June 2, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

 State Senate backs $13 million minimum wage, disclosure of who provides free trips – The state Senate on Monday passed a bill that would raise California’s $9 minimum wage to $11 an hour on Jan. 1 and boost it again to $13 in 2017. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article

 Lawmakers air differences in budget debate in Capitol — Lawmakers began hashing out the final version of California’s budget on Monday, and they were careful to downplay any disagreements over spending. After all, the debate is centered around just 2% of the general fund.  LA Times article

 State budget

 Lillian Taiz: CSU gets stiffed in Brown’s budget, again – The president of the California Faculty Association writes, “Another year and another disappointing state budget allocation for the California State University.” Taiz op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

 Dan Walters: The rules of politics are in flux — It’s natural, one supposes, that politicians are preoccupied with election rules since they are huge factors in who wins and loses. Currently, California’s political class is all atwitter over two pending U.S. Supreme Court cases. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

 Dan Schnur: In AG race, Sanchez needs to sacrifice charisma to catch Harris– Sanchez may want to be more cautious in the weeks and months ahead, even if it means sacrificing some of her trademark charisma along the way. Schnur in Fox & Hounds



 California bill aims to protect immigrant crime victims — The California state Senate has approved a bill to help immigrant victims of crime avoid detention and deportation. AP article

 Other areas


The $1 fine that cost taxpayers $106,173.50 — In the middle of a marathon session ahead of a looming bill deadline, the Assembly on Monday quickly passed a measure appropriating money to settle some cases with the state. One item directed $106,173.50 to former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. The payout essentially reflects a misstep by the California Fair Political Practices Commission. Sacramento Bee article

 California Senate Oks scaled-down travel disclosure bill – California state senators on Monday advanced a scaled-down version of a political ethics bill after the initial proposal was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who said it would complicate campaign disclosure rather than reduce influence. AP article; LA Times article

 Bills flesh out Jerry Brown’s plans for retiree health benefits – Even as Gov. Jerry Brown bargains changes to retiree health benefits with four state-employee unions, his administration has drawn up some unnumbered bills that reveal the governor’s thinking on how to cut those costs long-term. Sacramento Bee article

 Sacramento Bee: Senators get a sweet ride on taxpayers’ dime – If taxpayers are expected to pay drivers to tuck senators in at night, logs of the trips, including names of the legislators and the times and places of the pickups, ought to be open for public review. We await the results. Sacramento Bee editorial

 Mathis’ bill going to Assembly floor – Members of the California Assembly are expected to vote Wednesday whether to pass AssemblymanDevon Mathis’ bill to earmark $10 million for homeowner to pay for drilling new wells or to connect their homes to community water systems. Visalia Times-Delta article

 John Vigna: Blackout periods won’t stop special interests – The former president of California Young Democrats writes, “Banning contributions during a handful of days each year is an implicit indictment that donations directly impact votes the rest of the year. If so, why not ban them altogether?” Vigna op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 Democrat Ami Bera getting hit from left – and right – As he faces withering critiques from organized labor over trade, Rep. Ami Bera also is taking early fire from traditional foes. The National Republican Congressional Committee launched a paid web advertisement Monday accusing the second-term congressman of lacking originality when it comes to authoring guest commentaries. Capitol Alert

 Holly Mitchell unhappy with teacher union criticism of child care proposal – State Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, said she is upset with the California Teachers Association’s vocal opposition to the Senate’s plan to cover much of its proposed higher spending on child care with money allocated under the Proposition 98 funding guarantee for schools. Capitol Alert

 Assembly passes bill making cheerleading official sport — High school cheerleading would become an official school sport in California under legislation that passed the Assembly on Monday.  Capitol Alert


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File
News Briefs

Top Stories

 Drought taking a lower-than-expected toll on Valley jobs, economy — California’s ongoing drought took about 500,000 acres out of agricultural production last year, but the number of farm jobs statewide actually rose from 2013 levels — a development that confounded economists trying to estimate the fiscal effects of the dry weather.  Fresno Bee article

 Farmers submitting plans to save water under deal — Dozens of farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta submitted plans Monday to the state saying they intend to plant less thirsty crops and leave some fields unplanted to meet voluntary water conservation targets amid the relentless California drought, officials said. AP article; Stockton Record article


Jobs and the Economy

 Paramount Farms parent company renamed The Wonderful Company – Roll Global, the parent company of Paramount Farms, a leading grower of citrus, pomegranates and nuts, is changing its name to The Wonderful Company. The name change is designed to give the farming giant a more unified presence in the marketplace. Fresno Bee article; Bakersfield Californian article

