SACRAMENTO -- California officials are still cleaning up the mess after halting an expensive and troubled overhaul of the payroll system for public employees earlier this year.
Roughly two dozen workers are responsible for sifting through the rubble to determine exactly how many errors were made while the upgrade was tested on 1,300 employees for several months.
During the testing, some workers were paid too much, others too little. Money was not sent...
Operators of medical marijuana dispensaries are welcoming action Monday by state lawmakers that would block prosecutions for illegal drug sales by cooperatives and collectives under certain conditions.
The state Senate on Monday approved legislation saying that a medical marijuana cooperative, collective or other business entity is not subject to prosecution for drug sales as long as the compensation they receive is reasonable and they follow security guidelines set by the state attorney general in 2008.
“It’s a long time coming. I’m glad they are doing something,” said...
Medical marijuana dispensaries that abide by security rules in California would not be subject to local or state prosecution for illegal sales under a measure approved Monday by the state Senate.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) proposed the measure to clarify ambiguous laws on medical marijuana, which was approved for legal use in California by voters in 1996. The current law allowing the sale of medical cannabis has resulted in “needless” arrests and prosecutions, he said.
SB 439 says collectives, cooperatives and other business entities can receive...
BERKELEY -- Gov. Jerry Brown said Monday he was "digging deeply into" the questions surrounding the safety of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and said he could not commit to a scheduled Labor Day opening for the new span.
"I take it very seriously and that thing is not going to open unless it's ready," he said. "The engineers are telling me that they're doing the kind of work that will be needed for that to happen."
Brown's comments came before his commencement address to political science students at UC Berkeley, where he received his undergraduate degree 52 years ago. In a 10-...
Hoping to build on momentum for changing the country’s immigration laws, busloads of immigrants from throughout California are descending on Sacramento on Monday to push for a half dozen bills at the state level.
About 500 immigrants from as far away as San Diego are expected to participate in Monday’s 17th annual Immigrant Day, meeting with lawmakers and their staffs to advocate for priority bills, according to Reshma Shamasunder, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center.
"As immigration reform picks up unprecedented momentum, a critical mass of Californians...
Back in February, George Skelton examined the Republican field of potential candidates for governor and said Abel Maldonado seemed like a pretty good idea.
Maldonado is a moderate in a party that has drifted to the right and a former mayor, lawmaker and lieutenant governor. Plus, he's Latino, a demographic group Republicans are desperate to win over.
"Certainly he could carry the GOP banner while passing the laugh test," Skelton thought.
Three months later, Skelton is wondering what happened to Maldonado. In his Monday column, he says the potential candidate has played loose with the facts...
SACRAMENTO -- The Legislature's top budget advisor said Friday that California can expect much more tax revenue than Gov. Jerry Brown has estimated.
The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office projected that the state will receive a bit more than $100 billion in general-fund revenue in the fiscal year that begins July 1.
That's $2.8 billion, or nearly 3%, higher than the Brown administration's estimate of $97.2 billion. The governor had downgraded his estimates since releasing his initial budget proposal in January, saying the economy was not growing fast enough.
The Legislative Analyst's...
SACRAMENTO -- Earlier this week, Gov. Jerry Brown surprised budget watchers with his pessimistic outlook for California’s future, predicting that state revenues will come in about $2 billion lower next year than his administration thought in January.
Now, the Legislature’s number crunchers will make their predictions.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office will release its own revenue forecast Friday afternoon, setting the stage for the next four weeks of budget negotiations before the June 15 constitutional deadline.
Brown blamed federal cuts associated with the sequester and a...
Ever squinted to read the directions on a medicine bottle but couldn’t make out the small print?
California lawmakers have the prescription to solve that problem.
The state Senate has approved legislation requiring pharmacists to print specific, important information on prescription labels in at least 12-point type.
The bill was the idea of Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett (D-East Bay), who cited a survey by the state Board of Pharmacy that found 60% of people want larger or bolder print on prescription labels.
“SB 205 assists patients to better read the labels on their...
Felons released from prison are committing new crimes at roughly the same rate they did before Gov. Jerry Brown switched their supervision to county probation, but a new report says repeat offenses are up.
The study, released by the state corrections department Thursday, holds that there is "very little difference between the one-year arrest and conviction rates of offenders released pre- and post-Realignment." That was the message highlighted in a press statement from the corrections department.
The press office chose not to highlight a study finding that repeat offenses increased during the...
SACRAMENTO -- A California lawmaker is making a renewed push to limit the detention and deportation of immigrants who are in the country illegally after his legislation was vetoed last year by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The bill, authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), was approved by the Assembly with a 44-22 vote on Thursday. It now goes to the state Senate.
The measure (AB 4) would limit local law enforcement from working with federal authorities to detain illegal immigrants except in cases involving a serious or violent crime.
“We have to move this bill forward to restore...
