June 18, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

 U.S. House Democrats float new California water bill — California water bills continue to fill the Capitol Hill hopper, and now one comes with a new twist. It’s crowd-sourcing drought solutions, in a long-shot bid to break a congressional stalemate. McClatchy Newspapers article

 George Skelton: Brown, legislators serve up a leaner budget — The Legislature sent Gov. Jerry Brown a ham sandwich Monday and it was quickly cooked into a low-fat, full-course meal. It was much more nourishing than the bologna legislators used to serve up summer after summer. Skelton column in LA Times

 California on cusp of offering young immigrants health care – In a move that adds momentum to efforts to integrate immigrants, California is on the cusp of becoming the largest state in the nation to extend state-subsidized health care coverage to children from low-income families who are in the country illegally. AP article; LA Times article

State budget

 Disability activists protest budget that leaves out funding – The announcement of a California budget deal has not stopped pleas for the state to spend more on social services, as advocates for people with disabilities came to the state Capitol Wednesday, angry after additional funding for services was left out of the $115.4 billion deal. AP article;

 California budget bill proposes body cameras for CHP — The California Highway Patrol would be required to plan for implementing a body camera pilot program by Jan. 1 under legislation moving through the budget process at the Capitol. The measure, contained in a budget-related trailer bill, would require the CHP to consider minimum specifications for cameras and rules for sharing data recorded on cameras. Capitol Alert

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

 Proposed fee hike reduced in California ballot initiative bill — Proponents of a bill to raise the cost of filing a California ballot initiative have lowered their proposed fee from $8,000 to $2,500, with future adjustments to be assessed biannually based on inflation. Capitol Alert


 Illegal immigration opponents saw lawmaker barred them from public meeting — Members of a group that opposes public benefits for immigrants in the country illegally have filed complaints with the state alleging that a lawmaker violated their civil rights by excluding them from a public meeting on the issue. LA Times article

 Border Patrol agents, facing scrutiny over shootings, have harsh words for their leaders — Rank-and-file Border Patrol agents are furious that they have lost some of their favorite enforcement tools and say that intense public criticism of border shootings has led to a morale crisis. LA Times article

 Brown inks bill to protect immigrants – Gov. Brown on Wednesday signed legislation further cracking down on people offering fraudulent immigration services.  San Diego Union-Tribune article

 Other areas

Ban of Redskins name moves forward – The California Senate Education committee voted 7-1 Wednesday to approve legislation that would ban “Redskins” as an athletic team name, mascot or nickname in public schools. Stockton Record article

 Vaccine opt-outs, teacher evaluation bills still alive as state budget approved – It’s not exactly the summer All-Star break, but the June deadline for bills to move successfully from one house in the state Legislature to the other – or be declared dead – reveals what remains possible in this legislative season. EdSource article

 Joel Fox: Special tax sessions — In announcing the budget deal with the legislature, Governor Jerry Brown announced two special sessions to deal with transportation and Medi-Cal funding. Call them the Special Tax Sessions. Fox in Fox & Hounds

 Former California Sen. Leland Yee seeks trial delay — Former state Sen. Leland Yee is seeking a delay in the start of his upcoming trial on charges related to public corruption, illegals arms dealing and racketeering. Capitol Alert

 Card room invites gambling commission members to ‘influencer reception’ — It is not uncommon for California’s regulated industries to seek informal audiences with the public officials who oversee them, but rarely is the proposition so plainly stated as it was in an invitation from a Citrus Heights card room to members of the California Gambling Control Commission this week.Sacramento Bee article

 Hillary Clinton keeps buck-raking in ‘long-term love affair’ with California Democrats – Hillary Rodham Clinton, in California this week to raise money for her presidential campaign, will find herself embraced by a familiar crowd of wealthy Democrats in this liberal state. The donor field is one Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have tilled for a quarter-century – and its prominence in state and national politics is in part of their making. Sacramento Bee article

 President Obama visiting Southern California, San Francisco — President Barack Obama returns to California this week to hob-knob with Hollywood and business elites at Democratic fundraisers. AP article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

 National Park Service offers Yosemite contract to new company – The National Park Service on Wednesday picked Philadelphia-based Aramark to run hotels, stores, restaurants and other services in Yosemite National Park, offering the company a 15-year contract worth nearly $2 billion. Fresno Bee article; AP article; KVPR report

 More Valley land OK’d for high-speed rail — Sixteen more properties in Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties are in the cross-hairs for possible condemnation as the state continues to assemble the land it needs for a high-speed rail route through the San Joaquin Valley. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

 Downtown Hanford rules complicate incentives – Could tax breaks and fewer regulations be enough to bolster business in downtown Hanford? The Hanford City Council held a study session Tuesday to begin laying out the pieces for an incentive package aimed at stimulating growth and investment in the downtown area. Hanford Sentinel article

