PolitiCal
News and analysis on California politics
Poll says Gov. Brown has nearly 20-point lead over challenger Kashkari

Gov. Jerry Brown has a nearly 20-point advantage over GOP challenger Neel Kashkari, according to a poll released Wednesday, which also found strong support among Californians for the state's landmark global warming law. The survey, by the Public Policy Institute of California, found that 52% of likely voters back Brown in the November election, while 33% support Kashkari.  Both candidates have strong backing from their respective parties -- 80% of Democrats support Brown, while 70% of Republicans say they'll vote for Kashkari. But Brown also has the advantage among independent voters: 52% of independents back the incumbent governor and 28% support Kashkari. The poll, which focuses on environmental policy, found that 68% of Californians support AB 32, the 2006 climate change law that requires the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.  Around three-quarters of Californians support a provision of the law that, starting next year, would apply the cap-and-trade rules to motor...

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With Mexico trip around corner, Gov. Jerry Brown praises relationship

Gov. Jerry Brown, attending a lunch with Mexico's secretary of foreign affairs Wednesday, said his upcoming trip to California's southern neighbor would help "forge new relations into the future." Brown is scheduled to be in Mexico City from Sunday through Wednesday, his first official trip to the country since returning to the governor's office three years ago. He has also invited the Mexican president to California later this year. "Mexico and California have been joined at the beginning, and will continue to deepen our relations to the benefits of both sides," Brown said. The Mexican foreign affairs secretary, José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, said partnerships with California will benefit both places. "We should be recognizing that our border is a source of competitiveness, our border is part of a way of life for the region," he said. The governor is planning to attend a series of meetings with Mexican government officials during his trip, including signing agreements involving climate...

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Judge delays Sen. Ronald Calderon's corruption trial until May 2015

A federal judge on Wednesday delayed the start of a corruption trial for state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon until May 19, 2015, sparking new debate at the Capitol about whether he should be allowed to remain on paid suspension until his term ends in November. The order was signed by U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder in Los Angeles after federal prosecutors agreed to a delay to allow Calderon’s attorney more time to review evidence in the case, including 280,000 pages of bank records, business records, FBI documents, grand jury transcripts and recorded telephone calls and meetings. The Montebello Democrat faces charges of accepting about $88,000 in bribes in exchange for official action on legislation involving film tax credits and workers' compensation rules. Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) said the delay in the trial justifies immediate action by the Senate to expel Calderon, who the chamber had put on indefinite paid suspension in March. “The people in his district have zero...

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Judge allows class-action suit alleging race-based prison punishments

A federal judge in Sacramento on Wednesday awarded class-action status to a lawsuit filed by California prison inmates alleging their rights are violated by widespread practices of race-based punishment. Prison officials acknowledge they respond to outbreaks of violence by ordering lockdowns and other sanctions, and that every inmate is assigned a race or ethnic code: black, Hispanic, white or other. But they denied in court filings that punishments are decided by race. However, they commonly contend that inmates align themselves with gangs based on race and ethnic group. U.S. District Judge Troy Nunley's ruling Wednesday found that it is "undisputed" that California uses statewide policies governing lockdowns that utilize race. He wrote that "any assertion denying the existence of the [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's] policy to be insincere at the very least." There was no immediate comment on the ruling by the department. The case stems from a 2008 court...

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Anti-tax group sues to kick Citizens United advisory measure off ballot

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., an anti-tax group, filed a lawsuit Tuesday to block a non-binding advisory measure on Citizens United from appearing on the November ballot. The taxpayer group said the measure, which would ask Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn the landmark 2010 campaign finance decision, is an "illegitimate exercise of legislative power." The measure, which will appear on the ballot as Proposition 49, will have no legal effect even if approved by the voters. Jon Coupal, president of the group, said lawmakers do not have the authority to use "legislative power for a public opinion poll."  He cited a 1984 case where an initiative calling for a federal balanced budget constitutional amendment was removed from the ballot, in part, the court said, because the measure would not have changed state law. "If the people can’t do it, certainly the Legislature can’t do it, either," Coupal said. The measure, SB 1272, made the ballot last week, when Gov. Jerry...

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Some June write-in candidates made it to the November ballot

The state's relatively new top-two primary election system has helped more than a dozen June write-in candidates earn places on the Nov. 4 ballot -- and without paying filing fees. Under the top-two system, all the candidates for a given California office appear on the same ballot and only the first- and second-place finishers are allowed to advance to the fall general election, regardless of any party affiliation. In the two state election cycles in which the new system has been used, it has produced several fall races pitting members of the same party against each other and, in a handful of contests opened the door for an unaffiliated candidate to compete head-to-head with a member of a major party. This fall, write-in hopefuls will appear on the ballot in a race for one seat on the state Board of Equalization and in two congressional, three state Senate and 10 Assembly district contests. How did that happen?  After the filing period passed for the June 3 primary, candidates, or in...

