Government & Politics

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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Government & Politics
5:20 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

California High Court Weighs Cities' Rights to Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

The California Supreme Court appears poised to leave intact the right of local governments to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.  Ben Adler has more on the court’s oral arguments today  in a case involving a dispensary and the city of Riverside.

Here’s the core question for the justices in this case: Do state laws that allow the use of medical marijuana trump the long-standing powers of local governments to make their own land use and zoning decisions?  Many justices appeared skeptical.  Here’s Justice Joyce Kennard pressing the attorney representing the dispensary:

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Government & Politics
9:53 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Undocumented Youth: 'We Want to Serve'

Pablo Reyes-Morales, an undocumented student at West Hills College Lemoore, wants to serve in the U.S. Navy.
Credit Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

Pablo Reyes-Morales’ dream to serve in the United States military was stoked when he was in high school.

“Since I was in ninth grade, when I saw the slogan for the Navy, and it said, “a global force for good,” I was instantly interested,” he said.

But that dream shattered when Reyes-Morales attempted to enlist. He says it wasn’t until that moment, that he learned he was undocumented, and therefore unable to serve the country.

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Pension Reform
5:36 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Proposed Pension Exemption for Some California Union Members Prompts Debate

Dem. Asm. Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville/Salinas)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The author of a bill that would exempt 20,000 California union members from last year’s pension overhaul is defending the measure against criticism that it breaks a promise to voters who just approved tax increases. 

Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo says he introduced the bill because of a conflict between the new state pension law and U.S. labor law that applies to 20,000 local and regional public transit workers.  As a result, he says, $2 billion in federal transportation funds are at risk.

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Immigration
5:22 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

California Lawmakers: "It's Time" for Federal Immigration Reform

Two dozen California lawmakers attended Thursday's news conference at the State Capitol supporting a potential immigration deal in Congress.
Credit Capital Public Radio

There appears to be significant bipartisan support in the California legislature for the proposed federal immigration overhaul under discussion in Congress.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, some Republicans still have concerns.

Twenty Democrats and five Republicans stood together to say they want Congress to get something done after years of putting it off.  

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Government & Politics
11:22 am
Wed January 30, 2013

California Legislators Push For Short Sale Tax Relief

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

There’s a push in the California legislature to provide tax relief for struggling homeowners who are forced into short sales.  As Marianne Russ reports from Sacramento, the new legislation has bipartisan support.

A Democratic state Senator introduced the bill, and Republican Senator Joel Anderson has signed on as a co-author.  He says homeowners going through a short sale need help.

"Let’s not kick them when they’re down," says Anderson.

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Government & Politics
10:57 am
Wed January 30, 2013

California Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Gun Violence

California lawmakers say they will seek consensus as they look for ways to reduce gun violence. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, they heard from gun rights advocates, law enforcement, and gun violence prevention experts at a joint legislative hearing.

Lawmakers had a chance to hold the kinds of guns and ammunition used in recent mass shootings. They saw how easy it can be to change a gun magazine.

"He can do it in very rapid succession…that gun today can be purchased in California," said Bureau of Firearms Chief Stephen Lindley.

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Government & Politics
1:06 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Brown's Attempted Balancing Act Earns Bipartisan Praise, Criticism

Governor Jerry Brown delivered his annual State of the State speech in Sacramento on Thursday
Andrew Nixon Capital Public Radio

He quoted Franklin Roosevelt and William Butler Yeats.  And he told the stories of Pharaoh and Joseph and the “Little Engine that Could.”  Governor Jerry Brown turned to every trick in his book Thursday to push an ambitious agenda in his State of the State address – all while urging fiscal discipline from the Democratic-controlled legislature.  We have two reports today from Ben Adler and from Amy Quinton.

Ben Adler on Governor Brown's speech:

The governor packed his speech with references from the biblical …

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Government & Politics
5:32 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

State of the State: Brown Says California 'Has Confounded Critics'

California Governor Jerry Brown delivers his address at the state capitol on January 24, 2013.
Credit Office of the Governor

 California Governor Jerry Brown says California has “confounded our critics.”

“We have wrought in just two years a solid and enduring budget and by God, we will preserve and keep it that way for years to come," said Brown.

In a wide-ranging State of the State Address today Brown quoted the bible, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Franklin Roosevelt, and laid out a blueprint for his next two years in office.  He included a warning for Democrats who might be eager to spend more on social programs now that the state no longer has a deficit.

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Government & Politics
6:47 am
Wed January 23, 2013

In California Legislature, Moderate Democrats Hold Leverage

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

The most important members of the California legislature this year might not be the two Democratic leaders - despite the two-thirds supermajorities they hold in each chamber.  And it almost certainly won't be the Republicans. 

They've been courted for key votes in recent years but now don't have the numbers to block any bills on their own.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the leverage in this legislative session may well lie with a newly-critical voting bloc: moderate Democrats.

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Government & Politics
3:41 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Fresno, Bus Driver Union At Odds Over Work Rules, Pay Cut

A Fresno Area Express bus at Roeding Park (file photo)
Credit Federal Transit Administration

Drivers who operate the city of Fresno’s bus service, known as Fresno Area Express will tell you that despite that some may thing, theirs is not a cushy job.

"It’s the equipment, it’s riding in a seat. You’re constantly bouncing up and down, you’re constantly turning the steering wheel. There’s a number of knee problems, shoulder problems, hand problems, by repetitive motion,"  says Rick Steitz, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1027.

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Government & Politics
12:42 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Fresno Home Trash Service Supporters, Opponents Wait For Outsourcing Decision

Marina Magdaleno and other outsourcing opponents rallied in front of Fresno City Hall Friday Jan. 18 to turn in just under 40,000 petitions to put the decision of outsourcing in the hands of voters.
Credit Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

The waiting game has just begun for both sides in the battle over the outsourcing of Fresno’s residential trash service.

For the past month opponents of Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s plan to outsource the city’s home trash service have hustled to collect signatures in order to meet a January 18 deadline to put the decision in the hands of voters.

More than 50 people escorted around 35,000 signatures in seven sealed white boxes into the City Clerk’s Office on Friday.

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