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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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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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Government & Politics
3:50 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

California Budget Could Loosen State's Public Records Act

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

 

Local government agencies will no longer be required to follow key provisions of California’s Public Records Act in a bill that’s part of the budget state lawmakers approved over the weekend.  As KPCC’s Julie Small reports, Governor Jerry Brown is expected to enact the change—which is less drastic than one he proposed.

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Community
12:10 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Searching For the 'Perfect Peach' with the Masumoto Family

The new book "The Perfect Peach" by the Masumoto family
Ten Speed Press

Without a doubt one of the best parts of summer in the San Joaquin Valley has to be fresh stonefruit from valley orchards. Ripe, juicy and delicious, the valley’s peaches, plums, apricots and nectarines are the envy of the rest of the country. And perhaps no one has done more to boost the profile of our local peaches, and in such a poetic way than our guest today– Del Rey organic farmer and writer David Mas Masumoto. Peaches from his 80 acre farm appear on menus of some of the world's finest restaurants, and his writing has won numerous awards.

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Environment
11:34 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Budget Agreement Diverts Money From Cap and Trade

file photo
Credit Valley Public Radio

California’s budget agreement borrows 500-million dollars from the state’s cap-and-trade program. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, environmentalists say the maneuver neglects polluted communities.

Environmentalists say money from the sale of carbon pollution permits is supposed to go to programs that help further reduce emissions. California Governor Jerry Brown and lawmakers say it will, just not this year.

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Health Care
11:00 am
Fri June 14, 2013

New Budget Fills In Dental Coverage Gaps for Poor Californians

file photo
Credit California Department of Health Care Services

California lawmakers and Governor Jerry Brown reached a budget agreement this week. The Governor had previously said he had no intention of bringing back services slashed in years past, but a small number of areas won restored funding for next year - dental care was one of them. Health care reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento about what that led up to the decision to renew services.

For four years, Karen Wadsack has been struggling to get the dental care she says she needs.

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Government & Politics
5:50 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

New Law Would Limit California Public Records Act

file photo
Credit Valley Public Radio

A new California law could make it more difficult to get public records from local governments. A “trailer bill” attached to this year’s state budget would make compliance with certain parts of the California Public Records Act optional.

Phillip Ung with the open government advocacy group Common Cause says Senate Bill 71 would enact drastic changes to the Act.

“SB 71 essentially makes participation in the California Public Records Act voluntary, based on what it is the city wants to do,” says Ung.

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Government & Politics
5:07 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Parties Clash Over Budget Transparency

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Lawmakers will begin voting on the California budget on Friday. But Republicans say they’ll also have to vote on several bills they know little about.  Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

The budget is the big picture bill. It dictates where the state’s money will go. Trailer bills are attached to the budget and spell out how the money will be allocated.

Typically trailer bills are published a few days before the budget vote. This year the earliest of at least 15 came out Wednesday morning.

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Health Care Reform
2:33 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

California Insurance Commissioner Wants Anthem Out of Group Health Exchange

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says Anthem Blue Cross should be left out of the new health insurance marketplace for small businesses next year.

Jones says Anthem’s planned premium rate increase for small employers next month is excessive.

He says the Affordable Care Act requires him to evaluate whether insurers are suitable to participate in the new marketplace.

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Government & Politics
1:10 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Fresno Fire Chief Rob Brown Placed On Leave Following Domestic Violence Arrest

Fresno Fire Chief Rob Brown
Credit City of Fresno

Fresno Fire Department Chief Rob Brown was placed on administrative leave today by City Manager Mark Scott. The move comes hours after Brown was arrested by Fresno County sheriff's deputies after an alleged domestic violence incident at his Fresno home late Wednesday night. 

According to the Fresno County Sheriff's Department, Brown was arrested on charges of felony domestic violence and criminal threats. Jail logs indicate that Brown was released from the Fresno County Jail on bond early Thursday morning. 