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Delay sought in trial of Sen. Calderon until after he leaves office

Federal prosecutors have agreed to provide the defense a delay in the corruption trial of state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon from September to May 19, 2015, long after the Democrat from Montebello will have left office. Calderon was indicted in February on federal charges of accepting nearly $100,000 in cash bribes, as well as gourmet meals and golf outings, in exchange for his influence as a lawmaker. He is accused of accepting bribes from an undercover FBI agent posing as a film industry executive in exchange for pushing for an extension of tax credits for film productions. In addition, Calderon is charged with accepting bribes from the owner of a medical firm in exchange for action on legislation involving workers compensation reform. The continuance from Sept. 16 was supported by attorney Mark Geragos, who represents Calderon and cited the large amount of material subject to discovery motions in the case. Calderon, who has pleaded not guilty, supported the delay in getting his day in...

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New law prohibits some fines for brown lawns during droughts

Californians who let their lawns die during a drought won't risk a slap on the wrist from their homeowners' associations, thanks to a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday. The measure prohibits homeowners' associations from imposing fines on residents who stop watering their lawns in an effort to conserve water. “We can’t be sending mixed messages about the importance of conserving water during this drought," said the bill's author, Assemblywoman Nora Campos (D-San Jose) in a statement. "Fines for wasting water make sense. Fines for not watering your lawn don’t," Campos added. "We shouldn’t punish people who are doing the right thing. We need every drop of water.” The bill, AB 2100, echoes the executive action issued by the governor in April, which ordered homeowners' associations from fining residents for brown lawns. This new law would apply during local and statewide droughts. The law takes effect immediately. It does not apply to fines imposed by local governments, so it would...

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Gov. Brown limits full-contact football practices for teens

Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed controversial legislation limiting the amount of full-contact practices for teenage football players in an effort to reduce concussions and other serious brain injuries. The measure prohibits football teams at public middle and high schools from holding full-contact practices during the off-season and bars them from conducting more than two full-contact practices per week, of 90 minutes each, during the season. The bill also requires an athlete who has sustained a head injury or concussion to complete a supervised return-to-play protocol of at least seven days, according to Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), who introduced the bill. “AB 2127’s practice guidelines will reassure parents that their kids can learn football safely through three hours of full-contact practice … to maximize conditioning and skill development while minimizing concussion risk,” Cooley said. Nearly 4 million high school students nationwide suffer head injuries every year...

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Gov. Brown signs bill to reduce deportations for minor crimes

Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed into law a measure aimed at reducing deportations of legal immigrants who are convicted of minor crimes. The legislation by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) reduces the maximum possible misdemeanor sentence by one day from one year to 364 days. It addresses concern that federal law allows legal immigrants to be deported if they are convicted of a crime and given a sentence of one year or more. The measure will reduce the number of noncitizen families who are legal residents but who are broken up when one member is deported for a crime that is not a felony, Lara said. “As a result of the differences between state and federal sentencing laws, some families are torn apart every year due to minor crimes, such as writing a bad check,” Lara said. “By lowering the sentence by one day, those offenses that California considers misdemeanors would be treated as such and no longer trigger immigration consequences.” SB 1310 was opposed by a few Republican...

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Assemblyman John Pérez ends recount after failing to gain traction

Assemblyman John A. Pérez is pulling the plug on an unsuccessful recount in the state controller' race, halting the review of primary ballots one week after it began.  The decision by Pérez, a Los Angeles Democrat, clears a path for Betty Yee, a Bay Area Democrat and member of the Board of Equalization, to advance to the general election in November. Pérez launched the recount after finishing 481 votes behind Yee in the June 3 primary, but he failed to gain more than a handful of votes in Kern and Imperial counties over the last several days.  "While I strongly believe that completing this process would result in me advancing to the general election, it is clear that there are significant deficiencies in the process itself which make continuing the recount problematic," Pérez said in a statement Friday. Under California law, whoever asks for the recount has to pay for the process, and Pérez was burning through thousands of dollars in campaign cash each day. At the same time, he was...

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Gov. Jerry Brown signs a pair of gun bills

Gov. Jerry Brown signed two gun-related measures into law Friday, including one bill to make single-shot pistols subject to the state's handgun safety requirements. Most guns sold in California must comply with the state's safe handgun requirements -- including having certain safety devices or meeting specified firing tests -- but the law had exempted handguns that hold a single bullet. Gun control groups say semiautomatic handguns, which are subject to safety requirements, can temporarily be configured as single-shot pistols and then changed back. They advocated for Assemblyman Roger Dickinson's (D-Sacramento) measure to close the exemption for single-shot handguns. “Gun dealers in California have been skirting the law and selling handguns without child safety features, putting profits over the safety of Californians,” said Nick and Amanda Wilcox, legislation and policy chairs of the California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “We applaud Gov. Brown and the...

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