Government & Politics

News about government and politics

More Money For Drought Aid, But No Mandatory Conservation

Mar 20, 2015
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders aren’t calling for any mandatory water conservation in this fourth year of drought. Instead, they’re offering emergency drought aid for a second straight year. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the state has yet to spend nearly half of last year’s emergency drought money.

The governor did not announce any new water conservation rules. But he hinted that day might come soon if the rain does not.

New Scrutiny For Brown's Retiree Health Care Proposal As Labor Talks Begin

Mar 18, 2015
Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould /

A new report from the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office criticizes California Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed overhaul of state worker retiree health care benefits – just as labor negotiations are getting under way. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento. California faces more than $70 billion in unfunded retiree health care for state workers – and the governor says it’s time to act. Here’s Brown in January on NPR. 

Kern County Public Library

In Kern County, the state’s leader when it comes to oil production, the industry not only drives the local economy, it also helps drive the county’s general fund.

That’s because the county’s assessor puts a value on all of the oil that remains deep underground, and uses that figure when it comes time to collect property taxes. When the price of oil goes up, county revenues soar. But when the price of oil goes down, officials are left scrambling to cover the shortfall.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

 A new bill in Sacramento would help provide medical coverage for farm workers. Fm89’s Diana Aguilera explains more about the attempt to provide health care for all.

Assembly Bill 1170 would create a pilot program to pay for medical, surgical, and hospital treatment for farm workers. It would not only cover on-the-job injuries but also other illnesses.

Assembly member Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) says he introduced the bill because everyone should have access to health care.

Joe Moore
Valley Public Radio

Fresno City leaders say construction could start on the project to turn the Fulton Mall into a street as early as this summer. Opponents of the project say they are not giving up the fight.

The city had expected to break ground on the project this month.

City Manager Bruce Rudd says they won’t make that goal, but they will begin work soon.

“We are hoping to have this go out to bid within the next 60-to-90 days. It will probably be on the street for sixty days. And hopefully back before the council in August to award a contract,” Rudd said.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A local police department is hoping community outreach can help prevent distrust of law enforcement in the wake of violence in Ferguson, Missouri. FM89’s Joe Moore reports.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says he wants to improve communication and trust between his officers and young people. That’s why he announced a plan Wednesday to create a new youth advisory panel for the department.

Dyer: “We never want to be viewed as an occupying force, we want to be viewed as a department that cares about the people we’re serving.”

Central Valley Friendly Landscaping Website - / University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

It might become a little easier to replace your lawn with artificial grass if a new bill in Sacramento becomes law. FM89’s Joe Moore reports.

Assemblymember Rudy Salas says he wants to take the model the state has used to subsidize solar power on homes across the state and apply it to another green project – removing lawns.

Salas introduced a bill Tuesday that would provide a tax credit to homeowners who remove their lawns and replace them either with drought-resistant landscaping or synthetic lawns.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

A new state loan could help make the City of Fresno’s proposed water rate increase more palatable for local rate payers. 

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin announced the city’s revised water plan Thursday, which now includes a $186 million loan from the state. She says while rates would still go up, the new cash means the average monthly increase would be around $3 a month less than originally proposed.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Next week applications will start rolling in from the first wave of immigrants seeking temporary deportation relief under President Barack Obama’s executive order. Despite strong opposition from Republicans in Congress, Obama’s immigration plan aims to shield up to five million unauthorized immigrants from deportation out of the estimated 11 million living in the United States.  

As soon as Feb. 18, newly eligible immigrants will begin applying for relief under the extended version of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

New Push To Regulate Medical Marijuana In California

Feb 12, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

There’s a new push to regulate medical marijuana in California after similar legislation failed at the state Capitol last year. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the debate centers on how much control cities and counties should have over local marijuana businesses.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

When voters passed Proposition 47 in November it reduced certain drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Right away county jails across the state started noticing a change. 

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims says it's eased overcrowding.

"It's reduced our jail population by about 300 hundred inmates because now misdemeanors are being cited rather than booked into the county jail," she says.

The Legal Battle Over Foie Gras Continues

Feb 9, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Legal wrangling isn't scaring connoisseurs and chefs from enjoying foie gras. It's still legal to serve the fatty duck or goose liver in California, but that could change again. As Lesley McClurg reports the state of California is appealing a federal ruling that lifted the state’s ban on serving the delicacy.

Amit Raheja is a regular at Mulvaney's B&L in midtown Sacramento. Foie Gras is one of his favorite dishes. Tonight it's seared with huckleberry compote.  

University of California, Merced

With physicians in short supply throughout the Central Valley, two legislators are hoping to recruit more doctors and start the process of creating a medical school in the region.

Assembly Bill 174 would put $1.85 million into a partnership between UC Merced, UC Davis and UCSF- Fresno. Assembly Member Adam Gray, D-Merced, recently proposed the bill, which was co-authored by Senator Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres.

Gray says if the bill becomes law, it would expand enrollment in UC Merced’s medical school partnership bringing future doctors to the Central Valley.

Atkins Wants New Vehicle Fee For Transportation Projects

Feb 5, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The speaker of the California Assembly wants the state to put an extra two billion dollars a year towards transportation projects. To pay for it, she wants to charge a new fee on every vehicle in the state.

Arnold Schwarzenegger rode voters’ anger over higher vehicle license fees to the governorship in the 2003 recall election.

Schwarzenegger in 2003: “I will immediately destroy the car tax!”

DMV Issues 57,000 "AB 60" Driver Licenses In First Month

Feb 4, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

It’s now been a month since California’s new law took effect that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver licenses. The Department of Motor Vehicles says issued nearly 60,000 such licenses in that first month.

57,000 undocumented Californians obtained driver licenses from January 2nd through the 30th. That means each applicant provided proof of identity and residency, and passed both the DMV’s written rules-of-the-road test and its behind-the-wheel exam.

Independent Commission Calls For Big Changes In State Parks Department

Jan 31, 2015
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

An independent commission is calling for the “fundamental transformation” of California’s archaic State Parks system. That includes the creation of an outside organization to help raise money and coordinate volunteers. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Falling oil prices could deliver a big hit to the Kern County general fund. The Board of Supervisors will consider a staff proposal to declare a fiscal emergency at its meeting next week. County property tax dollars are heavily dependent on the price of oil. 

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Central Valley farm workers rallied today in Sacramento against what they say is a violation of their rights.

About 20 anti-union farm workers showed up at the state capitol protesting against the Agricultural Labor Relations Board and the United Farm Workers. The group says the union and the ALRB are denying employees of Fresno-based Gerawan Farming their rights by forcing them into a union contract. 

In 2013, company employees held a union decertification election, but the votes have yet to be counted after allegations the company interfered with the process.

Brown's Budget Gives State Parks System One Year To Turn Around

Jan 21, 2015
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California’s state parks system has faced a rough few years: Deep cuts during the recession, and a financial scandal that rocked the department. Now, a state commission is just days away from releasing a report that demands the department modernize itself – and Governor Jerry Brown’s new budget proposes only enough money to buy the parks system a year to turn itself around. Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler reports from Sacramento.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Leaders in Fresno would like to change the way the city’s water is managed through a massive infrastructure project, but one city council members new stance on the plan could complicate its passage. 

A planned $429 million water project in the city of Fresno would replace an existing system relying on groundwater and instead treat surface water from area rivers for drinking. But not everyone is happy about the plan, which could double residents’ water bills.