Government & Politics

Government & Politics
10:39 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Amended CEQA Bill Passes Legislature

Democratic Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg says he’s pleased with the California Environmental Quality Act changes he pushed through at the end of this year’s session – and he won’t be carrying a broader CEQA overhaul next year.

“It's always easy to say, oh, it wasn't everything that somebody else thinks it should be.  Well, I thought what was presented last year went way too far.  So I think this is an excellent result and represents real, responsible reform," says Steinberg.

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Government & Politics
10:34 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Bill to Increase California's Minimum Wage Passes Legislature

Credit Valley Public Radio

  A bill that would gradually increase the California minimum wage to $10-an-hour has passed the State legislature and is on its way to the governor. It would be the first increase in the minimum wage in six years.

Democratic Senator Bill Monning says if you’re a Californian subsisting on the current state minimum wage, you’re living a second class existence.

"You are in a second hand economy, second harvest food bank, second-hand clothing, second-hand hand-me-down everything," says Monning.

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Government & Politics
10:26 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Driver's License Bill Passes California Legislature

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

Undocumented immigrants in California will soon be able to get driver’s licenses after the legislature approved a bill on the final day of session. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, concerns over what the licenses would look like nearly derailed the effort.

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Government & Politics
10:21 am
Fri September 13, 2013

California Lawmakers Adjourn for Year After Busy Final Day

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California lawmakers are done for the year.  They adjourned just past midnight Friday after a busy and at times chaotic final day – and night – of action.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

A minimum wage increase, California Environmental Quality Act changes, driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, a state prisons deal – all among the hundreds of bills lawmakers passed in this last week of session.  Democratic Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg says that caps a “great year” – on top of a budget that restored some of the deep cuts from previous years.

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Government & Politics
6:30 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Legislature Overwhelmingly Approves Prison Plan

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

The California Legislature has overwhelmingly approved a deal between the Governor and leaders of the Senate and Assembly to reduce overcrowding in state prisons. California has been ordered by a federal three-judge-panel to either release or find additional space for more than nine thousand inmates by the end of December.

Under the deal, California will ask the panel for an extension on the December deadline. Any savings would be put toward programs to keep people out of jail.

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Government & Politics
6:24 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Minimum Wage Deal at California Capitol

Credit Valley Public Radio

It looks like California’s minimum wage will go up next year for the first time since 2008.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento on the deal announced today by Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders.

Under the deal, California’s $8-an-hour minimum wage would rise to $9 in July of next year, and then to $10 in January of 2016.  That’s a faster pace than the original bill that’s been moving through the legislature this year.  But it does not include automatic adjustments for inflation, as was previously proposed.

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Government & Politics
6:04 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Kern County Fires Hospital CEO; Animal Control Director

Kern County offices in downtown Bakersfield (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Kern County Board of Supervisors has fired two high profile department heads within 24 hour of each other. Both Kern Medical Center CEO Paul Hensler and Animal Control Director Jen Woodard were dismissed over concerns about their performance. 

On Monday night, the board voted to fire Hensler after a lengthy meeting over concerns about financial mismanagement at the county run hospital.

Two big issues stood out – a budget deficit for the current fiscal year that tops $9 million, and the failure to develop a plan to repay the state for prior overpayment for services. 

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Government & Politics
11:05 am
Tue September 10, 2013

Livestock Theft Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Cattle rustling or crop raiding might seem like a relic of the Wild West, but in the San Joaquin Valley and surrounding foothills, cattle theft is on the rise. So much so that it's inspired a new bill that would beef up fines for stealing livestock.

The bill passed through both the Senate and the Assembly Friday with unanimous, bi-partisan support. The bill would establish a $5,000 fine for anyone convicted of livestock theft.

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Government & Politics
11:37 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Brown, Legislative Leaders Reach Prisons Deal

Gov. Jerry Brown and California legislative leaders announce a prisons deal outside the governor's office at the State Capitol Monday.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

After nearly two weeks of sniping back and forth, California Governor Jerry Brown and Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg have reached a deal on their competing prison plans.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on how the state will respond to the federal court order that requires California to reduce overcrowding in its prisons.

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Government & Politics
6:23 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

U.S. Transportation Secretary: 'Today Is A New Beginning' For Fulton Mall

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx speaks at a ceremony announcing the $16 million federal grant for bringing vehicle traffic to what is today the Fulton Mall in downtown Fresno.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx visited Fresno today to formally announce the city's award of a grant for $16 million to transform a part of downtown. FM89's Joe Moore has this report. 

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Today's event on the Fulton Mall wasn't the first time a Fresno mayor called for the six-block-long pedestrian plaza to be restored to vehicle traffic. But unlike efforts in decades past, this time the city apparently has the money to do it, thanks to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. 

