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Government & Politics
6:40 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Rewritten Water Bond to Include Less Money for Storage

California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg
Office of Darrell Steinberg

California Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg says lawmakers plan to rewrite the $11 billion water bond for the November 2014 ballot – and the new version will likely have less money for storage projects such as dams.

“There will continue to be a chapter for storage.  I don’t think there will be nearly the same amount of money in that chapter as there was in the original bond.  And I think there will be de-emphasis, frankly – or at least, on the same surface storage projects,” says Steinberg. 

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Government & Politics
6:32 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

State to Delay Sending Residents Fire Protection Bills

Credit Cal Fire

The state of California is putting a temporary halt to sending out new bills to some rural homeowners in the enforcement of a controversial fire prevention fee.

The delay comes as CAL Fire is sorting through a backlog of thousands of appeals from mostly foothill and mountain residents. The state was planning to send out another round of bills in April.

Some 87,000 residents have already appealed the fee. It's unclear when the state will clear the backlog in appeals and send out new bills. 

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Government & Politics
2:02 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Lawmakers Examine Options for Closing CalSTRS Shortfall

When state lawmakers were beating their chests last year about the need to reduce pension liabilities, they didn’t actually do anything about the largest liability of all. 

The California State Teachers Retirement System – known as CalSTRS – is facing a projected $70 billion shortfall.   KPCC’s Julie Small attended a sobering hearing Wednesday on the state’s options for closing the gap.

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Jobs
6:29 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

California Tied With Rhode Island For Highest Unemployment in Nation

Credit Valley Public Radio

California now has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the latest figures from the California Employment Development Department show no improvement in the state’s jobless rate for January.

California’s unemployment rate remained at 9.8 percent in January. That ties the state with Rhode Island for the highest unemployment rate in the country. 

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Business & Economy
4:59 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Report: California Women Faring Worse than Men During Economic Recovery

A new study finds women in California aren’t faring as well as men during the economic recovery.  The analysis was done by The California Budget Project and the Women’s Foundation of California.  

It finds employment among the state’s women declined by a little less than one percent over the past two years – while it was increased nearly two percent among men.

Chris Hoene with the Budget Project says cuts to programs such as CalWorks, the state’s welfare to work program, and cuts to state subsidized child care have largely affected women:

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Government & Politics
6:00 am
Tue March 19, 2013

City of Fresno, SPCA Look For Another Animal Control Extension, Long Term Fix

Beth Caffrey, director of community relations for the Central California SPCA
Credit CCSPCA

It’s a Saturday morning and they are serving up pancakes at the Central California SPCA in Fresno.

It’s a fundraiser to help support one of the organizations new programs called “Snip N’ Chip.” It’s a low cost spay and neuter service for low-income pet owners.  Central California SPCA Executive Director Linda Van Kirk is happy with the turnout.

“Well, look at the crowd out there. It’s going absolutely fantastic. We are expecting a crowd of 500 to 600 this year versus the 300 we had last year, so we are ecstatic,” says Van Kirk.

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Just One Breath
10:29 am
Mon March 18, 2013

Valley Fever Advocates See Hope For New Funding, New Laws

Assemblymember Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, is interested in supporting valley fever research at UC Merced.
Sean Work The Californian

For Central California families impacted by valley fever, it seemed like the long-ignored disease was finally gaining attention.

"Good afternoon everyone," said former State Senator Michael Rubio, as he welcomed people to a town hall meeting on valley fever, held last fall in Bakersfield. "I want to thank you for participating and joining us."

"My goal is to listen today and then capture a handful of action items, so that we can go back to Sacramento and introduce some legislation to move the ball forward on this very important subject."

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Education
7:13 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

California Teacher Pink Slips Far Fewer than Last Year

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Friday is the deadline for California school districts to issue teachers layoff notices for the academic year that starts in the fall.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, there’s a huge drop-off in the number of pink slips this year.

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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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