November 7, 2017



Local/Regional Politics:

Westlands farmers link arms to feed Valley’s hungry and needy

Fresno Bee

It’s hard to believe that we live in the most productive agricultural region in the United States, but have one of the highest levels of hunger. Our region is challenged with chronically high unemployment and underemployment. In fact, our unemployment recently hit 9.84 percent – nearly double the national average. And in some of our rural farming communities, the unemployment rate has doubled. Hunger is a serious and daily reality for one in four adults and one in three children in the Valley.

After nearly 3 years at Fresno State, Jim Bartko abruptly resigns as athletic director

Fresno Bee

Fresno State athletics director Jim Bartko, who had taken on a difficult task in elevating an athletic department at a time its success on the football field and fan engagement was declining sharply, resigned on Monday citing personal reasons.

Ag secretary meets with farmers, others in Modesto

Fresno Bee

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue heard two main messages from farmers in Sunday’s visit to Modesto — keep export barriers down and lighten up on regulation. President Donald Trump’s top farm official heard concerns also about labor and water supplies in a question-and-answer session at the Modesto Junior College West Campus.

Stopping Zika: Breed female mosquitoes with sterile males

The Fresno Bee

A research gamble that relied on insect libido to fight mosquitoes that can spread the Zika and dengue viruses has paid off in Clovis.

New shingles vaccine costly but worth it, doctors say

The Fresno Bee

There’s a new vaccine to prevent shingles, a skin rash that can be extremely painful, and if you are 50 or older or have parents or grandparents who are that age, you’ll probably want to learn more about it.

Local leaders back Gubler over Assemblymember Mathis

Visalia Times-Delta

In a growing list of endorsements, 26th District Assembly candidate Warren Gubler picked up two key figures who will back him in the race to Sacramento. Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward and state Senator Andy Vidak announced their support for Gubler earlier this month, part of an exodus of support for Assemblyman Devon Mathis.

Modesto family law attorney appointed as Stanislaus Superior Court judge

The Modesto Bee

Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed Stacy Speiller, a Modesto-based family law attorney, to be the newest judge in the Stanislaus Superior Court.

Protecting our public lands to protect our economy

Sierra Star

I’m not a typical California environmentalist. Yet, given the threat to our nearby Sequoias, I need to speak up on this issue and in the interest of our rural economy. The Department of Interior recently conducted a “review” of national monuments, and our own Giant Sequoia National Monument is on the chopping block. In addition, certain members of Congress have introduced multiple pieces of legislation aimed at stripping national monuments of protections. It seems that the White House and Congress are determined to sellout our public lands.

Valadao Milks His Congressional Colleagues for All He’s Worth

Roll Call

Here’s a little-known secret of the House Appropriations Committee: There are perks to those long markup meetings.

A record year for Best of Central Valley Business

The Business Journal

It was a record-breaking year for the Best of Central Valley Business Readers’ Choice Awards. There were more than 150,000 individual online votes cast from Sept. 1 through Oct. 31 for the Central Valley’s top businesses in 35 categories. That is a record number of votes — nearly double the tally for last year’s contest.

State Politics:

These 500 interests spent the most influencing California lawmakers this year

Sacramento Bee

The end of California’s legislative session in September saw lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown make a deals on a variety of topics. None of it went down outside the watchful eye of Sacramento’s lobbying corps and the corporations, unions, local governments and other interest groups that employ them.

New laws set to change employer-employee dynamic

The Business Journal

Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, businesses across California will need to comply with a trio of new laws that will make significant changes to the way employers interact with both employees and applicants. The three bills — AB 1008, AB 168 and SB 63 — create new restrictions for employers when asking applicants for information as well as mandate a leave period for new parents.

Legislature to summarize – but not fully disclose – its sexual harassment history

Sacramento Bee

Both houses of the California Legislature say they are preparing a summary of “information concerning sexual harassment related matters.”

See also:

‘Large worldwide carbon trading system’ is goal, Jerry Brown says

The Sacramento Bee

California Gov. Jerry Brown, speaking in Brussels said the United State and Europe should form a joint carbon trading market to battle global warming.

