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Government & Politics
7:00 am
Wed October 31, 2012

State Senate Majority For Democrats Might Not Change Much

Credit Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

This could be the year California Democrats finally reach the goal they’ve long strived for: a two-thirds supermajority in the State Senate. We took a look at that possibility in a report yesterday.

It turns out people from both parties don’t think Sacramento’s legislative landscape would change that much. And as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the biggest impact on next year’s atmosphere at the State Capitol will likely come from something else entirely.

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Government & Politics
4:35 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

More than $350 Million Raised For and Against Ballot Measures

Political contributions for and against California’s 11 ballot measures have totaled more than $350 million. Much of the money is coming from wealthy individuals and outside organizations.

The campaign finance watchdog Maplight.org found one family responsible for almost a quarter of the contributions to California’s ballot measures.

“What’s surprising is that a few individuals or wealthy organizations can control the political debate.”

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Health
4:20 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Health Benefit Exchanges Picks 'California Covered' As New Name

The board of the California Health Benefit Exchange has approved a new name and logo for the health insurance marketplace that will expand coverage under the federal health law.

Planners decided on “Covered California” after months of testing and consideration.

“I have a whole raft of staff that are saying, ‘Finally, I can get a business card," said Peter Lee, Executive Director of the Exchange, which is now known as ‘Covered California.’

He said planners used focus groups to come up with a name that resonated with a diversity of Californians.

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Government & Politics
12:34 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Democrats Hope for Two-Thirds Supermajority in State Senate

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

When California voters go to the polls on Election Day, they could usher in a change that hasn’t happened since 1965. They could give one party a two-thirds supermajority in the state Senate. Democrats are campaigning hard to make that happen. But Republicans are fighting just as hard to prevent it.

When Democratic Assembly member Cathleen Galgiani kicked off her campaign for state Senate last month in Stockton, the Senate’s top Democrat stood right beside her.

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Environment
10:58 am
Mon October 29, 2012

Jesse Morrow Mountain Project Headed Back to Supervisors

Jesse Morrow Mountain east of Fresno
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Plans for a controversial hard rock mine on Jesse Morrow Mountain east of Sanger will once again go before the Fresno County Board of Supervisors next month. The supervisors will be asked to approve the project's environmental documents at a meeting scheduled for November 13.

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Government & Politics
10:28 am
Wed October 24, 2012

Some California Small Businesses Wary of Brown's Prop 30

California Governor Jerry Brown’s November tax measure is drawing some of its strongest opposition from small business groups. Ben Adler reports from Sacramento on how some small businesses would be affected by Proposition 30.

James Wright owns part of a small business in Los Angeles County that manufactures manhole covers – with about 10 million dollars in sales. Wright doesn’t take anywhere near that much home to his family. But he does have to pay personal income taxes on company profits … using money from the business itself.

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Environment
12:30 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Governor Brown Says Delta Tunnel System on Track

California Governor Jerry Brown says plans to build a 14 billion dollar pair of tunnels to move water from northern California to the south are on track.

In an interview with Capital Public Radio, Governor Brown estimates that it may take a year and a half before construction could begin on the massive tunnel system.

He unveiled plans in July for a system that would siphon water from the Sacramento River and carry it underground to cities and farmland in the south.

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Government & Politics
2:00 pm
Fri October 19, 2012

Proposition 39: Corporate Tax Law

Next in our series on California's November ballot measures, we take a look at Proposition 39. It would change a critical piece of corporate tax law and provide more money to the state – but higher taxes for some businesses.

It was called “the most boring proposition on the 2012 ballot” by a San Diego blogger. The writer has a point. It revolves around a corporate tax formula known as the “single sales factor.” But when you consider that corporate taxes accounted for nearly 10 billion dollars in California last year, Prop 39 doesn’t sound so boring anymore:

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Government & Politics
10:54 am
Fri October 19, 2012

Brown Won't Rule Out Future Budget Cuts if Prop 30 Passes

California Governor Jerry Brown
Andrew Nixon Capital Public Radio

From the moment he took office at the start of last year, Governor Jerry Brown has told California voters the state needs new revenue.  But his November tax initiative, Proposition 30, faces strong opposition on several fronts and is hovering at around 50 percent support in the polls. 

Governor Brown sat down with reporter Ben Adler Thursday in Sacramento to talk about the impact of Prop 30’s passage or failure on next year’s budget. 

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Government & Politics
11:34 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Proposition 38: Molly Munger's Tax Initative

Californians will soon decide whether they want to increase taxes to support public schools. Our election 2012 coverage continues with a report on Proposition 38.

If you watch TV in California, you’ve probably seen the commercials. They’ve aired in every major market.

Prop 38 would raise about 10 billion dollars a year for K-12 schools starting in 2013, by taxing all but the poorest Californians. Behind the TV ads and Proposition 38 is wealthy civil rights attorney Molly Munger.

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Just One Breath
5:38 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

More People Dying from Valley Fever, Especially Those With Chronic Disease

Dr. Navin Amin examines Archie Scott, a patient with valley fever, at his office in Bakersfield. Dr. Amin is the chair of the family practice department at Kern Medical Center and a valley fever expert.
Henry A. Barrios / The Bakersfield Californian

More people are dying from valley fever than previously thought, and illnesses including diabetes, lung disease, arthritis and certain cancers may increase a person’s chances of dying from the disease, according to a new study.

