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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Environment
11:05 am
Mon April 22, 2013

California in Violation Of Safe Drinking Water Act

Credit Valley Public Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says California is in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The federal government has provided the state one-point-five billion dollars to make loans and grants to water systems across the state. But since October 2012, about a half billion dollars remains unspent.

EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld says in many cases the money has been committed, but the projects are not “shovel-ready”. As a result, other communities’ drinking water needs remain unmet.

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Agriculture
5:55 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

USDA to Give Hispanic and Female Farmers More Time to File Discrimination Claims

Decades of discriminatory practices by the U.S. Department of Agriculture against women and Hispanic farmers are playing out in a $1.3 billion claims process. FM89’s Rebecca Plevin reports on a new deadline for those who allege discrimination.

For around 20 years, critics say the USDA’s farm loan program denied applicants because of their gender or race, and gave white male farmers preferential treatment in their dealings with the agency.

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Health
6:17 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Doctors, Lawmakers Propose Ways to Increase Number of Doctors

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

California physicians and lawmakers are trying to draw attention to a shortage of doctors in the state. They made the point jointly in Sacramento Tuesday. As Pauline Bartolone reports from Sacramento, they agree more doctors will be needed to see millions of people who will start enrolling in coverage next year.   

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Government & Politics
6:07 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Pay Day Lending Battle Continues In California

Credit Valley Public Radio

A bill being heard in the California Senate Banking Committee Wednesday would limit the number of payday loans consumers could take out and give them longer to pay the loans back. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

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Environment
12:37 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Governor Brown Says CEQA Changes Aren't Likely

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

California Governor Jerry Brown says he likely won’t be able to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act, (CEQA) this legislative session. He says he believes it would be difficult to move the process forward.

But the comment took Democratic Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg by surprise. He says he intends to continue fighting for his legislation that makes changes to CEQA.

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Business & Economy
11:34 am
Tue April 16, 2013

Bill Would Phase Out Plastic Bags in California

Democratic Senator Alex Padilla has introduced legislation that would ban single-use plastic bags at all grocery, convenience, liquor stores, and at pharmacies.
Credit Office of Alex Padilla

Plastic bags may not be an option much longer at California grocery stores. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban the bags. Despite previous attempts, supporters believe this time the bill will pass. Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento.

California retailers hand out more than 14 billion single use plastic bags every year. The state’s own figures show only 5 percent are recycled. Mark Murray is with Californians Against Waste.

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Animal Rights
9:12 am
Tue April 16, 2013

California Animal Welfare Bill Creates Controversy, Critics Call It 'Ag-Gag'

A screenshot from an undercover video shot by the group Compassion Over Killing at a Hanford slaughterhouse in 2012. Warning: this video contains very graphic footage.
Credit Compassion Over Killing / http://www.cok.net/inv/central-valley-meat/

A number of states have recently passed laws that seek to restrict journalists and animal rights activists from filming inhumane practices inside slaughterhouses. These so-called “Ag-gag” laws have drawn harsh criticism from animal welfare groups. Now, a new bill from a Fresno lawmaker that aims to mandate the swift reporting of animal abuse has some crying foul. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra Romero reports.

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Government & Politics
2:33 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

What's Next for Governor Brown After Prison Court Ruling?

file photo
Credit Casey Christie / The Californian

California faces sanctions, fines and possible jail time for Governor Jerry Brown if the state continues to defy a federal court order to reduce its prison population.   That harsh ruling from a three-judge panel came last week in response to the governor’s motion to vacate a prison population cap those judges imposed seven years ago – when they found that overcrowding was the main reason inmates suffered and died from a lack of healthcare.  Now, they say overcrowding is still a problem.  KPCC’s Julie Small looks at what options are left for Governor Brown and the state.

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Valley History
2:12 pm
Fri April 12, 2013

How Jackie Robinson Almost Became A Fresno State Bulldog

Baseball great Jackie Robinson was recruited by Fresno State in 1939.
Credit http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/robinson/ / Library of Congress - public domain

Before he broke baseball's color barrier in 1947 for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jackie Robinson nearly wound up as multi-sport star for the Fresno State Bulldogs.

In a move that would likely run afoul of today's NCAA recruiting regulations, the school offered the star a number of incentives in an attempt to lure Robinson to the campus, including a new set of tires for his aging 1931 Plymouth.

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Health
10:31 am
Fri April 12, 2013

Disability Advocates Call for Closure of State-Run Residential Centers

Porterville Developmental Center is one of several California state-operated facilities that serve people with developmental disabilities
Credit http://www.dds.ca.gov/Porterville/Index.cfm

The steps to the State Capitol were crowded with people Thursday who wanted lawmakers to hear one message: Close down state-run residential centers for the disabled. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.   