 Water conservation hurts Tulare revenue funds – The newly-adopted water conservation practices in Tulare will not just leave consumers dry. The city’s water fund will likely see a shortfall as well.  Visalia Times-Delta article

 Number of Fresno homeless drops by half in two years – The number of unsheltered homeless people in Fresno has fallen by more than half since 2013 when encampments spread across city streets, according to a preliminary report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban DevelopmentFresno Bee article; The Business Journal article; KVPR report

 Council begins long-term effort to address homelessness in Stanislaus – A council of community leaders convened Monday for what’s expected to be a long-haul prevention effort, which will focus on homelessness and attempt to tackle other social problems in Stanislaus County. Modesto Bee article

 ‘Tent city’s’ longest resident finds housing – Vicki Davis, the longest-tenured resident of Bakersfield’s now-defunct “tent city” of homeless folk, fell in love with one particular feature of her new apartment on move-in day. Bakersfield Californian article

 Modesto considers urban growth boundary, budget – The Modesto City Council on Tuesday is expected to put an urban growth boundary on the November ballot and give its first of two approvals to a $367 million operating budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year, which starts July 1. Modesto Bee article

 California lawmakers advance ‘wage theft’ bill for workers – California lawmakers have advanced a “wage theft” bill in an effort to crack down on employers that shortchange workers.AP article

 Number of overseas visitors to California rises 11 percent in 2014 – California hosted 7.2 million overseas visitors last year, an 11% increase over 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.  LA Times article

 CSET receives funding for education program – A local service organization is getting cash to make a bigger impact in the community. The California Department of Community Services and Development awarded millions of dollars to programs all over the state, whose main focus is to reduce childhood poverty, cultivate youth employment services and help homeless individuals. Visalia Times-Delta article

 Daniel Borenstein: Fire district of infamous pension-spiking chief faces $79 million of retirement debt — Six years after the Moraga Orinda Fire District drew national attention for its pension-spiking former chief, the agency continues to suffer a huge financial hangover from costly retirement benefits. Borenstein in Contra Costa Times

 Elon Musk defends his firm’s government subsidies – Elon Musk says his companies don’t need the estimated $4.9 billion they enjoy in government support, but the money will help them move faster to transform the dirty business of energy.  LA Times article

 California bill prohibits crackdown on sleeping in cars — The California Assembly is advancing legislation to protect homeless people who live in their cars from fines and vehicle impounds. Local governments could not punish people caught sleeping in cars under AB718. AP article


 California’s required statewide water cuts kick in – California on Monday officially began its unprecedented effort to conserve water in the midst of a fourth year of severe drought, marching out orders for communities statewide to make reductions of up to 36 percent. San Francisco Chronicle article

 As California drought worsens, experts urge water reforms –  As mandatory water restrictions took effect Monday across California, a panel of experts called upon the drought-plagued state to upgrade its water infrastructure and reform its antiquated water rights system. LA Times article

 Earth Log: El Nino? Yes. Gully-washing winter? Well, maybe – Why are there so many news stories out there right now about the latest El Niño? Because climatologists are saying the shallow blob of warm water in the Pacific Ocean is a little different this year. It appears to be building into something bigger. Meteorologists are seeing a connection to the big rains and floods in Texas. How strong is it right now? Earth Log in Fresno Bee

 Cal Water changes mind, won’t restrict pool draining – In a reversal almost certain to send a wave of relief over pool owners and pool cleaners alike, Bakersfield’s largest water company has decided to let residential customers drain and refill their pools after all. Bakersfield Californian article

 Car washes and pools: Winners and losers of California’s drought – The meter has officially started running on California’s efforts to meet strict new water conservation targets from Governor Jerry Brown. The first-ever statewide urban restrictions aim to cut water use by an average of 25 percent. KQED report

 California drought throws cold water on swimming pools – Once a pillar of suburban comfort, the backyard swimming pool is now the prey of many California communities trying to save water. Drought policies passed by cities and utilities across the Bay Area and beyond are increasingly targeting the liquid luxury by limiting how often pools can be filled and by how much — and sometimes barring fill-ups entirely. San Francisco Chronicle article

 California drought: Ag industry ‘resilient’ – Despite the severe drought, the economic impacts on California’s agriculture industry so far, are relatively small. More than 500,000 acres of California agricultural land was fallowed last year. But there wasn’t a significant falloff in Central Valley employment because much of the land wasn’t labor-intensive. Capital Public Radio report