This past year, researchers have puzzled over the rise of valley fever cases. Diagnosed cases have grown from 1,200 in 1995 to more than 20,000 in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Now researchers have new evidence to consider: a study to be published in the November issue of the CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal.

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Just One Breath
5:00 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Public Health Champion Felled by Diabetes and Valley Fever

Jeff Jue served as the director for the Mental Health Department in Merced, Sonoma, and San Francisco counties. He was considered a leader in social services by those familiar with his work before dying of valley fever at the age of 62 in 2005.

The last time Linda Jue saw her husband alive, he was in the intensive care unit in a lot of pain.

Right before doctors gave him painkillers, Jeff Jue gave her two thumbs up and smiled.

The former Merced County mental health director was fighting for his life at the time. Doctors at Memorial Medical Center in Modesto were treating him for valley fever.

Jue was starting to enjoy his retirement when it was suddenly cut short by the fungal disease.

“He had only been retired for three years,” said Linda Jue, who lives in Modesto.

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Health
11:46 am
Wed October 17, 2012

California Health Leaders Say Healthy Families Transition Prepares State for Federal Overhaul

California health leaders say moving nearly 900,000 children in the Healthy Families program over to Medi-Cal will help the state get ready for the federal health overhaul.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Diana Dooley spoke in advance of a legislative oversight hearing on the transition.  

“There are a number of advantages for the children in the Medi-Cal program, it does give the security of knowing where their coverage will be in advance of 2014.” 

Dooley says kids in the two programs have some of the same providers.

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Environment
11:31 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Coalition of Water Providers Agree on Delta Projects

Top, Consumnes River delta. Bottom, Sycamore Slough (south of Woodbridge Road). Both November 8, 2011. (photos by William G. Miller, Cole~Miller Photography)
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Historical Ecology Study San Francisco Estuary Institute-Aquatic Science Center / California Department of Fish and Game

A list of more than 40 short term projects to improve the Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta is now in the hands of California agencies. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, water providers and environmentalists are hopeful some projects will finally get off the ground.

When it comes to the state’s water, there is rarely agreement. But a coalition of Delta water managers, farmers, and environmentalists has agreed on smaller projects to protect the estuary.

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Government & Politics
11:18 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Proposition 37: Genetically Modified Foods

In November Californians will decide whether to require that foods containing genetically engineered ingredients say so on the package.  On its face Proposition 37 seems like a simple addition to a label, but it could have much broader ramifications. 

Stacy Malkan with the group supporting Prop 37 says consumers have the right to know what's in the food they're eating.

"This is America, it's a democracy, it’s a free market system, and the way it’s supposed to work is we give people the information  so consumers can make informed choices about what we buy and eat."

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Government & Politics
10:44 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Proposition 36: Changes to 'Three Strikes' Law

Casey Christie The Californian

A challenge to California’s “Three Strikes” sentencing law is on the ballot this fall with Proposition 36.  Proponents say some felonies should not result in life in prison.  Opponents say a change in the law would allow dangerous  criminals to be released.  

The proposition lists felonies that would qualify as a serious or violent crime - or 'strike' - and would make a defendant eligible for a life sentence. 

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Environment
9:43 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Arvin Residents Take On Air Pollution With 'Bucket Brigade'

The small community of Arvin has some of the worst air in the nation.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The small Kern County community of Arvin has some of the worst air in the nation. Surrounded on two sides by mountains at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, the city's 16,000 residents breathe air polluted by cars, trucks and industrial operations from nearby, and from across the valley. But now some members of the community are taking matters into their own hands, with a "bucket brigade" that aims to clean up the air. But their efforts are not without controversy. 

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Environment
8:38 am
Mon October 15, 2012

Sacramento San Joaquin Delta Residents Oppose State's Canal Plan

Top, Consumnes River delta. Bottom, Sycamore Slough (south of Woodbridge Road). Both November 8, 2011. (photos by William G. Miller, Cole~Miller Photography)
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Historical Ecology Study San Francisco Estuary Institute-Aquatic Science Center / California Department of Fish and Game

The Sacramento San Joaquin delta supplies drinking water for more than half of California. Just inland from the San Francisco bay, this patchwork of levees, farmland and waterways is threatened by rising seawater.  But people who live there say the state's plan to take freshwater from north of the delta will only make things worse 

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Government & Politics
8:37 am
Mon October 15, 2012

Proposition 35: Human Traffickers

Sharmin Bock has helped convict dozens of child sex traffickers.

“In my 23 years as a prosecutor, I have to say, I have never seen a defendant as manipulative and dangerous as a trafficker,” says Bock.

Bock is an assistant district attorney in Alameda County, and co-author of Proposition 35. The initiative would increase prison time for people convicted of forcing others into commercial sex or labor - and could fine them more than a million dollars. She says Prop 35 would crack down on people who exploit children.   

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Health
9:16 am
Fri October 12, 2012

Plague Found in Animals in California's Mountain Regions

California health officials are alerting people to protect themselves from plague after animals in Northern and Southern California tested positive for bacteria that cause the disease.

El Dorado County officials say there may be elevated plague risk in the South Lake Tahoe area after a chipmunk was found positive at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center.

Dr. Vicki Kramer of the California Department of Public Health says the finding isn’t cause for alarm, but it’s a reminder to take precautions.

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