May 29, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Brown makes case for tunnels project to business, civic leaders — Calling it a “challenge we have to respond to,” Gov. Jerry Brown told hundreds of business owners and others Thursday that the state needs to push forward with his administration’s plans for two water diversion tunnels to protect its economy.  Sacramento Bee article

California vaccine bill referred to single Assembly committee – A bill requiring California school children to be fully vaccinated will face an easier path through the Assembly than the one it took through the Senate, needing to clear only one committee in the lower house. Capitol Alert

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

The demands of Democrats: California Politics Podcast – Gov. Jerry Brown has an impressive streak going when it comes to calling most of the shots in crafting a state budget. Can he keep it going? This week’s California Politics Podcast looks at the budget demands of Brown’s fellow Democrats, demands that hinge on more optimistic predictions of state tax revenues in the fiscal year to come.  KQED report

Joel Fox: Crippling the initiative process by jacking up filing fees – No one should be fooled — the Assembly bill passed to raise the filing fee for an initiative proposal to $8000 is an attempt to squash the initiative process. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Tony Quinn: Will the Supreme Court remake California politics — Like a bolt out of the blue the US Supreme Court has suddenly thrust front and center the most important question in a democracy: who should exercise political power.  Quinn in Fox & Hounds

Vanishing breed: SoCal’s statewide contenders — Where are the Southern Californians? We are at the beginning of the run-up to the 2016 political season; candidates and potential candidates for statewide office are beginning to make their presence known. But where are the candidates from the land of palm trees and Valley Girls?  Capitol Weekly article


Scaled-back immigrant healthcare bill clears key fiscal committee – A sweeping measure to offer state-subsidized healthcare coverage to people in the country illegally was significantly pared back Thursday in an effort to rein in costs as it cleared a key legislative hurdle.  LA Times article; Capitol Alert

Other areas

Measures to alter Prop 47 held back in Assembly committee Two measures seeking to restore tough penalties for crimes that were downgraded to misdemeanors after Proposition 47 passed last year were shelved in the California Assembly on Thursday.  LA Times article

Bills on sick days, Uber drug tests, Prop 47, independent police prosecutor die in Assembly – In a ritual thinning of the bill herd, the Assembly Appropriations on Committee on Thursday halted measures seeking to increase police officer accountability, launch a new University of California campus and bring more workers into California’s mandatory paid sick leave program. Capitol Alert

‘Aid-in-dying’ and undocumented immigrant health-care bills advance — Bills to let doctors prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients and to expand protections and services for illegal immigrants were among the dozens approved Thursday by the Legislature’s appropriations committees. Contra Costa Times article

Charles Griffis: Anesthesia bill puts patient safety at risk – The president of the California Association of Nurse Anesthetists writes, “When it comes to anesthesia during surgery and other procedures, you expect the most qualified professional overseeing your care. Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas apparently has a different point of view, and the measure he is proposing – Assembly Bill 890 – may threaten the quality and safety of anesthesia care for all Californians.”  Griffis op-ed in Sacramento Bee

State Senate Oks bill to curb ‘doctor shopping’ — The state Senate voted 28-11 to approve SB 482 by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, which would require California doctors to consult an already-existing state prescription database before prescribing addictive medicine to their patients. This was another part of Prop. 46, albeit less controversial than the medical malpractice segment. The bill now goes to the Assembly.  Political Blotter

Dan Walters: Old tactics don’t work in new era – The high-dollar East Bay shootout tells us that the dynamics of runoff elections between politicians from the same party, coupled with the increasingly high level of mail voting, have made political-tactics-as-usual obsolete.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Senate swears in Steve Glazer after contentious special election — After surviving a nasty intraparty special election last week, Sen. Steve Glazer was sworn in Thursday morning, giving the Senate a full house for the first time since December 2013.  Capitol Alert; John Myers in KQED

Sacramento Bee: Senate steps up on pay equity – The California Senate took matters into its own hands, approving a bill that would strengthen legal remedies for victims of gender-based pay discrimination. For this, senators deserve thanks and congratulations. Sacramento Bee editorial

Health care law supporters encounter resistance from federal judge — A federal judge on Thursday took seriously a politically ballyhooed lawsuit filed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives challenging the Obama administration’s implementation of the health care law. McClatchy Newspapers article

Sen. Feinstein stumps for revised rules on phone surveillance – When the Senate meets this weekend in a rare Sunday session, Sen. Dianne Feinstein will be there to vote to allow the government to have continued — though limited — access to Americans’ phone records. San Francisco Chronicle article

