waller woke up this morning and heard the Supreme Court’s decision, she was moved to tears. 

“When I saw  what happened I started crying and laughing and I was by myself because my partner runs a market,” Waller says.

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Government & Politics
12:20 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Attorney General Harris Urges Fast Action on Same-Sex Marriage

California Attorney General Kamala Harris (file photo)
Credit The Aspen Institute / Creative Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively overturning California’s Proposition 8 isn’t the last word on the case. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals must act before same-sex marriages can resume in the state.

The Supreme Court ruling won’t officially make it to the Ninth Circuit for 25 days. But state Attorney General Kamala Harris says the Appeals Court can act immediately and it should.

“We cannot delay or deny individuals their civil rights. And for that reason I urge the Ninth Circuit to lift the stay as early as possible,” says Harris.

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Music
8:27 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Fresno's Karen Marguth Brings Jazz Stylings to International Audiences

Karen Marguth

It's not often that international jazz critics and festivals turn their attention to artists from Fresno. But Central California vocalist Karen Marguth is the exception to that rule. In 2010, veteran jazz critic Christopher Loudon called Marguth "one of the finest American jazz vocalists" in a JazzTimes article about the singer.

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Government & Politics
5:37 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Prison Medical Facility Opens in Stockton

An architect's rendering of the new Stockton prison health care facility.
Credit http://www.chcfstockton.com/

California prison officials opened a new medical facility in Stockton today designed to improve treatment for 1,700 of the state’s sickest inmates.  The opening of the 200-acre facility will also ease crowding in prisons — something that could appease a federal court that has ordered California to reduce the inmate population to ensure they receive basic healthcare.  KPCC’s  Julie Small reports.

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Government & Politics
3:35 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Three California Counties Affected by Voting Rights Act Decision, Including Kings Co.

Hanford, in Kings County is one of three California counties impacted by the Supreme Court decision
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The United States Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act revolves around a county in Alabama. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, several counties in California will be affected too.

Yuba, Monterey and Kings Counties in California must currently get approval from the federal government for any election law changes. But they could eventually get some relief under the new U.S. Supreme Court decision. It orders Congress to change the formula for determining which jurisdictions require oversight. 

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Health
7:56 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

Federal Judge: Move Inmates At Risk Of Valley Fever

Of all the state's prisons, Pleasant Valley in Coalinga has the highest rate of valley fever.
Rebecca Plevin Valley Public Radio

All inmates at risk of developing a serious form of valley fever must be removed from two Central California state prisons within the next 90 days. That’s what a U.S. District Court judge ruled Monday, upholding a directive from the federal official in charge of prison health care. The ruling comes over the objections of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which balked at the complexity of the policy. Valley Public Radio’s Rebecca Plevin takes us behind the prison gates to explain how the state and inmates are coping with the problem. 

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Environment
7:00 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

Department of Public Health to Distribute Unspent Clean Water Money

Credit Valley Public Radio

The California Department of Public Health released its plan today on how it intends to use some $455 million in unspent federal funds that are supposed to go to pay to clean drinking water programs.

The agency was the subject of a highly critical report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in April over the failure to spend the federal funds.

The Department of Public Health plans to distribute $84 million from that fund to local water agencies by the end of the week, and nearly $200 million in the next fiscal year.

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Government & Politics
6:53 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

California Courts Welcome $60 Million Funding Boost

Fresno County Courthouse (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore - Valley Public Radio

California’s trial courts are set to receive an extra $60 million in the new state budget that takes effect next month. The money is designated to help improve access to courts that have slashed hours and resources or shut down completely. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

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Development Watch
6:07 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Olivier Pushes Law to Waive Fees for Infill Development in Fresno

Clint Olivier
Credit City of Fresno

Jump-starting infill development is the focus of a new city ordinance being advanced today by Fresno City Councilmember Clint Olivier.

His draft ordinance, called the Best Utilization of Infill Land Development Act, or BUILD, would eliminate some development fees for new residential  construction on small vacant lots within the city.

It would waive fees that go to pay for police, fire, traffic and parks services.  

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Government & Politics
5:41 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Federal Judges to Governor Brown: Stop Delaying Prisoner Release

file photo
Credit Casey Christie / The Californian

A federal three-judge panel is reiterating its order to California Governor Jerry Brown to reduce prison overcrowding. Today’s ruling even removes any state and local laws that might get in the way. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

The judges have ordered California to immediately expand its good time credit program, which allows inmates to get out of prison early.  The judges also waived any state or local laws preventing the release of prisoners.

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Government & Politics
10:51 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Legislators Scramble to Undo Changes to Public Records Act

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

California Senate leaders say they’ll introduce a Constitutional Amendment to ensure compliance with the state’s Public Records Act. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, the move comes after an unexpected public outcry against watering it down.

A provision attached to the budget bill made complying with certain parts of the state’s Public Records Act optional. The change enraged members of the media and lawmakers have been scrambling to undo the move since then.

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Government & Politics
6:00 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

Brown, California Mayors Talk Water, High-Speed Rail and More

Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido (left), Los Angeles Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson talk with reporters after meeting with Gov. Jerry Brown at the Capitol Wednesday.
Credit Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

The mayors of California’s largest cities met with Governor Jerry Brown today at the state Capitol.  They talked about a host of issues including prison realignment, high speed rail and the governor’s proposed Delta water project.

Los Angeles Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti says more pension reform is needed, even after last year’s legislation.

“If we do not address this problem and look at this with seriousness –and I think this group of mayors wants to help the Governor and the state legislature continue to do that, we will see deficits balloon in coming years,” says Garcetti.

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Government & Politics
5:22 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

Fresno City Manager Mark Scott To Leave Job For Burbank

Credit City of Fresno

Fresno City Manager Mark Scott announced today he is leaving his job to take a similar position in the city of Burbank. Mayor Ashley Swearengin will promote current assistant city manager Bruce Rudd to replace him. The move is effective July 19th.

Scott spent the last three years on the job in Fresno, dealing with a number of issues ranging from budget deficits and hits to the city’s credit rating, to controversy over animal control and development lawsuits between the city and the counties Madera and Fresno. 

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Government & Politics
5:03 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

California Elected Officials To Get Pay Raise

Credit Valley Public Radio

The salaries of California's state lawmakers and constitutional officers weren’t exempt from years of state budget cuts. But some of those cuts were restored today  when a state commission voted to give lawmakers a pay raise. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

It may be a happier holiday season for state elected officials. The California Citizens Compensation Committee has approved a five percent raise, which will take effect in December.

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Ask Emily
6:27 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Obamacare and Your Choices: Options for Californians Who Don’t Like Their Work-Based Coverage

Emily Bazar - CHCF Center for Health Reporting

Another in a series of Q&A columns answering consumers’ questions about the Affordable Care Act.

Q: If my husband’s employer offers health care insurance but it is unaffordable, where does that leave us? Will we qualify for help under Obamacare or will we be out in the cold? We make about $45,000 annually.

A: Apparently, lots of you dislike the health insurance options offered by your employers.

Carrie from the Sacramento suburbs submitted this question, but I’ve received a crush of similar queries from all over the state.

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Government & Politics
4:15 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

California Republicans Urge Federal Immigration Reform

Republican State Senator Anthony Cannella
Credit Office of Anthony Cannella

The Republican Party isn’t typically seen as leading the charge on federal immigration reform. But in California some Republicans have become outspoken supporters of Congressional action.  Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

Republican State Senator Anthony Cannella is one of two lawmakers who travelled to Washington DC this week to press for immigration reform.

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