Valley Public Radio News

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Health Care Reform
10:54 am
Wed October 2, 2013

California's Health Marketplace Opening Through the Eyes of One Uninsured Woman

Credit Edge Hill University, Learning Services Learning Technology Development / Creative Commons License / Flickr.com

Covered California opened for business Tuesday. By mid-afternoon, seventeen thousand phone inquiries had been made to the state exchange call centers. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento has the story of one uninsured woman who went shopping for new coverage online.  

Even before the Covered California call center in Rancho Cordova opened, there were floating balloons and words of congratulations.

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Health Care Reform
5:08 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Covered California Chair Dooley Praises "A Commitment to A Culture of Coverage"

California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley
Credit CHHS Dept

On Tuesday, California launched its version of Obamacare, with the official debut of the state’s insurance exchange Covered California.

Despite the shutdown of the federal government, the exchange is moving ahead, according to California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley, who spoke to Valley Public Radio Tuesday morning, prior to a launch event at Fresno State. 

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Health Care Reform
12:14 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

How Does The Obamacare Launch Compare With Medicare's Debut?

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Medicare Bill, July 30, 1965
Credit LBJ Presidential Library / YouTube / Public Domain

Open enrollment for health coverage under the federal health law began Tuesday.  Millions of people who may have had trouble getting insurance now have new options. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone reports on how the roll out of the Affordable Care Act compares to the last time the federal government made coverage available to millions.

Ever since the Affordable Care Act passed, health policy makers have been comparing it to another moment in history.

OBAMA: Is this, the most important step that we’ve taken towards health care since Medicare? Absolutely. 

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Just One Breath
9:55 am
Mon September 23, 2013

'Unprecedented' Meeting Focuses On Valley Fever

Congressman Kevin McCarthy is hosting a symposium on valley fever in Bakersfield.
Office of Congressman Kevin McCarthy

Kings County health officer Dr. Michael MacLean uses one word to sum up this week’s valley fever symposium: 'Unprecedented.'

He says it’s a big deal that the leaders of the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health are gathering in Bakersfield to focus their attention on an orphan disease that mainly affects the southwestern United States.

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Just One Breath
6:03 am
Sun September 22, 2013

Valley Fever Symposium Aims To Spark Search For Vaccine, Awarness

In his mid-20s, Shane Hoover started planning for his death.

Hoover was diagnosed with valley fever, which is caused by inhaling fungal spores that grow in the soil, in 2010. He took medications for a while that kept it at bay. But he says he could not afford to keep paying for the drugs and, when he stopped, the disease intensified.

“He’d say, ‘I feel my body shutting down. I feel like it’s just a war inside of me that I can’t win,’” his mother, Kathleen Birks, said. “Our conversations became, ‘What do you want me to do with you when you die?’”

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Just One Breath
6:03 am
Sat September 21, 2013

Valley Fever Movement Could Learn from Health Success Stories

7-year-old Emily Gorospe reads from a handwritten note describing how valley fever has changed her life, at a town hall event in Bakersfield last year hosted by state Sen. Michael Rubio.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

When experts and policymakers from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention land in Bakersfield next week, they will be met by many smart, well-meaning individuals hoping for better treatments for valley fever and, ultimately, for a cure.

But they won’t be met by a movement.

Despite its severe toll in California’s Central Valley and other hot spots, valley fever has remained overlooked and underfunded for decades. The absence of a strong patient advocacy movement has contributed to the chronic neglect, experts say.

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Government & Politics
9:30 am
Fri September 20, 2013

California Public Utilities Commission Authorizes Ride Sharing Networks

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

The state of California is putting its stamp of approval on high-tech ride sharing networks. The state Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously Thursday to authorize the increasingly popular peer-to-peer networks, but with some very specific requirements. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

More and more people needing rides these days are clicking smart phone apps to arrange them with local networks. John Zimmer, co-founder of San Francisco-based Lyft, says the networks will now have state endorsed vehicles and drivers.

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Environment
6:07 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Ninth Circuit Upholds California Emissions Law

file photo
Credit Capital Public Radio

Environmentalists are celebrating a court ruling Wednesday upholding California’s low emission fuel standards. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, fuel manufactures say the law is unfair. 

California consumes nearly 20 billion gallons of gas and diesel every year, the most in the country. Because the market is so big, state regulations have a far reaching impact.

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Environment
2:28 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

In Kern County, Plans for Hydrogen Power Plant And Fertilizer Factory Ignite Debate

Tiffany Rau, a spokesperson for Hydrogen Energy California explains how the project's carbon capture element works.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

In the small Kern County community of Tupman, the 2013 pistachio harvest is well underway. 

Chris Romanini's family has been farming this land, just west of Interstate 5, where the valley's fields meet the Elk Hills for decades. 

It's probably not the first place you'd think of when it comes to the effort to reduce CO2 emissions and combat global warming. But just a few hundred yards away from this orchard, plans for a $4 billion power plant and fertilizer factory could soon make the Tupman area known for a lot more than those pistachios. 

