Sacramento

Government & Politics
11:39 am
Wed February 20, 2013

California Legislature to Consider Minimum Wage Increase

Credit Valley Public Radio

President Obama’s call for increasing the minimum wage in his State of the Union address this month  could face a tough road in Congress.  But a proposal in the California legislature could stand a better chance.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

California’s current minimum wage is eight dollars an hour.  A bill at the State Capitol would bump it up gradually over the next several years to $9.25 an hour … then require annual increases for inflation.  UC Berkeley labor economist Sylvia Allegretto says too many Californians are underpaid:

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Health Care Reform
5:50 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Legislative Analyst Recommends State-Based Medi-Cal Expansion

California's non-partisan Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor. (file photo)
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

A non-partisan legislative report suggests expanding California’s Medicaid program under the federal health law would make good sense in terms of finance and policy. 

The Legislative Analyst’s Office says the state should move ahead with the Medi-Cal expansion that Governor Jerry Brown recently laid out in his budget. 

It says not only could the coverage mean better health for the newly eligible, but it says the money both the state and counties would save would far outweigh the costs in the short and long term. 

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Government & Politics
5:46 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Bill Proposes "Zero Tolerance" Policy for Drugged Driving

State Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) speaks at a Capitol news conference Tuesday about his bill that would create a "zero tolerance" policy for drugged driving.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

A California lawmaker wants to create a “zero tolerance” law for driving under the influence of drugs.

Democratic State Senator Lou Correa says his bill would expand the current law against drunk driving to cover drug use as well. 

“It took us decades to pound into people that you should not drink and drive.  Then, we started talking about texting and talking on the phone and driving.  And today, this is about being drugged and driving.” 

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Health Care
1:04 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

California Leaders Still Need Agreement on Links to Federal Health Law

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio


State lawmakers will be looking at changes to insurance market rules under the Affordable Care Act this week.

As health care reporter Pauline Bartolone reports from Sacramento, lawmakers and the administration still need to reach agreement about the link between state and federal law. 

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Fracking
11:51 am
Tue February 12, 2013

Lawmakers To Hold Hearing on "Fracking" Regulations

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” will be the subject of a joint legislative hearing at the California state Capitol today.

As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, recently released fracking regulations have some lawmakers concerned.

 The Department of Conservation recently released draft regulations for energy companies that inject chemicals into the ground under pressure to release oil.

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Environment
9:58 am
Mon February 11, 2013

Fight Over Key Environmental Law Heats Up In Sacramento

file photo
Credit 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.

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Gun Control
3:57 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Senate Dems Seek to Tighten California Gun Laws

Mayors from Los Angeles and San Francisco join Democratic State Senators to call for tighter gun and ammunition laws in California at Thursday's news conference at the State Capitol.
Capital Public Radio Network

The California State Senate’s Democratic leadership is rolling out a package of 10 measures it says will help reduce gun violence.

Lawmakers want to eliminate what they call loopholes in the state’s current laws.  For example, California currently bans the sale or manufacture of ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds.  A bill by Senator Loni Hancock would ban the possession of them as well.

“The grandfathering-in of weapons is something that our police chiefs have told us and law enforcement has told us makes it very difficult to enforce existing law,” said Hancock.

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Pension Reform
5:36 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Proposed Pension Exemption for Some California Union Members Prompts Debate

Dem. Asm. Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville/Salinas)
Credit 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.

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Immigration
5:22 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

California Lawmakers: "It's Time" for Federal Immigration Reform

Two dozen California lawmakers attended Thursday's news conference at the State Capitol supporting a potential immigration deal in Congress.
Credit Capital Public Radio

There appears to be significant bipartisan support in the California legislature for the proposed federal immigration overhaul under discussion in Congress.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, some Republicans still have concerns.

Twenty Democrats and five Republicans stood together to say they want Congress to get something done after years of putting it off.  

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Government & Politics
10:57 am
Wed January 30, 2013

California Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Gun Violence

California lawmakers say they will seek consensus as they look for ways to reduce gun violence. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, they heard from gun rights advocates, law enforcement, and gun violence prevention experts at a joint legislative hearing.

Lawmakers had a chance to hold the kinds of guns and ammunition used in recent mass shootings. They saw how easy it can be to change a gun magazine.

"He can do it in very rapid succession…that gun today can be purchased in California," said Bureau of Firearms Chief Stephen Lindley.

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Government & Politics
1:06 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Brown's Attempted Balancing Act Earns Bipartisan Praise, Criticism

Governor Jerry Brown delivered his annual State of the State speech in Sacramento on Thursday
Andrew Nixon Capital Public Radio

He quoted Franklin Roosevelt and William Butler Yeats.  And he told the stories of Pharaoh and Joseph and the “Little Engine that Could.”  Governor Jerry Brown turned to every trick in his book Thursday to push an ambitious agenda in his State of the State address – all while urging fiscal discipline from the Democratic-controlled legislature.  We have two reports today from Ben Adler and from Amy Quinton.

