Valley Public Radio News

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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 Their advocates said ‘institutionalization’ is outdated.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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Transportation
9:14 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Fresno's Shaw Avenue to Get 'Intelligent' Synchronized Traffic Lights

Traffic on Shaw Avenue may soon become less congested, thanks to a new "intelligent" synchronization system.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Earlier this month, an article in the New York Times  showcased Los Angeles for being the first major city  in the world to synchronize every one of its 4,500 traffic signals. But closer to home, a similar project is already underway in Fresno, which could make commutes on Shaw Avenue quicker by the end of April. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra Romero reports.

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Health Care
10:18 am
Mon April 8, 2013

State Loan Repayment Help Not Enough to Solve Doctor Shortage

Dr. Glen Villanueva sees a patient at a clinic in Ceres, California.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

 

California’s health care system is expected to face an influx of millions more patients as new insurance requirements start next year. But experts are worried that a limited number of doctors in the state will mean health care consumers will have an insurance card but no doctor to see them. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

Dr. Glen Villanueva has known he wanted to be a doctor since he was five years old.

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Government & Politics
4:50 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

Brown's Bid to Regain Control of Mental Health Care in California Prisons Rejected

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

A federal judge has rejected California’s push to retake control of prison inmates’ mental health care.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, it’s a major setback for Governor Jerry Brown.

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Education
11:41 am
Tue April 2, 2013

Fresno Charter School Students Go 'Farm Grown' with Fresno Grizzlies Garden Project

ACEL students pose with the Fresno Grizzlies mascot Parker at the ceremony announcing the launch of the garden program last fall.
Credit http://twitter.com/acelfresno

In an effort to increase education about agriculture and sustainability, the Fresno Grizzlies have partnered with a local charter high school to build a garden at Chuckchansi Park. FM89’s Ezra Romero visited the stadium; spoke with the teenagers planting the garden and has this report.

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For the past week and a half a group of seniors from ACEL Charter High School in Fresno have been huffing and puffing at Chuckchansi Park.  But they aren’t running bases or hitting pop flies – they’re building and planting a garden.

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Agriculture
9:55 am
Tue April 2, 2013

Reedley Farmer Goes 'Farm to School' With Strawberries

Pao Saephan is the first small farmer to sell his produce directly to Fresno Unified School District.
Rebecca Plevin Valley Public Radio

Pao Saephan crouches down in his sun-drenched field. He cups a red jewel in his hand.

In a few more days, his strawberries will be fully ripe. He’ll pick them once they are garnet-colored from stem to tip.

“We want all the strawberries, to be full ripe, full flavor, with 100 percent sugar in them,” says Saephan.

In the past, he would sell the fresh berries at his roadside stand - called Sam’s Strawberry Patch. It’s located at the intersection of Manning Avenue and I Street in Reedley.

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Environment
5:22 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

For California Lawmakers, Plastic Bag Ban Debate is Back

One of the most controversial issues in the California legislature in recent years is back.  Lawmakers are proposing several bills that would either ban the use of plastic bags, charge fees for single-use bags or both.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento.

This idea has stalled in the legislature year after year, amid strong opposition from plastic bag manufacturers and grocers.  But Democratic Assemblyman Mark Levine says this time will be different.

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Health
5:20 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

Study Links Access to Parks to Teenage Exercise Habits

Centennial Park in Bakersfield
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

  A new study from the UCLA Center For Health Policy Research shows that teenagers who live near parks and open space areas are more physically active than those who don't. 

The study also shows that low income teens use parks less, citing safety concerns. Low income teens were also less likely to be active for at least one hour a day. 

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Environment
6:09 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Snow Survey Shows Dramatically Dry Conditions for California

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The next to the last snow survey of the season shows extremely dry conditions for California. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it has prompted the Department of Natural Resources to call the security of the state’s water supply “threatened.”

 The bad news: the water content in California’s snowpack is only 52 percent of normal. What’s worse, the spring melt is underway. While the season started with water content above 130 percent of normal in January, it’s been unusually dry ever since. 

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Just One Breath
12:48 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

CDC Study: Valley Fever Cases Increasing Dramatically

Dust storms can carry millions of spores from the fungus that causes valley fever.
Credit Craig Kohlruss / The Fresno Bee

Cases of valley fever are climbing at stunning rates nationwide, and especially in California and Arizona, according to a new study released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency launched its analysis following the publication of the Reporting on Health Collaborative’s ‘Just One Breath’ series on valley fever. Valley Public Radio is a member of the partnership.

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