CD 21: Huerta brings name recognition to congressional race — Emilio Huerta is running for the 21st Congressional District. The Bakersfield attorney, with roots in the United Farm Workers union and the social justice movement, will face off against poorly funded fellow Democrat Daniel Parra and the incumbent Republican from Hanford, Rep. David Valadao. Bakersfield Californian article
SD 5: California Republican leader Olsen passes on Senate race — Outgoing Assembly minority leader Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank, has decided not to challenge Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, walking away from what could have been one of the marquee political battles of 2016. Sacramento Bee article; Modesto Bee article; Stockton Record article
AD 31: Olivier, Arambula pull papers for Assembly run — It looks like the first official business day of 2016 may set the tone for the coming political season, with two candidates pulling early paperwork in the 31st Assembly District race. Not surprisingly, those candidates were Kingsburg Democrat Joaquin Arambula and Fresno Republican Clint Olivier. Fresno Bee article
Dan Walters: California budget windfall could be flashpoint — Halfway through the 2015-16 fiscal year, state finances are continuing to improve with billions of extra revenue dollars. Ordinarily, that would be good news. However, as the Legislature returns to Sacramento this week after a nearly four-month hiatus, the windfall of taxes – mostly income taxes – looms as a political flashpoint. Walters column in Sacramento Bee
Senate Democrats propose $2 billion plan for homeless – In an opening to this year’s budget negotiations at the Capitol, Senate Democrats on Monday proposed a $2 billion bond to build homes for homeless people with mental illnesses. The measure would be funded by Proposition 63, the existing, 1 percent income tax on Californians earning $1 million or more per year to pay for mental health services. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; Sacramento Bee editorial
Is Stockton council appointment linked to election? — Within the next two months the City Council is likely to choose a replacement for new San Joaquin County Supervisor Moses Zapien, but observers are split over whether the appointee to succeed Zapien in Stockton will have an increased likelihood of electoral victory later in 2016. Stockton Record article
Statewide politics/Ballot Measures
Assisted death opponents concede defeat in referendum drive — A group aiming to overturn California’s new law allowing terminally-ill patients to obtain lethal drugs said Monday that it did not collect enough signatures to qualify a referendum for the November ballot. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; KQED report
4 competing tax measures to split voters’ attention in November — With four tax initiatives on track for the November ballot, California voters are going to have to decide how much is too much. Sacramento Bee article
Joel Fox: 2016: The year of the initiative — The legislature is back in town this week but in the major policy issues department the legislature is likely to be a sideshow in what can be labeled the Year of the Initiative. Fox in Fox & Hounds
California Supreme Court allows campaign finance measure on ballot — A disputed advisory measure on the merits of unlimited independent campaign spending may proceed to the ballot after all. The California Supreme Court ruled 6-1 on Monday that Proposition 49, a nonbinding query to voters on whether Congress should seek to amend the Constitution to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United decision, is constitutional. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; KQED report
Daniel Weintraub: America should learn from California, not listen to Trump – California’s experience since Pete Wilson’s time should be a lesson for the rest of the country. This state has gone from fearing immigrants to embracing them. And we are thriving, at least in part because of that change of heart. Weintraub op-ed in Sacramento Bee
Immigration raids in southwest begin, don’t include California — Federal authorities have begun systematic immigration sweeps, targeting Central American adults and children who entered the country without authorization, but the authorities said none has occurred in California. San Diego Union-Tribune article
San Bernardino Shootings
Employees return to site of San Bernardino terrorist attack — The Inland Regional Center complex in San Bernardino, the site of a terror attack last month that left 14 dead, reopened on Monday, just hours before a memorial for the shooting victims was expected to begin. LA Times article; AP article
Time for tax-free tampons? California lawmaker thinks so — It took less than a day to introduce an unlikely rallying cry for California’s 2016 legislative session: “Tampons for All.” Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, marked the first day back in Sacramento by tweeting that phrase to announce Assembly Bill 1561, which would exempt feminine hygiene products from sales taxes. The exemption would apply to a range of products, including tampons and sanitary pads. Sacramento Bee article
Richard Pan recall effort falls short on vaccine issue — Opponents of California’s new mandatory vaccine law have suffered another defeat, failing to force a recall election of the senator who championed the law. Sacramento Bee article
Special session fates unclear as lawmakers tout new priorities – California lawmakers returned to the state Capitol Monday for the second half of their two-year legislative session. They left last year without reaching agreements on transportation or health care funding. And it’s not clear they’re any closer now. Capital Public Radio report