 Water-saving mandate kicks in – As California’s emergency water conservation mandate went into effect Monday, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other mayors in the region gathered to urge the public to take the mandate seriously. San Diego Union-Tribune article

 Sacramento Bee: Don’t let up on saving water — It takes a lot of thirsty lawns to add up to water being sucked up by commercial and industrial customers. Sacramento Bee editorial

 Foster Farms launches organic, antibiotic-free chicken lines — Foster Farms on Monday announced its first lines of organic and antibiotic-free chicken. The company said it is now the West’s largest producer of organic chicken, made without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides on feed, and the antibiotic-free version, which avoids the use of drugs that might become resistant to diseases affecting humans.  Modesto Bee article


Dennis Taylor: Pesticides, schools never good neighbors – Pesticides and schools are a lot like peanut butter and fried rice; they don’t belong together. But they are also like fleas on a dog; they aren’t going away anytime soon. Taylor in Visalia Times-Delta


Criminal Justice/Prisons

 Judge disputes state’s execution of convicted murdered-rapist – A federal appeals court judge says a convicted rapist-murderer who was executed at San Quentin in 1998 was “likely innocent” of a capital crime and was put to death only because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that barred a lower court from considering the merits of his case. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Prison overseer says inmate medical care lacking in private lockups – Though healthcare within the state’s 34 prisons continues to improve, problems persist in contract prisons where the state pays to house its overflow inmate population. LA Times article

 Defendant assaults deputy public defender during verdict Monday – A defendant in Kern County Superior Court punched his attorney in the jaw Monday as a court clerk read the jury’s verdict convicting him of three offenses, including assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer.  Bakersfield California article

 Bakersfield police shooting of armed CDCR employee during standoff at hotel ruled within department policy – The Bakersfield Police Department’s Critical Incident Review Board has determined shots fired by two officers at a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation employee who shot a man and holed up inside a hotel were within department policy and state and federal guidelines. Bakersfield Californian article

 Tulare Police Chief Breckinridge still reported out – Tulare Police Chief Jerry Breckinridge was still out on Monday, now making it a week that Capt. Wes Hensley has been leading the department in his place. Visalia Times-Delta article

 Merced Matters: Police volunteers are assets to city — Raymond is one of 11 volunteers helping the city out. His duties as a volunteer, he said, range from running errands to helping with traffic control. Volunteers also assist during city parades and other major events. According to Raymond, who supervises the group, the volunteers do a little bit of everything except take emergency calls and make arrests. Merced Sun-Star article


 Clovis High senior says school won’t let him wear eagle feather on graduation cap – A Clovis High School senior who wants to wear an eagle feather at his graduation ceremony this week plans to file an emergency lawsuit against Clovis Unified School District, which he says is prohibiting him from wearing the cultural, religious and academic symbol that was given to him by his father. Fresno Bee article; AP article

 Keeping up: Bob Beverly Legislative Intern Program – The Maddy Institute at Fresno State reports that its Bob Beverly Legislative Intern Program has placed three Fresno State students with Capitol legislators for the summer.  Capitol Morning Report article

 Senate approves high school sexual violence prevention bill – California lawmakers have approved a “Yes means Yes” bill to bring sexual assault training to California high schools. SB695 would require school districts to make sexual violence prevention part of the curriculum at school districts where health education is a high school graduation requirement. AP article


Free, online test prep for new SAT debuts at Kahn Academy — Students anxious about what the new SAT holds will be able to get their first glimpse at the newly redesigned exam in a series of free practice tests that launched Tuesday by online educational video provider Khan Academy.  EdSource article; LA Times article



 State probing PG&E safety program after concerns raised about potential explosions – The state is investigating a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. safety program — a probe initiated after a member of Congress flagged a potential “safety threat that could lead to explosions,” KQED has learned. KQED report

 Feds step up on water hyacinth – A new and smarter strategy for battling water hyacinth in the Delta won’t die on the vine this year, as the federal government has agreed to contribute $1 million toward continuing the work. Stockton Record article

 Earthquake safety bills advance out of California Assembly – The California Assembly is advancing a pair of bills designed to help buildings withstand earthquakes. The legislation approved unanimously on Monday would expand financial incentives for seismic retrofits.  AP article

10 tons of aluminum, plastic hauled to California in alleged recycling fraud – California’s recycling regulators are trying to put the lid on out-of-state fraud and have busted two accused illegal haulers in the last two months, officials say. LA Times article

