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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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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Business & Economy
4:16 pm
Thu August 23, 2012

Congressmen Call For Hanford Slaughterhouse to Re-Open

Three Central Valley Congressmen have called on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vislack to allow the Hanford slaughterhouse at the center of an animal cruelty controversy to re-open.

In a letter released today, Republican House members Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes and Jeff Denham called the shutdown of the Central Valley Meat Company unnecessary, and said the closure is causing economic hardship in the area. They said that the investigation into the plant's practices can continue should the plant re-open.

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California
1:09 pm
Thu August 23, 2012

Bill Would Tack One Dollar on to Many Traffic Fines

Traffic on Fresno's Blackstone Avenue (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A bill that would increase many traffic fines to pay for spinal cord research has passed the California Senate. It also has an unusual mix of supporters.

The legislation would add a one dollar fee to all moving violations. The estimated $3.5 million a year raised would go to fund spinal cord injury research at the University of California. The floor debate was unusual because some Republicans supported the new fee, while some Democrats opposed it.

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Education
12:47 pm
Thu August 23, 2012

Blacks and Latinos Gain Ground in High School Exit Exam Results

Blacks and Latinos continue to improve at a faster rate than other ethnic groups when it comes to California’s High School Exit Exam. The preliminary results from this year’s exam are out and continue several positive trends.

According to the California Department of Education, 95 percent of all twelfth graders passed the English and Math exams.

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Government & Politics
12:23 pm
Thu August 23, 2012

Contraception, Vaccine Bills Pass California Senate

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

Two major health-related bills passed the California Senate Wednesday. One bill would require a doctor’s signature before a parent can opt out of a vaccination for their child. Democratic Senator Lois Wolk says the bill doesn’t take away parental rights, just requires a doctor’s visit.

“If, at the end of that you decide that you want an immunization for your child, fine. If you don’t, you don’t need to get one. You just have to have that conversation with a medical professional.”

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The Salt
11:09 am
Thu August 23, 2012

So, Who Sent Those Sick Cows To The Slaughterhouse?

A security guard opens the gate at the Central Valley Meat Co., the California slaughterhouse recently shut down by federal regulators after they received a graphic video of cows being mistreated.
Gosia Wozniacka AP

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 8:00 am

Federal regulators and fast-food companies reacted with unprecedented speed this week to the release of an undercover video that animal-rights activists shot inside a California slaughterhouse. The video — which, we'll warn you, is pretty graphic — shows employees of Central Valley Meat Co. using electric prods repeatedly on cattle that appeared unable to get to their feet.

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