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...
SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown took a hard line Tuesday as he unveiled his latest budget plan, seeking to tighten general-fund spending and holding firm on his push to redistribute money for schools.
He proposed general-fund expenditures of $96.4 billion for the budget year that begins in July -- $1.3 billion less than he outlined in his initial plan in January.
In announcing the revised blueprint, the governor focused on school funding, a central part of his plan. He wants to send more money to districts that serve large numbers of poor students and non-native English speakers than to...
Spending 'in a wise way' | 10:53 a.m.
As lawmakers debate more than a dozen different plans for raising additional taxes on things like cigarettes, marijuana, and oil, California Gov. Jerry Brown said he will take a hard line with his budget.
“We just got a nice tax,” he said of the tax increases voters approved in November. “I think we ought to take a deep breath and show we are spending it in a wise way before we start looking for money.”
Brown said he is not surprised by the latest rush of tax proposals, though.
“Everybody wants more spending,” he said....
SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown's revised budget proposal will increase funding for schools and dedicate surplus tax revenue to raising curriculum standards and providing money withheld during the state's fiscal crisis, according to an official with knowledge of the proposal.
About $1 billion will be used to help schools meet the so-called common core standards for writing and math, the official said. The money could be used for, among other things, buying textbooks and testing materials or train teachers.
California is one of 45 states that have adopted the new standards, and education...
SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown will release his revised spending plan Tuesday morning, kicking off weeks of intense budget negotiations free of the deep deficits of years past but full of stark policy disagreements between the governor and his fellow Democrats in the Legislature.
The governor's budget proposal, which is scheduled to be released at 10 a.m., will map out wide-ranging changes to schools, universities and healthcare. With billions of dollars in the balance, each topic has already proved controversial.
Lawmakers are required to approve a budget by June 15. Brown will have until...
Gov. Jerry Brown has, as promised, filed legal papers to appeal federal court orders to reduce the state's prison population with the U.S. Supreme Court.
[Updated 4:40 p.m. May 13: The brief notice of appeal, filed Monday afternoon, simply states that a panel of three federal judges "did not fully or fairly consider the evidence showing that the state's prison healthcare now exceeds constitutional standards." It is to be followed by the full appeal itself within 60 days.]
Brown's lawyers argue that the California-based judges erred in denying the state's motion to vacate or modify population...
SACRAMENTO -- The state Senate on Monday approved a measure that would expand instances in which law enforcement officers in California would have to get search warrants before they can access the public’s email.
Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) won Republican support for his privacy measure after including an exemption for emergency situations in which there is a risk of the destruction of evidence.
Leno said clear rules are needed to provide the same protection to email that is extended to regular, paper mail in state law. Leno said there are gaps in federal law that could allow...
One day before Gov. Jerry Brown is scheduled to release his updated spending plan, Democrats in the Legislature began lining up empty bills to streamline the budget process.
The annual ritual is a reliable source of controversy in the Capitol, with Republicans accusing Democrats of preventing a transparent review of the budget.
The Senate approved 37 pieces of blank legislation, and the Assembly approved 34. The votes broke down along party lines.
The bills serve as placeholders. As negotiations continue over the next month and a half, they will be filled in with specific details on the...
SACRAMENTO -- Over the first six months of this year, state revenues are about $4.5 billion higher than the governor’s January projections. And complicated budget formulas could direct nearly all of that money to public schools and community colleges.
Other interests might even be asked to tighten their belts further despite the windfall.
Gov. Jerry Brown will provide additional details on Tuesday when he releases his revised budget plan in Sacramento.
Most folks with a passing knowledge of the budget are aware that under Proposition 98, a school funding measure passed by voters in...
The runoff election for the 32nd Senate District in San Bernardino and L.A. counties is set for Tuesday, and Democratic candidate Norma Torres and Republican contender Paul S. Leon are campaigning down to the wire.
Torres, a state Assemblywoman from Pomona, has an advantage in campaign cash and voter registration in the district, which is 49% Democrat and 28% Republican.
