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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Environment
11:29 am
Fri August 31, 2012

California Tests Cap and Trade System

California officials are ramping up for the greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade market this November, where companies will be required to pay for their pollution. The state held a trial auction to test the new system for selling carbon credits on Thursday.

The main goal of the test run is to make sure the software works smoothly and prevents attempts to game the bidding system, according to, Stanley Young who is with the California Air Resources Board.

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Sacramento
11:14 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Speaker Pérez Previews Calif. Legislature's Final Day

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

If there’s any last-minute wheeling or dealing on this final day of the California legislative session, Democratic Assembly Speaker John Pérez will surely be involved. The speaker’s top priority is a pair of bills he calls the “Middle Class Scholarship.” They would raise a billion dollars by ending a tax break for out-of-state businesses and put that money towards helping some families pay for college. Pérez spent a few minutes Thursday discussing that and more with Capitol reporter Ben Adler.

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Hantavirus Outbreak
8:58 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

Yosemite Hantavirus Cases Grow, Now Six Infected

Yosemite National Park (file photo)
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The outbreak of hantavirus among people who visited Yosemite National Park continues to grow, as two additional people have been diagnosed with the disease, according to the California Department of Public Health. That brings the total number of Yosemite related cases this year to six. Most of the individuals who became infected stayed at tent cabins in Curry Village earlier this summer. 

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Health
2:41 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

Fresno's Saint Agnes Medical Center Fined After Towel Left In Patient

Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Officials with the California State Department of Public Health today issued fines against 14 hospitals for not complying with various licensing requirements that according to the state, resulted in serious injuries or deaths.

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Housing
11:58 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Foreclosures Drop, But Still Remain High

Merced has been among the communities hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Foreclosure-related home sales fell 10 percent in California during the second-quarter compared to last year. But repossessions still accounted for a big percentage of homes sold. Listing service RealtyTrac says four out of every 10 California homes sold between April and June were foreclosures.

Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s Vice-President said that number, "is extremely high. We’d expect to see less than 5 percent of all sales be foreclosure-related in a normal, healthy market."

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State Parks
10:32 am
Thu August 30, 2012

California Lawmakers Pass Bill Designed to Prevent Another Parks Scandal

Many state parks were threatened with closure, while $54 million in funds sat unused in a
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers have approved a bill designed to improve the state’s accounting practices in hopes of avoiding the kind of scandal that happened with the parks department.

In July, an unreported surplus of $54 million was discovered in two special funds accounts in the parks department. A later audit found accounting discrepancies in other state special funds.

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Labor
5:13 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

New Study Says California Temp Workers More Likely To Be Poor

A new UC Berkeley study says temporary workers in California are more likely to live in poverty than their co-workers.

Miranda Dietz is with the university’s Center for Labor Research and Education. She says “temps” hired through staffing agencies to work in data entry, nursing, accounting and other jobs, earn an average of 18 percent less per hour than their co-workers.

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Government & Politics
3:42 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Lawmakers Pass Open Carry Ban on Rifles, Shotguns

California lawmakers have sent a ban on openly carrying unloaded shotguns or rifles in public to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown. The measure follows a similar ban approved last year on openly carrying unloaded handguns in public.

Republicans strongly opposed the bill. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly argued many Californians are simply expressing their fundamental right. “They’re not criminals! Do not criminalize more Americans because they believe in the 2nd amendment!

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Government & Politics
1:38 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Kern County to Pursue New Jail With $100 Million Grant

The Kern County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to accept a $100 million state grant that would help fund construction of a new jail at the existing Lerdo pre-trial facility. As a condition of the grant, the county also committed over $22 million in matching funds to support construction of the facility, which will house around 800 mostly medium security inmates.

The county had previously been awarded a similar grant in 2008, but had to reject the funding because it was unable to allocate the matching funds required the state. 

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Environment
11:21 am
Wed August 29, 2012

Effort to Approve Mine on Jesse Morrow Mountain Falls Short

Jesse Morrow Mountain
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Plans for a controversial aggregate mine on Jesse Morrow Mountain east of Sanger have stalled after the Fresno County Board of Supervisors failed to approve the project after a marathon meeting Tuesday night. The supervisors were being asked to reverse a decision by the Fresno County Planning Commission, which rejected the project in May. 