 Attorney for Salida fire district defends proposed assessments – An attorney said the special assessments proposed in the Salida Fire Protection District are valid and nothing should stop the district from proceeding with them. Modesto Bee article

 Tulare County approves new trash-hauling system – After two decades of licensing private waste haulers to pick up and dispose of garbage in unincorporated areas of Tulare County, a new system will take effect this fall. Instead of obtaining five-year licenses from the county, six haulers will be governed by 15-year franchise agreements allowing each to offer trash services in unincorporated areas starting Oct. 1, with options for five-year extensions if any one of those businesses want to continue servicing the communities and the county agrees. Visalia Times-Delta article

 Report: Valley home prices softened in May – New numbers from the California Association of Realtors showed Central Valley home prices and sales softened a bit in May, but activity was mostly positive year-over-year. The Business Journal article

 Builders group opposes Sacramento minimum pay hike – A pro-builder group has voiced its opposition for two minimum wage proposals being discussed in the city of Sacramento. Region Builders released a statement Wednesday saying it opposes either a $13.50 per hour or $15 per hour minimum wage. Sacramento’s minimum wage is at the state rate of $9 an hour. Sacramento Bee article

 Delivery by drone in 30 minutes? Amazon says it’s coming – Online retail giant Amazon says it is developing the technology to use drones to deliver packages in 30 minutes or less, a broad expansion of unmanned flight that is raising concerns about safety, security and privacy. AP article

 Judge: Woman in Silicon Valley gender suit liable for $276,000 — A woman who lost a high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit against a Silicon Valley venture capital firm is liable for about a quarter of the roughly $1 million in legal costs the company is seeking, a judge said Wednesday in a tentative ruling. AP article

 Fed holds off on interest rate hike, downgrades economic forecast – Federal Reserve policymakers on Wednesday kept the central bank’s benchmark short-term interest rate near zero, opting against the first increase since 2006 after determining the economy still isn’t strong enough to handle it. LA Times article

 California Labor Commission ruling: Uber driver is employee — Observers seized on the ruling as a possible game changer for Uber, as well as rivals like Lyft and other on-demand companies like Postmates and Handy, which all rely on vast workforces of independent contractors. If those workers were reclassified as employees, the companies would be on the hook for benefits such as workers’ comp and expenses like gasoline. However, legal experts cautioned, it’s too soon to say that the labor commission case will set a precedent, a point that Uber also made. San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article; New York Times article

 Lower gas tax forecast affects local transportation departments – The Sacramento County Department of Transportation says the state gas tax forecast for the next fiscal year caused a $7 million  deficit in the county’s road construction budget. That means some maintenance projects will be delayed. Capital Public Radio report

 Rodney Brown: A golden tax break that’s no longer justified – The president and CEO of the California Bankers Association writes, “There is no longer any valid reason why these large, banklike credit unions should retain their tax exemption, a message we will continue to promote while supporting our local, state and national economies.” Brown op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 AT&T hit with $100-million fine for its ‘unlimited’ data plans — Wireless carrier AT&T could be forced to pay $100 million after the Federal Communications Commission found that the company had slowed data networks for unlimited plan holders without informing them, the agency said Wednesday. LA Times article

 Rival union says SEIU deal with hospitals threatens patient care – The ongoing tussle between rival hospital employee unions and Kaiser Permanente has taken a new turn with allegations that an agreement between the managed-care system and Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers forbids employees from reporting patient-care violations. Sacramento Bee article

 Southern California home sales, prices up in May — The median sales price for the six-county Southland was $426,000, up 2.2% from a year earlier, CoreLogic said Wednesday. It was the smallest gain in three years, according to the real estate information firm. LA Times article


 What’s blamed for California’s drought? Basically everything – Mother Nature isn’t the only one blamed for California’s drought. The state’s historic four-year dry spell has brought with it a flurry of finger-pointing. Now advocates, noting how California’s water shortage ranks as the top public concern, are invoking the drought to bolster their own causes. AP article

 Master-planned community at risk of losing all water within days – When the state last week took the rare step of curtailing the water rights of more than 100 irrigation districts and growers, it appeared that agricultural areas would be the hardest hit. But now, an upscale master-planned community of 15,000 residents in San Joaquin County is facing the loss of all water supplies within days — prompting a frantic search for new sources. LA Times article

 Drought back on Modesto’s agenda – The City Council will again take up the drought Tuesday when it considers approving a pilot residential turf replacement program in which a qualifying homeowner could receive as much as $500 for replacing as much as 1,000 square feet of lawn with drought-tolerant plants, rocks and other landscaping that uses little or no water. Modesto Bee article

