Government & Politics

Government & Politics
5:40 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Dozens of Bills Introduced to Change Environmental Law


California lawmakers have introduced more than a dozen bills that make changes to the California Environmental Quality Act, known as CEQA.  As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, critics of the 43-year-old law say it’s a barrier to economic growth.

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Government & Politics
5:30 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Kevin McCarthy: California GOP Has Nowhere to Go But Up

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) addresses the Sacramento Press Club Friday.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy had plenty to say at the Sacramento Press Club Friday.

The California Congressman discussed everything from the federal budget cuts known as sequestration to the future of the Republican Party. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

McCarthy said President Obama was “creating hysteria” about the sequestration cuts – rather than working with Republicans:

“If we can’t find a way to cut $85 billion out of a $3.6 trillion deficit, we’re not gonna overcome our problems.”

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Government & Politics
6:03 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Assembly Speaker Files Supreme Court Brief Opposing Prop 8

California Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles) discusses same-sex marriage, sequestration and other issues with reporters Thursday at the State Capitol.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

The speaker of the California Assembly has filed a legal brief with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the justices to overturn the state’s constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage.

In his friend-of-the-court brief known as an “amicus” brief, Speaker John Pérez  argues voter-approved Proposition 8 prevents him from passing bills at the State Capitol.

“Proposition 8 clearly inhibits my legislative role, preventing me and my peers from moving forward legislation on marriage equality – although clearly, we would like to do so if we were allowed.” 

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Development Watch
9:15 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Fresno County To Allow Developers to Select Their Own Environmental Consultants

Developers in Fresno County will soon be able to hire firms of their own choosing to study the environmental impacts of proposed projects. 

The Board of Supervisors approved the new policy Tuesday on a 5-0 vote, saying that it will speed up the development process, and help to create jobs.

Until now, developers would pay the county for the preparation of an environmental impact report (EIR). The county would then issue a "request for proposal" to environmental consulting companies, a selection process that can take nearly half a year to complete. 

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High Speed Rail
10:00 am
Tue February 26, 2013

After Delays, High-Speed Rail Project to Start This Summer

file photo
Credit California High Speed Rail Authority

The opening phase of California’s high-speed rail project is scheduled to break ground this summer – and the project’s CEO is promising no further delays. 

But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, it’s already behind what Governor Jerry Brown promised just last year.

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Government & Politics
5:38 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

What Does Senator Michael Rubio's Resignation Mean For the Valley?

Former State Senator Michael Rubio (D-Shafter)
Credit Office of Michael Rubio

State Senator Michael Rubio stunned political observers with his surprise resignation on Friday morning. A moderate Democrat, Rubio was leading efforts to change the state's landmark environmental law, the California Environmental Quality Act.

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Government & Politics
2:32 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Bill Calls For New Courts Dedicated to CEQA Cases

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Lawsuits under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA are often criticized for delaying projects. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, one lawmaker has introduced a bill that he says might speed up the judicial process.

Democratic Assemblymember Roger Dickinson has introduced a bill that would create CEQA courts in Northern and Southern California. The courts would have exclusive jurisdiction over any CEQA litigation.

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Prison Realignment
2:22 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Central Valley Lawmaker: California Should Give Counties More Money to Fund Realignment

State Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) - (file photo)
Credit Office of Anthony Cannella

 

A California lawmaker says the shift of tens of thousands of state prisoners to county supervision has become a strain for some counties.  As Marianne Russ reports from Sacramento, he wants the state to give those counties more money.

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Government & Politics
10:52 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Michael Rubio Resigns From State Senate

State Senator Michael J. Rubio (D-Shafter)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

State Senator Michael Rubio, D-Shafter, has resigned, effective immediately, from his position in the California State Senate. He will become the manager of California government affairs for Chevron Corporation.

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Government & Politics
7:30 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Costs for Funding State Retiree Health Benefits Grows

California State Controller John Chiang
Credit California State Controller's Office

A new report shows the unfunded liability for state retiree health benefits in California has grown to more than $63 billion.

As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, State Controller John Chiang says some increases in future liability could be prevented.

Chiang says the unfunded obligation for state retiree benefits has grown almost two billion dollars from 2011 to 2012. That’s less than expected because of fewer and less expensive healthcare claims.

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Government & Politics
7:26 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Experts: 'Sequestration' Could Hurt California's Economy

Credit Valley Public Radio

As the March 1st deadline for automatic federal budget cuts approaches, their potential effect on California is becoming increasingly clear. 

Ben Adler reports from Sacramento that “sequestration” cuts could slow the state’s economic recovery – and perhaps even create a new budget deficit.

