April 4, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories 

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown’s gas tax increases still needs more votes — Gov. Jerry Brown and a powerful business-labor-local government coalition want more than $5 billion a year in new taxes and fees for highway maintenance and other transportation purposes. They unveiled the package last week and hope to move it quickly, before an opposition campaign can coalesce. However, with just hours remaining before a spring break begins, they have been unable, so far, to assemble the required two-thirds legislative votes because a few Democrats are reluctant to support it. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

‘Sanctuary state’ bill passes California Senate — The California Senate on Monday passed a controversial “sanctuary state” bill that bars local and state law enforcement from using their resources to help federal immigration enforcement. Sacramento Bee article; KQED report; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article 

Washington may be shaking its head, but Devin Nunes is still a hometown hero — At home, Devin Nunes remains what he has always been, an auspiciously successful man who rose swiftly to unexpected heights, a man high school teachers point to when they tell kids in this often-overlooked place what is possible in this world. LA Times article

Valley politics 

George Takei pranks Twitter with faux bid for Devin Nunes’ congressional seat — Actor and social media darling George Takei caused a ruckus Saturday when he tweeted out a Daily Buzz story that noted he would be moving to “rural Tulare County” to challenge Rep. Devin Nunes, the Tulare congressman under scrutiny for his actions as House Intelligence Committee chairman. Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Dianne Feinstein 2018? Voters consider that ‘a bad thing for California’ — More than half of the state’s registered voters think it would be a “bad thing” if Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic fixture in California politics, were to run for a sixth term in Congress next year, according to a new statewide poll released Monday. Sacramento Bee article 

In California, it’s Democrats struggling to keep party unity – Like Republicans in Washington D.C. whose internal divisions killed the GOP health care bill last month, Democrats in Sacramento also come in a variety of flavors. There are coastal environmentalists and those shaped by urban poverty; Berkeley liberals and Central Valley moderates; some who answer to labor and some who are backed by business. And — a sticking point for the road repair plan that calls for raising gas taxes and vehicle fees — some Democrats come from swing districts where they could face voter backlash for supporting a tax increase. CALmatters article 

Tony Thurman enters schools chief race pledging to fight Trump on education funding — Framing his campaign as a fight against federal efforts to undermine public education, California Assemblyman Tony Thurmond announced Monday that he will run for state superintendent of public instruction in 2018. Sacramento Bee article


9th Circuit puts Trump’s travel ban on fast-track review – A San Francisco-based federal appeals court will hear arguments on President Trump’s latest travel and refugee resettlement restrictions in May. LA Times article 

Providing driver’s licenses to immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally has reduced hit-and-run wrecks, report says – Providing driver’s licenses to immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally has reduced the number of hit-and-run wrecks in California, a new study has found.  LA Times article; San Jose Mercury News article 

Report: Undocumented immigrants in U.S. contribute billions in state and local taxes – Undocumented residents in the United States pay an estimated $11.74 billion annually in state and local taxes, an amount that would increase significantly if these immigrants were given a pathway to citizenship, according to a new report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.  San Jose Mercury News article 

Visa applications pour in by the truckload before door slams shut — On Monday, the starting gun went off on application season for skilled-worker visas, known as H-1B visas, which allow employers, primarily technology companies, to bring in foreign workers for three years at a time. For the last few years, the federal government has been so overwhelmed by applications that it has stopped accepting them within a week of opening day, hence the line of trucks trying to deliver applications before the doors close on the program for another year. New York Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article 

Sacramento rally draws hundreds in support of laws to protect immigrants and to reform California bail system – Dozens of advocates, lawyers and community members gathered on opposite sides of the state Capitol on Monday to rally in support of bills to protect immigrants and to reform the bail system across the state. LA Times article 

Border wall contractors brace for hostile site — One potential bidder on President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico wanted to know if authorities would rush to help if workers came under “hostile attack.” Another asked if employees can carry firearms in states with strict gun control laws and if the government would indemnify them for using deadly force. AP article

Other areas 

California road taxes stagger to Senate floor as deadline looms — California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday made a rare appearance before a pair of legislative committees, calling on lawmakers to approve a $5.2 billion road-funding package that rests heavily on higher fuel taxes and a new vehicle fee on motorists. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; ‘Lobbying ramps up on tax increase, road repair package’ in Sacramento Bee; Sacramento Bee editorial 

New opposition arises to bill that would raise gas tax in California — Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) clashed Monday with Gov. Jerry Brown over how a proposal to raise gas taxes for road repairs may add to increases in fuel prices expected from the state’s cap-and-trade program. LA Times article 