 Drought devastates cherry crop, puts some growers out of business – Dave Shields started the engine of his tractor on a recent weekday and began toppling the hundreds of drought-stricken cherry trees he and his wife planted 15 years ago in this north Los Angeles County foothills community. LA Times article

 First Look: Local leaders hold water panel, discuss conservation efforts – On Wednesday’s “First Look with Scott Cox,” city and county leaders gathered to talk about the recent water shortage in Kern County and California’s unprecedented drought. Bakersfield Californian article

 Drought’s silver lining: Clearer water at the beach — California’s lingering drought has continued to have at least one silver lining: cleaner water along the coast, according to a new report. LA Times article

 LA County bans new vineyards due to drought – New Los Angeles County wine is not on the horizon since the Board of Supervisors have imposed a temporary ban on new or expanded vineyards in a large area of the northern Santa Monica Mountains to help manage the severe drought in the region. AP article

 Palo Verde School to drill new, 700-foot water well – Palo Verde Union School District Superintendent John Manning is overseeing the construction of a water well — again. Visalia Times-Delta article

 Officials propose banning fireworks in Kern parks – Kern County is planning to ban legal fireworks in its public parks, saying they’re just too dangerous in the drought. Bakersfield Californian article

 California’s trout hatchery hurt by drought, disease – As California weathers a fourth year of drought, the scenario playing out at the oldest trout hatchery west of the Mississippi River could portend a more complicated future for the state’s fish-hatchery system. Sacramento Bee article

Animal-rights group accuses Foster Farms of abusing chickens — Foster Farms, one of the largest poultry processors in the West, has suspended five employees in the wake of an undercover video by an animal rights group showing inhumane treatment of animals at one of the company’s two processing plants in Fresno and several ranches in the area. Fresno Bee article;AP article; LA Times article; KVPR report

 State imposes well water cuts on users near Russian River — Winemakers, small farmers and rural residents near the Russian River, accustomed to reveling in Mother Nature’s bounty, were slapped with restrictions on well water use Wednesday, including a ban on lawn watering, in the latest effort by the state to cope with a fourth year of drought. San Francisco Chronicle article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

 Kern excessive force lawsuit settled for $1.25 million — A $1.25 million settlement has been reached in a lawsuit where Kern County sheriff’s deputies were accused of using excessive force in the beating of a man suspected of arson. Bakersfield Californian article

 Jury clears Fresno officers in federal civil rights case — A federal court jury on Tuesday cleared two Fresno police officers of using excessive force and unlawfully arresting a 15-year-old Hoover High School girl after school after a disturbance at a diner near campus that was crowded with students. Fresno Bee article

 Fresno Bee: Jury got it right, but CHP didn’t — A jury did the right thing in finding both pedestrian Kristle Clowers and Fresno County Sheriff’s deputy Kurt Rossi negligent in Clowers’ late-night death on Highway 145, about five miles from Interstate 5 three years ago. The phrase “did the right thing,” however, doesn’t apply to the California Highway Patrol’s investigation of the accident. Fresno Bee editorial

 Second prison’s health care OK as state seeks to end control – The state inspector general has given a second California prison a passing grade on health care, allowing federal officials to consider returning control to the state. AP article

Breckinridge placed on paid administrative leave – Tulare Police Chief Jerry Breckinridge has been placed on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of an internal personnel investigation. Visalia Times-Delta article

 Family wants answers in Visalia fatal officer-involved shooting — A family wants answers after a man shot by at least one police officer died on Tuesday. A day after the fatal shooting in a parking lot along Mooney Boulevard, a makeshift memorial was assembled at the site where the man’s lifeless body had laid. Visalia Times-Delta article

 Payday for football star and other wrongly convicted Californians — Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed legislation to pay $968,400 to settle claims by three wrongly convicted Californians, including Brian Banks, a former star football player from Long Beach who served five years in prison before a young girl recanted her accusation that he had raped her. LA Times article


 Fresno Unified looks to restore sex education – Listen up Fresno high schoolers: sex education could soon be coming to a classroom near you. Fresno Unified officials are talking about restoring sex education across the city’s high schools under a plan that would add lessons about sexually transmitted infections, contraception and healthy relationships. Fresno Bee article

 How Kern High School District plans to spend more than $37 million – The Kern High School District is all but finished with a three-year spending plan that details how it will use some $37 million in mostly state funding it’s expecting next school year. Much of it is new money. And a top district priority is reducing class sizes. Bakersfield Californian article

 Former Fresno student calls on board to investigate lease-leaseback – Fresno Unified is being called on to hire an outside investigator to probe the use of a controversial alternative to competitive bidding for school building projects. Fresno Bee article

