June 3, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

 California Senate approves health care for undocumented immigrants — A proposal to expand health care to Californians in the country illegally cleared the Senate on Tuesday, passing on a 28-11 vote and heading to the Assembly. Senate Bill 4 would allow undocumented immigrants to purchase health insurance on the state exchange, pending a federal waiver, and enroll eligible people under the age of 19 in Medi-Cal, the state’s insurance program for the poor. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

 Dan Walters: An illusion of action in California’s Capitol — In brief, what’s happening this week in and around the Capitol is just a practice game – spring training, as it were, for the real games ahead. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

 Prop 47 DNA fix passes California Assembly – Legislation reauthorizing DNA sample collection for crimes newly downgraded to misdemeanors sailed the the California Assembly on Tuesday. Sacramento Bee article


State budget

 Sacramento Bee: Lawmakers enjoy windfall, but for how long? — Before lawmakers grow too accustomed to cap and trade, they will need to grapple with basic questions: Is it legal, how should it be extended, and will cap and trade continue to defy gravity? Sacramento Bee editorial

 Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

 California may pay for recounts in close statewide elections — Taxpayers would pay for future recounts in close statewide elections under a bill advancing through the Legislature. AP article



 Little-known state provision gives some undocumented immigrants full Medi-Cal — Most undocumented immigrants throughout the country aren’t eligible for Medicaid or Medi-Cal because of their immigration status. But in California there’s a little known provision that allows certain immigrants to obtain full-scope Medi-Cal benefits even if they aren’t here legally.  KVPR report

 Other areas


California Senate approves increase in legal age to buy tobacco – With no debate and bipartisan support, the state Senate voted 26-8 on Tuesday to raise the legal age to buy tobacco in California from 18 to 21. Capitol Alert; LA Times article

 Assembly approves two different approaches to boost voter registration –  In a bid to improve California’s lagging voter participation, lawmakers in the Assembly approved two measures Tuesday that aim to increase registration among eligible citizens.  LA Times article

 Law students propose bill to close lucrative Capitol lobbying loophole – The three law students lingered anxiously outside a Capitol hearing room, waiting to learn the fate of an entire school year of work. They had sponsored a proposal to shed light on who lobbies to sell the state more than $1 billion in goods and services each year, and it had stalled, one vote short in its first committee. LA Times article

 Joel Fox: California tax and spend issues reflect national debate – Yesterday, two articles appeared that took note of circumstances surrounding California’s taxing and spending. As the most populated state in the union that is not too surprising. However, is the national attention a reflection of how the press sees some of the coming debates in next year’s presidential contest?Fox in Fox & Hounds

 Court upholds Schwarzenegger reduction of Nunez prison sentence — A Sacramento appellate court ruled Tuesday that it was not illegal for former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to drastically reduce the prison term of Esteban Nunez, son of Fabian Nunez, former Assembly speaker and Schwarzenegger ally, without notifying the prosecutors and the crime victims, but it “could be seen as deserving of censure and grossly unjust.”  Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File
News Briefs

Top Stories

 California water use declines $13.5 percent, state board reports – Californians used 13.5% less water in April compared to the same month in 2013 in response to Gov. Jerry Brown’s historic executive order requiring increased conservation in the fourth year of drought, the State Water Resources Board reported Tuesday. LA Times article; AP article; San Francisco Chronicle article; KQED report; Bakersfield Californian article; AP: ‘California’s biggest drought guzzlers, savers in April’

 Drought saps $2.7 billion from California economy, report says – The drought is on track to dry up $2.7 billion in revenue and erase more than 18,600 jobs from the California economy this year, according to a preliminary reportLA Times article; Stockton Record article

 Farm bureaus jump into Supreme Court high-speed rail case — case before the California Supreme Court over a freight railroad in the northwestern reaches of the state has drawn the attention of agricultural organizations in the central San Joaquin Valley, but not because they have a particular stake in trains running through Santa Rosa, Ukiah and Eureka.  Fresno Bee article


Jobs and the Economy

 Modesto City Council passes budget, discusses sales tax increase – The City Council passed Modesto’s $367 million operating budget Tuesday night, but not before its members had a lengthy – and at times lively – discussion on whether they should put a sales tax on the November ballot. Modesto Bee article