If NSA surveillance program ends, phone record trove will endure — The National Security Agency will mothball its mammoth archive of Americans’ telephone records, isolating the computer servers where they are stored and blocking investigators’ access, but will not destroy the database if its legal authority to collect the material expires on schedule this Sunday, officials said Thursday.  LA Times article

Glendale man ends 55-day fast protesting Armenian genocide — Agasi Vartanyan paced back and forth in the glass box he’s called home for the last 55 days, his voice booming as he chatted on his phone during the final hours of his fast commemorating the Armenian genocide. LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

More than 200 properties face condemnation to clear way for high-speed rail — The number of Valley properties identified for possible condemnation by the state for its high-speed rail project has grown to more than 200 after a recent vote by the State Public Works Board. Fresno Bee article

Merced’s manufacturing sector named fastest growing in nation — Nowhere in the country did manufacturing jobs grow faster in the last year than in Merced, according to a report released this week by a data-crunching website. Merced Sun-Star article

Jobs and the Economy

LA labor leaders agree to delay minimum wage exemptions for unions – A union official said Thursday night that two prominent Los Angeles labor groups would not oppose the passage of a citywide minimum wage increase that omits an exemption for unionized businesses.  LA Times article

California carbon auction brings in another $1 billion – California’s industrial firms spent another $1 billion in the most recent auction of carbon emissions credits, state officials said Thursday. Sacramento Bee article

Lawrence McQuillan: Pension payments are starving basic city services – The senior fellow and director of the Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation at the Independent Institute writes, “The Governmental Accounting Standards Board is implementing new rules that require governments, for the first time, to report unfunded pension liabilities on their 2015 balance sheets. This sticker shock should create new urgency for meaningful pension reform.”  McQuillan op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Pending U.S. home sales jump to strongest levels in 9 years – Americans signed contracts to buy homes in April at the fastest pace in nearly nine years, evidence that steady job growth is strengthening the real estate market.  AP article

Census: Number of Americans on assistance may be leveling off – The once-increasing number of Americans getting some kind of public assistance from the U.S. government may be slowing down, according to new information from the U.S. Census Bureau.  AP article

Hanford Planning Commission splits on downtown hotel rules — Should Hanford continue to confine full-service hotels to the downtown area or allow them to build elsewhere? The Hanford Planning Commission split 3-4 on Tuesday, voting to recommend that the City Council not amend the city’s municipal code to merge the definitions of hotels, motels and inns. Hanford Sentinel article

Fruit patch to close in Dinuba — Embattled produce packing and marketing firm Fruit Patch will close according to a state report. The Warn Notice says the closure is permanent with the layoff of 132 employees by July 8. Dinuba city administrator Jayne Anderson confirms the city received the notice as well, saying that “it’s too bad we are losing a long time employer.”  Visalia Times-Delta article

Jerrold Jensen: Time to plan new civic center for Visalia – The Visalia resident writes, “Personally, I am not eager to pay more taxes to build the long-discussed central Civic Center but it certainly seems the options should be explored. It seems to make sense to have all departments in one location where face-to-face discussions are just a few steps away rather than a few blocks away. Perhaps we now need a visionary look forward to the needs both now and for a future city of 200,000 or more.”  Jensen op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

Is demand pricing coming to Disneyland? – Walt Disney Parks and Resorts may be considering charging more for high-demand days during summer, the Christmas holiday and spring break, and less for off-peak days, a survey the company sent to park visitors suggests.  LA Times article

Lodi News-Sentinel sold to Canada-based investment group — The Lodi News-Sentinel, Lodi’s-oldest existing business, established in 1881, has been sold to a newspaper investment group based in Canada, company executives announced Thursday morning. Stockton Record article

Big movies in short supply in California, FilmL.A. says — The second annual report found that only 22 of 106 films released by the major studios in 2014 were actually filmed in California. The rest of the movies were shot in New York, Britain, Canada, Georgia, Louisiana, Australia and a dozen other states and countries.  LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: Don’t be too tough on Airbnb rentals — If research into Sacramento’s Airbnb market reveals that it is mature and truly taking a bite out of established hotels and bed and breakfasts, then adding a tax for those short-term stays should be on the table. Fair is fair. Sacramento Bee editorial


California agency set to vote on water limits for new lawns – California regulators are expected to vote Friday on water limits for new lawns as the historic drought persists in parched California. AP article

