reform

County Registrars: Overhaul Recount Process, But Carefully

Jul 22, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The recount in the state controller’s race may be over, but that hasn’t stopped critics of California’s recount process from calling for an overhaul. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, county election officials are warning state lawmakers to write new rules carefully.

San Bernardino County Registrar Michael Scarpello spent last Friday staffing up. His county’s recount was scheduled to start on Monday. But it didn’t, because former Assembly Speaker John Pérez canceled his recount bid Friday afternoon.

Major Changes Proposed for California Elections Rules

Jan 2, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Two big changes to California elections could come up for debate in the state legislature in 2014.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on proposals that would eliminate special elections and require cities and counties to hold their votes at statewide elections.

Panel: California's Direct Democracy Process Needs Changes

Oct 24, 2013
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Three former leaders of California’s three branches of government disagree about whether the state’s direct democracy process is serving voters well – but they all agree on a potential way to improve it.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on today’s Public Policy Institute of California panel.

As negotiations over a potential overhaul of California’s landmark environmental law enter their final weeks, supporters of rewriting the California Environmental Quality Act say the current proposal falls short of reform.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

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

A new version of term limits, a new way to draw voting districts, a new system for running primary elections. Those three changes all took effect in 2012. Each was intended to moderate the California legislature. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, there is hope the changes have been effective, but so far there’s no proof.

New lawmakers are frequently sworn in at the California State Capitol. But the class taking the oath of office last December faced a different legislative future from classes who came before them.

Governor Brown Says CEQA Changes Aren't Likely

Apr 16, 2013
Jerry Brown
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown says he likely won’t be able to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act, (CEQA) this legislative session. He says he believes it would be difficult to move the process forward.

But the comment took Democratic Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg by surprise. He says he intends to continue fighting for his legislation that makes changes to CEQA.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

 What some see as California’s most important environmental law, others see as an economic impediment. The 43-year-old California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, guides almost every development project in the state.

Governor Jerry Brown and many lawmakers say it’s time to modernize it. But As Amy Quinton reports, how to do that is a question with no easy answers.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The author of a bill that would exempt 20,000 California union members from last year’s pension overhaul is defending the measure against criticism that it breaks a promise to voters who just approved tax increases. 

Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo says he introduced the bill because of a conflict between the new state pension law and U.S. labor law that applies to 20,000 local and regional public transit workers.  As a result, he says, $2 billion in federal transportation funds are at risk.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Editor's note: This is the second in a two-part series on the impact of California's new top-two election reform.

When California voters approved Proposition 14 in 2010, supporters hailed it as a way to make many races for Congress, the Legislature and state offices more competitive, thanks to a new top-two election system.

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 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.

State Sets Minimum Benefits for Health Plans

Sep 1, 2012
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

CHCF Center for Health Reporting

SACRAMENTO – Californians now have a clearer picture of what health insurance will look like when major provisions of the federal health care law debut in 2014.

Acupuncture to treat pain and nausea will be covered, for example, as will tobacco cessation and vision screening.

But the jury’s still out on chiropractic care.

State lawmakers this week sent two bills to the governor that identify the services health insurance plans must cover starting in 2014 for individuals and small businesses.

Brown Announces Pension Deal; Vote Coming Friday

Aug 28, 2012

California Governor Jerry Brown says the pension deal he announced today will save the state billions of dollars. But it’s drawing criticism from unions and Republicans.

Here is some of what’s in the plan: A cap on the salary that a public employee in California could use to calculate a pension. Higher retirement ages, with reduced payments. And a requirement for employees to pay at least half of their pension costs.

They're poor. They're elderly. They're disabled. But are they eligible? Advocates and state officials are struggling to determine just who among hundreds will be allowed to continue in the program that replaces Medi-Cal's Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) system. Cash-starved California slashed the optional ADHC benefit last fall and replaced it with a leaner program called Community-Based Adult Services (CBAS).

Pension Deal Nears; Unions Furious

Aug 27, 2012

A proposed overhaul of California’s pension system is angering public employee unions, as Democrats get set to unveil the details. The specific details are being kept as quiet as can be, but all signs point to a deal emerging by Tuesday at the California State Capitol. 

Democrats are promising “comprehensive pension reform” that will save tens of billions of dollars over the next few decades. Assemblyman Warren Furutani says the deal won’t please everyone.

California health leaders say they’re ‘heartened’ with a new Field Poll that suggests state voter support for the federal health law is getting stronger.

More than half of California voters polled said they support the health overhaul. More showed ‘strong support’ for the law than in the past two years. Thirty-seven percent of Californians oppose the law.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley says she was struck by the partisan nature of the findings.

With just two weeks left in the legislative session, some business and labor groups are pushing to change California's complex environmental review process for building and construction projects.

Jim Earp is with a coalition of construction unions. He says the law gets abused by being used to stall new development.

“It's not always just about how many end up in lawsuits, its, and this is particularly true in public infrastructure projects, how much the delay adds to the cost of that project.”

CHCF Center for Health Reporting

Already reeling from big cutbacks in Medicare funding, hospitals in the Fresno area would lose another 5.4 percent of their federal reimbursement under a new analysis ordered by Congress.

Rural areas of California would be hit hardest under the Institute of Medicine study, which would pare Medicare payments to the state’s hospitals by an average 3-4 percent.

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has decided that now is not the time to change California’s newly-approved process for cities and counties to enter into bankruptcy.

He’s decided to kill the legislation authored by a Democratic Assembly member. The bill would have loosened deadlines on negotiations with creditors and labor groups. But Steinberg says it’s time now for the legislature to focus elsewhere.

California Lawmakers Decide on Health Bills This Month

Aug 6, 2012

California state lawmakers return to the Capitol this week and they’ll deal with a number of health bills.

A handful of bills would incorporate provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act into California law. They deal with everything from Medicaid expansion, to setting rules governing how health premiums are set, to determining minimum benefits. Anthony Wright is from Health Access.

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