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Villaraigosa: Democrats stuck in past, Clinton faces tight race

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a close ally of Hillary Clinton, voiced concern Friday that the Democratic Party was “kind of stuck in last year,” saying he expected the former secretary of state to face “a very close election” for president.

“I’m not sure we’re a party of enough new ideas,” Villaraigosa told several dozen finance executives at a private equity conference in Santa Monica. “I think both parties kind of are married to their constituencies and their powerful interests, and they’re unwilling to challenge them in the way I did as mayor.”

Villaraigosa, who as mayor clashed with teachers unions, did not elaborate on what he meant by “stuck in last year.”

But the context – answering an audience member’s question on the 2016 presidential race – suggested his focus was more on Clinton than on President Obama or Congress. Villaraigosa campaigned extensively for Clinton in her losing battle for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Ultimately, he suggested, Clinton...

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Democratic lawmakers reject switching their health coverage to Obamacare

Democratic state lawmakers on Thursday shot down a proposal that would have required all California state legislators to get their health insurance from Covered California, the benefits exchange set up to implement Obamacare in the state.

The Assembly Rules Committee split along party lines, with seven Democrats opposing AB 1109 and three Republicans in support of the bill by Assemblyman Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita). The measure would have forced lawmakers to give up the taxpayer-subsidized health plans provided by the Legislature and individually sign up for Covered California.

Wilk introduced the measure after hearing complaints from several constituents about difficulties in signing up on the Covered California website and limitations on what is covered.

“I believe the Legislature would be more pro-active in addressing these concerns if we were enrolled in the program,” Wilk said.

However, some Assembly members said the legislation violates a provision of the federal Affordable Care...

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California Assembly acts to prohibit fines for brown lawns in droughts

Alarmed that some cities have fined residents for allowing their lawns to turn brown during the drought, the state Assembly passed a bill Thursday that would prohibit penalties for failing to water grass.

Assemblywoman Cheryl R. Brown (D-Rialto) said she has received reports of fines or threatened fines in cities including Glendale, Upland and San Bernardino, even though Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency because of California's series of dry years.

“If California is going to manage its water resources efficiently and sustainably, then we cannot allow municipalities to penalize individuals for conserving water by not regularly watering their lawn,” Assemblywoman Brown said.

The measure, AB 1, passed 74 to 0 and now goes to the state Senate for consideration.

The proposal would bar cities and counties from imposing fines for failure to water lawns during times when the governor has declared a state of emergency based on drought conditions.

Fines for violating maintenance ordinances...

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Ex-state GOP chief Tom Del Beccaro launches Senate bid

Former state Republican chairman Tom Del Beccaro announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate on Sunday, ensuring a divided GOP field in next year’s contest to succeed Democrat Barbara Boxer.

Del Beccaro, 53, is a Contra Costa County lawyer who specializes in the breakups of business partnerships.

He led the state party from 2011 to 2013, a period when Republicans lost elections for every statewide office and suffered a historic blow as Democrats won a two-thirds supermajority in both houses of the Legislature for the first time in more than a century.

In a written statement on his candidacy, Del Beccaro called for simplification of the federal tax code and vowed to ensure “that prosperity is not limited to the well-connected.”

“Californians deserve to have a tax system that favors everyone, not just the rich,” he said.

Del Beccaro’s conservative profile will make his campaign an uphill climb in a state that strongly favors Democrats.

In a telephone interview, he said the science on global...

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Ex-Sen. Calderon may face additional criminal charges, prosecutor warns

A federal prosecutor indicated in a court filing Wednesday that a superseding indictment containing more criminal charges is possibly on the way in the corruption case of former state Sen. Ronald Calderon (D-Montebello).

Assistant U.S. Atty. Douglas M. Miller made the comment in a court filing that opposed a request by Calderon’s attorney to delay the trial’s Aug. 11 scheduled start.

Calderon was indicted last year on 24 charges including allegations that he accepted $80,000 in bribes. His brother, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon, is charged with money laundering.

Miller said he sent an email to Calderon’s attorney warning he probably would oppose any further continuances, according to the court filing.

“In the interest of full disclosure and to provide notice, you should know that we are currently investigating pursuing a superseding indictment with additional charges against both defendants,” Miller wrote in the email, according to his court filing. “We point this out because, in the...

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Neel Kashkari backs Rocky Chavez in race for Barbara Boxer's Senate seat

The Republican field in next year’s U.S. Senate contest is still taking shape, but Neel Kashkari, the party’s 2014 candidate for governor, threw his support Wednesday behind state Assemblyman Rocky Chavez of Oceanside.

Chavez, who spent most of his career in the U.S. Marines, is mounting a long shot campaign for Democrat Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat in a state that has largely shunned Republicans in statewide races in the last decade.

In the seven weeks since Chavez entered the race, the only other big-name Republican to announce support for his candidacy is Kevin Faulconer, the mayor of San Diego.

Kashkari, a former assistant U.S. Treasury secretary who finished 1.5 million votes behind Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown in November, said in a statement that California needs “experienced and tested leaders in Washington.”

“As a Marine colonel and a California Assembly member, Col. Chavez has the experience to effectively represent California in the United States Senate,” Kashkari said.

Former...

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