People with disabilities shared stories about abuse at the state’s developmental centers. Their advocates said ‘institutionalization’ is outdated. Jaquie Dillard–Foss from the organization “StrategiesTo Empower People” has helped people make the transition from developmental centers back into communities.

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Prisons
6:45 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Court Rejects Brown's Motion to Reduce Calif. Prison Population

Credit Casey Christie / The Californian

In a scathing ruling, a federal three-judge panel has rejected Governor Jerry Brown’s request that it lift a court order placing a cap on California’s prison population.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

The U.S. Supreme Court has told the state it must reduce its prison population to 137 percent of design capacity.  The state got most of the way there.  And in January, Governor Brown filed a motion asking the court to essentially say, that’s good enough.  The answer from the court is a very clear “no.”

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Government & Politics
6:12 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Assembly Passes Bill Prohibiting Garnishing Wages Over Student Loan Debt

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

College students wouldn’t face the threat of lenders garnishing their wages if they can’t repay private student loans under a bill passed by the California Assembly today.  Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento.

Unlike federal student loans, private student loans can’t be forgiven in bankruptcy and banks can garnish up to 25 percent of a student’s wages. Democratic Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski authored a bill he says would help under-employed, debt-saddled graduates. He says the bill would simply eliminate one way private lenders can collect repayment.

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Fracking
6:05 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Central Valley Water Board Launches Investigation Over Fracking Wastewater Disposal

The investigation into Vintage Production was launched after a YouTube video allegedly depicted the disposal of fracking wastewater in an unlined pond at a well near Shafter.
Credit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxb671gbmkY

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has launched an investigation into a Kern County oil producer over concerns about how the company disposes of potentially dangerous fracking wastewater.

Vintage Production California allegedly discharged chemical laced wastewater into an unlined retention pond at a well near Shafter, without required permits.

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Government & Politics
11:32 am
Thu April 11, 2013

Brown Calls On China For Shared Climate Change Commitment

California Governor Jerry Brown addresses a crowd in China
Credit http://gov.ca.gov/

California Governor Jerry Brown today is traveling from Beijing to Shanghai on China’s high-speed rail system.

The ride is meant to highlight California's interest in infrastructure projects. It’s part of Brown’s weeklong trade mission in China.

Earlier in the day, Brown spoke at China’s Tsinghua University, calling for a shared commitment to climate change. 

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Government & Politics
6:07 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

State Tax Revenues Up in March; April Will Be More Telling

Credit Valley Public Radio

California tax revenues ended the month of March about 7 percent above estimates in the Governor’s budget. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the state controller’s office says April’s numbers will reveal far more about California’s fiscal health. 

Revenues in March were $395 million  above the Governor’s budget estimates. That puts total revenues for the fiscal year more than 4-billion above estimates so far. But April will be key for the state as income tax deposits continue to roll in.  

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Health Care Reform
6:04 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Bill Would Exclude Hospital-based Nursing Facilities From Budget Cuts

Hospital-based skilled nursing care facilities say more Medi-Cal cuts will devastate patients and families. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, lawmakers from both parties support a bill that would exclude those facilities from budget cuts. 

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Government & Politics
5:51 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Bill to Penalize Boy Scouts for Gay Membership Ban Clears Committee

A bill that would penalize the Boy Scouts of America for the group’s ban on gay membership has cleared its first hurdle in the California legislature.  As Capital Public Radio’s Marianne Russ reports, some groups could pay more taxes under the measure. 

The bill would remove sales and corporate tax exemptions from youth groups that discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity or religious affiliation.  Democratic Senator Ricardo Lara wrote the bill.

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Immigration
12:07 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Revamped "TRUST Act" Back This Year at California Capitol

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

A California lawmaker is taking another run at a bill that would limit federal immigration holds on people in local custody.  Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the so-called “TRUST Act” last year because he said it prevented law enforcement from holding certain violent criminals.  But as KPCC’s Julie Small reports, a new version of the bill cleared its first committee Tuesday.

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Education
5:32 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Lawmakers Look To Restore Cal Grant Funding

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Restoring money to California’s college financial aid program is proving to be popular with both Democrats and Republicans in the State Assembly. But even if they agree on the issue, Governor Jerry Brown may not. Katie Orr reports from the State Capitol. 

Supporters of restoring funding levels to the state’s college financial aid program say it’s a financially savvy move. “Cal Grants” are awarded to low-income students attending public and private universities in California. The program’s budget has been slashed in recent years. 

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Fracking
5:29 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Bill To Regulate 'Fracking' Clears State Senate Committee

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Some lawmakers say California is not doing enough to regulate hydraulic fracturing or fracking for oil and gas. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, a bill designed to tighten regulations passed its first legislative test today.

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