Obama to announce expanded background checks as he aims to limit gun deaths – President Obama will announce Tuesday that he’ll act on his own authority to expand background checks for would-be gun buyers and increase enforcement of existing laws, a culmination of his effort to curb gun violence that nonetheless falls short of sweeping change he had long sought. LA Times article; New York Times article
Poll: Ted Cruz surges in California, catches Trump – Ted Cruz has surged to a statistical tie with Donald Trump among Republicans in California, while Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina have tumbled in this late-voting state, according to a new poll. Sacramento Bee article
Tom Fife: 2016 – Year of ‘The Donald’ — Donald Trump’s run as candidate for the White House could be over tomorrow or he might be elected president. Fife column in Visalia Times-Delta
Joe Altschule: 2016 will be filled by drones, guns, and, gulp, Trump — Now that you know enough to ignore all of Tom’s predictions, here are some others that you can take to the bank … mine. Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta
California Government Today:
California misses mark for saving water 2 months running – Residents of drought-weary California in November fell short of hitting a 25 percent water conservation mandate for a second month running, state officials say. AP article
Lemoore Naval Air Station commander outlines expansion plans — The commander of Lemoore Naval Air Station, home to more than 12,000 sailors, Marines and civilians, on Monday detailed plans for a 25 percent personnel expansion over the next three years, which could require expanding the station and should increase its boost to the central San Joaquin Valley economy. Fresno Bee article
Merced bans medical pot – at least for now — Medical marijuana cardholders will not be allowed to grow cannabis for their own consumption after a vote Monday while the Merced City Council figures out what cultivation and dispensaries will be permitted in the city. Merced Sun-Star article
Jobs and the Economy
Fresno business Luftenburg’s Bridal to close after 75 years – Luftenburg’s Bridal – a wedding dress shop in Fresno for 75 years with a long history downtown – is closing. The store spent decades on the Fulton Mall before moving in 2013 to 5135 N. Blackstone Ave. – the building with the statue of the rearing gold horse out front. Fresno Bee article
Tech stocks pummeled during Wall Street’s worst opening day in 8 years — Wall Street suffered its worst opening day in eight years Monday, and technology stocks suffered the harshest beating, punctuating a grim day of selling amid worries about global instability. San Jose Mercury News article
Fresno gas prices keep creeping up – Gasoline prices are creeping up again in Fresno, rising 5.4 cents in the last week to an average $2.64 for a gallon of unleaded Sunday, according to GasBuddy.com. Fresno Bee article
Retail Therapy: River Park changes, Dave and Buster’s update — River Park is going to look a lot different by this time next year. The shopping center already has made some major changes and more are underway. Here’s a rundown of what’s happening. Fresno Bee article
Number of California alcohol cops drops as industry grows – From restaurants and bars to craft breweries and mini-marts, Californians had plenty of ways to buy and drink alcohol during the just-concluded holiday season. But as consumer options have expanded, the number of sworn agents who enforce state liquor laws is lower than it was a decade ago. Sacramento Bee article
Rams, Chargers and Raiders submit relocation applications to NFL; now for the hard part – In an aggressive move Monday to end the NFL‘s two-decade absence from Los Angeles, three franchises — the Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Rams — submitted relocation applications to the league on the first day they were eligible to do so. LA Times article; AP article; San Francisco Chronicle article; San Jose Mercury News article; San Diego Union-Tribune article
Christmas present for Grand Island Village retail center: More parking — Merchants and visitors to the Grand Island Village Shopping Center, which is walking distance from Bakersfield’s upscale Seven Oaks neighborhoods, got something of a Christmas present from the city last month: more parking. Bakersfield Californian article
Sacramento activists call for more homeless camping without penalty amid state efforts — As Senate Democrats and Sacramento mayoral candidate Darrell Steinberg called for spending $2 billion statewide on homes for homeless people, protesters returned to Sacramento City Hall in force Monday to demand that homeless people be allowed to camp without a permanent roof over their heads. Sacramento Bee article
First big El Nino storms hit California, bringing hope of easing historic drought – After a year of hype and hope, El Niño’s punch is finally arriving in California, bringing a series of storms to soak the Bay Area and most of the rest of the drought-stricken state through this week and probably into next. San Jose Mercury News article
Almond growers, beekeepers harbor mixed feelings about expectations for heavy rain – In a season of mixed-blessing weather for local agriculture, forecasts for unusually heavy winter rain are causing beekeepers and their best customers — Central Valley almond growers — to cast a wary eye skyward. Bakersfield Californian article
Merced welcomes El Nino weather system – Though Merced’s rain total on Monday, at 3.72 inches, lagged slightly behind the date’s average, Ochs predicted this week’s rain would help surpass the average of 3.85 inches. Merced Sun-Star article