Fresno drivers, truckers pan road taxes, fees – Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders have a huge challenge this week: Convince all but one Democrat in the California Legislature to vote for new fuel tax increases and vehicle fees to repair the state’s crumbling roads and highways, an incredibly unpopular vote. Drivers in Fresno are expressing a largely negative view about the tax. Valley Public Radio report 

Jeff Jardine: Would Gov. Brown’s gas fax allow county roads to be recycled? – The politicians will lobby each other, threaten each other, and risk their reputations and futures on supporting the largest tax increase in the state’s history. Machado and others in his position throughout the state see only big holes in the pavement and yellow signs, blinking light on top, that read, “Rough Road.” Meanwhile, when Amgen returns to Modesto next month, the cyclists will leave the downtown and head west. Battered, bumpy Bentley Road isn’t on their map. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

Justin Salters: Better way to fix roads than new gas, vehicle taxes – The Bakersfield resident writes, “While we’re being told the Democrats’ proposal is the only solution to our transportation woes, Republicans in the legislature have offered their own proposal that provides $5.6 billion annually without raising taxes. Assemblyman Vince Fong has authored AB 496, the Traffic Relief and Road Improvement Act, guided by three key principles: 1) road funding should go to roads, 2) we must protect California’s working families from tax or fee increases, and 3) we need to streamline government to make transportation projects more efficient.” Salters op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Will Congress kill a $101-billion tax break for Californians? – For California, it’s the $101-billion question: Will Congress eliminate a major tax break that benefits state residents more than those anywhere else in the country? LA Times article

California may not require bail for most criminal suspects – California could dramatically change the way it pressures criminal defendants to show up for court, doing away with monetary bail for most and taking income into account for others to ensure poor suspects get an equal shot at freedom. AP article 

Too young for juvie? California bill bars prosecution of kids under 12 — Sen. Holly Mitchell sits at her desk on the fifth floor of the Capitol and holds up a book. On the cover a small boy in oversized jeans and a Tommy Hilfiger T-shirt stands on a plastic milk crate, too small to reach, as a police officer presses the young child’s ink-soaked fingertips onto a piece of paper. Sacramento Bee article

‘Nuclear option’ awaits Gorsuch vote in Senate — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday approved the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, setting up a filibuster showdown with Democrats that’s likely to end with a rules change so explosive it’s been dubbed the “nuclear option.” McClatchy Newspapers article; New York Times article 

Feinstein on Supreme Court pick: ‘I cannot support this nomination’ — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) will vote against the confirmation of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, she announced Monday morning. LA Times article 

Tom Fife: Joe has become a DNC spokesman — Is it any wonder why liberals find it necessary to make up fairytales and lie to each other? Until Democrats wake up and admit their party has the wrong leadership and no ideas, nothing will improve for them. Spokespeople like Joe Altschule will continue to trade in fabrications, and the Democrat party will remain stuck on stupid and out of power.  Fife column in Visalia Times-Delta 

Joe Altschule: Trump’s mission: disassemble truth; dismantle democracy — Less than three months into his term, Donald Trump has already become the least effective, most destructive, and most objectively corrupt president in modern times. We see that in three important and specific ways which together will wreck havoc on our democracy. Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta

Presidential Politics 

Schwarzenegger vs. Trump, round 3. This time there’s some substance — Schwarzenegger is incorporating policy in his critiques, inspired by Trump’s proposed budget to eliminate federal funding for after-school programs, an area of government that’s near and dear to him. Sacramento Bee article 

At Trump’s EPA, going to work can be an act of defiance – The dim outlook at the EPA is weighing heavily on its 15,000 scientists, engineers, investigators and other employees, many of whom perceive their life’s work to be under assault from within. LA Times article 

Trump’s erratic style could undermine China’s agreement to stop hacking U.S. businesses — President Trump’s erratic style and free-form diplomacy have U.S. cybersecurity experts concerned that he might undermine an Obama-era deal with Beijing that sharply curbed widespread Chinese cyberthefts for economic gain and unleash a new flood of hacks against U.S. companies. LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories 

Infill or outgrowth? Stockton council expected to decide planned growth — A diverse coalition of more than 20 community organizations recently submitted a five-page letter asking that the City Council direct staff to chart a course for Stockton that focuses on rebuilding downtown and the city’s aging core neighborhoods.  Stockton Record article

As unions seek toehold in marijuana expansion, tensions flare — The legalization of recreational pot in California has set off a scramble for influence in the industry, which is projected to top $7 billion in sales in the state by 2020. Tensions over what role unions should play are rising in Sacramento, in cannabis shops and at places like City College of San Francisco, which has proposed a first-of-its-kind weed apprenticeship course that would largely be run by a union. San Francisco Chronicle article