See also:

George Runner was right: California now has the highest gas prices in the nation

PolitiFact California

Republican George Runner predicted in April that California’s gas tax hike would catapult the Golden State’s already high fuel prices to the “highest in the nation,” after the increase went into effect on Nov. 1, 2017. It appears his prediction was spot on. California’s average per gallon price of gasoline reached $3.21 on Monday Nov. 6, 2017, or 12 cents higher than in Hawaii, which previously had the priciest gasoline, according to the fuel tracking website

See also:

Proposed Ballot Initiative Would Roll Back Recent Criminal Justice Reforms


Citing an increase in violent crime rates, a coalition of law enforcement and victim’s rights groups announced last week a proposed ballot initiative that would partly roll back recent criminal justice reforms.

It’s a year until the midterm elections. Here’s how Californians can get plugged in now

Los Angeles Times

Among the contests on the Nov. 6, 2018, California ballot are governor, U.S. Senate, 53 U.S. House races, plus seats in the state Assembly and Senate and policy-changing state propositions. About a dozen of the House races will be particularly intense because Democrats can’t win back control of the House without taking back at least a few Republican districts here.

Three Californias? California Independence? How about Simply: California Classic!

Fox and Hounds Daily

Venture capitalist Tim Draper’s new quest to break up California into smaller states will face legal challenges, political obstacles and even the hindrance of confusing names.

Federal Politics:

Tax Plan Burdens Blue-State Republicans and Their Districts

Steve Schwartz looks like a voter who might swoon for the Republican tax plan,unveiled last week in Washington. He is a political independent who owns a company that makes windshield wipers, he describes himself as leaning “right on fiscal matters,” and he said he would benefit from the elimination or scaling-back of the estate tax.

 For more articles on “Tax reform,” see, Public Finance, below.

ObamaCare signups surge in early days to set new record


A record number of people signed up for ObamaCare in the first few days of open enrollment this year compared to the same period in previous years, several sources close to the process told The Hill. The surge in sign-ups, which was confirmed by an administration official, comes despite fears from Democrats that enrollment would fall off due to the Trump administration’s cutbacks in outreach and advertising.

See also:

‘Waiting is a mistake’: the billionaire pushing lawmakers to impeach Trump

The Guardian

Democrats have long trod carefully around the “I” word. But as the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s election victory approaches, a prominent donor is pressuring lawmakers and candidates on the left to make impeachment a central message of their campaigns in 2018.

See also:

Must-do bills in a divided Congress could lead to shutdown

Washington Post

An early December government shutdown is a real possibility, since a divided Congress can’t agree on military spending, Democrats insist on help for young immigrants and President Donald Trump’s position can change with each lawmaker he talks to. Most of Washington is focused on overhauling the nation’s tax code, but lawmakers face a combustible mix of must-do and could-do items, with the current government spending bill set to expire Dec. 8. On the list are immigration and a U.S.-Mexico border wall; an impasse over children’s health care; pent-up demand for budget increases for the Pentagon and domestic agencies; and tens of billions of dollars in hurricane aid.


Trying to move bureaucracy

Stockton Record

Group homes preparing for sweeping changes

Stockton Record

Voter suppression, not fraud, looms large in U.S. elections

Brookings Institution

For months, Donald Trump has repeatedly raised the specter of a “rigged election” costing him the presidency. It is an obsession that can really only be understood as a case of projection. To the extent that there is a systematic effort to distort the election results this November, it is coming from the Republican Party.

Texas shooting: California law targets illegal possession of guns

Fresno Bee

A California system that tracks down people banned from owning firearms and seizes the weapons might have prevented the mass shooting in which at least 26 people were killed in a Texas church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the law’s advocates believe.

See also:

Orange County deputies seize weapons from ex-Soka University student who threatened ‘killing spree’ in YouTube video

Los Angeles Times

Authorities said they found several loaded rifles and shotguns inside the home of a 39-year-old West Hollywood man who threatened to go on a “killing spree” in a bizarre YouTube rant last week.