Organic farmers reap broader exemption from crop fees – Some organic farmers have harvested another victory, with a new Agriculture Department decision allowing more growers to avoid paying fees into the mainstream promotion programs that support crops ranging from cotton to pork. Fresno Bee article
Fresno County finds citrus pest in central Fresno — An Asian citrus psyllid was found in a backyard tree at a home near Clinton Avenue and Highway 99 in Fresno, the Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office said Monday. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article
Kings River Conservation District names new general manager — Paul G. Peschel has been named the Kings River Conservation District’s new general manager, agency officials announced Monday. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article
Tulare Western found to be out of watering ordinance — Two Tulare youth sports organizations each received a waiver from city administrators to water during a no outdoor irrigation period. Tulare Western High School, however, disobeyed a city ordinance on watering. Visalia Times-Delta article
Bakersfield Police Department releases surveillance video of Oildale officer-involved shooting – Police released surveillance video Monday of an officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of a suspected burglar holding a black tire jack that officers believed was a rifle. Bakersfield Californian article
‘Failure of leadership’ at Orange County D.A.’s office led to informant issues, report says – A “failure of leadership” at the Orange County district attorney’s office led to repeated problems with the handling of jailhouse informants and helped erode confidence in criminal cases that rely on their testimony, according to a report made public Monday. LA Times article
Thousands in Kern County will receive diplomas, some more than a decade after finishing high school — More than 2,600 former Kern High School District students who finished school but never got the chance to turn their tassels on graduation day are eligible to pick up their diplomas following the suspension of the California High School Exit Examination as a graduation requirement. Bakersfield Californian article
Sacramento State provost steps down after less than 2 years in top academic post — Frederika “Fraka” Harmsen stepped down Monday as California State University, Sacramento, provost less than two years after assuming the university’s second-highest position and being heralded as an academic innovator who could help fulfill ambitious visions for the university. Sacramento Bee article
California’s list of poor schools posted again — Facing a lawsuit threat, the state Department of Education has changed its position on posting a list of low-performing schools whose students could be transferred to schools with higher academic test scores. Sacramento Bee article
Can Gavin Newsom close California’s last nuclear plant? – Gavin Newsom has a prediction about California’s last nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon: It won’t stay open another 10 years. And due to a quirk of Diablo’s complicated history, he could have a hand in closing it. San Francisco Chronicle article
Former Fresno Bee reporter Mark Grossi awarded fellowship to write about environmental risks in rural San Joaquin Valley — Freelance writer and former Fresno Bee reporter Mark Grossi has been awarded an Alicia Patterson Foundation fellowship to write about environmental conditions in small towns in the San Joaquin Valley. Fresno Bee article
Google helps analyze if rooftop solar panels are good deal — The company that lets you compare air fares and translate foreign languages online wants to make it easier to weigh the costs and benefits of installing solar panels on household rooftops. AP article
Efforts continue to raise legal smoking age to 21 — Health advocates in Merced County are applauding Hawaii’s implementation of a new law making it illegal for anyone younger than 21 to smoke traditional or electronic cigarettes. Merced Sun-Star article
Coming to a hospital near you: fewer cesarean sections – California is preparing to launch an ambitious plan to reduce C-sections rates. If successful, that reduction will save taxpayer money and keep both mothers and babies healthier. KQED report
Hospitals must keep caregivers in loop — A new California law, SB 675, requires hospital staffers to involve a family caregiver during the hospitalization and discharge process, which supporters say will improve patients’ overall health and reduce their chances of readmission. Sacramento Bee article
Paramedics help honor end-of-life care wishes in Ventura County program — Before end-stage heart failure confined Shirley Sarah Heller to bed, her life was a swirl of non-stop activity. KPPC report
Two Fresno apartment complexes sold to Southern California investor for $11.7 million — A Southern California investor has purchased two Fresno apartment complexes for $11.7 million, Berkadia Real Estate Advisors, Fresno announced Monday. Fresno Bee article
Visalia Transit service to add CNG buses — Visalia Transit service will add six Compressed Natural Gas-powered buses to its fleet, one of four environmental-friendly moves for the local bus service. Visalia Times-Delta article
A look back at 2015 – It was an exciting 2015 for Tulare County and much of the Valley. The drought captured much of our attention, as communities and local leaders scrambled to provide water and get wells drilled. Fires scorched throughout the state and Visalia and Tulare saw their share of tragedy and successes. Visalia Times-Delta article
