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The California Flap: January 25, 2013

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The California Legislature is in session.

Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s is here.

Some important deadlines to remember:

  • January 25, 2013: Deadline to send bill ideas to the California Legislative Counsel for drafting.
  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

On to the morning’s California headlines:

  • Gov. Jerry Brown calls for special session of Legislature on healthcare – Healthcare and education reform were key themes of Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State address Thursday in which he called for the Legislature to convene a special session to work out issues involving the state’s compliance with the federal Affordable Care Act.”Our health benefit exchange, called Covered California, will begin next year providing insurance to nearly one million Californians,” Brown said. “Over the rest of this decade, California will steadily reduce the number of uninsured.”But he said it will be “incredibly complex” to implement a broader expansion of Medi-Cal called for by the federal law.”Working out the right relationship with the counties will test our ingenuity and will not be achieved overnight,” Brown told legislators packed into the Assembly chamber. “Given the costs involved, great prudence should guide every step of the way.”
  • Joe Baca will seek rematch in Congress race – Former Rep. Joe Baca will seek a return to Congress in 2014.Baca lost his seat in the House of Representatives to then-state Sen. Gloria Negrete-McLeod in the November election. He said in a telephone interview Thursday that former constituents have asked him to seek a rematch.”Many people within the district have encouraged me to run again,” Baca said, adding that many people have told him they are upset by the flood of pro-McLeod and anti-Baca advertisements from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Super PAC.”Many people feel that Bloomberg from New York should not dictate who runs in this area,” Baca said.Bloomberg’s Super PAC, called Independence USA, spent millions supporting McLeod and opposing Baca. Independence USA’s intervention came relatively late in the race and Baca said the Super PAC’s activities blindsided his campaign and distorted his legislative record.Super PACs are groups that are allowed to spend unlimited amounts on federal campaigns as long as th…
  • Brown lays out conservative vision for California – In a State of the State address befitting a Republican, Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday laid out a largely conservative vision for California, calling for fiscal restraint, streamlined regulations and local control of schools. At one point he even asked the Legislature to stop passing so many bills.”I like to hear it,” Orange County Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine, said afterwards. “He is welcome to our playbook and we are pledged to support him if he is working from our playbook,” he said.
  • Brown Spells Out Next Goals For California – Cheering a California rebound, Gov. Jerry Brown says voter-approved tax increases have put the state on sound financial footing but warns lawmakers that they must be tight-fisted with the government purse strings.The Democratic governor delivered his third State of the State address Thursday since reclaiming the governor’s office. He did so just months after voters approved his Proposition 30, which raised sales and income taxes temporarily.His speech was filled with the rhetorical gems and historical references that are hallmarks of his addresses, but it did not break new ground.The main topics Brown addressed — reform of K-12 education funding, the need for the higher education systems to hold down costs, promotion of high-speed rail and water tunnels under the delta — have been addressed previously, including in his budget proposal.
  • Gov. Jerry Brown delivers a State of the State speech like no other – It was a political speech like no other, delivered by perhaps the one politician who could pull it off.California’s 74-year-old third-term governor filled his State of the State address Thursday with rhetorical flourishes, poetic allusions, biblical stories, historical references — a tapestry of ideas weaved into a political document meant to set the tone for the Capitol in 2013.”It was Jerry Brown in his essence in that he offered perspective, a vantage point you don’t see from very many governors, if any,” said Bill Whalen, who wrote speeches for former Gov. Pete Wilson. “I dare say it might be the most quirky speech ever delivered.”
  • Gov. Jerry Brown declares ‘California did the impossible,’ – Seeking to reclaim the state’s identity as an innovator and engine of growth, Gov. Jerry Brown declared in a sweeping State of the State address that “California did the impossible” in emerging from financial crisis poised to lead again.Brown outlined a vision for the state Thursday in remarks that were equal parts history lesson, lecture and rhetorical flourish. It includes major investment in water and rail systems, more robust trade and an education structure free of regulations that crush creativity.Invoking California’s “spectacular history of bold pioneers meeting every failure with even greater success,” he asked a joint session of the Legislature to overhaul the way schools are funded, build a controversial bullet train and aggressively expand healthcare to millions of needy residents.
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The California Flap: January 24, 2013

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Jerry BrownCalifornia Governor Jerry Brown AP Photo

This morning California Governor Jerry Brown will deliver his State of the State address.