The Fox And The Hound: 21st Century Held M&A Talks With Disney


Walt Disney Co DIS has recently engaged in on-and-off talks to buy a majority of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc FOXA, CNBC reported Monday. Through the deal,Disney would acquire Fox’s studio and TV production assets, which would bolster distribution capacity as it builds out an exclusive direct-to-consumer streaming service in competition with the likes of, Inc. NFLX.

Governments Engaging Youth: Preparing for College, Career and Civic Life


As large numbers of government employees retire from their jobs, human resources departments face a difficult task: hiring a new, talented and skilled government workforce. To address these challenges and related issues, cities are collaborating with local school districts to implement civic engagement and work-based learning programs, like the City of Sacramento’s Summer at City Hall. These programs are designed to ensure that local youth are ready for college, careers and civic life. Such programs provide opportunities for youth to:

Veterans snapshot, 2017


Veterans Day has its origins in Armistice Day, proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 mainly to honor the services of the troops who’d fought in the “Great War.”

Why declinism, while often tempting, is usually wrong


The inability to see incremental advances. (Like the steady decline in joblessness.) Either-or thinking. (Tax cuts are the difference between a future of sunlit uplands or a thousand of years of darkness!) Being enraptured by sweeping solutions. (Scrap the tax code! Time for a universal basic income!)





Topics in More Detail…


No more excuses. It’s time for Sacramento County work with city on homelessness

Sacramento Bee

On Tuesday, Sacramento County supervisors will vote whether to help the city implement Whole Person Care program. The choice is clear.

As the toll from non-ideological terrorism grows, America needs to confront gun culture​

San Jose Mercury News

Two mass murders in less than a week, but from very different origins. Why do we focus on one but shrug at the most deadly?

Time for mourning, not politics

Stockton Record

If it seems that we were in this same position just a few weeks ago, it’s because we were. On Oct. 1, the nation was stunned by and then mourned the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. On a Sunday evening, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at the Harvest Music festival


Fresno County is making it legal to sell live animals at swap meets

The state of California has banned swap meet pet sales but allows counties to set their own rules. The county could have just gone along with state law and banned all swap meet pet sales, but Fresno County will instead allow them, but require a veterinarian to certify each sale, and hold the swap meet operator responsible for the welfare of the animals. These birds, bunnies and other small animals, nearly a thousand of them were going to be sold at a local swap meet. But they were discovered sick and dying in a hot truck, last June. Brenda Mitchell of Fresno Animal Humane Services, the county animal shelter, was one of their rescuers. She does not believe pets should be sold at swap meets.

US ag secretary visits young Madera farmer during two-day California visit

Merced Sun-Star

The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture stopped at a Madera farm Sunday evening as part of his two-day visit to California, where Sonny Perdue talked about helping young people in the farming industry and about the challenges farmers in California face. The former governor of Georgia also made an appearance at Modesto Junior College on Sunday and on Monday he was in Kern County for a round table with local producers at Grimmway Farm in Arvin.


For stories on Texas mass shooting and ”gun control,” See: “Top Stories – Other,” above


Another ‘chop shop’ found in Corcoran

Hanford Sentinel

A probation compliance check at a home in Corcoran led to the discovery of a “chop shop” operation, California Highway Patrol officials said. During the probation check, CHP investigators said they found an engine from a stolen 2005 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck inside the garage of 32-year-old Francisco Javier Montes.

Could California law have prevented Texas church massacre?

Fresno Bee

A California system that tracks down people banned from owning firearms and seizes the weapons might have prevented the mass shooting in which at least 26 people were killed in a Texas church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the law’s advocates believe.


After fires, businesses urge visitors to spend in Wine Country: ‘This would be a great time to come’

San Jose Mercury News

As the recovery continues from last month’s devastating Northern California wildfires, the iconic wine regions are looking to kick-start their important hospitality and tourism industry with a simple message: We are open for business.


State exports up 4% in September, top $14 billion

Sacramento Bee

California exports maintained some modest momentum in September. Golden State businesses shipped merchandise valued at $14.19 billion in September, up 4 percent from $13.65 billion in September 2016. Los Angeles-based consulting firm Beacon Economics broke out California’s numbers from national figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

How tax reform can support rural broadband


Not all U.S. communities are created equal when it comes to broadband deployment and availability. Earlier this year, my colleagues Blair Levin and Carol Mattey shared the challenges associated with deploying broadband in rural areas. According to the authors, it is not only expensive, but it does not necessarily yield a profitable return for private companies.