The district includes Fontana, Montclair and San Bernardino. The seat became vacant when Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino) was elected to Congress.
Leon, the mayor of Ontario, has campaigned as the candidate of change.
SACRAMENTO -- Six months after voters approved new taxes to fund clean energy projects, Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers remain at odds over how to spend the money on improving energy efficiency at public schools and community colleges.
Brown, who is scheduled to release his revised budget on Tuesday, is expected to tweak his original plan to distribute the money based on how many students are in each school district. But Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) believes the governor isn't doing enough to ensure the new taxes are spent wisely.
"It's still a bad proposal," said Greg Hayes, a spokesman...
SACRAMENTO -- State lawmakers are jumping into the middle of a dispute over who should control state-owned parking lots at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The state Senate voted unanimously Thursday to prohibit the California Science Center from delegating to USC the power to operate the center’s parking lots at the Coliseum.
SB 695 by state Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Los Angeles) also prohibits the center from selling or entering a long-term lease of the parking lots, the Coliseum and the Los Angeles Sports Arena without legislative approval.
Earlier this year, civic leaders including...
This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
A potential gubernatorial candidate's use of the wrong offender to stir opposition to Gov. Jerry Brown's prison crowding policies drew a sharp rebuke Thursday from an NAACP official who called it "Willie Horton-style racial politics."
Abel Maldonado, former Republican lieutenant governor, on Wednesday announced a statewide campaign to repeal Brown's program, which required counties to take custody of thousands of felons and parole violators who once served those terms in state prison. Maldonado, who says he probably will run for...
SACRAMENTO -- The state is suing JPMorgan Chase for what is says are illegal debt-collection methods against tens of thousands of California credit card consumers.
The suit, filed by Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris is Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday, accuses the company of “frenzied” lawsuit filings against people who fell behind on their loan repayments in California -- more than 100,000 between January 2008 and April 2011.
“To maintain this breakneck pace, [the company has] employed unlawful practices as shortcuts to obtain judgments against Californian consumers...
SACRAMENTO -- The Assembly approved on Thursday legislation that would ensure students could participate in school activities and use facilities like bathrooms based on their gender identity, not their physical sex.
The bill's author, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), has said the legislation is another step toward making sure transgender students are not ostracized in their schools.
For example, a student born male but identifying as a female would be able to play on a girls' basketball team and use the girls' locker room. The deciding factor would be a student's gender identity, not...
SACRAMENTO -- Alarmed by a growing number of hoax 911 calls known as “swatting,” the California Senate approved a measure Thursday that would significantly increase the financial penalty for those convicted of making false reports.
The practice, which often sends police to the homes of celebrities, has become a particularly frustrating problem in Los Angeles County.
Under the legislation passed by the Senate, offenders would pay restitution including the full cost of the police response, which could be $10,000 or more, according to Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), who introduced the...
Abel Maldonado made it clear that his campaign against Gov. Jerry Brown's prison realignment program is about stopping criminals like Jerome Rogers, the 57-year-old transient accused of killing an elderly San Bernardino County woman.
There is just one problem: Rogers was never part of the governor's shift of state felons to county control.
The accused killer had a long history of crimes dating back to the 1970s, including a rape and the sodomy of a 14-year-old. But Rogers was released from prison in 2000, and discharged from parole in 2003 ... eight years before Brown's prison realignment took...
Over the years, California has careened back and forth from surplus to deficit, a rollercoaster ride that causes whiplash for public schools and social services.
Part of the problem is that state leaders have never had much success in building up a rainy day fund, a key benchmark for good financial management often taken for granted in other states.
Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) said Wednesday that he wants to fix that with a new ballot measure. His plan, which could go before voters in November 2014, would require the state to stock up excess capital gains taxes and restrict...
Gov. Jerry Brown won't unveil his revised budget plan until next week, but Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez detailed some of his own ideas Wednesday.
