Valley Public Radio News

Hear local reports on the economy, government, education, health and the environment on Valley Public Radio during All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Valley Edition. 

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Education
11:31 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Bill Would Create Online Courses at UC, CSU, Community Colleges

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) discusses his online college course legislation with reporters at a Capitol news conference Wednesday. The event was streamed as a video conference via Google hangout.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

The leader of the California Senate is proposing legislation that would provide online courses for credit at the state’s colleges and universities.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the measure is both a work in progress – and a balancing act.

With California’s higher education system at capacity, the most popular courses fill up fast – especially courses students need to graduate.  Richard Copenhagen is a College of Alameda student and president of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges.

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Health Care Reform
10:54 am
Thu March 14, 2013

California Lawmaker Seeks to Expand the Roles of Non-Physicians

State Senator Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina)
Credit Office of state Senator Ed Hernandez

A California lawmaker proposes to allow some healthcare workers to expand their range of services in order to meet the new demand for health care under the Affordable Care Act. Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

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Health
6:03 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

New Study Shows Poor, Minorities At Greater Asthma Risk

Polluted skies over northeast Fresno (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new study from UCLA and the state Air Resources Board finds that minorities and other low-income populations face greater incidents of asthma than the rest of the population.

The study from the Chronic Disease Program at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research connects increased exposure to pollution with a rise in everything from asthma attacks to work absences and emergency room visits.

The study also found that those living within 750 feet of busy roads and highways had increases in asthma-related trips to the emergency room.

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Fracking
5:58 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Brown Backs State's Fracking Regulators, Promises Deliberative Process

California Governor Jerry Brown (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown says he supports the people he’s put in charge of regulating the process of extracting oil and natural gas known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”  He says California’s fossil fuel deposits have “extraordinary” potential.

Some legislative Democrats and environmental groups have raised safety concerns about fracking.  Brown told reporters in San Francisco today that he’s confident his administration will handle all safety and regulatory questions as they come up.

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Government & Politics
11:08 am
Wed March 13, 2013

Why Unions Oppose Overhauling CEQA

Unions, environmental groups, Democratic lawmakers and others hold a Capitol news conference Tuesday to oppose efforts they say would weaken the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

The coalition of groups that will fight efforts in the state legislature this year to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act is taking shape.  It includes environmental groups, some Democratic lawmakers … and labor unions.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento on why unions are on this side of the CEQA debate.

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Health Care
6:09 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Glenwood Gardens Case Helps Spark Dialogue About End-of-Life Care

file photo
Credit Rosie O'Beirne / Creative Commons License / Flickr.com

The death last week of 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless at a Bakersfield retirement home helped sparked a nationwide controversy over practices at nursing homes and other senior living facilities.

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Environment
11:13 am
Tue March 12, 2013

Nature Preserve Near Fresno Delights Foothill Visitors

Wildflowers cover the nearly flat surface of the table at McKenzie Preserve
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

On the edge of a region in California known for agriculture and dairy, lays a hidden gem.  A wildlife preserve with Table top foothills, that in spring are awash in color from budding wild flowers.

On Saturday, the Sierra Foothill Conservancy, a local group that manages a number of foothill preserves in the region held a special open house at the group’s largest operation.   

The McKenzie Preserve – in-between Friant and Prather – was open to the public for exploring and a hike up a flat top lava formed table in the region.

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Government & Politics
10:09 am
Fri March 8, 2013

In Sacramento, Justice Kennedy Criticizes California Prison Spending

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in Sacramento Thursday, moments before the dedication of a library and statue in his honor at the federal courthouse.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

He’s not only from California.  Justice Anthony Kennedy’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings – past and future – are felt in California.  He wrote the ruling in a case involving the state’s overcrowded prisons, and many observers feel the fate of Proposition 8 is in his hands.  

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Government & Politics
6:14 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

GOP Bill Would Allow Flexible Work Schedules

A California lawmaker is reviving a proposal that’s stalled in previous years that would allow employees to work flexible schedules – such as four 10-hour days each week.

Republican State Senator Tom Berryhill says his bill would let individual workers ask their companies for more flexibility.

“If the employees went to the owner and wanted to make it a little bit different on their work hours for their families, then it’d be okay.  And I don’t think it’s government’s place to get in the way of employees spending more time with their families,” says Berryhill. 

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Health Care Reform
5:46 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Lawmakers Move Step Closer to Expanding Medi-Cal

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Legislation that would expand health care coverage to an estimated one million low-income Californians has moved a step closer to passing. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the bills would implement part of the federal health care law.

