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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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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Development Watch
9:15 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Fresno County To Allow Developers to Select Their Own Environmental Consultants

Developers in Fresno County will soon be able to hire firms of their own choosing to study the environmental impacts of proposed projects. 

The Board of Supervisors approved the new policy Tuesday on a 5-0 vote, saying that it will speed up the development process, and help to create jobs.

Until now, developers would pay the county for the preparation of an environmental impact report (EIR). The county would then issue a "request for proposal" to environmental consulting companies, a selection process that can take nearly half a year to complete. 

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High Speed Rail
10:00 am
Tue February 26, 2013

After Delays, High-Speed Rail Project to Start This Summer

file photo
Credit California High Speed Rail Authority

The opening phase of California’s high-speed rail project is scheduled to break ground this summer – and the project’s CEO is promising no further delays. 

But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, it’s already behind what Governor Jerry Brown promised just last year.

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Government & Politics
5:38 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

What Does Senator Michael Rubio's Resignation Mean For the Valley?

Former State Senator Michael Rubio (D-Shafter)
Credit Office of Michael Rubio

State Senator Michael Rubio stunned political observers with his surprise resignation on Friday morning. A moderate Democrat, Rubio was leading efforts to change the state's landmark environmental law, the California Environmental Quality Act.

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Government & Politics
2:32 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Bill Calls For New Courts Dedicated to CEQA Cases

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Lawsuits under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA are often criticized for delaying projects. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, one lawmaker has introduced a bill that he says might speed up the judicial process.

Democratic Assemblymember Roger Dickinson has introduced a bill that would create CEQA courts in Northern and Southern California. The courts would have exclusive jurisdiction over any CEQA litigation.

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Prison Realignment
2:22 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Central Valley Lawmaker: California Should Give Counties More Money to Fund Realignment

State Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) - (file photo)
Credit Office of Anthony Cannella

 

A California lawmaker says the shift of tens of thousands of state prisoners to county supervision has become a strain for some counties.  As Marianne Russ reports from Sacramento, he wants the state to give those counties more money.

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Government & Politics
10:52 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Michael Rubio Resigns From State Senate

State Senator Michael J. Rubio (D-Shafter)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

State Senator Michael Rubio, D-Shafter, has resigned, effective immediately, from his position in the California State Senate. He will become the manager of California government affairs for Chevron Corporation.

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Health
7:25 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Are Teaching Health Centers the Cure to the Valley's Doctor Shortage?

Dr. Peter Broderick examines a patient's X-ray as three future doctors look on.
Credit Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

A new type of residency program may provide some relief to the Central Valley’s physician shortage, and change the way we grow and retain primary care doctors in the Valley.

The model is called a “teaching health center,” and it’s funded by the Affordable Care Act.

The idea behind this new approach to graduate medical education is to train medical residents in community health centers, and encourage them to pursue careers in primary care in underserved areas, like the Valley.

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Government & Politics
7:26 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Experts: 'Sequestration' Could Hurt California's Economy

Credit Valley Public Radio

As the March 1st deadline for automatic federal budget cuts approaches, their potential effect on California is becoming increasingly clear. 

Ben Adler reports from Sacramento that “sequestration” cuts could slow the state’s economic recovery – and perhaps even create a new budget deficit.

There are two ways sequestration could affect California: direct federal spending cuts of about $4 billion dollars, and the reaction to those cuts from the state’s people and businesses. 

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Health Care Reform
12:22 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

California Lawmakers Discuss How Geography Will Help Shape Health Premiums

file photo

California lawmakers are deciding how geography can affect health insurance premiums in the individual marketplace.

Lawmakers got one step closer to ironing out new rules that would guarantee insurance to individuals regardless of their prior health history. But, they still need to decide how companies will factor in where someone lives into premium rates.

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Environment
6:54 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Report: Cleanup Nitrate Pollution With Fee on Fertilizer Sales

A map showing the initial study areas for a recent UC Davis study of nitrate pollution.
Credit CA Water Resources Control Board

The State Water Resources Control Board is recommending that California fund efforts to mitigate nitrate pollution through a statewide fee on fertilizer.