Rural Manufacturing at a Glance, 2017 Edition


This report examines trends in the rural manufacturing sector, including employment and wages for various manufacturing industries, during a period that includes a longstanding decline in manufacturing employment and the aftermath of two recessions.

How To Ignite A Small Business Revolution In Your Community


Pensacola, Florida, has undergone a major revitalization. We’ve gone from being a struggling community that had a downtown scattered with vacant buildings to a thriving one filled with strong and growing small businesses.

America can’t fix poverty until it stops hating poor people


“Hell is other people,” famously wrote the French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre at the close of his 1943 play No Exit. While for Sartre this was a philosophically sophisticated point, in America today it has become simply the way we increasingly treat people at the margins of our society. We see whole groups of people as unlike ourselves—as the undesirable “other.”



Stagnant California test scores pose problem; state board may rejigger how to rate districts


Stagnant test results on the third year of the Smarter Balanced tests are posing an unexpected challenge for the State Board of Education: Hundreds of school districts may require county assistance because they failed to raise their scores in English language arts and math on the tests they took last spring. As a result, at its meeting Wednesday, the state board will consider substantially reworking the criteria for rating schools’ and school districts’ scores. Doing so will reduce the number of poorly performing districts that could trigger outside help this year.

Higher Ed:

Cal State trustees face budget challenges amid efforts to lift graduation rates

Los Angeles Times

About 7,000 more students graduated from Cal State this year than last, and the more than 98,700 earning undergraduate degrees was the highest ever in a single academic year, administrators said. Cal State has vowed to lift its four-year graduation rate to 40% by 2025. Over the last decade, the rate edged up from about 16% to 20%. Today’s 23% is the highest in Cal State’s history.

Video: Californians Concerned about Cost but Give State’s Colleges Good Grades

Public Policy Institute of California

Many Californians say the state’s public higher education system is going in the wrong direction, a new PPIC Statewide Survey shows. But they are more likely to say they are concerned about affordability than about the quality of the state’s colleges and universities. Just 18% of all adults say quality is a big problem, compared to 56% who call affordability a big problem.

Day Two: Spotlight turns to opening up access to higher education at 2017 Summit

California Economy Reporting

On day two of the 2017 California Economic Summit last week, the statewide gathering highlighted higher education as an important component to Elevate California, a new initiative to restore upward mobility in the state. The Summit convened more than 500 civic, business and community leaders in San Diego. The day started with a panel of millennial and Next Gen leaders, who discussed how California’s economy and the high cost of living are affecting their peers. They also had advice for the higher education leaders who would later take the stage.

The House GOP tax bill would raise the cost of college. We can’t let that happen.

Washington Post

Colleges and universities create opportunity for individuals, communities and the nation.. The sprawling University of California system, where 42% of undergraduate students are the first in their families to attend college, has launched an effort across its campuses to assist first-generation students and connect them with faculty mentors who have walked in their shoes.



Why the Car After Your Next Car Will Be an Electric: QuickTake

Washington Post

The transformation projected is enormous: by 2040, Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates there will be 530 million electric vehicles in use. There’s only one problem: So far, electric cars have been anything but popular. In 2017, they made up about 1 percent of global sales. The good news? They’re getting cheaper fast and able to go further between charges. Still, it’s not clear how soon the trip from the gasoline present to an electric future will be driven by consumer desire rather than government muscle. It’s a trip that could be complicated in the U.S. by a Republican tax plan.


California Energy Price Data for October 2017

California Center for Jobs & the Economy

Below are the monthly updates from the October 2017 fuel price data ( and electricity and natural gas price data (US Energy Information Agency). To view additional data and analysis related to the California economy visit our website at

How Democratic victories today could advance the green agenda

Washington Post

Ever since Donald Trump’s dramatic election victory last November, California has played the role of chief antagonist to the Trump administration — particularly with regard to energy and environmental policy. But one year later, there’s another election and, if polls swing Democrats’ way in some key states, new players will enter the stage to vex the president with their green agendas.