The address, at 9 a.m., will be broadcast live by KABC-TV Channel 7 in Los Angeles and on KPCC-FM (89.3) radio. It can be seen online here. And, on the California Channel (check your television provider).

The California Legislature is in session.

Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s is here.

Some important deadlines to remember:

  • January 25, 2013: Deadline to send bill ideas to the California Legislative Counsel for drafting.
  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

On to the morning’s California headlines:

  • Optimistic State of the State address expected from governor – Gov. Jerry Brown will deliver a State of the State address Thursday morning that lays out an ambitious and optimistic policy agenda for a state he says is on the rebound.After persuading voters to erase much of California’s budget deficit with billions of dollars in new taxes, Brown is free to shift his focus from patching holes in the government’s finances to a longer-term vision.He is expected to expand on his plans for shaking up public universities, shoring up water systems and boosting the state’s international trade.

    The governor may also renew his call for changes in the landmark California Environmental Quality Act, which business interests say inhibits growth with onerous requirements.

    And he may reiterate his warning to fellow Democrats that the state’s improved finances are not an invitation to spend freely.

  • The battle for CEQA – California’s core environmental protection law, a 43-year-old statute frequently denounced by developers and business interests as a tangle of red tape, is on a Capitol hit list once again.But the political dynamic this year is unusual: Those pushing hard for change are Democrats, including Gov. Brown, the Senate and Assembly leaders and a farm-belt lawmaker.At issue is the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, which requires builders and others to detail their projects’ potential impacts over time on the environment and offer ways to fix them – which helps local zoning commissions and city councils weigh the benefits and negatives of the proposals in their decision-making.
  • Cal lawmakers propose 72-hour posting of bills before final votes – A bipartisan group of California lawmakers concerned by the past rushing of legislation has proposed asking voters to require all bills to be in print and online for 72 hours before final passage.Sen. Lois Wolk (D- Davis) and Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) have introduced identical bills with the aim of improving transparency in the Legislature.Wolk noted that in the last two-year session, the Legislature considered nearly 5,000 bills. “While most of those proposals were publicly shared and well-vetted, some were not,” Wolk said. “Last-minute changes to bills can leave legislators unsure of what they are voting on, and prevent the public from weighing in on proposals.”
  • Ex-Treasury official Neel Kashkari mulling run for California office – Neel Kashkari, a Republican executive who worked for the U.S. Treasury Department at the height of the financial crisis, is reportedly weighing a run for public office in California.Kashkari, 39, announced today that he is stepping down from his job as management director for Pacific Investment Management Co., a Newport Beach investment firm. He expressed an interest in entering public service in California in multiple interviews published today and has launched a website touting his biography and leadership bona fides.
  • Court: Putting Prop. 30 on top of ballot was illegal – Anyone who still believes that there isn’t monkey business in politics needs only to look at the most recent election and a significant legal ruling handed down on Friday regarding Proposition 30. While it may seem too little, too late, this ruling does matter.The California State Court of Appeals found that Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Legislature manipulated the ballot process, maneuvering Prop. 30 to land at the top of the ballot, above all of the other ballot measures. Prop. 30 increased taxes $6 billion a year.
  • Sacramento GOP consultant files suit against Lance Armstrong – Sacramento-based Republican strategist Rob Stutzman and local chef Jonathan Wheeler have filed a class-action lawsuit against Lance Armstrong and his publishers, alleging that the infamous cyclist deceived readers in a 2001 best seller.The 59-page suit lays out various “misrepresentations” in Armstrong’s “It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life.” It says Armstrong credited his Tour de France success to training, diet and drive while denying that he ever used banned substances.The suit was filed Tuesday in Sacramento’s U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, alleging unfair business practices, fraud, false advertising and deceit. The complaint seeks, among other things, attorney’s fees and refunds for California customers who purchased the book.
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The California Flap: January 23, 2013

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San Diego, California

The California Legislature is in session.

Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s is here.

Some important deadlines to remember:

  • January 25, 2013: Deadline to send bill ideas to the California Legislative Counsel for drafting.
  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

On to the morning’s California headlines:

  • Friends remember Bob Larkin, long-time Republican and Simi Valley activist – Bob Larkin, a gregarious, small business owner, who once headed the county’s Republican Central Committee and championed Simi Valley causes has died.Larkin, who served as the committee’s chairman in the early 1990s, was a moderate Republican who was critical of the very conservative branch of the party and in return received criticism for some of his opinions, but he was unwavering in his beliefs, friends recalled on Monday.