Jeff Jardine: Snow players leaving behind mountain of trash up Highway 108 – What’s transpired up along Highway 108 from Sierra Village to Strawberry over the weekend left many locals angry and disgusted. It seems that visitors, including more than a few from the Valley, did exactly up there what some do down here: They trashed the place. Jardine column in Modesto Bee
Visitors to Tehachapi trespassing to play in snow; community meeting to address problem – The greater Tehachapi area’s snow, visitors and property owners don’t always mix well. Tehachapi News article
Sworn in, then elected chairman – Days after being appointed to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, and only minutes after being sworn in, Moses Zapien was named its chairman. Stockton Record article
San Joaquin County farm leader pleads guilty to misdemeanor assault — Andrew Watkins, Linden resident and president of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation, pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor assault on a federal officer. The plea agreement stems from an incident Feb. 27, 2012, when Watkins, armed with a semiautomatic pistol, confronted a U.S. Fish and Wildlife special agent while the agent was inspecting fenced farmland owned by the Watkins family, according to U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner in Sacramento. Stockton Record article; Sacramento Bee article
FBI offers reward in mosque incident – The FBI is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or people who launched a Molotov cocktail at the Tracy Islamic Center late last month, according to the federal agency. Stockton Record article; San Francisco Chronicle article
Dr. Ramanjyot Muhar: Is the Valley home anymore to Sikh millennials? – The former Reedley resident writes, “These retired, turbaned men, hands rough from years of manual labor on your farms, are being targeted. They have children like me. We have left home to achieve what we wanted with hopes of returning and making the Valley a better place. But after these types of acts, one has to wonder if the Valley is our home anymore. These acts are occurring at a higher rate in the Valley, despite the large population of Sikhs or perhaps because of the large population of Sikhs.” Muhar op-ed in Fresno Bee
Valley Editorial Roundup
Fresno Bee – Treat Oregon standoff with deadly seriousness of terrorism.
Sacramento Bee – Treat Oregon standoff with deadly seriousness of terrorism; A bipartisan group of California state senators on Monday offered a powerful $2 billion housing plan to combat the appalling level of homelessness, particularly among severely mentally ill people in this rich state.
Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers on a big year at Port of Stockton, a mail theft epidemic and other issues.
Sunday, Jan. 10, at 10 a.m. on Fresno ABC30 – Maddy Report: “Highway Funding: Still Stuck in Political Gridlock” – Guests: Caltrans CFO Norma Ortega; Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable; Chris McKenzie, executive director of the California League of Cities; Matt Cate, executive director of the California Assn. of Counties; and Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.
Sunday, Jan. 10, at 10 a.m. on KMJ (580AM and 105.9FM Radio/podcast) – Maddy Report – Valley Views Edition: “Farm to Market: Maintaining the Valley’s Highways” – Guests: Tony Boren, executive director of Fresno COG; Ted Smalley, director of the Tulare COG; and Cal Trans District 6 Director Sharri Bender Ehlert. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.
Sunday, Jan. 10, at 7 a.m. on Univision 21 (KFTV) and UniMas 61 (KTFF) – El Informe Maddy: “State Watchdogs” — Guests: Edgar Cabral of the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Margarita Fernandez of the State Auditor’s Office. Host: Maddy Institute Deputy Director Ana Melendez.
The Maddy Report airs throughout California on The Cal Channel. Check http://www.calchannel.com to find the Cal Channel and schedule in your area. You also can view previous Maddy Report programs in their entirety at http://www.maddyinstitute.org/policy-analysis/the-maddy-report-tv.
Next 10: UPDATED California budget challenge – For the first time in a decade, California’s budget is largely in balance. However, the state has outstanding debts of $28 million, not counting long-term pension and retiree health care costs. Budget choices affect us all. Take the Challenge and decide how much should be spent on programs and where the money should come from. Next 10 California Budget Challenge
Next 10: Federal budget challenge — The Federal Budget Challenge is based on The Concord Coalition’s Principles and Priorities budget exercise, which has been used in numerous town hall meetings across the country by members of Congress from both parties, as well as in hundreds of high school and college classrooms. Next 10 Federal Budget challenge at www.federalbudgetchallenge.org.
Next 10: California Water Challenge – As our state faces some of the most severe drought conditions in its history, Next 10 wants to issue a new challenge to Californians: can you create a plan to make sure there’s enough water for everyone? Next 10 California Water Challenge
LEGISLATORS’ VOTING RECORDS: How often has a California legislator broken party ranks, abstained or switched sides? The Sacramento Bee has a database of the voting records of every member of the state Senate and Assembly. Enter a lawmaker’s last and first names to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. Check it out at this link. http://www.sacbee.com/votingrecord/
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Maddy Institute Updates List of San Joaquin Valley Elected Officials – The Maddy Institute has updated its list of San Joaquin Valley elected officials. The list is available here.
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