governance

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Editor's note: This is the second in a two-part series on the impact of California's new top-two election reform.

When California voters approved Proposition 14 in 2010, supporters hailed it as a way to make many races for Congress, the Legislature and state offices more competitive, thanks to a new top-two election system.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Now that the dust has settled after this month's general election, political observers from across the state are busy examining the results to see just what effect California's efforts at redistricting and electoral reform had in their first full test at the ballot box. Valley Public Radio's Joe Moore reports that in same cases, the result is too close to call. 

For most California voters, the trip to the ballot box this November looked much like it always has, albeit with longer lines at some polling places and a record number of "vote by mail" ballots.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition, we learn about how the state's new electoral reforms worked in real life following this month's election. Did the "top two" primary make the general election candidates more moderate and contests more competitive? Or did little actually change? Valley Public Radio's Joe Moore brings us a special report. 

Proposition 31: Changing the Budgeting Process

Oct 9, 2012
Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

Our election 2012 coverage continues with a report on Proposition 31. The measure would change California’s budgeting process. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it would do much more than that.

Proposition 31 has been criticized for not going far enough to change California’s fiscal environment, for being too complex, and for its possible unintended consequences. James Mayer is the Executive Director of California Forward which is pushing Proposition 31.

Casey Christie / The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

It’s been one year since Governor Jerry Brown shifted responsibility for low-level offenders in California from the state to counties.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, experts say it’s too soon to truly assess the impact of the governor’s “realignment” program.

The Fresno City Council voted Thursday to spend $50,000 to hire a consultant who will examine the possibility of consolidating city and county law enforcement. The council also established a special sub-committee to examine the issue.

Youth Voting Rate Going Up, But Still Lagging

Oct 4, 2012

The number of young Californians who are registered to vote is going up – but the percentage of youth registered voters still lags well behind the population as a whole. That’s according to a new UC Davis study out Wednesday.

Author Mindy Romero says there’s been a 25-percent increase in youths registered to vote from 2002 to 2010. “We believe just it’s been a product of national trends as well as trends within California that’s focused on getting out the youth vote.”

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown acted on almost 1000 bills this legislative session. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, political analysts say the Governor likely had his tax initiative in mind when deciding what to sign into law. 

Governor Brown vetoed about 12-percent of the bills that landed on his desk. Kevin Riggs, a former TV reporter who covered the Capitol for years, says Brown was trying to show voters that government can be responsible by vetoing legislation that might have harmed the economy, to give his November tax measure a boost.

New Field Poll on Prop 32 Shows Measure Trailing

Sep 21, 2012

For the second time this week, a new poll shows Proposition 32, which would change rules on union and corporate political donations, faces a tough road to passage on California’s November ballot.

The latest Field Poll conducted with UC Berkeley shows Prop 32 losing 44 percent to 38 percent.  The six-point margin is similar to this week’s Public Policy Institute of California survey, where the measure trailed 49 percent to 42 percent.

Task Force Says California's Finances Unsustainable

Sep 20, 2012
Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

A non-partisan State Budget Crisis Task Force is recommending that California develop a two-year spending plan. The report released today called the state’s current financial structure unsustainable.

Californians can soon register to vote completely online. Paperless registration will be available to anyone who has a California driver’s license or ID.

Since 2009 Californians have been able to go online and fill out a form as part of the voter registration process. But signatures had to be mailed or delivered to county elections officials. Secretary of State Debra Bowen will soon roll out the next step, which would allow Californians who have a driver’s license or ID to hit “send” at the end of their online form.

The Chair of a California Assembly committee looking into the state’s special funds accounts called the parks department scandal “shameful” today. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, lawmakers asked finance officials for assurances that there are no more hidden assets.

At issue is how $54 million in surplus Parks department funds could remain hidden for 12 years. An audit last week also found discrepancies in other state special funds accounts. Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield chairs the oversight committee.

A bill that would create a retirement plan for California private sector workers who have no pensions or 401-K’s is facing intense opposition from business groups. The bill was heard today by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has decided that now is not the time to change California’s newly-approved process for cities and counties to enter into bankruptcy.

He’s decided to kill the legislation authored by a Democratic Assembly member. The bill would have loosened deadlines on negotiations with creditors and labor groups. But Steinberg says it’s time now for the legislature to focus elsewhere.

A new analysis shows that campaign committees already are spending millions of dollars on propositions for California’s November’s ballot. The analysis, by the Fair Political Practices Commission, shows by the end of June, committees had raised more than $84 million to fight or support the 11 ballot measures.

The Commission’s report looked at donors who gave $10,000 or more. While the state limits what an individual donor can give state candidates, there are no limits on the amount of money committees can contribute to ballot measures.

California’s Senate President Pro Tem is responding to criticisms of legislative pay raises and the hidden assets found at the parks department. The issues are giving ammunition to opponents of Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiative.

This week on Valley Edition, we learn more about a new report which shows that on average, Valley counties send more inmates to prison and jail than the rest of the state. What does this mean for county budgets as realignment is moving many of those inmates from state prisons to county jails? We also discuss the merits of public defenders in California, as Fresno County is likely to place a measure before voters this fall which could make it easier to outsource the county’s public defender jobs to private attorneys.

California Sentencing Institute / Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

A new report from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice shows that Valley Counties on average send more people to jail and state prison than the rest of the state. Kings County topped the list with the state's highest per capita population in state prison, over 1,500 adults for every 100,000 people. Tulare and Kern counties weren't far behind.

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.

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.

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