Government & Politics

News about government and politics

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.

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.

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.  

California Legislators Push For Short Sale Tax Relief

Jan 30, 2013
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.

California Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Gun Violence

Jan 30, 2013

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.

Brown's Attempted Balancing Act Earns Bipartisan Praise, Criticism

Jan 25, 2013
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 …

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.

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.

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.

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.

New Audit Reveals California PUC Misrepresented Funds

Jan 18, 2013

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.

High Speed Rail Systems Team Up to Pursue Trains

Jan 17, 2013
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

Brown Budget Proposal Marks New Era at Capitol

Jan 11, 2013
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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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.

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.

Jerry Brown
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.”

Jerry Brown
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The annual California budget cycle begins anew tomorrow as Governor Jerry Brown unveils his proposed spending plan.

As part of his budget, the governor is expected to propose major changes to the state’s education funding system. 

They include removing state spending requirements so districts have more flexibility, and introducing a weighted funding formula that gives more money to schools in poorer areas.

Republican Assemblyman Jeff Gorell  says he could support that proposal with some adjustments – such as making sure all schools get a minimum amount of money.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

A defiant Governor Jerry Brown is proclaiming an end to the state of emergency in California prisons and demanding that the federal courts let the state run its own corrections system again.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, there’s no guarantee the courts will do as he asks.

California Republican lawmakers now find themselves in the midst of Democratic supermajorities in both the Assembly and Senate.

But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, Republicans may look to Democratic Governor Jerry Brown for support.

With supermajorities, Democratic lawmakers have historic new powers. They could raise taxes, while Republicans sit on the sidelines.

“Well I used to be on the sidelines, I was a cheerleader,” says Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway, joking.

California Lawmakers Return To State Capitol

Jan 7, 2013
Amy Quinton

The start of the New Year brings California lawmakers back to the Capitol. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, Democratic leaders anticipate a heavy work schedule.

Reforming California’s Environmental Quality Act, restoring cuts to education, fixing the state’s ballot initiative process and campaign finance reform, those are just a few of the issues lawmakers will likely contend with this session.

Democrats return with a supermajority in both chambers, even with two Senators recently resigning to serve in Congress.

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