Ben Adler on Governor Brown's speech:

The governor packed his speech with references from the biblical …

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Government & Politics
5:32 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

State of the State: Brown Says California 'Has Confounded Critics'

California Governor Jerry Brown delivers his address at the state capitol on January 24, 2013.
Credit Office of the Governor

 California Governor Jerry Brown says California has “confounded our critics.”

“We have wrought in just two years a solid and enduring budget and by God, we will preserve and keep it that way for years to come," said Brown.

In a wide-ranging State of the State Address today Brown quoted the bible, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Franklin Roosevelt, and laid out a blueprint for his next two years in office.  He included a warning for Democrats who might be eager to spend more on social programs now that the state no longer has a deficit.

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Government & Politics
6:47 am
Wed January 23, 2013

In California Legislature, Moderate Democrats Hold Leverage

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

The most important members of the California legislature this year might not be the two Democratic leaders - despite the two-thirds supermajorities they hold in each chamber.  And it almost certainly won't be the Republicans. 

They've been courted for key votes in recent years but now don't have the numbers to block any bills on their own.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the leverage in this legislative session may well lie with a newly-critical voting bloc: moderate Democrats.

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Government & Politics
5:40 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

New Audit Reveals California PUC Misrepresented Funds

California’s Public Utilities Commission has a math problem: Its budget staff has been misreporting the balance in special funds the agency manages.  That’s the finding of a new state audit that blamed the mistakes on “general confusion and lack of knowledge.”  

The Public Utilities Commission manages 14 special funds that use monthly fees from consumers to pay for special programs like the Universal Lifeline telephone service for low-income Californians.   It turns out that in 2011, agency staff miscalculated how much those funds held.

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Government & Politics
10:55 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Brown Budget Proposal Marks New Era at Capitol

California Governor Jerry Brown speaks to reporters as he unveils his proposed budget.
Pauline Bartolone Capital Public Radio Network

Governor Jerry Brown’s new California budget proposal marks an end to the crippling deficits that have plagued California for years.  It’s also an attempt to make major policy changes – without big increases in spending.  But the governor’s message of fiscal restraint could find a warmer reception from Republicans than from his fellow Democrats.  Capital Public Radio's Ben Adler and Amy Quinton bring us this two-part report from Sacramento.

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Government & Politics
4:52 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

California Lawmakers Respond To Budget With Some Relief

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

Most California lawmakers say they agree with Governor Jerry Brown that now is the time for fiscal discipline in light of a balanced budget.

But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, Democratic lawmakers have not ruled out restoring some cuts.

Legislative Democratic leaders expressed relief at the announcement of a balanced budget. They say the extra $2.7 billion in education funding is also a step in the right direction.

Senate Budget Chair Mark Leno says lawmakers are now in a position to talk about policy rather than cuts.

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Government & Politics
4:39 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Brown to Propose New Budget, Including Changes to Education Funding System

California Governor Jerry Brown (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The annual California budget cycle begins anew tomorrow as Governor Jerry Brown unveils his proposed spending plan.

As part of his budget, the governor is expected to propose major changes to the state’s education funding system. 

They include removing state spending requirements so districts have more flexibility, and introducing a weighted funding formula that gives more money to schools in poorer areas.

Republican Assemblyman Jeff Gorell  says he could support that proposal with some adjustments – such as making sure all schools get a minimum amount of money.

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Government & Politics
9:05 am
Tue January 8, 2013

Connie Conway: California Republicans Not on the Sidelines

Connie Conway (file photo)

California Republican lawmakers now find themselves in the midst of Democratic supermajorities in both the Assembly and Senate.

But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, Republicans may look to Democratic Governor Jerry Brown for support.

With supermajorities, Democratic lawmakers have historic new powers. They could raise taxes, while Republicans sit on the sidelines.

“Well I used to be on the sidelines, I was a cheerleader,” says Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway, joking.

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Government & Politics
12:11 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

California Lawmakers Return To State Capitol

Lawmakers take the oath of office at the capitol building in late 2012. (file photo)
Credit Amy Quinton

The start of the New Year brings California lawmakers back to the Capitol. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, Democratic leaders anticipate a heavy work schedule.

Reforming California’s Environmental Quality Act, restoring cuts to education, fixing the state’s ballot initiative process and campaign finance reform, those are just a few of the issues lawmakers will likely contend with this session.

Democrats return with a supermajority in both chambers, even with two Senators recently resigning to serve in Congress.

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Government & Politics
3:27 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

State Parks Investigation Shows Intentional Hiding of Funds

A sign announcing the then pending closure of the California State Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The California Attorney General’s office has released its investigation into the funding surplus at the state Parks Department.

As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it shows that only part of the $54 million dollars found in two funds were intentionally hidden from the Department of Finance.

The audit shows senior management at the parks department intentionally underreported as much as 20 million dollars beginning in 1996. It found that $34 million concealed in one fund was unintentional. But it’s a different story for the State Parks and Recreation Fund.

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