Government & Politics

News about government and politics

Courtesy of Brett Lebin

Dozens of California cities and counties, including many in the Central Valley, are moving quickly to pass bans on medical marijuana growth and sale.

The bans are often modeled on existing rules in Fresno and Kern Counties that prohibit either the cultivation or sale of medical marijuana.

Brenda Linder, a lawyer who works with medical marijuana clients, says the reason for the rush is new state regulation that sets a March  deadline to adopt local rules or otherwise they will default to what the state dictates.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

  As 2015 comes to a close, Valley Edition asked two local journalists to help us take a look back at the top stories of the year. Evan Onstot of KSEE 24 and Robert Price of the Bakersfield Californian joined us to talk about the biggest news events of the past twelve months, with an eye towards stories to watch for 2016. Among the stories that stood out to our panelists:

The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary investigation into last week’s deadly helicopter crash that killed four.

The SkyLife helicopter crashed last Thursday east of McFarland while transporting a patient from Porterville to Bakersfield.

The NTSB report does not add any new insight into why the helicopter went down but does confirm that it hit the ground in open, hilly terrain and that all major components were in the debris field.

KGOV / KGOV

California lawmakers gathered in Bakersfield today for a State Senate hearing on how to prevent pipeline “dig-in”accidents like the one in Kern County that killed an Earlimart man last month. FM89’s Joe Moore reports.

Fresn County Sheriff's Office

In light of last week’s mass shooting in San Bernardino leaving 14 dead, local law is enforcement speaking out. 

The terror attack in Southern California shocked the state and has reignited the conversation about gun control.  Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims says she doesn’t think more restrictions on gun ownership will work.

MIMS: “Well, I don’t think it’s any secret where I stand when it comes to our second amendment.  I think we need more law abiding citizens out there with weapons to be able to protect themselves and other people.”

Leaders in the city of Fresno are now promising tougher enforcement of city codes and the potential criminal prosecution of slum lords. The move is in response to the highly publicized problems at the Summerset Village Apartments.

Crews are still repairing the gas lines at the complex, where as many as 1,800 people lived in just 200 units.

In response, City Manager Bruce Rudd says they are hiring more inspectors, creating a code enforcement ‘strike team’, and potentially criminally prosecute landlords who refuse to fix problems with their buildings.

City of Fresno

Construction on California’s high-speed rail project is set to give local drivers some headaches. Starting next month work will begin on the demolition of the Tuolumne Street bridge in downtown Fresno.

The bridge, which links Highway 99 with the central business district will eventually be replaced by a new higher bridge that will span both the union pacific and high speed rail tracks, and will accommodate 2-way traffic.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

In the wake of the ongoing crisis over code violations and gas leaks at the Summerset Village apartments, the Fresno City Council is set to debate a proposal Thursday/today that would make it easier to intervene with unresponsive landlords.

The bill would authorize the city to use a process known as receivership when dealing with properties with the most severe code violations and owners who are unresponsive. City planning director Jennifer Clark says the provision is a followup to last year’s effort to toughen laws about vacant blighted buildings.

The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

Fresno Democratic Assemblyman Henry T. Perea has announced he is stepping down a year early. Perea who is termed out of office next year, says he will resign at the end of 2015. While he hasn’t publicly discussed his plans after leaving office, the LA Times is reporting that Perea is likely to take a job in public affairs with a private company. Perea had been considered the unofficial leader of moderate Democrats in Sacramento.

Eric Paul Zamora / The Fresno Bee

The Fresno Bee's Bill McEwen joins Valley Public Radio's Joe Moore to talk about the controversy over the Summerset Village apartments, where over 1,000 people are without heat due to a gas leak. Will the situation make dealing with blighted and substandard housing a major city priority? And why is the Fresno County Board of Supervisors balking at releasing an internal report into the death of Seth Ireland? We talk about those issues and also the candidates aiming to be the next mayor of Fresno, and high-speed rail's budget crunch.

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