In a report to the Legislature, the board said that groundwater nitrate pollution in the Tulare Lake Basin and Salinas Valley is likely to get worse in the future, and a dedicated funding stream is needed to address the problem.

Agricultural fertilizer and confined animal facilities are considered some of the top sources of nitrate pollution.

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Water Quality
5:26 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Lawmakers Introduce Clean Drinking Water Legislation

file photo
Credit Valley Public Radio

Several lawmakers introduced nine bills Wednesday they say are designed to help the more than 21 million Californians who rely on contaminated groundwater for drinking. 

Environmental groups and several Democratic legislators stood on the Capitol steps to call for an end to contaminated water.

They say so many poor communities lack access to safe drinking water that California will have to invest about $40 billion over the next two decades to solve the problem.

Democratic Assemblymember Henry T. Perea represents Fresno and parts of the Central Valley.

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Government & Politics
11:39 am
Wed February 20, 2013

California Legislature to Consider Minimum Wage Increase

Credit Valley Public Radio

President Obama’s call for increasing the minimum wage in his State of the Union address this month  could face a tough road in Congress.  But a proposal in the California legislature could stand a better chance.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

California’s current minimum wage is eight dollars an hour.  A bill at the State Capitol would bump it up gradually over the next several years to $9.25 an hour … then require annual increases for inflation.  UC Berkeley labor economist Sylvia Allegretto says too many Californians are underpaid:

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Health Care Reform
5:50 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Legislative Analyst Recommends State-Based Medi-Cal Expansion

California's non-partisan Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor. (file photo)
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

A non-partisan legislative report suggests expanding California’s Medicaid program under the federal health law would make good sense in terms of finance and policy. 

The Legislative Analyst’s Office says the state should move ahead with the Medi-Cal expansion that Governor Jerry Brown recently laid out in his budget. 

It says not only could the coverage mean better health for the newly eligible, but it says the money both the state and counties would save would far outweigh the costs in the short and long term. 

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Government & Politics
5:46 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Bill Proposes "Zero Tolerance" Policy for Drugged Driving

State Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) speaks at a Capitol news conference Tuesday about his bill that would create a "zero tolerance" policy for drugged driving.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

A California lawmaker wants to create a “zero tolerance” law for driving under the influence of drugs.

Democratic State Senator Lou Correa says his bill would expand the current law against drunk driving to cover drug use as well. 

“It took us decades to pound into people that you should not drink and drive.  Then, we started talking about texting and talking on the phone and driving.  And today, this is about being drugged and driving.” 

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Government & Politics
11:38 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Visalia's Public Safety Tax Spurs Talk for Similar Proposal in Fresno

The historic Fox Theater anchors a thriving downtown district on Main Street in Visalia
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The hustle and bustle of downtown Visalia, a place alive with activity. Local residents point to it with pride. City Manager Steve Salomon says it has a lot to do with the community’s vision for its city.  

“The city council in this city for decades and decades has been able to have a long term view of what they thought this city should be, and done things that were not necessarily going to have an immediate result for them, but a long term result,” says Salomon.

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Agriculture
1:45 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Honey Bee Shortage Could Sting Almond Growers

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A honey bee shortage in California could sting almond growers this season. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, there aren’t enough bees to pollinate the crops of California’s largest export.

California gets about 75 percent of its bees from other states. But drought, malnutrition and disease killed many of the bees over the winter. The winter losses are still being counted.

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Education
6:54 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Visalia's COS Could Lose Accreditation, Closure Possible

COS President Stan Carrizosa speaks to a campus group on Thursday in Visalia.
Credit College of the Sequoias

Visalia’s College of the Sequoias is facing the potential loss of its accreditation. The news comes after a commission from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges found that COS was in “substantial non-compliance” with the organization’s standards.  

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Health
12:16 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Health Care Exchange Announces Benefit Plan Choices

Low-income Californians without health insurance or who aren’t eligible for Medi-Cal can now see which benefits they can expect under the federal health care overhaul- and how much their coverage will cost.

Californians eligible for federal subsidies can determine out-of-pocket costs for medications and doctor and hospital visits, as well as maximum annual costs.

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