 Fresno ranks 8th in California for incoming investment – Fresno County has ranked No. 8 on a list of California locations receiving the greastest amount of investment in the local economy. Using a number of metrics including business growth, GDP growth, new building permits and per capita municipal bonds, New York-based financial technology company SmartAsset completed the study determining places in the state most poised for growth. The Business Journal article

 Court reverses controversial contract method used by Fresno Unified — A Fresno County Superior Court decision involving two of the city’s biggest-name public and private players — Fresno Unified School District and Harris Construction Co. — has been reversed, calling into question a controversial construction deal the district made for Rutherford B. Gaston Middle School.Fresno Bee article


Pacific trade deal could help Kings’ economy – There’s been a lot of back-and-forth controversy recently about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the proposed agreement that would more closely link the economies of the U.S. and 10 other Pacific Rim countries. But there may be a developing consensus that the partnership would be a good thing for Valley agriculture.Hanford Sentinel article

 New MODSpace to nurture tech innovators in Stanislaus – A collaborative space for technology entrepreneurs has just been unveiled in downtown Modesto but already has seven people sharing it. Modesto Bee article

 Panel adjusts Sacramento budget to forestall deficit – A city committee tweaked Sacramento’s proposed budget Tuesday in hopes of postponing a deficit until 2018 by relying more on revenue from the city’s temporary sales tax hike. Sacramento Bee article

 Study: Minorities in retail get paid less, promoted less – African-American and Latino cashiers, salespeople and first-line managers are paid less, are less likely to be promoted off the floor and more likely to be poorer than their white counterparts in the retail industry, a new study showed Tuesday. AP article

 CoreLogic: Valley home prices increased in April — Fresno home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 4.2 percent in April compared to a year ago, according to CoreLogic’s home price index. Excluding distressed sales, year-over-year prices were up 3.8 percent. The Business Journal article

 LA, Long Beach ports losing to rivals amid struggle with giant ships — The ports are scrambling to respond to rapid changes in global shipping, most notably the advent of giant cargo ships now clogging the docks with massive loads. Labor strife — including the recent longshoremen’s contract impasse and the lasting effects of a 2002 lockout — has also played a role in the ports’ shrinking market share. LA Times article

 Brian Rice: Pensions aren’t being paid at expense of filling potholes – The president of Sacramento Area Fire Fighters writes, “As we accelerate into another election season, critics of public employee retirement benefits are engaging in hyperbole and pointing to potholes as evidence that millions of elderly Californians should be stripped of their retirement savings.” Rice op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 LA proposal would block Airbnb hosts from creating ‘rogue hotels’ — Two Los Angeles lawmakers are proposing new rules to bar people from renting out houses or apartments for short stays if the home is not their primary residence — a rule aimed at preventing housing from being bought up and operated like hotels. LA Times article

 Mishap leaves home-care workers waiting weeks for paychecks — Thousands of taxpayer-funded home-care workers in Los Angeles County haven’t been paid for weeks, and officials are scrambling to figure out what went wrong. LA Times article



 More drought cutbacks for California farmers – In a potentially significant setback for the state’s fragile water system, California regulators have ordered a temporary curb in the flows being released from Lake Shasta in order to protect an endangered species of salmon.  Sacramento Bee article

 Study: California farmers to fallow 560,000 acres of crops this year — California farmers will fallow hundreds of thousands of acres and employ fewer workers in 2015, but the drought will not cripple the state’s agricultural industry, UC Davis researchers said Tuesday. Sacramento Bee article

 California won’t identify who’s draining the state’s groundwater — A new law that attempts to preserve California’s precious groundwater comes with a catch: The state will hide the names of people draining this vast underground water source, Reveal has learned. Center for Investigative Reporting article

 California drought defies easy solutions at Senate hearing – Expanding California’s San Luis Reservoir may present a “great opportunity for increasing water supplies,” a key Obama administration official said Tuesday. But building a bunch of big new dams is not a viable solution to the state’s present drought emergency, Deputy Interior Secretary Michael Connor warned lawmakers. McClatchy Newspapers article