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Pension Reform
7:16 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

Brown Announces Pension Deal; Vote Coming Friday

California Governor Jerry Brown says the pension deal he announced today will save the state billions of dollars. But it’s drawing criticism from unions and Republicans.

Here is some of what’s in the plan: A cap on the salary that a public employee in California could use to calculate a pension. Higher retirement ages, with reduced payments. And a requirement for employees to pay at least half of their pension costs.

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Animal Control
5:38 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

Local SPCA Says Contract Extension Talks Are Dead

Fresno City Hall
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Talks between the Central California SPCA and the City and County of Fresno on continuing the organization’s contract for animal control services beyond October 1, 2012 have fallen apart.  County and city leaders had hoped to reach an agreement to extend the current contract on a temporary basis through the end of the year to give more time to find a permanent solution.

The organization's executive director Linda Van Kirk issued the following statement today:

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Health
4:08 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

New Yosemite Hantavirus Infections, Death Reported

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Officials at Yosemite National Park have announced that a second person has died after contracting hantavirus during a park visit, and another is likely sick from the disease.  Earlier this month, two other people were diagnosed with the rare pulmonary disease and one died from the illness.

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Health
11:01 am
Tue August 28, 2012

Who's eligible? State, advocates grapple over which elderly qualify for ADHC replacement program

They're poor. They're elderly. They're disabled. But are they eligible? Advocates and state officials are struggling to determine just who among hundreds will be allowed to continue in the program that replaces Medi-Cal's Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) system. Cash-starved California slashed the optional ADHC benefit last fall and replaced it with a leaner program called Community-Based Adult Services (CBAS).

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Government & Politics
10:51 am
Tue August 28, 2012

Lawmakers Tackle Bills on Dog Hunts, Guns, Voter Registration

Guns, dog hunting, Election Day voter registration are all issues the California legislature dealt with on Monday. California lawmakers kicked off their busiest week of the year by debating dozens of measures ahead of Friday’s end-of-session deadline.

Some measures still need one more vote to pass the legislature, such as a ban on openly carrying shotguns or rifles in public, and a bill that would require a three-foot buffer zone when a car passes a bicyclist.

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Government & Politics
10:38 pm
Mon August 27, 2012

Pension Deal Nears; Unions Furious

A proposed overhaul of California’s pension system is angering public employee unions, as Democrats get set to unveil the details. The specific details are being kept as quiet as can be, but all signs point to a deal emerging by Tuesday at the California State Capitol. 

Democrats are promising “comprehensive pension reform” that will save tens of billions of dollars over the next few decades. Assemblyman Warren Furutani says the deal won’t please everyone.

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Government & Politics
6:10 pm
Mon August 27, 2012

California Workers Comp Bill Blasted By Disabled and Attorneys

California disabled workers and their attorneys are angered by a new workers’ compensation bill circulating through the Capitol. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the groups argue it harms severely injured workers the most.

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Government & Politics
11:15 am
Sat August 25, 2012

"Trust Act" Heads to California Governor's Desk

California lawmakers have approved a bill designed to stop undocumented immigrants from being deported unless they’ve been convicted or charged with a serious or violent felony. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the bill passed Friday after heated debate on the Assembly floor.

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Business & Economy
12:52 pm
Fri August 24, 2012

Buy Here, Pay Here Bills Still Moving Despite Opposition

A used car lot on Blackstone Avenue in Fresno - file photo
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Three bills that would regulate California’s “Buy Here, Pay Here” used car industry are moving through the State Capitol despite some growing opposition. The critics include several used car dealers associations and some local chambers of commerce.

Former Republican Assemblyman Roger Niello is with the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce. He’s also the owner of several auto dealers. He says efforts to crack down on what the bills’ authors call “predatory lending” would backfire on the very people the legislation is intended to help.

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Environment
6:44 pm
Thu August 23, 2012

Overhaul of Environmental Law Dead for the Year

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

A last-minute effort at the State Capitol to overhaul California’s complex environmental review process for development projects is dead for the year. A big push from business and labor groups to reform the law came to an abrupt halt today.

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