Pérez (D-Los Angeles) wants to increase state-subsidized employment for welfare recipients to put more people back to work, help the federal government process veterans' benefits faster and cut college costs for students from middle-class families. He also outlined a ballot measure intended to strengthen the state's rainy day fund and make it easier to save money.
The proposals, a mix of old and new, were developed with the rest of the Assembly...
Conceding there is a "pretty good shot" he'll run for governor, Abel Maldonado on Wednesday kicked off a ballot drive that targets Gov. Jerry Brown's handling of prison crowding, labeling it the thing Brown's administration has worked hard to avoid: "early release."
"Today willl be the beginning [of the] end of early release," Maldonado declared at a news conference staged on the windy rooftop of a Sacramento parking garage, the state Capitol framed behind him.
The former lieutenant governor is chairing a signature-gathering drive to put an initiative on the 2014 ballot that would roll back...
This post has been updated. See below for details.
A proposal to raise the tobacco tax by $2 per pack of cigarettes cleared its first two policy committees Wednesday, with Republicans unified in their opposition.
Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) proposed the tax, which would move California's tobacco taxes from 33rd-highest in the nation to fourth. The $1.5 billion raised each year would help pay for medical care for tobacco-related diseases, anti-tobacco education and enforcement of tobacco-related laws.
DeLeon said the state currently spends $3.1 billion on medical costs involving tobacco-...
Abel Maldonado, in his first public move since announcing that he was considering a run for governor, on Wednesday attacked Gov. Jerry Brown’s prison policy, arguing that Brown has made Californians unsafe by allowing certain criminals serve their sentences in county jails instead of state prison.
Maldonado, the state’s former lieutenant governor, will announce Wednesday morning that he is spearheading an effort to put an initiative on the 2014 ballot that would roll back a 2011 bill – AB 109, known as “public-safety realignment” -- which was designed to reduce...
SACRAMENTO -- For nearly six years, California finances were so weak that officials needed to constantly shuffle money between state accounts to ensure there was enough cash to pay bills on time. They would take money out of one fund, use it to cover costs and promise to pay it back later.
But California has finally broken that cycle, the state controller's office announced on Wednesday. April was the first month since around the time the recession started that officials did not need internal borrowing to pay the bills.
"We've reached an important milestone in California's economic recovery,"...
Responding to new technology, state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) says he will introduce legislation to prohibit the use of 3-D printing devices to make usable firearms.
Yee said he is alarmed by news reports that a plastic firearm has been designed and made with a 3-D printer and was able to fire bullets. A 3-D printer extrudes layers of plastic to produce almost any three-dimensional shape desired.
Yee is concerned that guns made with 3-D printers can be untraceable and made by people who do not undergo background checks.
“While I am as impressed as anyone with and I believe it has...
California, no stranger to troubled technology projects, now has another upgrade facing delays and cost overruns.
A planned overhaul at the state's human resources agency will cost more than twice as much as originally planned and take an extra two years to complete, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office.
“We concluded there was more work than was originally anticipated, and it would take longer after we evaluated it," said Pat McConahay, a spokeswoman for the human resources agency. “We’ve revamped the project so we can assure its success.”
The goal is to make...
Gov. Jerry Brown said on Tuesday that it was too early to be overly concerned about the safety of the new Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge scheduled to open later this year, and affirmed his confidence in the state’s experts who are analyzing the bridge’s safety.
“Professional engineers are looking at this thing and when they’re ready to give us their report, I think the public will be satisfied,” Brown told reporters in West Sacramento outside a memorial for fallen Highway Patrol officers.
Concerns about the integrity of the bridge were raised earlier this year...
State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) on Tuesday proposed a plan to significantly increase mental health services in California with the goal of reducing the number of people ending up in prison, jail and emergency rooms.
Steinberg said the plan is in response to the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, in which a gunman killed 20 students and six adults, as well as a scandal involving a Nevada hospital dumping patients in other states, and the recent order by a federal court to further cut the number of inmates in California prisons
“It’s time for action,” he told...