    “He was always dedicated to what he believed in,” former U.S. Congressman Elton Gallegly, a Simi Valley Republican, said. “He clearly was involved. He was not afraid of controversy. He was not afraid or taking a controversial opinion. He wasn’t one of these guys who was out on a soap box waiving his finger at anyone. He let people know what he thought.”

    Larkin, who was in his mid 70s, died over the weekend.

  • Amazon to build huge distribution center in Tracy – Amazon said Tuesday it will employ hundreds of full-time workers at a new million-square-foot distribution center it will develop in Tracy, part of its quest to provide next-day and same-day deliveries.”It’s great to be getting these jobs,” said Michael Ammann, CEO of the San Joaquin Partnership. “This is going to be a state-of-the-art facility. It is not just going to be a few people with forklifts in a warehouse. It is going to be a very sophisticated operation for Amazon.”

    Potentially 500 or more full-time Amazon employees could work at the Tracy site.

    Amazon in late 2012 opened a center to fill customer’s orders in San Bernardino. And in the Stanislaus County city of Patterson, Amazon is building a distribution center that could employ 350 to 400, according to estimates from the governor’s office and the city of Patterson.

  • Assembly Democrat wants grocery store ban on plastic bags – Assemblyman Marc Levine announced today he will revive a proposal banning all single-use plastic bags in California grocery stores.Under the proposal, most grocery retailers could no longer provide thin plastic bags for customers starting in 2015. For 18 months, retailers could offer paper bags made of recycled materials or reusable plastic bags for customers to bag their milk, eggs and other groceries.

    Starting in July 2016, grocery retailers could only provide reusable plastic bags, which many stores already offer at a fee. The new proposal, Assembly Bill 158, also leaves room for stores to provide recycled paper bags at a charge.

    Levine, a San Rafael Democrat in his first term, argues that the proposal would save marine life because he says single-use plastic bags account for roughly 10 percent of ocean debris. Environmental groups have backed similar bills in the past.

  • Herdt: Bob Larkin rang a bell; state GOP didn’t hear – Larkin died suddenly at his Westlake Village home on Saturday, and will be remembered as a civic-minded community leader in eastern Ventura County, as a dedicated businessman who continued to serve his customers every day until his death, a good-natured friend, a loving husband and a devoted golfer.
    As for his political epitaph, it can be written in four words: “I told you so.”

    Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, who benefited from Larkin’s support and mentoring, said recent history has proved Larkin to be something of a political prophet.

==========

R.I.P.

But, Herdt has the politics wrong and I will write about it another time.

  • Proposition 8: Backers of same-sex marriage ban make arguments to Supreme Court – Supporters of California’s Proposition 8 on Tuesday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to preserve the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, firing the first legal volley of many to come before the justices hear arguments in the historic case in late March.In an 83-page brief, Proposition 8’s defenders decried a federal appeals court’s ruling last year declaring the 2008 gay marriage ban unconstitutional. California voters had a right to define “the vital social institution of marriage” as being between a man and a woman, the Proposition 8 legal team wrote.

    “In short, there is no warrant in precedent or precept for invalidating marriage as it has existed in California for virtually all of its history, as it was universally understood throughout this nation (and the world) until just the last decade, and as it continues to be defined in the overwhelming majority of states and nations,” they declared.

  • California sees a revenue bump after tax changes – After years of budget agony, California is seeing something strange this month: a heap of excess cash.The state is poised to finish January about $4 billion ahead of what forecasters expected in income taxes, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office – the biggest one-month overage that state fiscal experts can recall in recent memory.

    California also set a single-day record Jan. 16 when the Franchise Tax Board received $2.2 billion in taxes, mostly in payments from the 6 percent of filers who pay quarterly rather than have money deducted from paychecks.

  • Glendale City Council To Consider Gun Show Ban – City council members will consider a proposal Tuesday evening that would ban gun shows at the Glendale Auditorium.The Glendale Gun Show has been held at the auditorium since 1992 and is next scheduled to take place in March.

    Last year, three gun shows were held within city limits.

    City councilman Rafi Manoukian first suggested the proposal in December after the fatal shooting of 27 children and adults in Newtown, Conn.