 New approach on Mokelumne conflict: Cooperative plan a test case – Choosing collaboration over endless conflict, diverse groups that in the past battled over the Mokelumne River have now produced a more or less unified plan calling for $100 million in improvements in that watershed. Stockton Record article

 Telsa Motors co-founder wants to electrify commercial trucks – Twelve years ago, Ian Wright and some fellow engineers launched Tesla Motors, a Silicon Valley company that has helped jumpstart the market for electric cars. Now, the Tesla co-founder wants to electrify noisy, gas-guzzling trucks that deliver packages, haul garbage and make frequent stops on city streets. AP article


Santa Barbara fisherman files suit against oil pipeline company – A Santa Barbara fisherman is suing the Texas owners of the oil pipeline that ruptured last month, spilling up to 105,000 gallons of crude along the coast near Refugio State Beach, for economic damages.  LA Times article

 Bill seeks to dilute power of utility regulator president – Powers wielded by the president of the state’s top utility regulator would be diluted under a bill moving through the California Legislature.  AP article

 Program makes old paint useful again — There they sit, out in the garage – half-empty cans of paint you last touched years ago. A program called PaintCare is here to help. It collects leftover paint and recycles most of it for other uses, keeping it out of landfills. The national nonprofit started serving the Modesto area in 2013. Modesto Bee article


Health/Human Services

 Training doctors to talk about vaccines fails to sway parents – After years of increasing rates of parents voluntarily choosing to skip vaccinations for their children, public health professionals and researchers have been looking at new ways to ease the concerns of parents who are vaccine hesitant. KQED report

 Breast-feeding may prevent 19 percent of childhood leukemia cases, study says — New mothers can significantly reduce their babies’ risk of developing childhood leukemia by breast-feeding them, according to a new study. LA Times article


Land Use/Housing

 Visalia council votes 3-2 against allowing backyard chickens — The Visalia City Council on Monday voted down a proposed ordinance to allow backyard chickens at homes. The City Council voted to 3-2 against the proposed ordinance, which would have allowed four chickens per household. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article


San Francisco supervisors take Muni challenge seriously: ride it daily — Supervisor Jane Kim waited 21 minutes for a 19-Polk Muni bus to show up and take her three stops — a distance she usually walks in 15 minutes.  San Francisco Chronicle article

 Other areas

 Liberty Animal Control, contractor for Fresno County, files for bankruptcy — Liberty Animal Control, under contract since 2012 to handle animal control for Fresno County, has filed for bankruptcy and is no longer providing the services for the county. Another company, California Animal Control, will take over for the next seven weeks, said David Pomaville, the county’s director of public health. Fresno Bee article

 Could you eat local all of the time? This UC Merced professor thinks so – A new study out of the University of California, Merced suggests that many Americans could sustain themselves off of entirely locally grown or raised food. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports.  KVPR report

 Clovis looks ahead to new downtown library project – The city of Clovis is known for its rodeo and its western themed downtown. Soon you might be able to add to that one of the largest public libraries in the valley. KVPR report

 Oakland council to vote on surveillance camera limits – The Oakland City Council will vote Tuesday on a set of rules to ensure that surveillance cameras at the Port of Oakland could not become — as was once planned across the city — an Orwellian spy system intruding on the privacy of people in and around the port. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Doug Greener: The weather heats up, and do water-related emergencies – The chief of the Bakersfield Fire Department writes, “June is here along with warmer weather, with our sustained triple-digit days usually not far behind. With that in mind, the Bakersfield Fire Department has already been preparing for an increase in emergency responses to our local water recreation sites, lakes, rivers and pools.”  Greener op-ed in Bakersfield Californian


 Valley Editorial Roundup


Fresno Bee – Stand up for “one person, one vote.”

Sacramento Bee – If taxpayers are expected to pay drivers to tuck senators in at night, logs of the trips, including names of the legislators and the times and places of the pickups, ought to be open for public review. We await the results; Don’t let up on saving water.


Stockton RecordCheers and jeers on hope for Fair Oaks Library, San Joaquin Regional Transit District celebrating a milestone, and other issues.


 Upcoming Events

  • The California High-Speed Rail Authority is hosting an Industry Forum on Wednesday, June 10, from 1-3 p.m. in the Wasco Veterans Hall.  The event is for businesses interested in working on the next 22-mile phase of construction in the Central Valley.  Information and registration: http://hsr.ca.gov/Newsroom/events.html.


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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