Sacramento may restrict watering to once a week – Sacramento city residents could be limited to once-a-week watering starting in July if the city is unable to meet its state-mandated conservation goals, under a proposal outlined by city officials. Currently, city residents are limited to twice-a-week outdoor watering. Sacramento Bee article; ‘Interactive: See lawn watering restrictions in every Sacramento community’ in Sacramento Bee

A guide to California’s drought and water crisis – Use this guide to drought news, edited by Vox’s Brad Plumer, to explore California’s drought and water crisis. Look at the history of the drought, see how water is used and where it comes from, and get a look at how people and farms are changing their ways to save water. Vox report in Modesto Bee

Stanislaus farmland preservation flap may be resolved soon – Mayors of Stanislaus County’s nine cities will reconvene July 8 to resolve the divisive question of removing one of their own from a regional growth-guiding panel. Modesto Bee article

David Zoldoske: Irrigating farm isn’t like watering your lawn – The director of the Center for Irrigation Technology at Fresno State writes, “While homeowners can cut back on watering and hope their lawn and landscape survive, farmers can’t take that approach. Agricultural crops cannot be stressed without significant impacts to yield and quality. What you will see is water irrigating crops day and night. This is not because we are not being good stewards of our water supply, but because a limited supply requires constantly moving water around to keep the crops healthy during Fresno’s long hot summer months.” Zoldoske op-ed in Fresno Bee

Some water officials save, some don’t – Thirty-seven public officials who set the region’s water policy have collectively cut back 11 percent on their home use so far this year, falling short of the 20 percent reduction sought by state officials amid a historic drought.  San Diego Union-Tribune article

Hundreds turn out to oppose San Jose Water Company’s strict drought rules – More than 350 people turned out, and nearly all in opposition, to voice their concerns at the only public hearing on strict new water conservation rules that will affect 1 million people across Silicon Valley starting June 15.  San Jose Mercury News article

California’s largest lake is slipping away amid an epic drought – The Salton Sea is the largest lake in California, 360 square miles of unlikely liquid pooled in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Now the sea is slipping away. The Salton Sea needs more water — but so does just about every other place in California. And what is happening here perfectly illustrates the fight over water in the West, where epic drought has revived decades-old battles and the simple solutions have all been tried.  Washington Post article

California Assembly Oks bill barring HOA bans on fake grass — California homeowner associations couldn’t stop members from installing fake grass on lawns under a bill moving through the Legislature. AP article

‘First Look’: Columnist Lois Henry talks local, state groundwater conservation — With a heavy drought underfoot, the looming El Nino storm has done nothing to quell the thirst for more groundwater in California. Henry, who has been researching the topic for months, suggested the most significant change would be to get a handle on groundwater and prioritize water rights. Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno food group takes over T&D Willey’s produce box service — Fresno Food Commons, an organization devoted to building a stronger local food system, took its first major step Thursday by taking over a long-running food subscription service operated by pioneering Madera organic growers T&D Willey Farms.  Fresno Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fresno County jail improvements will cost millions – A settlement reached Thursday on behalf of Fresno County Jail inmates in a federal class-action lawsuit will cost the county millions to hire new staff and $900,000 in fees for the inmates’ lawyers. Fresno Bee article; Fresno Bee editorial

Public defenders teach Oakland youth how to safely interact with police — The Alameda County Public Defender’s Office is teaching kids in area high schools about their rights and how to interact safely with police. The first-of-its-kind program is gaining traction after recent protests against police brutality and racial profiling. KQED report

Tulare’s Chief Breckinridge ‘unavailable’ — Tulare Police Chief Jerry Breckinridge is “unavailable” for at least two weeks, making it the second time in a year’s time he’s been placed on leave. Breckinridge’s absence started Tuesday. Visalia Times-Delta article


State cautions when to use formula funding for teacher raises – In its first statement on a critical issue facing school boards, the California Department of Education cautioned that under the state’s new funding formula, only in “some limited circumstances” can school districts use money that’s supposed to be spent on services for low-income children and English learners for across-the-board pay raises for teachers. EdSource article

Fresno State President Castro speaks to Hanford students — One Hanford native shared his success story with a group of high school students on Wednesday. California State University, Fresno President Joseph Castro came to Sierra Pacific High School to talk to students in the school’s new business pathway program. He spoke about his time growing up in Hanford, how he became president and how the students can be successful. Hanford Sentinel article

‘We all won this’ – Sture Larsson Continuation High School Principal Phyllis Kahl has plenty to be proud of. The school where she’s been principal since 2002 has been named one of 29 Model Continuation High Schools in California. Stockton Record article