Kaiser offers insurance to low-income young adults

The Fresno Bee

Young adults in Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties who are not eligible for Medi-Cal and cannot afford private insurance can enroll in a new Kaiser Permanente health program.

New shingles vaccine costly but worth it, doctors say

Fresno Bee

There’s a new vaccine to prevent shingles, a skin rash that can be extremely painful, and if you are 50 or older or have parents or grandparents who are that age, you’ll probably want to learn more about it.

One year later, county’s bold ‘Know Your Risk’ STD campaign becomes a ‘movement’

A year ago, Kern County Public Health officials recognized an ongoing problem: Sexually transmitted diseases throughout Kern County were among the worst statewide, and those rates were surging among high school students and mothers infecting their babies.

What does TRMC toxicology lab closure mean for DUI offenders?

Visalia Times-Delta

The Tulare Regional Medical Clinic closure continues to be felt across the county. 

Why hasn’t California cracked down on anti-vaccination doctors? Los Angeles Times

A year ago, California officials appeared to be coming down hard on doctors and parents who were reluctant to vaccinate children. Soumya Karlamangla in the Los Angeles Times$ — 11/6/17

Trump’s Opioid Commission Recommends Drug Courts. How Do They Work?


A long-awaited report from President Donald Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis was released last week. Among its 56 recommendations was a call to expand drug courts to every federal judicial district

Medicaid and Financial Health

National Bureau of Economic Research

This paper investigates the effects of the Medicaid expansion provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on households’ financial health. Our findings indicate that, in addition to reducing the incidence of unpaid medical bills, the reform provided substantial indirect financial benefits to households.


Trump administration ending protections for thousands of Nicaraguan migrants, defers decision on Hondurans

Los Angeles Times

The Trump administration said Monday it will end a special program that for years has protected more than 5,000 Nicaraguans against deportation, but stopped short of ending similar protections for immigrants from Hondurans or other countries. While the announcement means that the Nicaraguans who now enjoy so-called temporary protected status, or TPS, will become vulnerable to deportation in roughly 14 months, the decision was less severe than feared by immigration advocates.

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In shadow of tech boom, the working homeless sleep in cars

Sacramento Bee

In the same affluent, suburban city where Google built its headquarters, Tes Saldana lives in a crowded but tidy camper she parks on the street. She concedes it’s “not a very nice living situation,” but it also is not unusual. Until authorities told them to move, more than a dozen other RVs filled with people who can’t afford rent joined Saldana on a tree-lined street in Mountain View, parked between a Target and a luxury apartment complex.

Meet the startups fighting Bay Area’s soaring housing costs

San Jose Mercury News

An emerging group of local entrepreneurs is taking up arms against the sky-high cost of living in the Bay Area, hoping to end once and for all the housing crisis crippling the region


The wealthy get the biggest benefit from House Republican tax plan, analysis finds

LA Times

The greatest benefit from the House Republican tax bill would go to upper-income households, according to an analysis released Monday by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Preliminary Distributional Analysis of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”

Tax Policy Center

TPC staff found an error in the preliminary distributional analysis of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that we released today. This error involved the additional child tax credit component of the proposed legislation.  We are in the process of revising our analysis and will release a corrected version as soon as possible.  We removed all related analyses from our website.  We urge users to refrain from referring to the incorrect figures.  We regret this error and will provide corrected analyses as soon as we can.

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Sacramento gas prices rose 16 cents a gallon in the first week of the gas tax hike

Sacramento Bee

For much of 2016, Sacramento-area motorists and those throughout California enjoyed lower-than-usual gasoline prices due to a fortunate sequence of events. Now, several developments are combining to push prices upward.

Politifact CA: George Runner was right: California now has the highest gas prices in the nation

Politifact CA

Republican George Runner predicted in April that California’s gas tax hike would catapult the Golden State’s already high fuel prices to the “highest in the nation,” after the increase went into effect on Nov. 1, 2017. It appears his prediction was spot on. 