Chris Kelly has agreed to pay a $2,500 fine for failing to properly report $9.86 million in spending by his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for California attorney general.
The enforcement staff of the state Fair Political Practices Commission found that Kelly’s campaign hired Media Strategies and Research Inc. to purchase airtime for media advertisements.
In 2010, the firm bought airtime for media advertisements from subvendors, but the campaign did not report the identities of the subvendors or a description of why they were paid until after a deadline.
Kelly, the former chief privacy...
SACRAMENTO -- Former state Sen. Michael Rubio (D-Shafter) has agreed to pay a $200 fine to the state ethics agency for failing to properly disclose that he sold his house in Bakersfield to an oil company executive who had lent him hundreds of thousands of dollars while in office.
However, investigators for the state Fair Political Practices Commission concluded his business transactions with Majid Mojibi, the president of San Joaquin Refining Co., did not violate gift limits.
Rubio resigned abruptly from the Senate in February to take a job with Chevron Corp. as head of its government affairs...
SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown put the state’s early wildfire season in global terms Monday, saying the state would have to grow accustomed to more forest fires as a consequence of climate change.
Brown’s remarks at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s aviation management unit in Sacramento came as firefighters in Ventura County said they expected to have the 28,000-acre Springs fire fully contained by Tuesday. State firefighters have responded to about twice the average number of wildfires so far this year – more than 1,100 in all.
SACRAMENTO -- The state Senate acted Monday on bills aimed at protecting pay phone users against high charges and reducing robberies of pharmacies.
The Senate approved SB 50, which requires California pay phones to have signs warning those using credit or debit cards of the total costs, and allow for fines of up to $50,000 for violations.
“Many consumers have no idea a domestic pay phone call could cost $20 for 20 seconds,” said Sen. Ted W. Lieu (D-Torrance), the bill’s author. “Taking advantage of people who are stranded because of plane delays or bad weather, or...
When Democrats took control of two-thirds of the California Legislature -- allowing them to raise taxes without Republican support -- the buzzword became "overreach." Political observers wanted to know if Democrats would lose public support by pushing new spending and revenue measures.
George Skelton writes in Monday's column that Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) says his party will still keep a tight grip on the state's purse strings.
“It shouldn’t—but it may—surprise folks that Democrats with our supermajority will be looking to build on the fiscal...
Within 24 hours of giving federal judges a plan to further reduce prison crowding, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday appealed for relief from court orders over prison conditions.
The governor asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to overrule U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton's orders leading up to and including denying the state's bid to end oversight of mental healthcare delivered to about 33,000 inmates.
The appeal was expected. Brown has said he intends to challenge federal oversight of the state's prisons all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the same body that two years ago...
Gov. Jerry Brown's "ugly" proposal to federal judges to partially ease prison crowding by leasing empty jail beds in the state drew dismay from advocates on both sides of the criminal justice debate and a forecast of "dubious prospects" from a legislative leader who objects to the cost.
"I strongly believe any additional taxpayer dollars ought to go into smart strategies to keep people from committing crimes once they’re out," said state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). "I don’t support spending money on contracting for a lot more jail capacity. I do not support the...
SACRAMENTO -- Jeffrey Beard, secretary for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the court-ordered plan filed by the Brown administration Thursday night to reduce prison crowding would force the state to take measures he and other officials do not support while still failing to meet the population cap demanded by federal judges.
"The plan is ugly,” Beard said of the proposal filed late Thursday night, after Gov. Jerry Brown and other administration officials were threatened with contempt for not doing enough to reduce crowding. “We don't like it. But ......
Gun shows would likely be banned from the Cow Palace in Daly City under legislation approved by the state Senate after some acrimonious debate.
The historic venue sits on state land straddling San Mateo and San Francisco counties. The bill by Sen. Mark Leno (D-Sacramento) would allow gun shows only if approved by the boards of supervisors of both counties, something Leno said is unlikely.
“The community doesn’t want it,” Leno told his Senate colleagues Thursday regarding an annual gun show. “This bill asks you to respect the community values and local control.”
SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown's office late Thursday produced a court-ordered plan to reduce prison crowding that includes the early release of elderly inmates and the relocation of thousands of offenders to private lockups or state fire camps, among other measures.
Brown said in his filing that he would also ask the Legislature to allow hundreds of prisoners who earn time-off credit for good conduct to be freed early, along with about 400 "low-risk" inmates who are elderly or medically frail.
He will also seek funding to lease 1,600 private prison beds.
The governor submitted the plan after...
Despite opposition from Internet firms including Facebook and Google, the California Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would require social networking sites to remove identifying information about teens and younger children from their pages if their parents request it.
The measure by Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) would subject Internet firms to fines of $10,000 per offense if they fail, within 96 hours, to remove identifying information about minors whose parents demand it, and to take down information about adults at their own request.
“This bill is designed to protect...
Inmates at California's highest security prison Thursday filed for class-action status, seeking to broaden their 3-year-old federal lawsuit alleging the state's segregation policies equate to cruel and inhumane treatment.
The plaintiffs are all prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison, confined to the Security Housing Unit for what the state says are active ties with prison gangs, allegations the inmates deny. In the motion filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland, the prisoners contend they have been confined for years, and in some cases decades, to solitary, windowless cells where they spend...
SACRAMENTO -- The state Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would allow prosecutors to file misdemeanor instead of felony charges in cases of simple possession of heroin, cocaine and other hard drugs.
State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said he introduced the measure based on the experience of other states that allow misdemeanor filings for hard drugs.
“In these 13 other states we can document that there is higher participation in drug treatment,” Leno said. “As a result there is lower drug use. As a result, there is less violent and property crime in these 13 other...
Without question, Mayor Kevin Johnson has been the central player in the effort to keep the Kings in Sacramento. But it's also clear, George Skelton says in his Thursday column, that he had an all-star team of high-powered politicos on his side.
For starters, that team has included Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), Republican consultant Rob Stutzman and Sacramento lobbyist Darius Anderson.
Their efforts seem poised to achieve a come-from-behind victory for the city.
"It's now the equivalent of a 15-point lead for Sacramento with one...
SACRAMENTO -- Two controversial tax measures advanced Wednesday in the California Legislature — a penny-per-ounce levy on soda and a charge on oil pumped from the ground in the state.
The Senate Health Committee members approved a bill by state Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) that would charge the tax on sweetened beverages, including sodas, in hopes of reducing obesity among young people.
The $1.7 billion that would be raised would go to a Children’s Health Promotion Fund to support a statewide program to prevent obesity in children. Monning said the tax in SB 622 would also reduce...
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stepped in to investigate outbreaks of valley fever in two California prisons, where more than three dozen inmates have died with the fungal disease.
Staff from the Atlanta-based centers' disease investigation unit met with state prison health officials Tuesday, and another meeting is planned later this week. California's health department formally requested the assistance last week on behalf of a court-appointed monitor after the state corrections department failed to follow through with repeated requests that it seek federal help.
SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed legislation aimed at taking handguns and assault rifles away from 20,000 Californians who acquired them legally but have since been disqualified from ownership because of a criminal conviction or serious mental illness.
The measure, the first of several gun-related bills to reach the governor, allocates $24 million in surplus funds to hire dozens of additional special agents to tackle a backlog of 40,000 weapons in the hands of people not allowed to possess firearms.
“This bipartisan bill makes our communities safer by giving law...
Gov. Jerry Brown is pursuing a prison contract in California, too small to meet federal orders to reduce crowding, but enough to help Brown end the shipment of inmates to for-profit prisons out of state.
According to bid documents, California offers to pay no more than $63 a day, on top of facility costs, to house up to 1,225 additional inmates in what the state calls "modified community" prisons. California currently has 600 inmates in one such private prison, paying more than $13 million a year to the GEO Group Inc.
Bids for the new facilities are due May 28.
At one point, California housed...