 Sanger student recognized for anti-bullying efforts — Ryan Warren has put in hours of work raising awareness against bullying. He has created pledge cards, stickers and bracelets. He has spoken at the Sanger City Council, set up booths at city events to promote his cause and even held his own rally. It’d be a lot for anyone to take on, much less a fourth-grader like Ryan. On Thursday he will be recognized for his efforts by the City Council. Fresno Bee article

 Jennifer Torres Siders: Early investment in kids ultimately pays dividends – The community relations director at University of the Pacific writes, “We have more reason to be optimistic about the future of the San Joaquin Valley today than we have in years, as Stockton emerges from bankruptcy and our region’s economy revives. A critical way to ensure we continue this forward momentum? Focus on our preschoolers.” Siders op-ed in Stockton Record


 Pope Francis calls for global consensus to save the environment —  As world governments prepare to negotiate a potential climate change agreement this fall, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church issued his own, highly anticipated call for decisive action Thursday and chastised those who would deny a human connection to global warming. LA Times article; New York Times article

Health/Human Services

 Health insurance mergers don’t benefit consumers, California regulator warns — California’s top insurance regulator expressed alarm Wednesday at the prospect of further consolidation in the health insurance industry. LA Times article

 Jeff Jardine: Retraining racehorses, helping people at Escalon nonprofit — For every used-up race horse in need of a career change, there are scores of people at their own crossroads, with mental and behavioral issues including grief, anxiety and fear. Some are military veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. They can help each other, these two- and four-legged types. Jardine column in Modesto Bee


 Bakersfield bullet train meetings near — The first bridge for California’s controversial, $67.5 billion bullet train — in Madera County — is under construction and a recommended path through Bakersfield should be established later this year or early next, rail agency officials said Wednesday. Bakersfield Californian article

 Shawn Hubler: Enough already, get bikes off sidewalks — The bicyclist came out of nowhere just after sunrise on a Saturday morning. We were out for a stroll, my husband and I, while the day was cool. Hubler in Sacramento Bee

Other areas

 Pete Santellano: Youth need to be our priority – The retired Fresno police officer writes, “I’ve seen the power of parks first hand. As a retired Fresno police officer, I’ve seen how parks can positively impact neighborhoods and change lives — particularly young lives. A healthy park is prevention, and prevention is more powerful than treatment and much less expensive. I believe Fresnans understand the value of parks and that an investment in parks is an investment in our youth.” Santellano op-ed in Fresno Bee

Lois Henry: Internal (evasive?) emails – For those who don’t recall, the county shelter sent sick dogs on a March 18 flight. Some died. All those dogs had health certificates – even though some dogs hadn’t been vaccinated – signed by the shelter’s veterinarian, Cynthia Martinez-Dahlgren. Wings banned county shelter dogs from future flights. When I first wrote about this in early May, I was concerned by an email from Interim Animal Services Director Nick Cullen to Supervisor David Couch that seemed blase about the situation. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian;Henry on “First Look” in Bakersfield Californian

 Man who threatened Alan Autry, Jerry Dyer on video rearrested – A man who was sent to prison in 2008 after he made a hip hop video that threatened Fresno’s police chief and mayor was arrested Tuesday on charges of firearm and drug possession at a home close to Roosevelt High School, police reported. Fresno Bee article

 Wartime memories come flooding back for Honor Flight vets — Clovis resident George Hansen, 91, spent some of his time at the World War II memorial in Washington on Wednesday teaching history to some boys from a local school group. Hansen has good credentials for explaining World War II — he was there. Fresno Bee article

 ‘I was black, I am black’ — Thirty years before the complexities, discourse and media attention surrounding NAACP official Rachel Dolezal’s racial identity, Mark Stebbins professed to be black. Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – A jury did the right thing in finding both pedestrian Kristle Clowers and Fresno County Sheriff’s deputy Kurt Rossi negligent in Clowers’ late-night death on Highway 145, about five miles from Interstate 5 three years ago.

Merced Sun-Star – Golden State Warriors’ championship is a win for all of California.

Modesto Bee – Golden State Warriors’ championship is a win for all of California.

Sacramento Bee – Golden State Warriors’ championship is a win for all of California; Spraying is pesty, but beetle is worse.


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 challengeThe 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 atwww.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/

 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.

 Maddy Institute on Facebook and Twitter – To learn about Maddy Institute activities (e.g. The Maddy Report tv show, The Maddy Associates’ Luncheons, the Maddy Legislative Intern Program), become a fan of the Maddy Institute on Facebook or log on to http://twitter.com/MaddyInstitute. And if you have a Facebook or Twitter account, please add us and follow us!

The Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno was established to honor the legacy of one of California’s most principled and effective legislative leaders of the last half of the 20th Century by engaging, preparing and inspiring a new generation of governmental leaders for the 21st Century. Its mission is to inspire citizen participation, elevate government performance, provide non-partisan analysis and assist in providing solutions for public policy issues important to the region, state and nation.

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