Government & Politics

Government & Politics
6:11 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

State to Lose Federal Jobless Benefits Next Month

Credit Valley Public Radio

California’s Employment Development Department says that come mid-August, an improving economy is expected to cost thousands of jobless workers the last 10 weeks of their federal unemployment benefits. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

California’s economic rebound means the federal government may soon cut-off assistance to the state’s long-term unemployed.

“We’re now nearing that point where we will no longer qualify for Tier 4 federal extension benefits," says  Loree Levy with the state’s Employment Development Department.

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Government & Politics
11:07 am
Mon July 15, 2013

Big Property Tax Surprise Coming for Many California Homeowners

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California homeowners who saw their property taxes plunge along with their homes’ market values during the recession could get some sticker shock when their next tax bill arrives.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the bad news for homeowners is good news for state and local budgets.

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Government & Politics
5:28 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Napolitano Tapped to Head UC System

Janet Napolitano has been tapped to head the UC system. Supporters say she she’s the right person to help redefine higher education.
Credit Janet Napolitano / DHS

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is being tapped to serve as the next president of the University of California. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, so far reaction to the announcement has been largely positive.

President Barack Obama, Governor Jerry Brown and numerous other politicians and colleagues have voiced their support for the choice. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, a UC Board of Regents member, says UC needs to find a new way to operate. And he says Napolitano is the right person for what could be a tough job.

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Government & Politics
1:04 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

California Prison Hunger Strike Continues; State Responds

Pelican Bay State Prison
Credit California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

The number of California prison inmates on a hunger strike has dramatically dropped.  But 12,000 inmates still refused to eat for a fourth consecutive day Thursday to protest the common use of long-term isolation.  As KPCC’s Julie Small reports, that’s triggering an aggressive state response.

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Government & Politics
5:23 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Brown Signs Bill To Overhaul Enterprise Zone Program

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation to overhaul a controversial tax break for companies that hire workers in low-income communities.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on that and some of the other bills Brown signed today.

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Government & Politics
6:39 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Deal Speeds Athletes Workers' Comp Bill Through Capitol Committee

Assemblymember Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno) introduced the bill (file photo)
Credit The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

A workers’ compensation bill that’s provoked a high-stakes lobbying fight between professional sports teams and players unions has passed a key hurdle in the California legislature.

The bill would prevent out-of-state athletes from filing claims in California’s workers’ comp system.  Under a deal reached to move the measure forward, athletes who spend part of their career in the state would be eligible only if they play a certain amount of time for California teams. 

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Government & Politics
6:31 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

California Senate Leader Questions Future of Water Bond

California Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg (file photo)
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg says he’s not sure a long-delayed $11 billion water bond will make it on the 2014 ballot. More than $2 billion of that money is slated to be spent on the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta. 

Governor Jerry Brown is backing a plan that calls for constructing two large underground tunnels that would send water from the Delta to Central and Southern California.

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Government & Politics
12:13 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

California Economy, State Finances Stronger than Other States

Credit Valley Public Radio

A new report that compares state finances finds California's budget revenues are soaring higher than all but one other state in the nation.  Its economy is growing at an above-average pace as well.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

The study comes from the Tax Policy Center – a project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.  It compares state tax revenues, economic growth and other data for all 50 states.

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Government & Politics
5:34 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Freshman Lawmakers Face Different Legislative Future

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

A new version of term limits, a new way to draw voting districts, a new system for running primary elections. Those three changes all took effect in 2012. Each was intended to moderate the California legislature. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, there is hope the changes have been effective, but so far there’s no proof.

New lawmakers are frequently sworn in at the California State Capitol. But the class taking the oath of office last December faced a different legislative future from classes who came before them.

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Government & Politics
5:00 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Billing Begins for Second Year of Controversial Fire Protection Fee

file photo
Credit Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

For the second year in a row, California is charging rural homeowners a special fee for fire protection. The bills are coming a bit later than planned, but they are on their way. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, the fee's critics are as angry as ever and still hope to overturn it.

California is sending out about 800,000 bills beginning this month. The annual $150 charge is assessed to property owners with homes on land the state is responsible for protecting.

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Government & Politics
12:10 pm
Sat June 29, 2013

Price at the Pump to Go Up Monday Thanks to "Gas Tax Swap"

(file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The price at the pump goes up today/Monday in California – by 3 ½ cents per gallon of gasoline.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, that’s because of a particularly complex part of an old state budget deal.

California tax law is full of confusing formulas with colorful names, like the triple flip and the single sales factor.  Here, we’re talking about something called the gas tax swap.  It stems from the 2010 budget deal in the heart of the recession. 

