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. 

Genre: 

Pages

Health
11:07 am
Mon August 6, 2012

California Lawmakers Decide on Health Bills This Month

California state lawmakers return to the Capitol this week and they’ll deal with a number of health bills.

A handful of bills would incorporate provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act into California law. They deal with everything from Medicaid expansion, to setting rules governing how health premiums are set, to determining minimum benefits. Anthony Wright is from Health Access.

Read more
Agriculture
3:31 pm
Sun August 5, 2012

California Leads Nation in Farmer's Markets

Fruit from Valley farms makes for a colorful scene at a farmer's market in downtown Fresno.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The number of farmer’s markets in California has risen substantially. According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey, there are about 830 markets in the state. That’s up almost a hundred from last year.

Kathleen Merrigan with the USDA says the economy and the demand for fresh, healthy food have caused a 10 percent increase in markets nationwide.

Read more
Education
4:19 pm
Fri August 3, 2012

California Bill Would Give Unemployed Teachers Benefits While Training

Out-of-work teachers in California would be able to collect unemployment benefits while training in high demand subject areas under a bill lawmakers are considering. The bill’s author says it’s designed to help the nearly 20-thousand unemployed teachers.

Democratic Senator Noreen Evans authored the bill that she says would help unemployed teachers who want to get credentialed in science, math or special education. Under current law, if out-of-work teachers want that training, they lose their benefits. Evans says that’s not fair.

Read more
Government & Politics
4:10 pm
Fri August 3, 2012

Audit Reveals No Hidden Assets in California's Special Funds

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

An audit of California’s 560 “special funds” finds no more hidden assets. The audit comes after $54 million in surplus parks funds were discovered in two separate special funds accounts.

The discrepancy results from the difference in data given to the state controller’s office and the finance departments. The audit showed a $415 million difference between the two departments.

But State Finance Director Ana Matosantos says most of those differences arise from different accounting methods and timing of transfers.

Read more
Business & Economy
9:54 am
Fri August 3, 2012

California's "Buy Here Pay Here" Used Car Industry Could Face New Regulations

The controversial “Buy Here, Pay Here” used car industry would face strict new regulations under several bills moving through the California legislature.

Search “Buy Here, Pay Here” on Google and the first website that pops up is “We-Approve-Bad-Credit-dot-com.” Dealers require buyers to make each month’s loan payment in person. If they can’t, their cars are often repossessed on the spot. Democratic State Senator Ted Lieu says his bill would apply similar regulations for typical auto lenders to the Buy Here, Pay Here industry.

Read more
Government & Politics
4:39 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

Fight Over Federal Budget Could Close Airport Towers

The control tower at Fresno Yosemite International Airport.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Airports in Fresno and Bakersfield could be forced to close if lawmakers in Washington D.C. can't reach a deal on deficit reduction in the coming months, according to a new analysis released today by a Washington D.C. think tank. 

Read more
Health
3:04 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

Health Insurance Premium Rebates Headed to Californians

Nearly two million Californians should receive a health insurance premium rebate this week. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the rebates are the result of the federal Affordable Care Act.

The federal law requires health insurers to spend at least 80 percent of their premium money on actual health costs, rather than marketing and other non-medical expenses. Insurers who don’t meet that percentage are required to issue refunds. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says premium rebates total about $74 million, or about $65 per family.

Read more
Health
3:00 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

Federal Health Law Will Improve Health in Black Communities, California Leaders Say

California leaders say the federal health care overhaul will help African Americans get better access to health services. Democratic State Senator Curren Price says over the next few years, the Affordable Care Act could mean more primary and quality care for more than two million black Californians.

“It’s going to help level the playing field, and ultimately eliminate some of the nagging health disparities.”

Read more
Business & Economy
12:31 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Valley Business Conditions Slump For Second Straight Month

Numbers released today from Fresno State's Craig School of Business show the San Joaquin Valley's economy is slowing. The San Joaquin Valley Business Conditions Index dropped for the second straight month in July, to 51.6, down from 55.4 in June.

The numbers remain above growth neutral, meaning the economy is still expected to grow in the next three to six months, businesses aren't as optimistic about the future as they were in June. The lower July numbers reflect a drop in new export orders and business confidence.

