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Health
3:57 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Study Links Flame Retardants to Developmental Delays in Children

According to study authors, flame retardant chemicals can leach out from upholstered furniture, particularly if the foam is exposed through rips.
Credit Courtesy UC Berkeley Media Relations

A new UC Berkeley study adds to research that suggests flame retardants common in California homes are linked to neurodevelopmental delays in kids.

The study followed nearly 300 women from pregnancy to when their children were 7 years old. Researchers tested mother's levels and then the children's levels for the flame retardant compound polybrominated diphenyl ethers, known as PBDE. They wanted to assess in utero effect as well as childhood exposure, says lead researcher and UC Berkeley epidemiologist Brenda Eskenazi.

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Health Care Reform
11:21 am
Thu November 15, 2012

California Intends to Run New Health Marketplace On Its Own

The logo for California Covered, the state's new health benefit exchange.

California plans to tell the federal government this week that it will operate a key component of the federal health law on its own. 

States have until the end of this week to tell the federal government if they will operate their own health insurance exchanges. States also have the option to receive help, or have the federal government manage their marketplaces.

The California Health Benefit Exchange board has signaled its intent to go it alone by approving a detailed operations plan and grant proposal.  

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Government & Politics
5:13 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

State Analyst: CA Budget Deficit Drops to $1.9 Billion

Legislative analyst Mac Taylor released his office’s annual fiscal outlook today. He’s projecting a $1.9 billion deficit over the next year-and-a-half, followed by a growing surplus in each of the next several years.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California’s once-enormous budget deficit has shrunk to just under $2 billion, and the state could soon have a surplus.  But Mac Taylor, California’s non-partisan legislative analyst is urging caution as state finances improve.

Not long ago, California hit rock bottom, with a massive budget deficit. 

Nearly four years ago Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told a crowd, “the $42 billion deficit is a rock upon our chest that we cannot breathe until we get it off.” 

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Government & Politics
5:33 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

CSU Board of Trustees Delays Decision On Student Fee Increase

California State University leaders have delayed a vote on a proposal to increase student fees.

The proposal would charge extra fees on so-called “super seniors,” students who take more courses than required, and course repeaters. Governor Brown asked the CSU Board of Trustees to postpone the vote.

"Let’s measure up to the expectation of the voters, and that means getting out of our comfort zone – whether we’re trustees or faculty or administrators or students or anyone else.  The taxpayers got out of their comfort zone, so we have to follow suit,” said Brown. 

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Government & Politics
4:00 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Strong Success for Tax Measures May Not Be New Trend

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

Before last week, California voters had rejected every statewide tax measure since 2004.  This election, they approved two of them.  They also said yes to more than 70 percent of the local tax and bond measures on last week’s ballot.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, this may not be the start of a new trend.

The passage of Propositions 30 and 39 snapped a seven-measure winning streak for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.  But President Jon Coupal says that doesn’t mean the attitudes of California voters are changing when it comes to taxes.

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Global Warming
1:08 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

California Launches 'Pay-to-Pollute' Carbon Market

An oil refinery in Bakersfield (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California is launching a big part of its fight against climate change on Wednesday. The state is holding its first auction in the "cap and trade" program where industrial businesses will have to buy allowances to emit greenhouse gases.   The goal is to reduce the state's emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. From Sacramento, Kathleen Masterson reports on how the complex market is designed to reduce pollution. 

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Downtown Revitalization
12:38 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

New Ice Rink Brings People to Downtown Fresno

Fresno teens Christina Gurrero and Teo Martinez cautiously navigate the ice
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Downtown Fresno's Fulton Mall has a different look this season, as a new outdoor ice rink is earning rave reviews from residents of all ages. Valley Public Radio's Joe Moore has this report. 

Just a few days before downtown Fresno's newest winter attraction was set to open, Christy Gordon didn't think it would happen. 

"You know on Wednesday it was just so hot. Just walking to the office which is right by here, I thought, 'I don't know how they're going to pull that off.'"

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Just One Breath
11:56 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Valley Fever Changes Young Girl's Life

7-year-old Emily Gorospe loves to dance, but valley fever robbed her of her strength last year
Daniel Casarez/Vida en el Valle

Emily Gorospe cannot sit still. The spunky 7-year-old with long, brown braids loves to make up dances in her bedroom. When she’s not dancing, she’s jumping rope, or hula hooping.

But last spring, when she was just six, Emily became very tired and sick. She developed a fever that wouldn’t go away and red blotches appeared across her body.

“She’s got so much energy usually. Just walking from one part of the house, from her room to the living room, or to the kitchen, she was drained.”

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Just One Breath
11:56 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Misdiagnosis of Valley Fever Prolongs the Suffering

Jillian Lugo fixes her daughter, Jayden's, hair for a picture. The 10-year-old girl has spent most of her life with valley fever and the complications it has caused. She contracted the fungal disease that spread to her brain w
Henry A. Barrios The Bakersfield Californian

Jayden Lugo has had 56 surgeries in her short life.

The 10-year-old from Wasco in California’s Central Valley has brain damage, uses a walker to get around, undergoes therapy once a week and takes three pills every night before she goes to bed.

