March 28, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Dan Walters: California lawmakers redefine adulthood  — The Legislature is grappling with redefining adulthood this year, as well as the larger question of how far government should go to protect adults from their own foibles. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

News of minimum wage hike deal in California is met with relief – and anxious arithmetic — Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego are among the cities that have already agreed to increase the minimum wage over the next few years. But other municipalities have expressed little desire to join them, prompting some to wonder if businesses would move to avoid the higher pay requirements. Backers of the state deal say it would end this patchwork approach and prevent the chaotic economic competition between cities that some have feared. LA Times article

Gov. Brown

Quin Denvir to Jerry Brown: Commute all death row sentences — Quin Denvir, long an opponent of the death penalty and one of the lawyers who steered Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski around probable execution, has asked Gov. Jerry Brown to commute the sentences of California’s death row prisoners. Sacramento Bee article

San Bernardino Shootings

How San Bernardino County is helping victims move forward after shooting — Since December’s mass shooting, a transition team has been taking care of survivors and keeping a now-hobbled Environmental Health Services division going. KPCC report

Other areas

Bay Area lawmaker, grieving mom push for breathalyzers in DUI offender cars – Mothers Against Drunk Driving and a Bay Area legislator begin a push this week in Sacramento to require ignition interlock devices be installed for at least six months in cars of California motorists convicted of driving under the influence.Sacramento Bee article

As California primary nears, state Democrats are united behind Clinton and against a common enemy: Trump – While both Democratic camps prepare for a final battle in the state’s June 7 primary, the latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times statewide poll found that just over half of Sanders’ supporters said they expected Clinton to be the next president. About a third of Sanders’ backers said they expected the Vermont senator to emerge the winner, and 12% said they thought Donald Trump would prevail. LA Times article

Clinton burns Sanders in poll of San Francisco Democrats — For all of their progressive image, San Francisco Democrats do not appear to be feeling “the Bern” — with Hillary Clinton besting Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by 54 percent to 42 percent among likely primary voters, according to a new poll making the rounds. San Francisco Chronicle article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories 

Changes could add hundreds of millions of dollars to first 29 miles of bullet train – The California rail authority is facing hundreds of millions of dollars in potential change orders and other prospective cost increases on the first 29 miles of the bullet train system, state and private contractor documents show. LA Times article 

Gov. Brown’s $17 million Delta tunnels plan faces a new hurdle – a leading taxpayers organization — In a development that casts significant doubt on whether Silicon Valley’s largest water district will help pay for Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17 billion Delta tunnels plan, a majority of Santa Clara Valley Water District board members now say they want to put the issue to a public vote. San Jose Mercury News article

Jobs and the Economy

Some restaurants face pressure to trim menus and staffs under California’s wage hike – A deal that would raise California’s minimum wage to $15 an hour was met with a mixture of joy and anxiety across the state Sunday. Some workers and labor officials hailed it as a breakthrough in providing higher-wage jobs in fields where it’s a struggle to make ends meet. But some business owners feared the shift would hurt their bottom lines — and perhaps even put them out of business. LA Times articleSan Jose Mercury News article

State-managed retirement plan for state workers takes shape – By the end of the decade, millions of California workers could be enrolled automatically in a state-run retirement program viewed by proponents as the most significant attempt to address golden-years poverty since the New Deal. Sacramento Bee article

Bakersfield California: Vote Yes: Measure F funds Kern County’s libraries — In June, voters will be asked to demonstrate their support for the Kern County Library System by passing Measure F, which creates a one-eighth-cent sales tax to help keep library doors open, books on the shelves and essential programs operating. We urge voters to approve Measure F. The fraction-of-a-cent tax is a small amount to pay to preserve a cherished educational and cultural resource. Bakersfield Californian editorial

Turlock city attorney offers diversion program to homeless – The Turlock Police Department and the City Attorney’s Office each recently implemented programs that offer alternatives and attempt to address the problem at its root by getting the homeless population connected to services. City Attorney Phaedra Norton’s diversion program offers offenders of city code violations an alternative to the court process through a partnership with the Turlock Gospel Mission. Modesto Bee article 

Effort to get homeless services can be an uphill battle – Turlock police and the city attorney recently launched programs designed to engage the homeless and offer them an alternative to prosecution if they are willing to accept help. It’s a model other cities could consider if it is successful, but versions of it are already being done around Stanislaus County. Modesto Bee article

Annual state report begins showing pension debt – Following new accounting rules, the annual state financial report issued this month shows a “net pension liability” of $63.7 billion, a dramatic increase from the $3.2 billion “net pension obligation” reported last year. Calpensions article

Crab fisherman wait to hear if season can start in earnest — With crab pots and equipment already piled high in their boats, commercial fishermen along much of the Northern California coast at long last are poised to set sail this week, launching the Dungeness crab season after state officials finally declared the iconic creatures safe to eat. San Jose Mercury News article

Survey: Economists more pessimistic on growth this year — Business economists are more pessimistic, predicting weaker growth in corporate profit and the economy than they were late last year, a survey found. AP article