California High-Speed Rail Meets Federal Funding Requirements

California High-Speed Rail Authority

The California High-Speed Rail Authority announced in October that it has met its federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 requirements by investing more than $2.55 billion granted to the State since 2009 to build the nation’s first high-speed rail system. These funds have helped to create thousands of new jobs and generated approximately $4 billion in economic activity in the Central Valley and across California. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was enacted in 2009 to address the Great Recession by creating jobs, spurring technological development and building new infrastructure. The Authority invested the federal funds in core program tasks, including advanced planning, design and environmental outreach with communities along the full Phase 1 system from San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim. The funds helped advance construction on over 119 miles in the Central Valley from Madera to north of Bakersfield with 14 active construction sites.

Dockless bikeshare startup Spin adds some big-names as advisers

Washington Post

Dockless bike-share startup Spin is bringing on some big names to help take it to the next level. On Tuesday, the San Francisco-based company announced that former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley (D), who has kept a low profile since ending his presidential bid last year, is joining two other high-profile experts on a new board of advisers that will help shape the company’s future and guide its leaders as they seek to enter new markets. Gabe Klein, former transportation chief in D.C. and Chicago, and Molly Turner, a former Airbnb public policy director and urban innovation professor at the University of California at Berkeley, will join O’Malley as strategic advisers for Spin, the company said.


California homeowners could get a tax break to capture rainwater in their backyards

Los Angeles Times

It was raining and Judy Adler had a broken gutter. What could have been a simple repair turned into an effort to capture rain and use it for her backyard pond. Since late 2009, Adler has collected up to 11,000 gallons of rain annually at her Walnut Creek home.

Water Agency Meets Key Oroville Deadline, But Faces Skepticism About Its Future Role

The California Report – KQED News

The California Department of Water Resources announced Wednesday it has completed the first phase of its massive reconstruction of Oroville Dam’s shattered main spillway — just in time for the first significant rainfall of the season. The agency also announced that in the wake of the spillway’s failure last February — and several reports that found the concrete chute appeared to have been poorly designed, built and maintained — it will conduct a “comprehensive needs assessment” for the dam and its reservoir.

David Sedlak: 4 ways we can avoid a catastrophic drought

TED Talk

As the world’s climate patterns continue to shift unpredictably, places where drinking water was once abundant may soon find reservoirs dry and groundwater aquifers depleted. In this talk, civil and environmental engineer David Sedlak shares four practical solutions to the ongoing urban water crisis. His goal: to shift our water supply towards new, local sources of water and create a system that is capable of withstanding any of the challenges climate change may throw at us in the coming years.


10 unique Airbnb’s in the central San Joaquin Valley

Fresno Bee

You don’t have to travel far to sleep in a fairy tale cottage or a glass house, or on a cattle ranch with a rustic outdoor bathroom. Some of these exclusive getaways are close by in the central San Joaquin Valley and available for rent throughAirbnb, the San Francisco-based vacation rental website that connects people to unique travel experiences. Airbnb started in 2008 when two roommates rented space in their apartment to three people looking for a place to crash. Now there are Airbnb hosts in 190 countries and 34,000 cities.

Cool weather allows Mammoth to make snow after weekend storms come up short

Los Angeles Times

The Sierra didn’t get the snowy weekend blast that was predicted, but cool temps have allowed for snow-making as ski season approaches. Mammoth Mountain, which received 1-3 inches over the weekend, opens Thursday. Up to a foot of snow was predicted in the Sierra, but Mammoth Lakes, at the vortex of the SoCal ski scene, received only a dusting in the village. A chance of snow was predicted for opening day, with temperatures in the mid-40s.

CHP to offer two-hour driver safety class for teens, parents

Sacramento Bee

A driver safety eduction class for teenagers and their parents will be offered Nov. 14 by the California Highway Patrol’s North Sacramento-area office. The free Start Smart class targets new and prospective drivers ages 15 to 19 years old. The two-hour session will cover collision avoidance techniques, driver responsibility, collision trends, distracted-driving laws, alcohol-related driver laws and the provisional license process. The program incorporates videos and classroom discussion, according to a CHP news release. Teen drivers and their parents or guardians also will have an opportunity to ask questions of CHP officers.