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Veterans Day
11:38 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Hiring For Fresno Veterans Home to Begin Soon

An artists rendering of the Fresno Veterans Home

Two new California veterans’ homes that currently sit empty in Fresno and Redding could start filling up over the next year.  The state has announced it’s beginning to recruit hundreds of employees for the homes.

Ever since April, veterans’ homes in Fresno and Redding have had lights, air conditioning and water, but no veterans, or staff.  This year’s state budget set aside money to start hiring, and now the California Department of Veterans Affairs says it’s ready to begin the recruitment process.

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Education
4:59 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Despite Prop 30, Fees Could Rise For Some CSU Students

Despite the passage of the tax initiative Proposition 30, some California State University students could see their tuition go up. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the CSU Board of Trustees will make its decision next week.

The proposal would increase fees on students who accumulate more course work than they need to graduate, or more than their major requires. And it would charge students who repeat courses. Assistant Vice Chancellor Eric Forbes says the changes are needed to improve access for new students.

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Government & Politics
5:54 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

Governor Brown Shares Priorities for Working with New Legislature

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

Governor Jerry Brown shared a list of priorities for working with a new state legislature, which appears to be reaching a two-thirds majority in both houses. 

Now that his Prop 30 campaign is over, Governor Brown says he’s turning his attention to other matters.

“We ought to calibrate our regulations to ensure that they encourage jobs as well as protect other aspects of the public interest like the environment, health and good working conditions,” said Brown. 

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Health Care Reform
3:46 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

‘Last Distraction’ Removed as California Moves Ahead on Health Reform

First, there was uncertainty over a U.S. Supreme Court challenge. Then came the race for the presidency.

Now, California lawmakers say the uncertainty is over and nothing can stop them from bringing health coverage to millions of uninsured Californians under President Obama’s signature health care law.

“This removes the last distraction and question from anyone’s mind that we won’t be launching a dramatic expansion in coverage in California,” said Peter Lee, executive director of California’s health insurance exchange, a key piece of the expansion.

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Government & Politics
11:57 am
Wed November 7, 2012

S&P: Prop 30 Outcome Good for California's Credit Rating

The ratings agency Standard and Poor’s is calling Proposition 30’s passage “favorable” for California’s struggling credit rating.

“It keeps the state’s prospects for a credit rating upgrade alive going forward. Had the measure gone down, I think it could have added pressure in the other direction,” says S&P analyst Gabe Petek.

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Government & Politics
9:55 am
Wed November 7, 2012

Fresno County Voters Approve Library Tax Renewal, While Measure O Trails

Voters line up outside the Fresno County elections office in downtown Fresno on Tuesday
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A sales tax that for over a decade has helped fund much of the budget for the Fresno County Public Library system appears to be headed to approval. 

While some absentee ballots remain to be counted, Measure B holds a lead of 72-percent to 28-percent, with 100 percent of precincts reporting. That's well above the two-thirds vote required for passage. 

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Government & Politics
8:50 am
Wed November 7, 2012

Voters Approve Brown's Tax Measure

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

It’s been the cornerstone of Jerry Brown’s agenda since the day he returned to the California governor’s office: win voter approval of a tax measure to bring an end to the state’s years of never-ending budget deficits.  After a campaign full of twists and turns, voters approved the governor’s sales and income tax measure, Proposition 30, by 54 percent to 46 percent – but not without a suspenseful Election Night. 

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Government & Politics
6:00 am
Tue November 6, 2012

Final Field Poll Estimates Voter Turnout Below 2008 Levels

A record number of Californians have registered to vote. But the latest Field Poll estimates there likely will be a million fewer voters today than in the Presidential election of 2008.

The poll predicts 12.75 million Californians or about 70 percent of registered voters will cast ballots.

And for the first time in a statewide election the majority, 51-percent, will vote by mail.

Mark DiCamillo is Director of the Field Poll.  He says many people wait until Election Day to drop their ballots at polling places. 

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Disaster Response
1:25 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

Californians Helping East Coast Recover from Sandy

Hundreds of California first responders and utility crews are on the East Coast helping in the recovery efforts after Superstorm Sandy. 

More than four million people on the east coast are still without power. But utility crews from PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric are helping in the restoration efforts. Tim Bedford is Incident Commander with PG&E. He and 162 workers are helping restore power in Flushing New York. Bedford says it may take longer than the original two weeks they anticipated.

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Business & Economy
11:49 am
Fri November 2, 2012

Bakersfield Blaze Announce Plans for New Ballpark

A view of the proposed stadium from the northwest
Bakersfield Blaze / Bakersfield Commons

The Bakersfield Blaze minor league baseball team announced today that it will construct a new 3,500 seat stadium at Coffee and Brimhall Roads.

Team officials say construction on the facility will begin in the first quarter of 2013, and the stadium is expected to open in 2014. 

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Downtown Fresno
4:41 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

In Fresno, Downtown Planning Effort Faces Fiscal Crunch

An artist's rendering of a revitalized Fulton Mall outside the Kern Street entrance to
Moule & Polyzoides, Architects and Urbanists

The City of Fresno's effort to draft a vision for a revitalized downtown hit a roadblock on Tuesday, after the Fresno City Council rejected a proposal to allocate an additional $70,000 to the project on a 4-3 vote. 

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