    The council has several options for the ban: canceling rental contacts with the Glendale Gun Show for coming events, banning all gun sales on city property, and allowing the show to operate through the rest of 2013 and then enforcing a ban.

    But not all city residents believe a gun show ban will prevent violence.

  • Honda v. Khanna: Could Silicon Valley be ground zero for 2014 House Asian-American battle royale? – Ro Khanna — the former Obama Administration trade executive and Democratic rising star with a $1.2 million warchest — may be eying a big move: a House race against Democratic South Bay incumbent Mike Honda in 2014.That would be a 2014 Democrat v. Democrat battle worth watching.

    For one thing, it would represent a generational fight — pitting a 71-year-old, longtime political veteran of Japanese ancestry against a 35-year-old emerging leader of the South Asian Indo-American community, which is booming and flexing its muscle in the South bay.

    It would be a challenge of a longtime, traditional, respected Democratic labor favorite and party leader against an up and coming Democrat with tech saavy — and big Silicon Valley ties.

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The California Flap: January 22, 2013

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The California Legislature is in session.

Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s is here.

Some important deadlines to remember:

  • January 25, 2013: Deadline to send bill ideas to the California Legislative Counsel for drafting.
  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

On to the morning’s California headlines:

  • California engineers question high-speed rail oversight – As California prepares to embark on its largest public works project in decades, a union that represents state engineers is questioning whether all the construction work will be thoroughly scrutinized.Contractors submitted bids this week to design and build the first 30-mile stretch of track for the $68 billion high-speed rail system, which eventually is designed to link Northern and Southern California by trains traveling up to 220 mph. The contract they sign is expected to be for up to $1.8 billion to build the initial segment in the Central Valley.The documents outlining the requirements for the bids say the independent contractor that would design and build the first phase of the project would hire the inspectors charged with testing the work on that segment, running from Madera to Fresno. The inspections would then be submitted to the California High-Speed Rail Authority.Critics, including lawmakers and a state engineers union, say the arrangement could present a conflict…
  • CalPERS nears a record $260 billion in assets – The California Public Employees’ Retirement System is poised to top a record $260 billion in assets, the market value it held before the global financial crisis wiped out more than a third of its wealth.The largest U.S. public pension, with half of its money in publicly traded equities, was worth $253.2 billion on Thursday, or about 97% of the pre-recession high set in October 2007. The fund returned 13% in 2012, about the same gain as the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index.”A lot of the improvements in portfolio returns is simply reflective of the return of the market,” Chief Investment Officer Joe Dear said. “But there is still an important lesson there, which is that when the crisis was full on, we didn’t drastically reduce our equity exposure.”
  • Tobacco tax hike eyed for 2014 state ballot – Get ready for another round of tobacco tax wars, California initiative style.And count three big reasons for a do-over of the electoral skirmish in 2014: the relatively low level of the existing tax, the narrow margin of the vote in 2012, and the fact that it may now be a fight not over bureaucracy and research but rather college tuition.”I think the right measure, going to the right revenue source is going to be the magic combination,” says Democratic strategist Jason Kinney. “And that’s why I think so many people are looking at it.”
