Government & Politics

News about government and politics

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.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Now that dust has settled from last week’s symbolic groundbreaking for high speed rail in Downtown Fresno – a groundbreaking that didn’t actually include any ground being broken – people across the nation are taking a fresh look at the bullet train. 

One of the most interesting perspectives came from our Josh Stephens, a journalist and commentator for the California Planning and Development Report, an online publication that focuses on the development industry and urban planning.

Valley Public Radio

There's a new member of the Fresno CIty Council. Esmeralda Soria took the oath of office Thursday at City Hall becoming the first Latina to serve on the council since the 1990's.

In a speech delivered in both English and Spanish Soria said her success would only be possible in America. 

Soria replaces Blong Xiong for the district 1 seat. Council members Oliver Baines, Clint Olivier and Sal Quintero were also sworn in for their second terms. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

More than a thousand supporters of California High Speed Rail filled the barren lot of what is supposed to become a multistory train station in Fresno today for a symbolic groundbreaking.

Nearly two years after construction was supposed to start, and more than six years after voters approved a bond to help fund California high speed rail, state and local leaders met in Fresno’s historic Chinatown today to mark the start of the project’s construction.

Brown Talks Legacy In Start To Record Fourth Term As Governor

Jan 5, 2015
Jerry Brown
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The longest-serving governor in California history took the oath of office for a record fourth time on Monday. And in his fourth inaugural address, Democrat Jerry Brown cited history as the basis for a cautious final-term agenda. 

Report from Ben Adler:

Cantil-Sakauye: “We’re all set? For the fourth, unprecedented term in California – no pressure! I, state your name…”

Brown:“I, Jerry Brown…”  

Governor Sets Ambitious Climate Change Goals in State of the State

Jan 5, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California lawmakers and environmental groups are calling the climate goals Governor Jerry Brown laid out in his State of the State speech ambitious. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, reaction is mixed on whether the goals are achievable.

The Governor wants to cut petroleum use in cars and trucks in half by 2030. He wants to double the efficiency of existing buildings. And he wants to increase from one-third to one-half electricity that’s generated from renewable resources.

Lawmakers React to Brown's Inaugural Speech

Jan 5, 2015
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

In his inaugural address, Governor Jerry Brown touched on some themes that could bring the California legislature together. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, there were also signs of partisan divide.

Brown’s wide-ranging speech hit on everything from schools, to prisons to pensions. Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins says it will set the tone for the year.

Brown Optimistic, Yet Cautious In Fourth Inaugural Address

Jan 5, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A rosy look back at California’s last four years and a cautious look ahead to the next four. That’s the tone Democrat Jerry Brown struck after being sworn in for a record fourth term as California governor today. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

Jerry Brown spent more than half of his fourth inaugural address looking not forwards but backwards.

Brown: “While we’ve not reached the Promised Land, we have much to be proud of.”

He touted the state’s balanced budget…

New Law Means It Could Be Ok To Dine With Your Dog

Dec 23, 2014
Flickr user https://www.flickr.com/photos/jillchen/ / Creative Commons License / Flickr.com

Dining out with your pet will be legal at some restaurants under California law starting January 1st. Steve Milne reports from Sacramento as part of our series on “New Laws.”

This new law is all about the dogs.

Yamada: “To all the cat lovers out there I do apologize. This does not extend to cats, at least at this time.”

That’s former state Assembly member Mariko Yamada who wrote the new law.

BCDOIC

Starting in 2015, the Department of Motor Vehicles expects about 1.5 million undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver license. For many, this will be their first time legally driving in the state.

Immigration advocates applaud this change but also say there's a big concern. Some are worried they will fail the behind the wheel test since it won't be offered in the native languages many immigrants speak.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council approved a new general plan last night that for the first time attempts to but the brakes on suburban sprawl. 

Over the next two decades, the plan calls for about half of the city's future growth to take place within the existing city limits and the rest in new growth areas like west of Highway 99 and in Southeast Fresno. 

Mayor Ashley Swearengin called the council's 5-2 vote historic, and a new direction for the city.

Scams Target Immigrants As New Benefits Roll Out

Dec 15, 2014
Kamala Harris
The Aspen Institute / Creative Commons

Undocumented immigrants are becoming eligible for more services and benefits in California. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, these developments make them targets for scams.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has issued several consumer alerts warning of scams targeting immigrants and their families. Harris says scams could center on the President’s recent immigration executive action or on the state beginning to issue driver licenses to undocumented immigrants.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

President Obama’s recent announcement that he will take new Executive Action on undocumented immigrants is already reverberating throughout the valley’s large immigrant communities.

The President’s executive order would affect around 4 million people who entered the country illegally before 2010, and have children who are either US Citizens or have green cards. It’s a similar order to one the President issued in 2012 regarding children who were brought to the country illegally by their parents, in that those who meet the requirements would be protected from deportations.

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