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Health Care Reform
12:37 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Hundreds of Thousands of Californians May Leave Employer-Sponsored Health Plans

The leader of California’s new health benefit exchange says he doesn’t expect employers to drop employees from health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

But he says people may choose to leave on their own. Health care reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

Executive Director of Covered California Peter Lee says a few hundred thousand Californians may choose to leave their employer plans and sign up through the exchange over its first five years.

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Transportation
11:45 am
Wed March 6, 2013

New Study Shows California's Local Road System In Crisis

Raymond Road in eastern Madera County (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new study shows that local roads in California are falling into a state of disrepair at an alarming rate. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the report says the majority of counties have roads at risk of failing.

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Seniors
3:30 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

For Many Seniors Working Well Beyond 65 Is New Reality

Felipe Barraza of Visalia, Calif., is 68 and has no plans to retire. He says his children, of whom the youngest is 13, keep him young. If he ever retires he plans to travel the globe with his wife.
Credit Stephanie Barraza

The world for the retiree is evolving. For some retirement means a chance to globe-trot or travel across the country in an RV, but for many 65 is just another milestone, a reminder of poor financial decisions earlier in life or a chance to explore a second career.

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Military
9:51 am
Tue March 5, 2013

California National Guard Troops Preparing for Deployment to Afghanistan

Fifty California Guard troops and fifty from Nevada and Washington will take up medevac operations as part of Operation Enduring Freedom
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The California Army National Guard is deploying about 50 soldiers as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.  

About a hundred medics, pilots and mechanics from California, Nevada, and Washington are flying out today. This is the third such deployment for Sylvester Wilson. He’s from Rancho Cordova, near Sacramento.

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Community
9:07 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Coalinga 'Deportee' Plane Crash Sparks Search, 65 Years Later

Carlos Rascon, director of cemeteries for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno walks past the grave of the 28 'deportees'
Rebecca Plevin Valley Public Radio

Author Tim Z. Hernandez was digging through old newspapers at the Fresno County library when a dramatic headline from the late 1940s captured his attention.

“I stumbled upon this headline that said, ‘100 people see a ship plunge to the earth’ or something like that. It was just really a captivating headline. I instantly realized after reading it that it had to be tied into Woody Guthrie’s song, says Hernandez. 

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Government & Politics
1:21 am
Mon March 4, 2013

Analysis: Big Issues Await Rubio In New Job As Oil Industry Lobbyist

Former State Senator Michael Rubio speaks at an event in Bakersfield in 2012.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

When former state Senator Michael Rubio begins work in Sacramento Monday as government relations manager for Chevron, he'll arrive to a full slate of issues involving the oil industry.

While state law prohibits ex-elected officials from registering as lobbyists for one year after leaving office, Rubio is expected to sidestep that provision by assuming a management role with the oil giant. 

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Government & Politics
5:40 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Dozens of Bills Introduced to Change Environmental Law


California lawmakers have introduced more than a dozen bills that make changes to the California Environmental Quality Act, known as CEQA.  As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, critics of the 43-year-old law say it’s a barrier to economic growth.

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Government & Politics
5:30 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Kevin McCarthy: California GOP Has Nowhere to Go But Up

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) addresses the Sacramento Press Club Friday.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy had plenty to say at the Sacramento Press Club Friday.

The California Congressman discussed everything from the federal budget cuts known as sequestration to the future of the Republican Party. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

McCarthy said President Obama was “creating hysteria” about the sequestration cuts – rather than working with Republicans:

“If we can’t find a way to cut $85 billion out of a $3.6 trillion deficit, we’re not gonna overcome our problems.”

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Government & Politics
6:03 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Assembly Speaker Files Supreme Court Brief Opposing Prop 8

California Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles) discusses same-sex marriage, sequestration and other issues with reporters Thursday at the State Capitol.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

The speaker of the California Assembly has filed a legal brief with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the justices to overturn the state’s constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage.

In his friend-of-the-court brief known as an “amicus” brief, Speaker John Pérez  argues voter-approved Proposition 8 prevents him from passing bills at the State Capitol.

“Proposition 8 clearly inhibits my legislative role, preventing me and my peers from moving forward legislation on marriage equality – although clearly, we would like to do so if we were allowed.” 

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Environment
3:16 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Sierra Snowpack Below Normal; Driest Year on Record

Sierra snowpack this winter is below normal, according to a recent snow survey
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

January and February are the driest on record for the northern Sierra Nevada. As Amy Quinton reports, snowpack is well-below normal for this time of year.

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