Tim Gage: Students need a healthy breakfast to learn – The principal and co-founder of the Blue Sky Consulting Group writes, “A large body of research has shown that students who miss breakfast have a harder time concentrating, are more likely to misbehave and don’t perform as well on tests. That’s on top of the negative physical and mental health effects of being hungry for at least half of the day. All of these outcomes lower the return on taxpayers’ investment in education.”  Gage op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Head Start council to pursue new program – The Head Start Child Development Council will pursue a program that provides meals to new Head Start partners. The HSCDC Board of Directors, after more than an hour of discussion in closed session Thursday, voted 4-0 to pursue a contract with First 5 San Joaquin’s Home Visitor Initiative congregate meal program. Stockton Record article

Heartfelt support brings gifts, a better life for bullied Turlock 8th-grader — A bullied Turlock eighth-grader who contemplated suicide earlier this year has a new start in a new school and a lot to look forward to thanks to an outpouring of community support. Modesto Bee article


Response by owner of broken oil pipeline faces scrutiny — What was done that day to detect and stop the spill and protect some of the most fabled coastline in California has come under scrutiny, as officials continue cleaning up the mess created by a leak estimated at up to 101,000 gallons while trying to figure out what went wrong. AP article; LA Times article

John Muir Trust to preserve 600 acres in Northern California — A conservation group has announced buying private grazing land outside Berkeley and Oakland, preserving spectacular views for nature lovers to enjoy.  AP article

Health/Human Services

Merced offering life-saving devices, training to residents — The Merced City Fire Department set up five defibrillators this week around the city that officials hope could be used by bystanders to help victims of heart failure. Merced Sun-Star article


Gas tax replacement ‘road charge’ being discussed in Fresno – A California Transportation Task  Force is starting a statewide tour in Fresno to look at a controversial proposal for raising more infrastructure money. The task force is examining a so-called ‘road charge’.  KVPR report

Lane-splitting bill moves closer to becoming law — The California Assembly has approved a controversial bill to sanction and regulate lane-splitting by motorcyclists. California would be the first state to officially legalize the practice, which is already widely tolerated by state law enforcement officials.  LA Times article

City Beat: New bridge is teething — The Hosking Avenue interchange, which contains the Thomas Roads Improvement Program’s 25th bridge, is looking more like a place to exit Highway 99.Bakersfield California article

Other areas

Nonprofit upset that city rejected bus ad criticizing Fresno park disparity – A Fresno nonprofit is upset that City Hall rejected a bus ad that takes the city to task for differences in park acreage between the northern and southern parts of the city. Fresno Bee article

Fresno investigates allegations that city employees took bribes from JD Home Rentals – The city of Fresno is investigating allegations made in an anti-slumlord advocacy group’s video that city employees took bribes from JD Home Rentals leaders to look the other way on substandard housing. Fresno Bee article

Stanislaus County panel on homelessness to decide on public, private meetings – Stanislaus County’s Focus on Prevention initiative is engaging different sectors of the community to work on quality-of-life issues. The county’s top officials will let the committee that oversees the initiative decide whether it holds public meetings.  Modesto Bee article

‘First Look’: Bakersfield City Building Director Phil Burns talks downtown tent city cleanup — On Thursday’s “First Look with Scott Cox,” Bakersfield City Building Director Phil Burns talked about the mandatory evacuation, and what it means for the community. He said it began with several complaints from neighboring businesses after the territory’s former owner passed. That land was then given to a court-appointed trustee, where its ownership remains. Bakersfield Californian article 

Industry sues former mayor, alleging ‘extensive public corruption — The City of Industry has filed suit against former Mayor David Perez, his companies and four members of his family, alleging the misappropriation of millions of dollars in public funds through false or inflated invoices and the performance of unauthorized work on city contracts.  LA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – California’s Assembly needs a course in civics; While it’s important to look for efficiencies in running a jail, the locking-up of inmates and providing them with proper care is never going to be cheap — especially when jail is where mentally ill people often wind up.

Sacramento Bee – If research into Sacramento’s Airbnb market reveals that it is mature and truly taking a bite out of established hotels and bed and breakfasts, then adding a tax for those short-term stays should be on the table. Fair is fair; The California Senate took matters into its own hands, approving a bill that would strengthen legal remedies for victims of gender-based pay discrimination. For this, senators deserve thanks and congratulations.

 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:


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

 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.

 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 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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