  • Jerry Brown’s budget is a boon to California’s unions – Gov. Jerry Brown continues to pose as an iconoclast who is willing to make the tough choices necessary to keep California afloat, but the budget he released recently is more evidence that he remains the cat’s paw for the state’s public-sector unions.“I want to advance the progressive agenda,” Brown said at the press conference unveiling his supposedly balanced budget, “but consistent with the amount of money people made available … I respect and embrace my role of saying ‘no.’”But he certainly has said yes to union demands. The budget is the culmination of Brown’s campaign to convince Californians to raise taxes on themselves. They complied by approving Proposition 30 to help the school kids, yet Brown has played games with that money — earmarking some of it for union pay hikes as a payback for all that help during the Nov. 6 campaign, according to GOP leaders.
  • California death penalty: Will state follow Arizona, which has resumed executions after a long hiatus? – When Arizona prison officials injected condemned rapist and murderer Richard Stokley with a single, fatal drug dose last month, it marked the state’s sixth execution of the year in the nation’s second busiest death chamber.Now that California voters in November narrowly preserved the death penalty, Arizona’s path could foreshadow the future for this state, where not a single one of the 729 death row inmates have marched to execution in seven years.As in California, interminable legal tangles once shut down Arizona’s death penalty system as the state executed only one inmate, who volunteered to die, from 2001 to 2010. But Arizona emerged from numerous court battles that removed all of the legal roadblocks that remain in California.The result has been 11 executions since October 2010, nearly the number California has carried out since it restored the death penalty in 1978. Significantly, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, often the last word for death penalty appeals in the …
  • Plenty of green carpool stickers remain available in California – Green stickers for plug-in hybrids: 9,022. Limit: 40,000. Expire: Jan. 1, 2015 White stickers for electric vehicles and those running on alternative fuels: 21,770. Limit: None. Expire: Jan. 1, 2015. Yellow stickers for hybrids: 85,000. Ended July 1, 2011.
  • Brown seeks to reshape California’s community colleges – With a slate of bold and controversial budget proposals, Gov. Jerry Brown has placed a renewed focus on the state’s struggling community colleges, the world’s largest system of two-year schools that are often overshadowed by the University of California and Cal State systems.The governor’s recommendations are aimed at keeping community colleges affordable, keeping classes accessible and moving students faster through the system to allow them to graduate or transfer to a four-year university at higher rates. Brown’s spending plan must clear the Legislature, and some college officials have vowed to oppose — or at least try to modify — some portions.
  • Medicare Pricing Delay is Political Win for Amgen, Drug Maker – Just two weeks after pleading guilty in a major federal fraud case, Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology firm, scored a largely unnoticed coup on Capitol Hill: Lawmakers inserted a paragraph into the “fiscal cliff” bill that did not mention the company by name but strongly favored one of its drugs.The language buried in Section 632 of the law delays a set of Medicare price restraints on a class of drugs that includes Sensipar, a lucrative Amgen pill used by kidney dialysis patients.The provision gives Amgen an additional two years to sell Sensipar without government controls. The news was so welcome that the company’s chief executive quickly relayed it to investment analysts. But it is projected to cost Medicare up to $500 million over that period.
  • Dan Walters: Public debts cloud future for California cities – The tendency among local officials – much like their brethren in the state Capitol – is to make financial commitments with little thought to long-term consequences.That’s how our governments dug themselves into deep budget holes – spending revenue windfalls on new services, giving employees big pension and health care benefits retroactively, and borrowing for grandiose projects without economic viability.Three of California’s cities rode that path into bankruptcy. While one, Vallejo, has emerged, two others, Stockton and San Bernardino, are still ruminating over which creditors will take haircuts.Stockton’s situation is especially egregious because it committed all of those fiscal sins. Its biggest debt is money it borrowed to pay its pension obligations, a double whammy.