The state certified Thursday that it has a sufficient reserve fund to allow pay raises for Gov. Jerry Brown, state lawmakers and other elected officials, but members of a panel that sets pay say they will probably maintain the status quo for another year.
Meanwhile, executives for the Senate and Assembly have written to the California Citizens Compensation Commission arguing that lawmakers in California are not paid as much as their counterparts in New York if stipends for committee assignments are counted.
The letter was seen by Commissioner Chuck Murray as an attempt by legislative leaders...
SACRAMENTO --The state Senate approved two bills Thursday introduced following the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, including one requiring gun owners to keep their firearms in locked safe-boxes if they live with someone prohibited from using guns.
Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) citied the killing of 20 children and six adults at the Newtown school in arguing for his bill requiring guns to be locked away when someone in the house has a criminal record or mental illness that prohibits possession of a firearm.
In the Connecticut shooting, Adam Lanza took his...
SACRAMENTO -- The California Assembly voted Thursday to ban the use of lead ammunition when hunting wildlife.
The ban would be the first of its kind in the country, said Jennifer Fearing, senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States. She said there's no excuse for continuing to use toxic lead for hunting.
“We’ve taken it out of paint, gasoline, pencils, toys," Fearing said. "It doesn’t need to be in ammunition either.”
The bill (AB 711) was approved, 44-21, in a vote that broke down largely along party lines, with most Republicans standing in...
California Gov. Jerry Brown's prison policy is forcing a split personality with federal courts.
Brown on Tuesday repeated his insistence he will take no move to further reduce prison crowding unless ordered (again) to do so, and he included no money for prison leases and other proposals in his 2013-14 state budget.
At the same time, Brown's administration officials told a panel of federal judges Wednesday the governor is working behind the scenes on that very legislation.
"Defendants are drafting legislative language for these measures, which will delineate potential changes to state law to:...
Gov. Jerry Brown has promised to keep a tight lid on state spending, but Democrats in the Legislature now have enough votes to override any of his vetos.
George Skelton says in his Thursday column that Brown still has the upper hand.
"In short, because the state’s fiscal health is being restored — in no small part because of Brown — he is in a much stronger position to deal with the Legislature," Skelton writes. "Essentially, the governor now needs the Legislature much less than it needs him."
This is how Brown explained the difference on Tuesday, when he released his updated...
SACRAMENTO -- Even as Gov. Jerry Brown pledges to chip away at the state’s debt, his budget plan will leave California on the hook for billions more in school funding down the line.
The situation is the result of California’s complicated web of school funding formulas and a little-understood mechanism known as the “maintenance factor.”
Brown’s revised budget plan shows a spike in tax revenue in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and lower revenue after that.
His administration’s estimates would allow the state to withhold some money for...
SACRAMENTO -- Senate leader Darrell Steinberg says that, for all practical reasons, he should support Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to redistribute school funding. His hometown, Sacramento, would benefit.
"I should be for it," he told reporters on Wednesday. "End of story."
But Steinberg, one of the top Democrats in the Legislature, is helping to lead a counteroffensive against the governor's education funding proposal.
Brown wants to provide more money to school districts with high numbers of students who are poor or English learners.
"I think it's fair. I think it's just," the governor said on...
Gov. Jerry Brown quietly rolled out tweaks to his prison realignment plan in Monday's budget proposal.
In addition to offering counties $72 million more to handle local felons, the governor proposes a prisoner swap, trading long-term inmates that jails are ill-prepared to handle in return for short-term felons the state would just as soon not have to hold.
Given California's prison crowding problems and federal orders to reduce those numbers further, the plan would be "inmate neutral," state budget officials said.
Los Angeles County officials welcomed the proposal. The county currently has 31...
State Assemblywoman Norma Torres (D-Pomona) is headed to the California Senate after winning a decisive victory in a special election Tuesday.
With 100% of precincts reporting, Torres had 59.4% of the vote over Republican Paul S. Leon in the election to fill a seat vacated when Democratic Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod was elected last year to Congress.
Leon is the mayor of Ontario.
The 32nd Senate District straddles San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties, including the cities of Fontana, Montclair and San Bernardino.
Torres will become the 28thDemocrat in the Senate, one more than Democrats need...
Gov. Jerry Brown sparked controversy Tuesday when he proposed to shift $500 million out of the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and loan it to the state general fund as part of the effort to balance the budget.
The money would come from a program to limit carbon emissions by factories and other big polluters. The program allows firms to buy credits to produce more than their share of carbon emissions. The credits can be purchased from the state and other businesses that don’t use their full share.
Lending that money would be “extraordinarily disappointing,” said...
SACRAMENTO -- Reaction to the budget plan unveiled by Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday was generally positive.
Key political and education leaders in Los Angeles immediately endorsed the plan's provisions that would shift more funds to low-income schools and to schools with a high number of English learners.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and United Teachers Los Angeles President Warren Fletcher in signing a letter to lawmakers expressing support for the governor's proposal.
“We believe [Brown's plan] will help foster educational growth in our communities...