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Minimum Wage Deal at California Capitol

Sep 11, 2013
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.

Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

It’s not every day that an ambassador from a foreign nation visits Fresno. But on Thursday the Indian ambassador to the United States paid a visit to Fresno State. 

Indian Ambassador to the United States Nirupama Rao visited Fresno for several reasons: to strengthen U.S. – India ties.

"Trade, business and investment ties between economies such as ours..."

The large Indian population in the San Joaquin Valley:

“I see so many friends from the Punjab region of India sitting amongst us..."

And because Rep. Jim Costa asked her to.

Fresno's Peak Broadcasting, which owns stations in Fresno and Boise, has changed hands in a complex deal involving some of the nation's biggest radio station owners and operators.

California Committee Delays Acting on Fracking Regulation Bill

Aug 21, 2013
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

A California bill to monitor and regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking has stumbled in a key Assembly committee. Under the bill, companies would have to make public all information regarding their fracking operations. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

Fracking is when energy companies inject pressurized water and chemicals into the ground to extract oil and gas. Jena Price with the California League of Conservation voters says the bill the League co-sponsored would set a national precedent on the regulation of fracking.

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

The California Assembly has approved a bill that would make it easier for farm workers to obtain union contracts with their employers.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the measure passed Monday with the bare minimum votes needed – despite strong opposition from growers.

Flickr user Mariam - http://www.flickr.com/photos/70123617@N00/ / Creative Commons license

A new crop forecast from the USDA and the California Department of Food and Agriculture indicates this year's raisin crop could be as much as 25 percent larger than last year's.

It's expected to be the largest raisin crop since 2008, at 2.4 million tons. Last year's crop was just over 1.9 million tons. Over 200,000 acres of raisin grapes are in production this year. 

Officials say that warm weather has been good for crop development, which is a few days ahead of normal.

Dole Food, which operates several packing and storage facilities in the San Joaquin Valley has agreed to a buyout offer from its CEO David Murdock. Dole's Packaged Foods division operates a plant in Atwater. The company also has facilities in Terra Bella and Bakersfield.

Bakersfield-based produce grower and packer Sun World International has been acquired by Renewable Resources Group, a Los Angeles-based asset management firm.

Terms of the sale, which closed on August 9, were not disclosed. Sun World grows, packs and markets a variety of agricultural products ranging from grapes and stonefruit to vegetables. 

Sun World began operation in 1976, and had been owned since 2005 by Black Diamond Capital Management, a Connecticut-based investment firm. Black Diamond purchased Sun World assets at a bankruptcy auction for $127.8 million.

Bill Would Phase Out Plastic Bags in California

Apr 16, 2013
Office of Alex Padilla

Plastic bags may not be an option much longer at California grocery stores. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban the bags. Despite previous attempts, supporters believe this time the bill will pass. Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento.

California retailers hand out more than 14 billion single use plastic bags every year. The state’s own figures show only 5 percent are recycled. Mark Murray is with Californians Against Waste.

A company controlled by billionaire investor Warren Buffett announced today it has acquired Fresno-based brokerage firm Guarantee Real Estate. The terms of the deal were not released.

Guarantee will now be a division of Minneapolis-based Home Services of America, Inc., which is affiliated with Buffet's firm Berkshire Hathaway.

Guarantee was one of Central California's largest real estate brokerage firms, with over 400 employees in 13 offices. In 2011, the company handled transactions for over 3,700 units, totaling over $600 million.

California Governor Jerry Brown’s November tax measure is drawing some of its strongest opposition from small business groups. Ben Adler reports from Sacramento on how some small businesses would be affected by Proposition 30.

James Wright owns part of a small business in Los Angeles County that manufactures manhole covers – with about 10 million dollars in sales. Wright doesn’t take anywhere near that much home to his family. But he does have to pay personal income taxes on company profits … using money from the business itself.

California Lumber Sales Creep Up In Recent Years

Aug 15, 2012
Licensed using Creative Commons from Flickr user CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK / http://www.flickr.com/photos/macsurak/6195650749/

Lumber sales are up slightly in California, after hitting a record low in 2009. The 2008 collapse of the housing market devastated California's already faltering lumber industry. The housing market has been slow to recover, but new home construction has risen in the last year.

David Bischel of the California Forestry Association says that's translated into a slight uptick in lumber production. "There's been an increase in sales because there's been a small increase in housing production, our markets are very closely tied to housing markets."

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.

A new survey sheds light on what small businesses in California want out of the new health insurance market starting in 2014. 

Only a little more than a third of California small businesses currently provide some health benefits in their workplace. But that number could go up to 44 percent when a new health marketplace is up and running.

That’s according to a poll commissioned by the Small Business Majority and Kaiser Permanente.

John Arensmeyer of the Small Business Majority says the poll shows small companies want the same health options big ones have.

Frederick Scott Salyer, 56, has pleaded guilty in a massive tomato price fixing scheme that investigators say affected almost every American home.

Salyer, the former chief executive officer of SK Foods LP, said he bribed purchasers and fixed prices for the sale of his tomato products to McCain Foods USA Inc., ConAgra Foods Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc.

The AP reports:

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