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Education
9:43 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Geronimo's Story: Valley Teen Torn Between Gangs And Grades

Manny Castro, left, encourages Geronimo Garcia, right, to pursue a life beyond gangs and drugs.
Andrew Nixon Capital Public Radio

From a young age, Geronimo Garcia wore a uniform to school: high socks, shorts and a white T-shirt.

It wasn’t a school requirement. Rather, it was an older brother requirement.

“They used to dress me up like a little gangster,” Geronimo says. “To me I always thought that was cool, but you know, as I think of it now, I don’t think that was cool when I was young. Come on, looking at a little kid dressed up in gangster?”

Since then, his clothing has determined who he hung out with at school.

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Community
10:28 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Propane Tank Explosion Injures 3 At Fresno Christian High School

Twisted metal is all that's left of a vendor's food trailer after a fire and explosion on Friday night on the campus of Fresno Christian High School
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

A fire and explosion inside a food vendor's trailer at Fresno Christian High School sent two men to the hospital and injured another on Friday night. 

Just before 6:30 p.m. a blast from a 20-gallon propane tank sent shrapnel as far as 150 feet across Alluvial Avenue. The explosion ripped off the roof and the sides of the trailer, where vendors were serving food prior to the start of a football game on campus. Officials with the Fresno Fire Department say that prior to the explosion employees detected a propane leak and a fire.

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Government & Politics
10:39 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Amended CEQA Bill Passes Legislature

Democratic Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg says he’s pleased with the California Environmental Quality Act changes he pushed through at the end of this year’s session – and he won’t be carrying a broader CEQA overhaul next year.

“It's always easy to say, oh, it wasn't everything that somebody else thinks it should be.  Well, I thought what was presented last year went way too far.  So I think this is an excellent result and represents real, responsible reform," says Steinberg.

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Government & Politics
10:34 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Bill to Increase California's Minimum Wage Passes Legislature

Credit Valley Public Radio

  A bill that would gradually increase the California minimum wage to $10-an-hour has passed the State legislature and is on its way to the governor. It would be the first increase in the minimum wage in six years.

Democratic Senator Bill Monning says if you’re a Californian subsisting on the current state minimum wage, you’re living a second class existence.

"You are in a second hand economy, second harvest food bank, second-hand clothing, second-hand hand-me-down everything," says Monning.

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Education
10:30 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Teacher Discipline Bill Passes Legislature

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A bill that would streamline the process for disciplining or firing a public school teacher or other employee charged with child abuse has cleared the California legislature. 

Democratic Assembly member Joan Buchanan says her measure is a big improvement over the status quo in the public schools when it comes to getting rid of bad employees.

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Government & Politics
10:26 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Driver's License Bill Passes California Legislature

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

Undocumented immigrants in California will soon be able to get driver’s licenses after the legislature approved a bill on the final day of session. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, concerns over what the licenses would look like nearly derailed the effort.

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Government & Politics
10:21 am
Fri September 13, 2013

California Lawmakers Adjourn for Year After Busy Final Day

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California lawmakers are done for the year.  They adjourned just past midnight Friday after a busy and at times chaotic final day – and night – of action.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

A minimum wage increase, California Environmental Quality Act changes, driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, a state prisons deal – all among the hundreds of bills lawmakers passed in this last week of session.  Democratic Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg says that caps a “great year” – on top of a budget that restored some of the deep cuts from previous years.

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Government & Politics
6:30 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Legislature Overwhelmingly Approves Prison Plan

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

The California Legislature has overwhelmingly approved a deal between the Governor and leaders of the Senate and Assembly to reduce overcrowding in state prisons. California has been ordered by a federal three-judge-panel to either release or find additional space for more than nine thousand inmates by the end of December.

Under the deal, California will ask the panel for an extension on the December deadline. Any savings would be put toward programs to keep people out of jail.

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Government & Politics
6:24 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Minimum Wage Deal at California Capitol

Credit Valley Public Radio

It looks like California’s minimum wage will go up next year for the first time since 2008.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento on the deal announced today by Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders.

Under the deal, California’s $8-an-hour minimum wage would rise to $9 in July of next year, and then to $10 in January of 2016.  That’s a faster pace than the original bill that’s been moving through the legislature this year.  But it does not include automatic adjustments for inflation, as was previously proposed.

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Environment
6:15 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Brown Promises to Sign Minimum Wage, Fracking Bills

California Governor Jerry Brown has indicated that he will sign a bill that would regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which passed the Assembly today. The bill is generating fierce debate. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

Fracking is when energy companies pump pressurized water and chemicals into oil wells to maximize output. Democratic Assembly member Adam Gray says the measure gives much needed oversight to an under-regulated industry.

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Government & Politics
6:04 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Kern County Fires Hospital CEO; Animal Control Director

Kern County offices in downtown Bakersfield (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Kern County Board of Supervisors has fired two high profile department heads within 24 hour of each other. Both Kern Medical Center CEO Paul Hensler and Animal Control Director Jen Woodard were dismissed over concerns about their performance. 

On Monday night, the board voted to fire Hensler after a lengthy meeting over concerns about financial mismanagement at the county run hospital.

Two big issues stood out – a budget deficit for the current fiscal year that tops $9 million, and the failure to develop a plan to repay the state for prior overpayment for services. 

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