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Energy & Environment
12:22 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Study: Development of Alternative Fuels Surpassing Expectations

file photo
Credit Flickr user swanksalot / Creative Commons License / Flickr.com

California’s low carbon fuel standard may be driving the development of alternative fuels more quickly than expected. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, a new report shows significant progress in fuels that can replace or blend with gasoline and diesel.

The report is produced by a coalition of utilities and alternative fuel makers. It looks at different ways companies can comply with the regulation that requires a 10 percent reduction in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by 2020.  

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Energy & Environment
5:53 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Only One Major Fracking Bill Left Now at California Capitol

file photo
Credit Capital Public Radio

A bill that would regulate the controversial oil and gas extraction process known as “fracking” in California has stalled at the State Capitol.

The measure by Democratic Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski fell two votes shy of passage in an Assembly committee today. It would have required oil companies to provide a complete list of chemicals used, their concentrations, how much water was used and how it was disposed of once fracking was complete.

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Education
5:50 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

School Districts Have Varying Views on School Funding Formula

file photo
Credit Fresno Unified School District

School districts in California will receive varying amounts of money under the state’s new school funding plan. And attitudes about the plan vary as well. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

Under the new formula, districts will receive a base level of funding for every student. They’ll get additional money for every low-income and non-English speaking student they have.

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Government & Politics
5:44 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Measure G Defeated, Mayor Announces Budget, Layoff Plans

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno’s Measure G officially went down in defeat today. With around 600 votes left to count, updated numbers from the Fresno County Elections Office show that the controversial residential trash outsourcing measure now trails by of 801 votes.

The move is a defeat for Mayor Ashley Swearengin and ends her effort to sell off the service to a private contractor in order to generate additional money for the crash strapped city’s general fund.

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Health
7:43 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

California Budget Deal Reached on Health Funding for Counties

The California state budget deal reached this week includes some restored funding for dental care for the poor, and millions of dollars for mental health services. And as Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento reports, county and state officials are finalizing the details of how local governments will use health care money.  

After months of negotiations, the Brown administration and county representatives have struck a deal - the state can redirect some money away from county health programs, but the counties will have some choice in how that’s done.   

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Arts & Culture
4:06 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Fresno Poet Laureate James Tyner: 'Fresno Helped Save Me'

Fresno Poet Laureate James Tyner

When poet James Tyner was a child, he faced an uncertain future, including time spent homeless, and living in tough, gang-ridden neighborhoods in Southern California. He says two things helped "save" him: a love of literature and the city of Fresno.

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Business & Economy
12:14 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Big Ice Cream: Valley Factories Lead Nation in Frozen Delights

Ice cream tasters are not only looking for the right flavor in an ice cream, but presentation and ratio as well.
Ezra Romero Valley Public Radio

Consumers nationwide love big ice cream names like Dreyer’s and Haagen-Dazs. But do they know that the milk in these ice creams flow from San Joaquin Valley cows? To answer this question, Valley Public Radio's Ezra Romero visits ice cream factories in Kern and Tulare counties to report on how Big Dairy in the San Joaquin Valley is contributing to the nation's ice cream supply.

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Government & Politics
11:15 am
Tue June 11, 2013

Analysis: With the Fate of Measure G Undecided, What's Next?

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Right now at a warehouse in Southeast Fresno, county elections workers are busy verifying signatures on the last handful of provisional ballots that will decide the fate of Measure G, the controversial residential trash outsourcing initiative. As of the most recent vote count released last Friday, the measure is currently failing by just 193 votes, with around 2700 ballots left to count.

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Government & Politics
5:07 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Sources: Governor, Legislative Democrats Reach Budget

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

California Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders appear to have reached a budget deal days before the legislature’s constitutional deadline.

“The Legislature is doing their job and doing it well,” the governor said in a late-night statement after the joint Senate-Assembly Budget Conference Committee wrapped up its work Monday.  “It looks like California will get another balanced budget and, very importantly, educational funding that recognizes the different needs of California’s students.”

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