Government & Politics

Government & Politics
5:51 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Bill to Penalize Boy Scouts for Gay Membership Ban Clears Committee

A bill that would penalize the Boy Scouts of America for the group’s ban on gay membership has cleared its first hurdle in the California legislature.  As Capital Public Radio’s Marianne Russ reports, some groups could pay more taxes under the measure. 

The bill would remove sales and corporate tax exemptions from youth groups that discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity or religious affiliation.  Democratic Senator Ricardo Lara wrote the bill.

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Government & Politics
5:34 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Steinberg say No Prop 13 Reform This Year

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (file photo)
Credit Office of Darrell Steinberg

There appears to be some momentum in the legislature to modify California’s Proposition 13. But the state Senate’s leading Democrat says he doesn’t want that debate to bog down the session this year. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

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Immigration
12:07 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Revamped "TRUST Act" Back This Year at California Capitol

Credit Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

A California lawmaker is taking another run at a bill that would limit federal immigration holds on people in local custody.  Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the so-called “TRUST Act” last year because he said it prevented law enforcement from holding certain violent criminals.  But as KPCC’s Julie Small reports, a new version of the bill cleared its first committee Tuesday.

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Transportation
9:14 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Fresno's Shaw Avenue to Get 'Intelligent' Synchronized Traffic Lights

Traffic on Shaw Avenue may soon become less congested, thanks to a new "intelligent" synchronization system.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Earlier this month, an article in the New York Times  showcased Los Angeles for being the first major city  in the world to synchronize every one of its 4,500 traffic signals. But closer to home, a similar project is already underway in Fresno, which could make commutes on Shaw Avenue quicker by the end of April. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra Romero reports.

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Government & Politics
4:50 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

Brown's Bid to Regain Control of Mental Health Care in California Prisons Rejected

California Governor Jerry Brown (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A federal judge has rejected California’s push to retake control of prison inmates’ mental health care.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, it’s a major setback for Governor Jerry Brown.

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Government & Politics
10:30 am
Thu March 28, 2013

Judge Criticizes State's Potential "Ethical Violations" in Prison Case

file photo
Credit Casey Christie / The Californian

A federal judge says California may have committed ethical violations in a lawsuit over prison mental healthcare.  KPCC’s Julie Small reports the judge’s stern rebuke could de-rail Governor Jerry Brown’s push to free the state from over a decade of federal oversight.

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Government & Politics
6:18 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Fran Florez Drops Out of Senate District 16 Race

Fran Florez
Credit http://twitter.com/Florez4Valley

Shafter's Fran Florez announced on Twitter today that she is dropping out of the race to replace former State Senator Michael Rubio in the 16th district.

The Kern County Democrat said in a statement that she made her decision to protect party unity and to ensure a Democratic victory in the upcoming special election.

Kern County Supervisor and former Rubio staffer Letecia Perez announced yesterday that she and her family would move to a new home to maintain her eligibility in the race. 

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Transportation
10:04 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Centennial Corridor Freeway Project Divides Bakersfield, Neighborhood

Amy Richardson, co-chair of the Westpark Home Owners Association, points to a homemade map of the area that will be taken by the freeway project.
Ezra Romero Valley Public Radio

The future of a well-established neighborhood in Bakersfield is on the rocks. The reason: a three decade old freeway project with intentions to connect Bakersfield with the rest of the state. Valley Public Radio's Ezra Romero visits the community, speaks with community leaders and reports on the future of what some call a better connected Bakersfield and California.

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Government & Politics
5:53 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

California Cities Watch Closely as Stockton Bankruptcy Trial Begins

Stockton, CA (file photo)
Credit Marianne Russ / Capital Public Radio

The city of Stockton has begun a four-day trial in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.  At stake: whether the city should be eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

The case has other local governments watching closely – particularly those that still face large budget deficits.  Chris McKenzie with the League of California Cities says he believes cities will “move heaven and earth” to avoid future bankruptcies.

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Government & Politics
6:40 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Rewritten Water Bond to Include Less Money for Storage

California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg
Office of Darrell Steinberg

California Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg says lawmakers plan to rewrite the $11 billion water bond for the November 2014 ballot – and the new version will likely have less money for storage projects such as dams.

“There will continue to be a chapter for storage.  I don’t think there will be nearly the same amount of money in that chapter as there was in the original bond.  And I think there will be de-emphasis, frankly – or at least, on the same surface storage projects,” says Steinberg. 

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Government & Politics
6:32 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

State to Delay Sending Residents Fire Protection Bills

Credit Cal Fire

The state of California is putting a temporary halt to sending out new bills to some rural homeowners in the enforcement of a controversial fire prevention fee.

The delay comes as CAL Fire is sorting through a backlog of thousands of appeals from mostly foothill and mountain residents. The state was planning to send out another round of bills in April.

