Government & Politics

News about government and politics

Office of Rep. David Valadao

Congressman David Valadao (R-Hanford) has renewed his call for the House to take up the issue of comprehensive immigration reform this year. He made his comments this week speaking on Valley Public Radio's Valley Edition.

The Hanford Republican says that the House GOP leadership should bring the bill, HR 15 up for debate. The measure would address a variety of immigration issues, including border security, a guest worker program and a pathway to citizenship for those currently in the country illegally. 

Study: More California Latinos Attend College, Few Finish

Nov 5, 2013
Lance Johnson / Licensed under Creative Commons from Flickr user LanceJohnson

College is a goal for the majority of Latinos graduating from California high schools. But as Katie Orr reports, a new report out today shows few Latinos actually finish college.

The study from the organization The Campaign for College Opportunities finds seven out of ten California Latino high school graduates enrolled in college last year. But just 11 percent of Latino adults in the state have a bachelors or graduate degree. 

Campaign Finance Fight Could Shape 'Dark Money's' Future In California

Nov 1, 2013
YouTube/Small Business Action Committee

California’s Fair Political Practices Commission is trying to collect $15 million in penalties from two political action committees that accepted “dark money” contributions last year.  The PACs won’t pay, saying they’ve done nothing wrong.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento that in this dispute, there’s a lot at stake.

The illegal donations last fall paid for ads like this from the Small Business Action Committee:

Yes on 32 TV ad: “Sacramento doesn’t work for our family.  Instead, it works for the big unions and corporations.”

FBI Affidavit: State Senator Took Bribes in Undercover Sting Operation

Nov 1, 2013
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

An undercover FBI agent poses as a Hollywood executive to lure an elected official into taking bribes for legislation.  It sounds like a story Hollywood could have made itself – but in fact, it’s the story laid out in an affidavit that’s sent shockwaves through the California state Capitol.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento.

This TV report from Wednesday night is the first big development in the case since the FBI raided Democratic State Senator Ron Calderon’s Capitol office earlier this year.

California Begins Sending Inmates to Private Prisons

Oct 28, 2013
The GEO Group, Inc.

California is beginning to transfer inmates out of its state prisons. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, the transfers are part of a court-mandated plan to reduce overcrowding in state prisons

California is sending 2,100 inmates to three private prisons within the state. James Black is with the GEO group, which operates the facilities. He says GEO’s prisons must meet the same standards the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation must meet.

Panel: California's Direct Democracy Process Needs Changes

Oct 24, 2013
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Three former leaders of California’s three branches of government disagree about whether the state’s direct democracy process is serving voters well – but they all agree on a potential way to improve it.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on today’s Public Policy Institute of California panel.

Non-Profit Political Groups Must Pay California's Largest Election Rules Fine

Oct 24, 2013
FPPC - YouTube

Two Arizona-based non-profits must pay California’s largest ever election rules violation penalty. The Fair Political Practices Commission accused them of failing to reveal the donors of an $11 million contribution last year.

Ann Ravel is Chair of the FPPC. She says elections must be transparent to be fair.

“It’s very important that the true donors to campaigns be disclosed. The law requires it and it’s important to the public,” says Ravel.

Homeowner Bill of Rights Gets Mixed Reviews Nearly One Year On

Oct 23, 2013
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California’s Homeowners Bill of Rights is nearly a year old and both banks and groups representing distressed homeowners say the legislation intended to help distressed mortgage holders is a bit of a mixed bag.

Maurice Weeks is with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. He says provisions in the law have helped slow the state’s foreclosure rate.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted today to submit a grant application to the state to fund a new $80 million jail annex. The proposed new West Annex Jail in downtown Fresno would house 300 inmates and would also include treatment facilities.

As part of the application the county agreed to set aside $8.8 million to help fund the project. If built, the county would be required to operate the facility for at least 10 years. The county hopes the new facility will replace the agin south jail annex in courthouse park.

The American Civil Liberties Union says that in the past year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have arrested people at Kern County courthouses, while they were paying fines for tickets, obtaining marriage licenses, and appearing for court hearings.

