Government & Politics

News about government and politics

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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.

Task Force Says California's Finances Unsustainable

Sep 20, 2012
Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

A non-partisan State Budget Crisis Task Force is recommending that California develop a two-year spending plan. The report released today called the state’s current financial structure unsustainable.

California High Speed Rail Authority

The federal agency that oversees the nation's railroad system has officially approved plans for the first leg of California's controversial high speed rail system.

The Federal Railroad Administration's approval on Wednesday was a necessary step to allow construction to begin early next year on the Fresno to Merced component of the system. 

The approval by the FRA will allow the California High Speed Rail Authority to proceed with purchasing right-of-way from landowners for the system. 

California Governor Jerry Brown’s November tax initiative has dropped a couple of points in new Public Policy Institute of California and Field Polls out this morning.

State Capitol reporter Ben Adler says Proposition 30 still has majority support – and it’s still ahead of a rival measure, Proposition 38.

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

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that makes changes to the state’s worker’s compensation system. The changes were part of a compromise between labor unions and businesses.

The law is designed to increase benefits to injured workers while reducing workers’ compensation costs for employers. It passed the legislature on a bipartisan vote despite some lawmakers’ complaints that there was little time to discuss it.

Californians can soon register to vote completely online. Paperless registration will be available to anyone who has a California driver’s license or ID.

Since 2009 Californians have been able to go online and fill out a form as part of the voter registration process. But signatures had to be mailed or delivered to county elections officials. Secretary of State Debra Bowen will soon roll out the next step, which would allow Californians who have a driver’s license or ID to hit “send” at the end of their online form.

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

A bill sitting on California Governor Jerry Brown’s desk could provide a retirement savings plan for private sector employees who don’t have one.

It passed on a party line vote the last day of the legislative session, after the Governor requested changes.

The bill establishes a board to make sure it doesn’t cost taxpayers money. And last minute changes to the bill give the legislature final authorization.

Democratic Senator Kevin DeLeon (Day-lee-OWN) authored the bill. He says more than seven million private sector employees don’t have access to a retirement plan.

California High Speed Rail Authority

A new survey shows that two critical issues in California – pension reform and high speed rail– are not sitting well with voters.

The survey shows that more Californians are opposed to high speed rail and think the recently-signed pension legislation doesn’t do enough to address unfunded costs.

The survey was conducted by the California Business Roundtable and Pepperdine University. It showed that only 39 percent of voters support high speed rail. 43 percent oppose it.

A new study says California’s two electoral reforms resulted in more competition and more open seats, but not in significant change.

The Public Policy Institute of California looked at the impact of two reforms. First, the new legislative and congressional districts drawn by an independent citizens’ commission. And second, the “top-two” primary system. That allows voters to cast ballots for any candidate regardless of party, but only the top two candidates advance.

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that he called the biggest rollback to public pension benefits in the state’s history.

Governor Brown says the changes in the state’s pension system will save taxpayers billions of dollars in the future. The legislation will increase the retirement age for new public employees and require them to pay at least half of their pension costs. It also caps the salary amount that can go toward pensions.

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