Some 87,000 residents have already appealed the fee. It's unclear when the state will clear the backlog in appeals and send out new bills. 

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Government & Politics
2:02 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Lawmakers Examine Options for Closing CalSTRS Shortfall

When state lawmakers were beating their chests last year about the need to reduce pension liabilities, they didn’t actually do anything about the largest liability of all. 

The California State Teachers Retirement System – known as CalSTRS – is facing a projected $70 billion shortfall.   KPCC’s Julie Small attended a sobering hearing Wednesday on the state’s options for closing the gap.

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Government & Politics
3:43 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

California GOP Lawmakers: Realignment Not Working, So Fix It

Republican state lawmakers criticize Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown's criminal justice realignment program at a Capitol news conference Tuesday.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Republicans in the California legislature are criticizing Governor Jerry Brown’s shift of prisoners from the state to counties – and putting forth legislation they say would help reduce the risk to public safety.

GOP Senator Jim Nielsen says the program known as criminal justice “realignment” needs to be scrapped.

“It unleashed an unprecedented crime wave affecting everyone in the state of California, and I’ll argue no bill ever passed by this legislature has had more dire and severe and egregious consequences,” says Nielsen.

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Government & Politics
6:00 am
Tue March 19, 2013

City of Fresno, SPCA Look For Another Animal Control Extension, Long Term Fix

Beth Caffrey, director of community relations for the Central California SPCA
Credit CCSPCA

It’s a Saturday morning and they are serving up pancakes at the Central California SPCA in Fresno.

It’s a fundraiser to help support one of the organizations new programs called “Snip N’ Chip.” It’s a low cost spay and neuter service for low-income pet owners.  Central California SPCA Executive Director Linda Van Kirk is happy with the turnout.

“Well, look at the crowd out there. It’s going absolutely fantastic. We are expecting a crowd of 500 to 600 this year versus the 300 we had last year, so we are ecstatic,” says Van Kirk.

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Government & Politics
11:08 am
Wed March 13, 2013

Why Unions Oppose Overhauling CEQA

Unions, environmental groups, Democratic lawmakers and others hold a Capitol news conference Tuesday to oppose efforts they say would weaken the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

The coalition of groups that will fight efforts in the state legislature this year to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act is taking shape.  It includes environmental groups, some Democratic lawmakers … and labor unions.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento on why unions are on this side of the CEQA debate.

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Government & Politics
2:37 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

Governor Brown Appoints Manuel Nevarez to Madera County Supes

The historic Madera County Courthouse
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown has appointed Manuel Nevarez to the Madera County Board of Supervisors. Nevarez will fill the vacant District 1 seat, previously occupied by Frank Bigelow. Bigelow resigned from office after winning a seat in the state Assembly in November.

Nevarez is registered as decline-to-state. He will represent communities in eastern Madera County including the Madera Rancho, O'Neals and Yosemite Lakes Park. 

Governor Brown issued the following statement on Friday:

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Government & Politics
10:09 am
Fri March 8, 2013

In Sacramento, Justice Kennedy Criticizes California Prison Spending

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in Sacramento Thursday, moments before the dedication of a library and statue in his honor at the federal courthouse.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

He’s not only from California.  Justice Anthony Kennedy’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings – past and future – are felt in California.  He wrote the ruling in a case involving the state’s overcrowded prisons, and many observers feel the fate of Proposition 8 is in his hands.  

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Government & Politics
6:14 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

GOP Bill Would Allow Flexible Work Schedules

A California lawmaker is reviving a proposal that’s stalled in previous years that would allow employees to work flexible schedules – such as four 10-hour days each week.

Republican State Senator Tom Berryhill says his bill would let individual workers ask their companies for more flexibility.

“If the employees went to the owner and wanted to make it a little bit different on their work hours for their families, then it’d be okay.  And I don’t think it’s government’s place to get in the way of employees spending more time with their families,” says Berryhill. 

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Realignment
5:02 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

1500 Inmates Serving More Time in Jails Designed for Shorter Stays

The Fresno County Jail in downtown Fresno
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A survey by the state Sherriff’s Association shows over 1500 inmates in California are serving 5 years or more at local jails that are equipped for shorter stays. As KPCC’s state capitol reporter Julie Small reports, the survey looked at the effects of California’s realignment law.

A year and a half ago, California began sending thousands of low-level felons to county jails instead of prison. San Bernardino County absorbed 4,200 new felons according to Sheriff’s Spokeswoman Cindy Bachman. “We have now so many more inmates that are staying here,” says Bachman.

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Transportation
11:45 am
Wed March 6, 2013

New Study Shows California's Local Road System In Crisis

Raymond Road in eastern Madera County (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new study shows that local roads in California are falling into a state of disrepair at an alarming rate. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the report says the majority of counties have roads at risk of failing.

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