A pared-down bill that would send sex offenders who repeatedly remove their GPS tracking devices back to state prison cleared its first legislative committee Tuesday, making progress where broader measures failed.
In a deal struck with Democratic leaders who seek to protect Gov. Jerry Brown's prison realignment plan, Sen. Ted Lieu amended his GPS-tampering bill to make first offenses punishable by a mandatory 180 days in county jail, the maximum penalty currently on the books.
Second offenses would require a year in county jail, and on the third offense, the parolee would be required to be...
Jimmy Camp of Orange says he has been frustrated trying to buy concert or sporting-event tickets online just as they go on sale only to see them sell out within minutes before he can buy anything.
He blames ticket-buying software that allows scalpers to sweep up thousands of tickets before regular fans get a shot.
On Tuesday, a state Assembly panel approved legislation that would make it a misdemeanor to use such robotic software to buy tickets. “Fans deserve fair access,” Camp told the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which voted 8-0 to approve AB 329. It still requires approval by...
SACRAMENTO -- Plans to halt fracking in California advanced in the Legislature on Monday, when a key committee approved three measures that would prohibit the practice until the state can study it further.
The votes were a victory for environmentalists, who have been scrambling to slow the boom in fracking nationwide. A proposed moratorium on fracking failed in the California Legislature last year.
Hydraulic fracturing is the practice of injecting chemicals into the ground to break apart rock and release oil and natural gas, and it’s allowed energy companies to tap into vast new...
The federal court official in charge of running healthcare for California's troubled prison system on Monday directed the state to immediately remove more than a third of the inmates at two state prisons because of the risk of valley fever.
The directive from J. Clark Kelso follows an expert's report filed in U.S. District Court last week concluding that the incidence of the potentially fatal fungus poses a "public health emergency."
California corrections officials had no immediate response, though the department said last month it was working on its own valley fever response plan.
Gov. Jerry Brown has launched a passionate campaign to change how Sacramento distributes money to school districts.
But George Skelton says in his Monday column that the governor's plan isn't as fair as Brown says it is.
"It’s not that simple, of course," Skelton writes. "Nothing about California school finance is."
Calculations by the Education Department show that more than half of the state's largest districts would get less money under Brown's plan.
Los Angeles, Compton, Long Beach and San Diego and others would get more money. Anaheim, Irvine, San Jose and Torrance would be among...
SACRAMENTO -- Legislation approved by the Assembly on Thursday would make California the first state to allow non-citizens to serve on juries as long as they are in the country legally.
The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), has two goals with his proposal -- helping immigrants integrate into American society and ensuring there are enough eligible people to serve on juries.
The Assembly approved the bill (AB 1401) by a vote of 45-26, with Republicans providing most of the no votes. The proposal still needs to go before the state Senate before it can head to Gov....
The head of the state Natural Resources Agency, John Laird, is defending his top deputy even as Democratic leaders in Congress are calling for his resignation.
The controversy surrounding Jerry Meral, the agency’s deputy directory, stems from comments he made in a meeting earlier this month in which he reportedly indicated the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta could not be saved, and that its preservation was not a goal of the governor’s $23-billion water plan.
Five congressional Democrats demanded Meral’s resignation over the comments, but a spokesman for the agency said...
California prisons chief Jeffrey Beard says he is concerned more reductions of the state prison population would overwhelm counties already struggling with the state's 2011 realignment program.
The state achieved a 25,000 reduction in its prison population by requiring counties to take on criminals from three fronts: County jails must house lower-level offenders and state parole violators, and those released from prison now go through county probation. Even so, California prisons continue to exceed population caps set by federal courts.
Under threat of being held in contempt, Gov. Jerry Brown...
SACRAMENTO -- Five Congressional Democrats have demanded the resignation of a top official in Gov. Jerry Brown's administration for comments the official allegedly made about the future of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
The controversy surrounds Jerry Meral, deputy director of the state Natural Resources Agency, who allegedly told officials that Brown's water plan was never about saving the delta and that in fact the delta could not be saved.