Jobs and the Economy

Foon Rhee: Quarters add up for Golden 1 Center — The city’s take is rising from parking meters and garages, and that makes it far more likely the city’s financing plan for the new Golden 1 Center will hold up. Paying to park can be annoying, and no one likes being nickel-and-dimed at every turn. But earlier proposals depended far more on parking revenue and even called for turning over parking to a private company. Rhee in Sacramento Bee


Valley counties to get federal aid for February storm damage — Kings, Merced and Mariposa counties are among more than 40 California counties hit by severe storms in February that will get federal disaster aid, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announcedFresno Bee article; Merced Sun-Star article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Sweeping federal review could affect consent decrees nationwide — Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a sweeping review of federal agreements with dozens of law enforcement agencies, an examination that reflects President Trump’s emphasis on law and order and could lead to a retreat on consent decrees with troubled police departments nationwide.  New York Times article 

Former Fresno deputy police chief blames family for drug-dealing arrest — Keith Foster blames his family for getting involved in drug dealing and losing his job as deputy chief of the Fresno Police Department, according to a trial brief filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Fresno. Fresno Bee article 

Agents seized 500 guns from Clovis family.   After a court fight, they got them back — After a lengthy court fight, a Clovis family forced the return of 500 firearms seized by the California Department of Justice in 2015. The weapons were confiscated by state DOJ agents acting on information that Albert Sheakalee was barred from owning guns because he was in the state’s Armed Prohibited Persons (APPS) database. Fresno Bee article 

Woman sues Kern County over inmate escape attempt — A woman injured when another inmate attempted to steal a transport van and escape from Lerdo Jail has filed a lawsuit against the County of Kern. Bakersfield Californian article

Yolo sheriff turns down free MRAP, citing ‘political climate’ — Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto has decided against accepting a free military vehicle, saying he doesn’t want to further erode community trust during the “current national political climate and the fear of police militarization.” Sacramento Bee article

LA Police Commission to hold hearing on homelessness and what LAPD and other agencies are doing to help — Los Angeles police commissioners will focus their attention on homelessness Tuesday in a special meeting at City Hall, asking the Police Department and other agencies how they’re trying to provide housing and other resources to a population that’s spread across the city. LA Times article


Free speech can be ‘ugly’ but board can’t stop it, former Fresno schools chief says — Former Fresno Unified School District Superintendent Michael Hanson, testifying Monday in a free speech and harassment trial in Fresno County Superior Court, described statements made about a fourth-grade teacher at a board meeting as “distasteful,” but said the board of education cannot control what speakers say at a public meeting. Fresno Bee article

Third Kern High School District officer readies lawsuit claiming retaliation — A third Kern High School District police officer has filed a government claim against the district, alleging that after he helped uncover misuse of a sensitive police information database, administrators created a hostile work environment in retaliation against him. Bakersfield Californian article

UC Merced students show their pride in week-long celebration — As one student walked up Scholars Lane at UC Merced, surrounded by other marchers and rainbow flags, she said she felt “amazing” to be embraced by people who support and identify with the LGBTQ community. Merced Sun-Star article

Music icon Smokey Robinson energizes arts program at Fremont Elementary — The energy inside Fremont Elementary was electric on Monday as Robinson was welcomed as the east Stockton school’s newest designated mentor of the national Turnaround Arts program. The program provides arts education services designed to increase chances of success, engage the community and raise the visibility of students’ achievements at some of the nation’s lowest-performing schools. Stockton Record article


Flooding causes explosion of mosquitoes in Stanislaus County; districts to seek FEMA funds — The county’s two mosquito abatement districts – Turlock and East Side – are hoping to get funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help control the mosquitoes, which are a direct result of the heavy storms in January and February, they say. Modesto Bee article

Yosemite website aims to teach visitors the bare necessities of bear life —
Black bears have gained their own fan site, complete with blog, tracking app and requests for the two-legged humans who share their scenic domain. Modesto Bee article; Valley Public Radio report 

Ceres bee swarm prompts testing for Africanized type — Experts are looking into the chance that Africanized bees, an especially dangerous type, were involved in a swarm that injured three people and killed a dog Sunday in Ceres. Modesto Bee article; LA Times article


California faces $860-million repair bill for roads damaged by record winter storms — Officials estimate it will cost more than $860 million to repair the state’s roads, bridges and highways damaged from this winter’s storms. LA Times article; CALatters article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The Board of Equalization simply needs to disappear.

Merced Sun-Star – Gas tax makes sense, if state meets our needs.

Modesto Bee – Gas tax makes sense, if state meets our needs.

Sacramento Bee –- President Donald Trump signed legislation Monday making it easier for internet service providers to sell the personal data of unwitting customers; The Legislature shouldn’t choke on diesel’s win.

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers: The importance of voting, sad charter school situation and other issues.