 Merced adds restrictions to water use – The Merced City Council unanimously approved changes to the city’s water ordinance this week, adding more restrictions for residents and businesses. The new rules, which went into effect immediately, prohibit residents to water their lawns within 48 hours of “measurable rainfall” – but how much is considered measurable is yet to be defined. Merced Sun-Star article

 Oakdale Irrigation District rejects petition but ups farmers’ water shares – The drought may be worsening, but water prospects for Oakdale-area farmers keep getting better. On Tuesday, Oakdale Irrigation District leaders unanimously agreed to increase established customers’ 2015 allotment to 40 inches per parcel. Modesto Bee article

 Tulare County jail, park running low on water – Normally, at this time of year, inmates and convicted felons serving in work-release programs would be harvesting acres of alfalfa on the Tulare County Sheriff’s farm north of Visalia. That wasn’t the case Tuesday. Visalia Times-Delta article

 Drought intensifies debate on backyard pools – The backyard swimming pool is again in regulators’ crosshairs as they scramble to save enough water to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s order to cut urban use 25%. LA Times article

 Lake to deliver irrigation water starting June 8 — Victor Hernandez, operations manager for Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District (KDWCD), said farmers will start receiving water released from Lake Kaweah beginning June 8 with a run on the St. Johns River expected by June 10. River flows on the St. Johns will be limited to about three weeks down only as far as Cutler Park, east of Visalia.  Visalia Times-Delta article

 Sacramento to keep closer tabs on city’s water use – The city’s latest attempt to limit Sacramento’s water use amid a historic and unrelenting drought means cracking down on residential water use every day, including the wee hours of the night.  Sacramento Bee article

 Without water meters, how does a town conserve? – Birds are a big seller at Orduño’s Cattle Ranch and Feed Store, one of only a few businesses in the tiny Tulare County farming town of Sultana, population 750. His hundreds of birds need lots of drinking water, but Orduño says he doles out the water gingerly and doesn’t just let the hose run. And he conserves in other ways.KQED report

 An ancient Native American drought solution for a parched California — In the Sierra Nevada, above Fresno, North Fork Mono Indians are working to thin the forest. The group’s goal is twofold. Save water and prevent large-scale forest fires. North Fork Mono Indians have been using this approach for centuries, but now California’s severe drought means these ancient techniques are being looked at as a possible long-term solution. KVPR report

 Penalties target heavy water users in Malibu, Antelope Valley, Topanga — Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to adopt a conservation plan that would penalize heavy water users in the Antelope Valley, Malibu and Topanga areas. LA Times article

 Agreement may unravel wage hike ending Baja farmworkers strike — Violent protests gave way to celebrations last month when the Mexican federal government — in a last-ditch effort to end the Baja California farmworker strike — tentatively agreed to boost wages by footing part of the increased payroll costs. LA Times article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

 State to create new lethal injection method under legal settlement — Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has agreed in a settlement to propose a new lethal injection method this year, it was announced Tuesday. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article

 Lawsuit filed in connection with police shooting where body was allegedly ‘tickled’ — A lawsuit was filed against the Bakersfield Police Department Tuesday in connection with the shooting death of a man in November of last year whose corpse was later allegedly tickled and otherwise manipulated by an officer.  Bakersfield Californian article

 Merced DA’s son files claim for damages against county for arrest — The son of the Merced County district attorney has filed a claim for damages against the county in connection with his arrest on a murder charge last year.  Merced Sun-Star article


 California school spending lagged U.S., but has surged – California’s spending on its 6-plus million K-12 public school students lagged behind the national average two years ago, according to a new Census Bureau report. However, under Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2015-16 budget, California’s per pupil spending will have jumped by nearly 50 percent since then and should crack the ranks of the highest spending states. Capitol Alert

 California Senate votes to expand grants for university students – The state Senate on Tuesday approved legislation that would increase the number of university students getting financial aid and provide special grants to those attending the California State University system who stay on track to graduate in four years. LA Times article

