State Senate leader Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) issued a vehement defense of the principle of "one person, one vote" Friday, four days after the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would consider a case that could upend the way voting districts are drawn if that longstanding calculus is redefined.
De Leon, in a video statement taped in English and Spanish, said he was "deeply concerned" by the court's decision to hear the case, which hinges on whether districts should be based on total population, as they are now, or on the number of eligible voters.
The question could have major implications for states such as California, where certain areas have large concentrations of noncitizen residents, and for De Leon's district in particular.
Before the high court ruled in 1964 that state legislative districts must be roughly equal in population size, "political districts across the nation were arbitrary and imbalanced -- and millions were underrepresented," De Leon said.
"Los Angeles County...Read more
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.
Both bills were introduced in response to the ballot initiative, passed last November, under which drug possession and other nonviolent crimes are no longer a felony.
That included downgrading theft of anything valued at $950 or less. Critics charged that would make the punishment for stealing a gun, if it was below that value, too lenient.
Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) introduced AB 150 that would have amended the proposition to make theft of a firearm valued at $950 or less a felony. The change would have required approval by the voters.
AB 46, by Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), would have made it a felony to possess ketamine, GHB and other "club drugs" if the person had the intent of committing sexual assault.
Both bills were held back in the Assembly Appropriations Committee,...Read more
Former Obama administration official Ro Khanna is planning a rematch with veteran Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose), setting up a possible repeat of last year's close, high-spending and often-bitter contest between members of the same party.
Khanna, 38, has scheduled a campaign kickoff announcement event Saturday in the Bay Area city of Santa Clara.
The son of immigrants from India and a Yale Law School graduate, Khanna spent some $4.4 million to try to convince voters it was time for a change and for fresh ideas they could not get with Honda, 73.
Although he had a smaller campaign treasury, Honda, who spent $3.4 million, beat Khanna, 51.8% to 48.2%. Honda had broad support among the state's Democratic Party leadership, while many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs lined up behind Khanna.
Khanna's news release about Saturday's campaign announcement said he has remained active in several district concerns, including a manufacturing initiative for San Jose and landfill issues in Milpitas.
He also...Read more
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.
Rather than extend Medi-Cal--California's healthcare coverage for the poor--to all eligible adults regardless of immigration status, as originally proposed, the amended bill by state Sen. Ricardo Lara would set up a limited enrollment healthcare program.
FOR THE RECORD
A previous version of this story said the bill would allow people to buy insurance through the Covered California exchange, pending permission from the federal government, or through a separate state-run marketplace. The latest version of the measure does not include a separate marketplace.
The program, according to Lara's office, would offer the same coverage as Medi-Cal, but would not be an entitlement. The number of people who could sign up for the program would depend on the state budget...Read more
In a heavy metal display of its effort to get dirty cars off the road, state officials crushed a 31-year-old pickup truck outside the Capitol on Wednesday morning.
The Stockton family that turned in the truck left the event with a 2-year-old Toyota Prius, courtesy of a state program that provides rebates to help low-income families buy cleaner cars.
The $4.8-million program, one piece of a broader effort to battle climate change and improve air quality in California, is funded with cap-and-trade revenue and could put 600 cleaner cars on the road. More funding could be approved by the Air Resources Board this summer.
State officials said the majority of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions come from a relatively small number of older cars, and those vehicles are often owned by residents who can't afford new ones.
So with this program, they're trying to make clean cars available to Californians from poorer communities that often have larger problems with air quality. The Prius...Read more
As numerous proposals on body cameras for police officers make their way through the Legislature, state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris on Wednesday cautioned against using a "one-size-fits-all" approach to regulate their use.
Harris, who earlier this year announced a pilot program for California Dept. of Justice agents to wear body cameras, said the technology was "important and a good tool to use in doing police work."
But she stopped short of endorsing statewide requirements for officers to wear them, which lawmakers have been debating this session. The most contested measure, by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), has been the subject of intense negotiation over how the cameras would be operated and when the footage could be viewed.
The bill, AB 66, was put aside last week when Weber opted to make it a two-year bill.
Harris, who is running for the U.S. Senate, said she believed law enforcement leaders, along with their departments, should "use the discretion to figure out what technology...Read more