    In fact, most public debt in California is in the form of pension promises whose dimensions depend on assumptions of pension fund earnings.

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The California Flap: January 18, 2013

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Hilda SolisFormer Secretary of Labor and Rep. Hilda Solis

These are my links for January 8th through January 18th:

  • Hilda Solis considering a run for L.A. County Board of Supervisors – U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis confirmed Friday that she is considering running for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, plans to “get my footing back in the community” and remain politically active in Los Angeles.”I’m going to take a look at it,” she said of her potential run for the eastern Los Angeles County seat that will be vacated late next year by Supervisor Gloria Molina, who will be termed out of office.Solis declined to offer a date when she will officially announce her decision, saying she wants to take time to “reflect, relax” and spend more time with her 87-year-old mother.

    Solis, 55, has spent 12 years in Washington, first as a San Gabriel Valley congresswoman and, since 2009, as a member of President Obama’s Cabinet.

  • Manufacturing stages U.S. comeback, but not in California – Manufacturing is staging a big comeback in the United States, according to a new U.S. Commerce Department report, but a new state employment report indicates that manufacturing is continuing its years-long slide in California.The federal report says that between the start of 2010 and the end of 2012, manufacturing accounted for 500,000 new jobs. But a state-by-state survey indicates that the effects are being felt mostly in the Upper Midwest and the South.In Indiana, for example, manufacturing accounts for 13.1 percent of jobs and 22.3 percent of earnings, making it the No. 1 state in terms of economic impact. All other states with high-impact manufacturing sectors, except for New Hampshire, are in the two regions.
  • California unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.8% last month – California’s labor market slowed last month as employers shed 17,500 jobs in December and the unemployment rate remained unchanged.The state’s jobless rate, which fell below 10% in November for the first time in nearly four years, stands at 9.8%, according to data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.In addition, job figures for November were revised upward to show a net gain of 6,100 jobs that month.
  • Amgen to spend $200 million on Singapore manufacturing facility – Amgen will invest about $200 million to build a manufacturing facility in Singapore to produce clinical and commercial products, with an initial focus on expansion of monoclonal antibodies, the company announced Wednesday.”Amgen is pleased to be planning for a new world-class facility in Singapore as part of our global expansion strategy,” said Madhu Balachandran, executive vice president of operations. “Singapore is an ideal location to further our manufacturing efforts based on its rich talent pool and friendly business environment.”
  • California lawmakers use Lady Gaga to attract campaign cash – Are Democratic state Sens. Ricardo Lara and Ron Calderon “Little Monsters,” the term Lady Gaga uses affectionalty for her loyal fans.The two state lawmakers will be at Staples Center on Sunday night to see Lady Gaga in concert. They are holding a joint campaign fundraiser at the event, with a $3,900 VIP contribution also including a hotel room for the night. Calderon, a Montebello resident, is raising money for his 2014 state controller campaign while Lara, who lives in Bell Gardens, is hoping to bring in cash for his reelection to the Senate.
  • California High-speed rail critic Rep. Jeff Denham to chair House railroad panel – High-speed rail skeptics gained new traction Wednesday with the promotion of Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, to chairmanship of the House panel that oversees railroads.A sharp critic of California’s ambitious high-speed rail plan, Denham can use his post to challenge one of the Obama administration’s top public works priorities. Future rail legislation must pass through Denham’s subcommittee, which can also hold hearings to shed potentially unflattering light on specific projects like California’s.”I’m opposed to it, but I’m going to work with the California High-Speed Rail Authority on going forward,” Denham said Wednesday. “I want to work together with them, though I still have doubts about their funding and ridership numbers.”

    Underscoring his new leadership position, as well as his stated willingness to keep an open mind, Denham met early Wednesday morning on Capitol Hill with the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s two top officials, board chairman Dan Richard and chief executive officer Jeff Morales. In a statement, Richard described the meeting as “collegial and productive

  • California State misses prison benchmark on overcrowding – ‘s official. In a federal court filing Tuesday, California told federal judges that its prisons remain crowded beyond benchmarks set by the court nearly two years ago.The state said its 33 prisons on average are at 149.4% of design capacity. Nearly half of the individual prisons are much higher than that: 172% at North Kern State Prison, 187% at the Central California Women’s Facility, and the men’s section of Valley State Prison in Chowchilla is now at almost 352%.The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced Wednesday that the last female inmates at Valley State have been moved out, freeing up 1,536 beds that can now be used for the male prisoners housed there. Starting next week, the state will begin moving female inmates into a converted 403-bed women’s facility adjacent to Folsom State Prison.
  • Picking a Republican to challenge Brownley – It’s way too early to start writing about the 2014 campaigns, but with the reported statement by former Republican Sen. Tony Strickland that he’s “seriously considering” taking on Rep. Julia Brownley in a rematch of the 2012 campaign, a few preliminary observations seem in order.
  • California lawmaker pushes driver’s licenses for more illegal immigrants – A week after California began issuing driver’s licenses to a select group of young illegal immigrants, a state lawmaker has proposed that licenses be provided to many others who are unlawfully in the country.A new state law that took effect Jan. 1 allows driver’s licenses to be issued to those given a work permit as part of an Obama administration program that suspends deportation for many people who arrived illegally as children.Now, Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D- Salinas) has introduced AB 60, which would provide California driver’s licenses to anyone who can show they pay taxes, regardless of their immigration status.

    Alejo estimates there are up to a million illegal immigrants who are driving without licenses and thus many are on the road without proper training, testing or insurance. His bill would allow licenses if someone provides the Department of Motor Vehicles with a federal individual taxpayer identification number or other document deemed proof of paying taxes.

  • Speaker Pérez modifies Assembly restrictions on press access – Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez has modified newly imposed restrictions on reporters’ floor access to legislators by designating a section in the back of the Assembly’s chambers for interviews.The development marks a significant change from Monday, when Pérez ended the longstanding practice of media interviews in the back of chambers during floor sessions. Reporters were required to conduct such talks in a hallway.
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