There are two ways sequestration could affect California: direct federal spending cuts of about $4 billion dollars, and the reaction to those cuts from the state’s people and businesses. 

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Government & Politics
11:39 am
Wed February 20, 2013

California Legislature to Consider Minimum Wage Increase

Credit Valley Public Radio

President Obama’s call for increasing the minimum wage in his State of the Union address this month  could face a tough road in Congress.  But a proposal in the California legislature could stand a better chance.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

California’s current minimum wage is eight dollars an hour.  A bill at the State Capitol would bump it up gradually over the next several years to $9.25 an hour … then require annual increases for inflation.  UC Berkeley labor economist Sylvia Allegretto says too many Californians are underpaid:

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Government & Politics
5:46 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Bill Proposes "Zero Tolerance" Policy for Drugged Driving

State Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) speaks at a Capitol news conference Tuesday about his bill that would create a "zero tolerance" policy for drugged driving.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

A California lawmaker wants to create a “zero tolerance” law for driving under the influence of drugs.

Democratic State Senator Lou Correa says his bill would expand the current law against drunk driving to cover drug use as well. 

“It took us decades to pound into people that you should not drink and drive.  Then, we started talking about texting and talking on the phone and driving.  And today, this is about being drugged and driving.” 

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Government & Politics
11:38 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Visalia's Public Safety Tax Spurs Talk for Similar Proposal in Fresno

The historic Fox Theater anchors a thriving downtown district on Main Street in Visalia
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The hustle and bustle of downtown Visalia, a place alive with activity. Local residents point to it with pride. City Manager Steve Salomon says it has a lot to do with the community’s vision for its city.  

“The city council in this city for decades and decades has been able to have a long term view of what they thought this city should be, and done things that were not necessarily going to have an immediate result for them, but a long term result,” says Salomon.

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Government & Politics
6:46 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Kern County's Anti-Sewage Sludge Measure E Blocked Again In Court

Kern County Government Center in Downtown Bakersfield
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Efforts by Kern County to stop the City of Los Angeles from spreading treated sewage waste on valley farmland have hit another obstacle  today.

On Wednesday, the 5th District Court of Appeals upheld an earlier Superior Court decision granting a preliminary injunction that prevents Measure E from taking effect.

Kern County voters approved the measure back in 2006, which would have stopped the controversial practice, but the law has been stuck in a lengthy court fight ever since.

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Government & Politics
5:55 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Petition Campaign Successful, Fresno Trash Privatization Hits Snag

Credit City of Fresno Public Utilities

Opponents of the City of Fresno’s move to privatize residential trash pickup scored major a victory today. And according to Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin, that means another round of layoffs for city employees could begin soon. 

The issue of privatizing Fresno’s residential trash service may soon be headed to a vote of city residents. Backers of a petition drive to stop the city from selling off the service to a private company learned today that they have gathered enough signatures to at least put a temporary halt to the effort.

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Government & Politics
5:42 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

State of the Union: Live Coverage From NPR

Gun Control
3:57 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Senate Dems Seek to Tighten California Gun Laws

Mayors from Los Angeles and San Francisco join Democratic State Senators to call for tighter gun and ammunition laws in California at Thursday's news conference at the State Capitol.
Capital Public Radio Network

The California State Senate’s Democratic leadership is rolling out a package of 10 measures it says will help reduce gun violence.

Lawmakers want to eliminate what they call loopholes in the state’s current laws.  For example, California currently bans the sale or manufacture of ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds.  A bill by Senator Loni Hancock would ban the possession of them as well.

“The grandfathering-in of weapons is something that our police chiefs have told us and law enforcement has told us makes it very difficult to enforce existing law,” said Hancock.

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Government & Politics
5:57 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Governor Brown Calls Hidden Funds at CAL FIRE 'Boring Story'

California Governor Jerry Brown
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown is calling news that the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection hid funds in a nonprofit account for several years a "boring story."

As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, Republicans are criticizing what they call Brown’s casual dismissal of the news.

The discovery of  $3.5 million of unreported money at CAL FIRE didn’t get much of a response from the Democratic governor.

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Government & Politics
5:25 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Mayor Renews Call to Add Cars Back to Fresno's Fulton Mall

A computer illustration of what Fresno's Fulton Mall might look like after the re-introduction of vehicle traffic.
Credit City of Fresno

Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin renewed her call to open the Fulton Mall to automobile traffic at today’s annual State of Downtown Breakfast.

Swearengin told the crowd of business leaders and downtown boosters that her number one job for the next four years is to rally support for her downtown plan, which includes the first major changes to Fresno’s former main street in the last five decades.

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