 Many black adults in educational limbo – some college credit but no degree – A report last week by the nonprofit Campaign for College Opportunity focused on the educational challenges faced by California’s African American population. Nearly a third of black adults in the state have some college education but no degree, according to the report, the highest rate of any racial or ethnic group. Overall, about 4.5 million California adults never completed their studies. LA Times article

 Clovis Unified reaches agreement on eagle feather with Native American student – Clovis Unified reached an agreement with a Native American student who wants to wear a feather to his graduation.  ABC30 (Fresno) report

 Schools face challenge of explaining Common Core test results to parents – As school districts wrap up administering new online assessments aligned with the Common Core, educators now face another challenge: how best to share with millions of parents how their children fared on the tests. EdSource article

 Assembly approves bill that would broaden screening for student dyslexia – The state Assembly has unanimously approved a bill by Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, that would broaden the scope of screenings for students with dyslexia.  Contra Costa Times article

 On Campus: Enochs teens seek to open eyes to violence – The teens use pointed questions to drive home the statistics about assaults, display familiar ads that suddenly look shockingly sexual, and call out the casual slang that dehumanizes their fellow teens. The language, it should be said up front, is not for tender ears. Modesto Bee article

 Merced elementary recognized for growth in positive behavior — Students at Ada Givens Elementary School transformed the Green Street campus into a luau Tuesday in celebration of a new award that recognizes their growth in positive behavior. The school recently achieved “gold level” status for its five-year implementation of the nationally recognized Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports system. Merced Sun-Star article


 State emergency orders renew finger-pointing between neighboring oil producers – Continuing seepage near the site of a fatal oil field sinkhole near Taft, combined with a previously unreported second hole that nearly injured a worker last summer, has prompted a new round of emergency actions by state regulators and competing accusations by neighboring petroleum producers. Bakersfield Californian article

 Lawmakers propose tougher rules after oil pipeline spill – Alarmed by last month’s oil spill off Refugio State Beach, two lawmakers from Santa Barbara County announced Tuesday that they would propose requiring annual pipeline inspections, quicker responses to leaks and better prevention technology. LA Times article

 Dead trout surface at Hidden Valley Park — Droves of dead fish have been washing ashore at Hidden Valley Park, much to the horror of some park goers. Hanford Sentinel article

Health/Human Services

 Thousands urge Brown to boost Medi-Cal spending – Thousands of Californians rallied outside the state Capitol Tuesday to call on Gov. Jerry Brown to increase funding for Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program for the poor. AP article

 Latest Obamacare enrollment slips but still outpaces 2014 – Nationwide enrollment in health plans provided through the Affordable Care Act slipped to 10.2 million in March as consumers dropped coverage or failed to pay premiums on policies they selected, the Obama administration announced Tuesday.  LA Times article

 San Francisco supervisors moving to regulate soda – You may remember that San Francisco voters rejected a soda tax last fall. The tax failed to get the two-thirds vote it needed, but did get a solid majority — 56 percent. Three San Francisco supervisors are taking that voter sentiment and moving ahead with proposed ordinances that — while short of a tax — would still regulate soda and other sugary beverages in other ways. KQED report

 CDC: U.S. melanoma rate is now double what it was 30 years ago – The incidence of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has doubled in the U.S. in the last 30 years and is on track to remain high unless Americans take more precautions to protect themselves from ultraviolet radiation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. LA Times article

 Price of a common surgery varies from $39,000 to $237,000 in LA – A short drive in the Los Angeles area can yield big differences in price for knee or hip replacement surgery. New Medicare data show that Inglewood’s Centinela Hospital Medical Center billed the federal program $237,063, on average, for joint replacement surgery in 2013. LA Times article

 Here’s how to fight an erroneous health insurance bill — A survey last month by Consumers Union found that nearly one in four Californians with private insurance faces surprise medical bills, in which the insurer paid less than expected. Today, I’m going to give you some very simple advice to deploy if — and when — you receive a surprise bill: Fight it. KQED report


Railroad wants 40 years to complete expansion project – Union Pacific Railroad will ask the county to approve a development agreement this week that will grant the agency as much as 40 years to complete a proposed $238 million expansion project in French Camp. Stockton Record article