Sacramento Bee: Sacramento City Council must protect the poor from rate hikes — Some can afford a new round of rate hikes without too much trouble. But many others will feel the pain, and for them the city must make absolutely sure they get all the help they deserve. Sacramento Bee editoria


Merced Irrigation District board to vote on water for farmers – The Merced Irrigation District’s board of directors is expected to decide on Tuesday how much water the water agency will deliver to farmers for the upcoming irrigation season. The board’s operating budget tentatively has determined 275,000 acre-feet of surface water to be sold at $66 per acre-foot. That’s an increase of about 100,000 acre-feet from MID’s draft budget. Merced Sun-Star article 

John McManus: Commercial fishers need water for their ‘crops,’ too – The executive director of the Golden Gate Salmon Association writes, “Drought has hurt us all, let’s be frank. San Joaquin Valley residents know how it’s hurt their region. Let me share some experiences from the coast, where we rely on salmon to make a living.” McManus op-ed in Fresno Bee

 Don Curlee: Farmers watch agency crumble — Watching a tragedy occur is a painful experience, but California agriculture is having to tolerate the pain as a once-respected and pertinent state agency appears to be on the brink of disintegration. The Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) is taking steps to destroy itself and the act that created it, the 40-year-old Agricultural Labor Relations Act. Curlee in Visalia Times-Delta

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Slaying of girl, 8, puts focus on problematic death penalty — A decision by prosecutors to seek the death penalty in a high-profile Oakland murder case going to trial Monday is focusing renewed attention on capital punishment in a state where no prisoners have been executed in more than a decade. San Francisco Chronicle article


CSU faculty want a 5 percent raise.  What do they earn now? – An analysis by The Bakersfield Californian of CSUB salary data shows full-time faculty members earned between $50,000 and $96,000 during the 2014-2015 academic year — well more than Bakersfield’s $23,786 median per capita income in 2014. But, of course, a variety of faculty types work on the west Bakersfield campus. Bakersfield Californian article

CSU Stanislaus makes federal list for low-income success – Seeing more of its low-income students leave with a diploma in hand has brought California State University, Stanislaus, a measure of fame in recent years. Now the Turlock university tops an unranked national list that could bring it a funding boost as well as glory. Modesto Bee article

Retiring community colleges chancellor discusses challenges — Brice W. Harris lives and breathes community colleges. He was chancellor of the Los Rios Community College District in the Sacramento area for 16 years and president of Fresno City College before that. In November 2012, he became chancellor of the California Community Colleges, a loose system of 72 districts, 113 colleges and 2.1 million students. Harris, 67, is retiring from that statewide job on April 1. EdSource article

River Islands Technology Academy: Same school but new charter — Starting this summer, the River Islands Technology Academy will be overseen by the San Joaquin County Office of Education instead of the Banta Elementary School District. Susan Dell’Osso, president of the school’s board of trustees, said the school will cancel its charter on June 30 and will be re-named River Islands Technology Academy 2 on July 1 at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year. Stockton Record article


San Francisco, ‘the Silicon Valley of recycling’ — You won’t find San Francisco’s Pier 96 in any travel guidebook but it has become a must-see destination for visitors from Afghanistan to Vietnam. They’ve come to explore Recology — Mr. Reed is a spokesman — one of the world’s most advanced recycling plants, a deafening, Rube Goldberg system of conveyor belts and sorters that, with the help of human hands, untangles a 30-foot hill of debris collected by trucks every day from across the city. New York Times article

Health/Human Services 

Fresno cystic fibrosis clinic brings hope, help to Valley patients — A new UCSF Fresno clinic at Community Regional Medical Center is prolonging the lives of those affected with cystic fibrosis. The only one of its kind in the central San Joaquin Valley, the clinic currently treats more than 40 patients with the disease. Fresno Bee article

Discount card program offers savings on prescription meds in Stanislaus County — A program in Stanislaus County is offering drug discount cards to the uninsured and others who have limited health insurance. Officials said the Coast2Coast Rx Card allows a cardholder to save up to 75 percent on the costs of a prescription medication. Modesto Bee article

Pharmaceutical industry is lobbying hard against an LA Count drug take-back proposal – Proponents say the program would reduce chemicals ending up in the water supply, and would help curb prescription drug abuse by making sure that unused drugs are safely disposed of rather than stockpiled in medicine cabinets. The opponents say it would be costly and have little effect on the problem.  LA Times article 

Wagner Heights Nursing center sued — Wagner Heights Nursing and Rehabilitation Center is facing two unrelated lawsuits charging it with elder abuse and negligence. One of the suits goes even further, claiming that neglect and abuse led to the wrongful death of a 77-year-old Stockton man last summer. Stockton Record article


Sacramento unveils $3.6 billion transportation project to-do list — Sacramento County transportation planners have a billion-dollar decision to make next month – whether to ask county voters for a half-cent sales tax increase to help fund a series of major road and transit improvements to reduce congestion. Sacramento Bee article

Turlock holding second meeting about West Main — Early plans the city is considering to improve traffic flow along West Main Street west of downtown will be made available for public comment at a second community meeting Tuesday evening in City Hall. Modesto Bee article