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Government & Politics
5:59 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Feds to Give City of Fresno $16 Million To Bring Traffic Back to Fulton Mall

An artist's rendering of what the Fulton Mall might look like after vehicle traffic is re-introduced to the area.
Credit City of Fresno

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced today that it will provide $16 million to help the City of Fresno bring automobile traffic back to downtown’s Fulton Mall.

The city says the $20 million project will help boost business in the struggling area by removing a nearly fifty-year-old pedestrian mall which occupies what was once Fresno’s main commercial street.

In a press release, DOT officials wrote that the project will:

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Government & Politics
5:36 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Livestock Theft Bill Advances Through State Senate

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Cattle rustling or crop raiding might seem like a relic of the Wild West, but in the San Joaquin Valley surrounding foothills, cattle theft is on the rise. So much so that it's inspired a new bill by a local legislator that passed the Senate earlier this week. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra Romero reports on the Livestock Theft Prevention Act.

A bill that would beef up fines for stealing livestock passed through the Senate Tuesday with unanimous, bi-partisan support. The bill would establish a $5,000 fine for anyone convicted of livestock theft.

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Government & Politics
6:18 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Prisons Battle Heats Up at California Capitol

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

California Senate Democrats have approved their own plan to deal with the federal court order to reduce prison overcrowding.  They pushed their proposal through the Senate Budget Committee today over the objections of Republicans and Governor Jerry Brown.

Corrections Secretary Jeff Beard lobbied strongly for Brown’s plan, known as Senate Bill 105.  It would increase capacity by contracting out beds from county, private and out-of-state facilities.

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Government & Politics
3:10 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Crunch Time Begins for California Lawmakers

The California State Assembly (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The California legislature enters its home stretch today. Lawmakers have just two weeks left to debate hundreds of bills.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento on some of the major issues still on the table.

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Government & Politics
5:57 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Brown Releases Plan to Ease Prison Overcrowding

California Governor Jerry Brown, surrounded by legislative leaders and supporters, presents his plan to reduce prison overcrowding on August 27,2013.
Credit Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

Thousands of California inmates may be transferred to other facilities in an effort to ease prison overcrowding. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, the plan comes after multiple federal court orders.

To be clear, Governor Jerry Brown doesn’t think California needs to do any more to ease prison overcrowding. He notes the inmate population has dropped by 45,000 since 2006.  But multiple federal judges were not convinced and repeatedly ordered the state to further reduce overcrowding. That could happen by releasing inmates or finding more space.

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Government & Politics
3:06 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Kern County Looks At Options After Animal Control Booted From Bakersfield Facility

Kern County offices in downtown Bakersfield (file)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Last week the conflict that’s been brewing for months between the City of Bakersfield and Kern County over the city owned animal control facility that the two have shared for years finally boiled over. On Wednesday, the city told the county it has 40 days to move out.

This comes after negotiations for a two year extension of the current arrangement fell apart. The dispute of course goes back to money, and just who was shouldering more of the bill for the region’s pet overpopulation problem at the city owned facility on Mt. Vernon Avenue.

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Government & Politics
6:35 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

The Evolution of Jerry Brown

In less than two months, Jerry Brown will become the longest-serving governor in California history. We ask longtime observers and the governor himself how the Brown of today compares to the Brown of 30 years ago.
Credit YouTube & Andrew Nixon/Capital Public Radio

California lawmakers are voting on hundreds of bills in the final weeks of session.  And the man who will determine their fate is approaching a milestone.  In less than two months, Jerry Brown will become the longest-serving governor in California history.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on how the Brown of today compares to the Brown of 30 years ago.

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The year was 1974.  Mel Brooks’s Blazing Saddles topped the movie charts.  Watergate finally felled Richard Nixon.  And 36-year-old Jerry Brown won his first term as governor.

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Government & Politics
11:53 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Controversial Farmworker Bill Passes Assembly

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

The California Assembly has approved a bill that would make it easier for farm workers to obtain union contracts with their employers.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the measure passed Monday with the bare minimum votes needed – despite strong opposition from growers.

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Government & Politics
6:13 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

California Takes a Second Look at Redevelopment Agencies

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

A bill that would grant local California communities the right to form agencies to redevelop blighted areas has passed an Assembly Committee. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

The California Supreme Court dissolved redevelopment agencies last year. But a bill at the Capitol would create new local entities that would fund affordable housing and infill development projects.

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Government & Politics
5:39 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

California Bill Would Extend Deadline on Child Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A bill that would extend California’s statute of limitations on civil suits for victims of childhood sexual abuse has stalled in an Assembly Committee. 

Democratic Senator Jim Beall says his bill would bring a measure of justice to people who may just now be coming to terms with childhood trauma.

“When they discover later in life, through therapy or whatever, that they were attacked by somebody, it allows them to go to civil court," says Beall.

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