Government & Politics

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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Government & Politics
5:40 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

New Audit Reveals California PUC Misrepresented Funds

California’s Public Utilities Commission has a math problem: Its budget staff has been misreporting the balance in special funds the agency manages.  That’s the finding of a new state audit that blamed the mistakes on “general confusion and lack of knowledge.”  

The Public Utilities Commission manages 14 special funds that use monthly fees from consumers to pay for special programs like the Universal Lifeline telephone service for low-income Californians.   It turns out that in 2011, agency staff miscalculated how much those funds held.

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High Speed Rail
4:12 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

High Speed Rail Systems Team Up to Pursue Trains

A computer rendering of California's planned high speed train system.
Credit California High Speed Rail Authority

The California High Speed Rail Authority will work with Amtrak to seek out manufacturers of high speed trains. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the two systems hope by teaming up they can lower costs.

 Amtrak and the California High Speed Rail Authority say by working together they hope to advance high speed projects on both the east and west coast.

Amtrak is looking to eventually purchase 32 trains for its east coast system, and California is hoping to acquire 27 trains that operate 220 miles per hour. California

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Government & Politics
10:55 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Brown Budget Proposal Marks New Era at Capitol

California Governor Jerry Brown speaks to reporters as he unveils his proposed budget.
Pauline Bartolone Capital Public Radio Network

Governor Jerry Brown’s new California budget proposal marks an end to the crippling deficits that have plagued California for years.  It’s also an attempt to make major policy changes – without big increases in spending.  But the governor’s message of fiscal restraint could find a warmer reception from Republicans than from his fellow Democrats.  Capital Public Radio's Ben Adler and Amy Quinton bring us this two-part report from Sacramento.

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Government & Politics
7:19 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

New Council Members Take Oath, Mayor Hits Back At Union Critics

New Fresno City Council member Steve Brandau was sworn in today at City Hall
Credit City of Fresno

Today was swearing-in day for a new crop of elected officials at Fresno City Hall. Two new council members, Paul Capgriolio representing District 4 and Steve Brandau representing District 2, were sworn in for the first time, as well as Lee Brand who was reelected to represent District 6.

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Government & Politics
4:52 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

California Lawmakers Respond To Budget With Some Relief

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

Most California lawmakers say they agree with Governor Jerry Brown that now is the time for fiscal discipline in light of a balanced budget.

But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, Democratic lawmakers have not ruled out restoring some cuts.

Legislative Democratic leaders expressed relief at the announcement of a balanced budget. They say the extra $2.7 billion in education funding is also a step in the right direction.

Senate Budget Chair Mark Leno says lawmakers are now in a position to talk about policy rather than cuts.

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Government & Politics
12:30 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Governor Unveils Budget With No Deficit and Changes To Education Funding

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

California Governor Jerry Brown says the state no longer has a budget deficit. He called it a breakthough, but says the state still faces uncertainty in costs from federal health care reform.

Brown’s spending plan calls for small increases in education funding.

And he called for a new funding formula for K-through-12 schools that gives money based on a school’s percentage of low-income students and English-language learners.

“Our future depends not on across the board funding but in disproportionately funding those schools that have disproportionate challenges.”

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