Health Warning
9:06 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Sewage Spill on Kings River Prompts Health Warning

Public health officials in Tulare County are urging residents to avoid the waters of the Kings River after a sewage spill Monday night in Reedley.

According to officials at around 8:00 p.m. Monday night, a problem at the City of Reedley's Wastewater Treatment Plant on Olsen Avenue resulted in a spill of 63,000 gallons of untreated sewage. At least some of the sewage flowed into the Kings River, which is immediately to the east of the plant. 

Read more
Government & Politics
3:36 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

California Governor's Tax Initiative Campaign Raises $6 Million

California’s Proposition 30 campaign released its fundraising numbers for the first half of the year today. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the campaign for Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiative has raised more than six million dollars so far.

Read more
Higher Education
12:35 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Tentative Contract Reached Between CSU And Faculty

California State University and its faculty union have reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract.

Professors, counselors and other members of the California Faculty Association won’t be getting raises. But if the state-funded university system somehow gets an influx of cash, there’s an option to re-open salary talks. Claudia Keith is with C-S-U:

“Essentially, the tentative agreement calls for no salary increases for the first two years with the opportunities to re-open in the last two years of the contract.”

Read more
Government & Politics
9:44 am
Tue July 31, 2012

California's Budget On Hook For Wildfires

The wildfires blazing across California this fire season aren’t just burning through trees, grasses and homes, they’re burning through the state budget as well.  

Fifteen helicopters. Seven bulldozers. 46 fire engines. And 900 people. It took all that to fight a single California wildfire this summer – the Robbers fire in Placer County. It’s paid for with a special state emergency fund. If that runs out, says H.D. Palmer with the governor’s Department of Finance.

Read more
Government & Politics
6:09 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

California Bill Would Allow More Than Two Parents Per Child

The California law that says a judge can recognize only two legal parents per child would change under a bill working its way through the legislature. The bill’s author says not every family today looks like “Ozzie and Harriet’s.”

Democratic Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco says he wrote the bill to recognize non-traditional families…where there might be biological non-custodial fathers or surrogate mothers. The bill rises from the case of a child who had two legal mothers.

Read more
Government & Politics
5:41 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

DOJ Takes Merced County Off Voting Rights Act List

Merced County's historic courthouse museum in Downtown Merced.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The US Department of Justice announced this morning that it has reached an agreement with Merced County that will let election officials there avoid the process of having to clear many voting decisions with the federal government.

Read more
Government & Politics
6:30 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

Audit of State's Hidden Surplus Money Due Next Week

California's State Capitol Building
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

We should learn next week whether there’s any more hidden surplus money in California state special funds. The state's Finance Department plans to release its audit of those accounts after $54 million dollars in surplus money was found in two parks funds.

Read more
Government & Politics
3:31 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Study Suggests Environmental Benefits From High Speed Rail

California High Speed Rail Authority

A new study suggests that the proposed high speed rail project could have big environmental benefits for California.

The study, released by UC Berkeley, compared the future sustainability of high speed rail with plane and car travel. It found a mature high speed rail system would use less energy and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Researchers accounted for more fuel efficient cars and planes in the future. And they looked at different levels of ridership when calculating greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more
Environment
7:25 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

Valley reacts to Brown's Bay-Delta tunnel plan

Governor Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced plans today to make big changes to the state’s water supply system - and the plan is already being met with both support and criticism from up and down the state.

Read more
Government & Politics
6:23 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

California Governor Downplays Parks Scandal

California Governor Jerry Brown is downplaying the state parks scandal in his first public statement on the issue.

Last week, the Brown administration revealed that the Parks department had failed to report 54 million dollars in two funds for the last 12 years. State Parks Director Ruth Coleman resigned as a result.

But the governor says it’s better to find money than to discover money missing.

Read more
Health
12:50 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

California Health Leaders Call for "Culture of Coverage"

Key players in implementing the federal health overhaul in California say the public should be part of building a ‘culture of coverage.’

Kim Belshe is on the board of the California Health Benefit Exchange, an online marketplace where people will soon be able to buy coverage. She says in order for the federal health law to serve its purpose, schools, labor, faith and community organizations need to be on board.

Read more

Pages