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Government & Politics
4:30 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

Same-Sex Marriage Now Legal in California

Supporters of same-sex marriage gathered outside Fresno City Hall on Wednesday June 26, 2013 to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court's decision.
Credit Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

Same-sex marriage is once again legal in California.  The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has cleared the way for marriages to begin – effective immediately.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

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Government & Politics
4:36 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Budget's on the Books: Brown Signs $96 Billion Spending Plan

California Governor Jerry Brown signed the state's budget into law today in Sacramento.
Credit Office of the Governor

California has its new budget for the fiscal year that starts on Monday.

Governor Jerry Brown signed the $96 billion general fund spending plan today at the State Capitol with Democratic legislative leaders at his side.

The governor said the budget is balanced and responsible – while still investing in education and health care.

“We know that for the last 10 years, that there’s been boom and bust.  In fact, going back for 40 years, it’s been the sorry tale of most governors to leave town with a ton of red ink.  I don’t want to do that,” said Brown.

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Government & Politics
10:05 am
Thu June 27, 2013

In Fresno, Advocates on Both Sides of Prop 8 Mark Occasion

Yesterday, Central California residents reacted to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to not rule on Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved bad on gay marriage. Valley Public Radio's Rebecca Plevin reports that advocates on both sides of the issue gathered in Fresno to mark the occasion.

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Reese Ramirez wore a rainbow, beauty pageant-style sash across his chest that reads “Mr. Trans Fresno 2013.” He explained that the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on Proposition 8 is uplifting.

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Government & Politics
8:43 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Democrats Rejoice, Republicans Search for Answers After Gay Marriage Rulings

Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and members of the California Legislature's LGBT Caucus react to Wednesday's U.S. Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage at the State Capitol.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

If California’s elected officials are a microcosm of the state’s population, they proved it after Wednesday’s same-sex marriage rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Democrats rejoiced – including many gay lawmakers who’ve led the push for marriage equality.  Many Republicans searched for an appropriate response, and some expressed frustration.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

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Government & Politics
6:16 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

California Legislators React to DOMA, Prop 8 Decisions

Speaker of the Assembly John A. Pérez addresses the media following today's Supreme Court decision
Credit The office of Speaker John A. Pérez

The U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage rulings – including the one overturning California’s Proposition 8 – have reverberated through the state Capitol.

Assembly Speaker John Pérez is the first openly gay person to lead the lower chamber:

“This is the first time in my life that I felt that the law fully recognized me as being equal to everyone else.” says Pérez.

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Government & Politics
5:21 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Court Decision Spurs Fresno Marriage Proposal

After 16 years together Rio Waller proposed to Naomi Hendrix after finding out about the Supreme Court's ruling.
Credit Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

  Today's U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage was cheered by activists throughout the state, including in Fresno. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra Romero reports from Fresno’s Tower District one same sex couple chose to celebrate the justice’s decision with a marriage proposal.

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When Rio Waller woke up this morning and heard the Supreme Court’s decision, she was moved to tears. 

“When I saw  what happened I started crying and laughing and I was by myself because my partner runs a market,” Waller says.

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Government & Politics
5:11 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

In Fresno, Proposition 8 Supporters Vow to Keep Fighting

Proposition 8 supporters gathered at the Cornerstone Church in downtown Fresno and vowed to defend traditional marriage.
Credit Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

This morning, the Supreme Court declined to rule on California’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage. The judges’ decision effectively allows same-sex couples to marry. Central California played a major role in the law’s passage in 2008, and, on both sides, reaction to the court’s decision was passionate. From the Cornerstone Church in downtown Fresno, FM 89’s Rebecca Plevin reports that Proposition 8 supporters will keep fighting.

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Martha Kistler strongly believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

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Government & Politics
12:20 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Attorney General Harris Urges Fast Action on Same-Sex Marriage

California Attorney General Kamala Harris (file photo)
Credit The Aspen Institute / Creative Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively overturning California’s Proposition 8 isn’t the last word on the case. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals must act before same-sex marriages can resume in the state.

The Supreme Court ruling won’t officially make it to the Ninth Circuit for 25 days. But state Attorney General Kamala Harris says the Appeals Court can act immediately and it should.

“We cannot delay or deny individuals their civil rights. And for that reason I urge the Ninth Circuit to lift the stay as early as possible,” says Harris.

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Government & Politics
5:37 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Prison Medical Facility Opens in Stockton

An architect's rendering of the new Stockton prison health care facility.
Credit http://www.chcfstockton.com/

California prison officials opened a new medical facility in Stockton today designed to improve treatment for 1,700 of the state’s sickest inmates.  The opening of the 200-acre facility will also ease crowding in prisons — something that could appease a federal court that has ordered California to reduce the inmate population to ensure they receive basic healthcare.  KPCC’s  Julie Small reports.

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