In a letter sent yesterday, the ACLU asked ICE to investigate and halt this practice in Bakersfield.

Study: Distracted Driving A Big Problem, Even Near Schools

Oct 18, 2013
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

There’s new evidence that distracted driving is a problem not just on the roadways in general – but specifically around schools.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

The California Friday Night Live Partnership and the Allstate Foundation asked high school students to spend an hour counting distracted drivers at nearly 70 schools across the state.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Yosemite National Park reopened last night, and visitors are returning to the park today to snap photos and bask in the fall colors.

Park officials estimate that more than 150,000 people were blocked from visiting Yosemite during the 16-day government shutdown. That means lost entrance and campground fees, and concession sales, says spokesman Scott Gediman. 

“The loss of visitors has a huge ripple effect, from an economic perspective,” Gediman says. 

High-Speed Rail CEO: No Construction Yet, But Work "Under Way"

Oct 17, 2013
California High Speed Rail Authority

California’s High-Speed Rail Authority is asking contractors that want to build the second stretch of Central Valley track to step forward.  It also says work on the project’s first phase is “under way.”  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, actual construction has not yet begun – despite promises that it would by now.

Do California's Security Housing Units Reduce Prison Violence?

Oct 17, 2013
Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

California’s prison system uses Security Housing Units, or SHUs, as a way to isolate alleged gang members from the general inmate population. But gangs remain a problem in prisons and the outcry over using solitary confinement for long periods of time is growing. Now some lawmakers are asking whether the SHUs are working.

Steven Czifra spent four years locked up in a Security Housing Unit. Isolated from other inmates, alone in his cell for 22 ½ hours a day, he said there wasn’t much too do.

At Pelican Bay, A Look Inside California's Security Housing Units

Oct 16, 2013
Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

Imagine spending 22 hours a day locked in a small, concrete room. That’s daily life for about four-thousand California prisons inmates. On a recent media tour, journalists got glimpse of that life on a visit to the Security Housing Units at Pelican Bay State Prison.

Nearly 1,200 men are housed in the complex of low, concrete buildings. To get to them you have to go pass through a series of heavy gates and doors.

US Supreme Court Rejects State's Prison Appeal

Oct 15, 2013
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown has been turned down by the US Supreme Court once again. He won’t get a hearing on a federal order to reduce prison overcrowding in the state. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

The Supreme Court has declined to hear Brown’s appeal, attempting to overturn a federal court order to reduce prison overcrowding in the state. California has until the end of January to comply with the order, but could be given an extension if it develops a suitable long-term plan to reduce overcrowding.

New Poll Says Voters Support Changes to Initiative process

Oct 9, 2013
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new report suggests that although Californians strongly support the state’s initiative process, they’d like to see changes to limit the power of special interests and increase the role of the legislature.  

The report comes from the Public Policy Institute of California.  It analyzed its polling data to determine whether several potential initiative process changes would be popular.  Turns out they are, says the PPIC’s Mark Baldassare.  For example:

Lawmakers Take Closer Look at State Prison SHUs

Oct 9, 2013
Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

Members of the California legislature are focusing their attention on Security Housing Units within state prisons. Katie Orr has details on a hearing held today in Sacramento.

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

About a dozen West Fresno residents and advocates gathered in front of Fresno City Hall today to express their disapproval of a text amendment that would pave the way for Granville Homes to plant a 360-acre almond orchard in their neighborhood.

Among them was Venise Curry, a West Fresno resident and physician. She’s concerned the proposed operation could expose residents to dust and pesticides, and harm their air and water.

New Laws Signal Change in Attitude in California Toward Immigration

Oct 7, 2013
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The passage of some high profile immigration legislation in California appears to signal a shift in the state’s attitude on the issue, particularly with its Governor, Jerry Brown. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

In 2010, then-candidate Brown opposed driver licenses for undocumented immigrants. This month he signed a bill allowing licenses for undocumented immigrants. Brown says the law now reflects the outlook of the majority of Californians.