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. 

Early counts indicate California voters have approved Proposition 64, legalizing recreational use of marijuana in the nation’s most populous state and along the entire West Coast.

The vote marks a change in drug policy decades in the making and indicates growing momentum for other states to legalize marijuana for either recreational or medical use. Though California was first in the U.S. to allow medical use, it follows Alaska, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Washington, D.C. in legalizing recreational marijuana.

Benjamin Brayfield / KPCC

UPDATE 9:28 p.m.: Prop. 57 Expected To Pass

Voters have approved Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to overhaul California’s criminal justice sentencing system.

Proposition 57 allows for parole of nonviolent offenders who complete the full sentence for their primary offense. It also lets inmates earn credits for good behavior and education. And it requires judges, rather than prosecutors, to decide whether juveniles as young as 14 should be tried as adults.

Forty years ago, when Jerry Brown was first governor, he signed a law that dramatically changed the way California sentenced criminal offenders. Previously, under the indeterminate sentencing law, many inmates received inconclusive sentences instead of a fixed term. It was up to a parole board to decide when an inmate was ready to re-enter society.

Under the law signed by Brown in 1976, the state shifted to a determinate sentencing structure — and in the years following, lawmakers and voters piled on dozens more laws that added years to prisoners’ terms.

November marks the start of Covered California’s insurance open enrollment. 2016 will be the fourth year that residents in the Central Valley can shop online for private, federally-subsidized health insurance.

Valley Public Radio spoke with Executive Director Peter about changes going on in the exchange that both people with insurance and the uninsured need to be aware of.

First, Lee says it all begins with knowing if you are eligible to sign up or change your current plan:

Election Day is finally here. Californians will elect a new senator and decide 17 state ballot measures -- including whether to legalize recreational marijuana, raise the tobacco tax and eliminate or streamline the death penalty.

UPDATE 4:20 P.M.: Californians Show Up To Polls For Many Reasons

Millions of Californians are casting votes this Election Day. What issues are driving them to the polls?

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The future of one of the most prominent public officials in Fresno could be on the line Tuesday, but his name won’t even be on the ballot. The results of a vote on a local school bond and the political leanings of two new Fresno Unified School Board Trustees could be a signal about how much local support there is for district superintendent Michael Hanson.

Voters in Fresno are casting ballots on a $225 million school bond called Measure X and on two new trustees to take a seat on the board.

Democrat Bryan Caforio, left, and incumbent GOP Congressman Steve Knight, right, are in a hotly contested race for the 25th Congressional District representing North Los Angeles County.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC and Steve Knight campaign

Democrat Bryan Caforio, left, and incumbent GOP Congressman Steve Knight, right, are in a hotly contested race for the 25th Congressional District representing North Los Angeles County. Maya Sugarman/KPCC and Steve Knight campaign

In the final days before Election Day, the congressional race to represent northern Los Angeles County and parts of Ventura County has turned into one of the most competitive in California. 

As Election Day draws closer, the race between incumbent Republican David Valadao and Democratic challenger Emilio Huerta in California's 21st Congressional District is heating up. FM89's Joe Moore reports both sides have turned recently to negative TV ads in an effort to gain an edge.

If you were watching the World Series in Fresno or Bakersfield, or most any other TV program you probably heard an ad that sounded a lot like this…

PRO VALADAO AD: “This is a story of corruption, of how Emilio Huerta got rich hurting the poor.”

Apple farmer and former Calaveras County Supervisor Steve Wilensky is pictured on a hillside burned in the 2015 Butte Fire, Monday, October 20, 2016.
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Outdoor cannabis cultivation has become more prevalent following the 2015 Butte Fire. This grow was pictured November 1, 2016.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

We're winding along the hills and curves of Calaveras high country past the town of Rail Road Flat to a lookout on Jesus Maria Road.

Apple farmer Steve Wilensky's at the wheel. He’s headed toward the burn scar of the Butte Fire. Just over a year ago, the blaze burned 70,000 acres in Calaveras County.