Government & Politics

News about government and politics

Proposition 35: Human Traffickers

Oct 15, 2012

Sharmin Bock has helped convict dozens of child sex traffickers.

“In my 23 years as a prosecutor, I have to say, I have never seen a defendant as manipulative and dangerous as a trafficker,” says Bock.

Bock is an assistant district attorney in Alameda County, and co-author of Proposition 35. The initiative would increase prison time for people convicted of forcing others into commercial sex or labor - and could fine them more than a million dollars. She says Prop 35 would crack down on people who exploit children.   

VP Debate Live Coverage

Oct 11, 2012

Proposition 34: Death Penalty Repeal

Oct 11, 2012
Casey Christie / The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

Our series on the initiatives Californians will be voting on next month continues with a look at Proposition 34, which would repeal the death penalty.

Both sides of the capital punishment debate actually see eye to eye on one thing – the current system isn’t working.

“We haven’t put somebody to death in six years. It is simply a broken system that’s wasted $4 billion or $5 billion," says Steve Smith with the Yes on 34 campaign. 

Fresno County

Fresno County is exploring the possibility of contracting with other counties to house inmates in their jails, as soon as January of next year.

The Board of Supervisors voted to move forward with the analysis of what such a plan would cost at its meeting on Tuesday.

It’s part of an effort to stem the early release of prisoners from the county jail. A pair of new state laws allow counties to place inmates in jail facilities in other counties when their own jails reach capacity.

Proposition 33: Auto Insurance Premiums

Oct 10, 2012
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

We continue our look at next month’s California election ballot with Proposition 33. It would change state laws on auto insurance premiums.

If you’ve been with the same car insurance company for five-straight years or more, you’re probably getting some type of “continuous coverage” discount. But let’s say you wanted to switch to a different company. Right now in California, you can’t take that discount with you.

“Prop 33 would allow consumers to shop that discount to competing carriers," says Rachel Hooper, who is with the Yes on Prop 33 campaign. 

Proposition 32 would ban direct campaign contributions from unions and corporations, and ban automatic paycheck deductions for political purposes. But rarely do two competing sides disagree so sharply about a measure’s impact.

Supporters say it would level California’s political playing field by clamping down on special interest money. John Kabateck is with the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a small business advocacy group. 

Proposition 31: Changing the Budgeting Process

Oct 9, 2012
Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

Our election 2012 coverage continues with a report on Proposition 31. The measure would change California’s budgeting process. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it would do much more than that.

Proposition 31 has been criticized for not going far enough to change California’s fiscal environment, for being too complex, and for its possible unintended consequences. James Mayer is the Executive Director of California Forward which is pushing Proposition 31.

Proposition 30: Gov. Brown's Tax Initiative

Oct 9, 2012
Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Election Day is still weeks away, but voting in California actually begins this week as counties send out vote-by-mail ballots. Today, we kick off our look at the 11 statewide measures Californians will decide this fall – and we begin with Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, Proposition 30.

Casey Christie / The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

It’s been one year since Governor Jerry Brown shifted responsibility for low-level offenders in California from the state to counties.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, experts say it’s too soon to truly assess the impact of the governor’s “realignment” program.

White House Pool Video

President Obama made his first visit to Central California today, as he dedicated the Cesar Chavez National Monument in the Tehachapi mountain community of Keene. The site served as headquarters for Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union for decades. 

The President told a crowd of over 6,000 people that Chavez was a hero for all Americans in his fight for justice, and the site, called Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace) or La Paz, is a tribute to his legacy.

The Fresno City Council voted Thursday to spend $50,000 to hire a consultant who will examine the possibility of consolidating city and county law enforcement. The council also established a special sub-committee to examine the issue.

Anti-Tax Group Sues Over Fire Prevention Fee

Oct 4, 2012
Ben Adler / Capitol Public Radio

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of California property owners who are charged a fire prevention fee.

The suit by the anti-tax group claims the fee is really a tax requiring a two-thirds vote in the legislature. It seeks to overturn the fee, which costs property owners $150 for every habitable structure on their property.

The suit was filed against the California Department of Forestry and the Board of Equalization. But Association President Jon Coupal places the blame on the legislature.

Youth Voting Rate Going Up, But Still Lagging

Oct 4, 2012

The number of young Californians who are registered to vote is going up – but the percentage of youth registered voters still lags well behind the population as a whole. That’s according to a new UC Davis study out Wednesday.

Author Mindy Romero says there’s been a 25-percent increase in youths registered to vote from 2002 to 2010. “We believe just it’s been a product of national trends as well as trends within California that’s focused on getting out the youth vote.”

He’s largely stayed out of the public eye since he left office, but former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is hitting the talk show circuit to promote his new book. Schwarzenegger is downplaying the size of California’s debt, but sounding the alarm on pensions and the lack of a state budget reserve.

In an interview with NPR’s Talk of the Nation, Schwarzenegger was asked if he would have done anything differently as governor, given how deeply the state is in debt.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown acted on almost 1000 bills this legislative session. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, political analysts say the Governor likely had his tax initiative in mind when deciding what to sign into law. 

Governor Brown vetoed about 12-percent of the bills that landed on his desk. Kevin Riggs, a former TV reporter who covered the Capitol for years, says Brown was trying to show voters that government can be responsible by vetoing legislation that might have harmed the economy, to give his November tax measure a boost.

Immigrant Groups Upset With Governor Brown's Vetoes

Oct 1, 2012

Immigrant rights groups in California say Governor Jerry Brown is turning his back on immigrant communities.

Brown vetoed the so-called Trust Act. It would have stopped local police from cooperating with federal authorities to detain suspected illegal immigrants, unless they are charged with a serious or violent felony.

Reshma Shamasunder with the California Immigrant Policy Center says that federal policy has resulted in 80-thousand deportations.

For Brown, Busy Final Weekend of Bill Actions

Oct 1, 2012
Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown cleared a mountain of legislation off his desk over the weekend ahead of a midnight Sunday deadline. Ben Adler reports from Sacramento on some of the bills he signed and vetoed.

Brown signed a bill that will give some juvenile murderers sentenced to life without the possibility of parole a chance at parole after all; a bill that bans a controversial form of therapy aimed at “turning gay people straight,” and one that will allow some undocumented immigrants to obtain California drivers licenses.

Brown Signs Limited Ban On Open Carry of Rifles

Sep 29, 2012
Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

It will soon be a crime to publicly carry an unloaded rifle in California cities. Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation Friday that makes it a misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail or a $1,000 fine.

Carrying loaded firearms in public is already against the law.

Democratic Assembly member Anthony Portantino says he authored the bill after gun advocates began showing up in restaurants and public places carrying unloaded long guns.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Supporters of California Governor Jerry Brown’s November tax initiative have raised more than $25 million since the start of the year. That includes large donations not just from traditional Democratic allies like labor unions, but some major industries and corporations as well.

New Field Poll on Prop 32 Shows Measure Trailing

Sep 21, 2012

For the second time this week, a new poll shows Proposition 32, which would change rules on union and corporate political donations, faces a tough road to passage on California’s November ballot.

The latest Field Poll conducted with UC Berkeley shows Prop 32 losing 44 percent to 38 percent.  The six-point margin is similar to this week’s Public Policy Institute of California survey, where the measure trailed 49 percent to 42 percent.

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