 Sacramento streetcar funding plan appears headed to ballot defeat – Sacramento’s decade-long effort to launch a new generation of trolley cars on downtown streets appears to have been stopped in its tracks Tuesday night. Sacramento Bee article

 Bill would prohibit Golden Gate Bridge from charging pedestrians, bicyclists — Crossing San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge would remain free to pedestrians and bicyclists under a bill advancing through the Legislature. AP article

 Other areas

 Sacramento Bee: Far from the spotlight, the really brave transgender Americans – If Jenner’s example offers some hope and if all the attention she is getting increases awareness and tolerance, that’s wonderful. But there are many Americans trying to make the same transition who don’t have a team of publicists or a supportive network of family and friends. Unknown to the masses, they’re the ones really being brave. Sacramento Bee editorial

 Kern steps up illegal fireworks enforcement – While the City of Bakersfield dropped the ball on its free fireworks show, the Kern County Fire Department is stepping up its efforts to combat illegal fireworks. Bakersfield Californian article

 Lois Henry: Fireworks show should not have slipped through cracks – When you’re at war, it’s helpful if your soldiers actually care enough to bring their ammo. That’s my take on the city letting its wonderful fireworks show fall through the cracks this year. Bakersfield Californian article

 Kern supervisors consider sovereign tribal nation within county – Kern County will move toward building a formal agreement with the Tejon Indian Tribe. The Kern County Board of Supervisors directed the County Administrative Office to begin negotiations with the tribe on a government-to-government agreement that could ultimately govern how an independent nation — and possibly a casino — would be developed here. Bakersfield Californian article

 Parks controversy extend beyond rejected bus ad – After the City of Fresno rejected a proposed bus ad about the lack of parks in South Fresno last week, the controversy over the issue  has only grown. The ad from the group Building Healthy Communities cited city data that shows North Fresno residents have over four times the amount of park space per capita as those who live south of Shaw Avenue. KVPR report

 Grand jury: Tracy, Stockton Unified have complied – The Civil Grand Jury followed up on a previous grand jury investigation of Stockton Unified School District’s police hiring practices and City of Tracy’s business dealings involving Tracy airport, and has determined both government entities complied with responding to the reports.  Stockton Record article

 Newer, bigger library for downtown Clovis gets Fresno County support – Fresno County supervisors gave their support Tuesday to a plan that will use $8 million to $10 million for a new, larger library in downtown Clovis. The city of Clovis will help raise between $2 million and $4 million to build the library. Fresno Bee article

 Softball league adds to Fresno Fire Captain Pete Dern’s fundraising effort – A local senior softball league has contributed $4,000 to the fundraising effort for Fresno Fire Capt. Pete Dern, joining an outpouring that has raised over $172,000 in about two months.  Fresno Bee article

 Cal Fire’s oaths not always followed — There are 115 words in the oath taken by California’s state firefighters, including these: “It is my duty … to be honest in thought and deed in both my personal and professional life. I will be exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and the regulations of my department.” Now an unusual provision in discipline settlements reached between the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and two firefighters suggests a degree of mistrust between Cal Fire leaders and hiring managers, oath aside. Sacramento Bee article

 Stockton Record: Rising justice – A new San Joaquin County courthouse – so long both a dream and a need – is on its way to becoming reality. Stockton Record editorial

 Jeff Jardine: Modesto’s cruising-era enforcer dies at 84 — Cruisers remember Leroy Applequist. Chances are, if they raced their cars on Modesto’s streets, he gave them a ticket. Over time, though, he also became their friend. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno 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.

Sacramento Bee – If Jenner’s example offers some hope and if all the attention she is getting increases awareness and tolerance, that’s wonderful. But there are many Americans trying to make the same transition who don’t have a team of publicists or a supportive network of family and friends. Unknown to the masses, they’re the ones really being brave; Before lawmakers grow too accustomed to cap and trade, they will need to grapple with basic questions: Is it legal, how should it be extended, and will cap and trade continue to defy gravity?

Stockton Record – A new San Joaquin County courthouse – so long both a dream and a need – is on its way to becoming reality.

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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