That contradicts statements made by Brown who has said his plan would include measures to restore the delta, the confluence of the two rivers and...
SACRAMENTO -- Former state Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) made it official Thursday. She will be a candidate for the seat being vacated by Zev Yaroslavsky on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
Kuehl, who served as chair of the Senate Health Committee during part of her 14-year tenure in Sacramento, said the board was a natural fit for her policy interests.
“I have been steeped in the very issues that are under the purview of our Supervisors every day,” Kuehl said in a statement mailed to supporters seeking donations for her campaign.
Yaroslavsky, who has served on the...
SACRAMENTO -- One day after a combative Gov. Jerry Brown promised Senate Democrats “the battle of their lives” if they opposed his education plan, lawmakers from Brown’s own party held their ground on Thursday and took jabs of their own at the governor.
While Democrats in the Legislature say they agree with the concept of Brown’s proposal to move a larger share of state education dollars toward students who are poor or non-native English speakers, they questioned whether the governor’s plan, as written, actually accomplishes those goals and said they have come up...
Various factions in the medical world have poured money into lobbying in a battle over how President Obama's healthcare law is implemented in California.
One of the biggest questions, George Skelton says in his Thursday column, is whether there will be enough doctors to handle all of the newly insured residents.
State Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) is pushing legislation that would allow nurse practitioners to operate independently of doctors and respond to the growing need for medical attention.
In an understatement, Hernandez said that "this is all very contentious."
SACRAMENTO -- Los Angeles Roman Catholic Archbishop Jose Gomez and several other Catholic Church officials in California took time from their retreat in Sacramento on Wednesday to make a push for Congress to keep up the momentum on changes to the country’s immigration laws.
In a gaggle with reporters, Gomez said reform of the country’s immigration laws is “long overdue.”
Gomez, who was joined by San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, as well as several bishops from around the state, urged Congress not to delay in passing a bill, saying the bipartisan package of...
SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown offered a spirited defense of his plan to overhaul the state’s education system Wednesday and warned Democratic critics of his plan that they were “going to get the battle of their lives” if they attempt to change key parts of his proposal.
Brown wants to direct more state funds to school districts that serve large numbers of poor students and non-native English speakers while giving districts more flexibility in how they spend state dollars. Earlier this week, Senate Democrats released the outline of a counterproposal that would not go as far...
The first California county has agreed to send some of its jail inmates to work at state prison fire camps, helping to patch a hole in the state's wildfire defense system created by prison realignment.
Riverside County agreed to pay the state $46.19 a day for each of up to 200 inmates it sends to the prison system's fire camps. The money is intended to cover the cost of housing and training the inmate laborers. A five-year contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation was approved by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. County officials said the...
SACRAMENTO -- April tax revenue continues to outpace expectations even in the slower final days of the month, according to the latest figures.
The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said Tuesday was "unexpectedly strong," with $678 million flowing into state's coffers.
By the end of the month, total revenue for the fiscal year could be $4 billion ahead of targets set by Gov. Jerry Brown's administration.
However, the governor said the extra money may not benefit the state's bottom line, echoing concerns from the legislative analyst. The state's constitutional education funding formula...
Even as California makes preparations to appeal federal court rulings on the quality of care and crowding of conditions in state prisons, new orders are in the making.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton on Tuesday dusted off a pending August 2012 order for the state to produce a plan to improve the quality of inmate mental health care, and gave it a new July 1 deadline. The judge's order notes that compliance was interrupted by the state's bid in January to end court oversight of prison mental health care.
Lawyers for some 33,000 inmates requiring mental healthcare are meanwhile seeking new...
SACRAMENTO -- In the healthcare world, there’s not a whole lot that insurers, doctors and union workers all agree on. But a new coalition of powerful Capitol players from all three groups is hoping to reverse recent budget cuts, pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown, to those who provide care to the poorest Californians.As part of last year’s budget, Brown approved a 10% cut to those who treat patients enrolled in Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program for the poor. Expansion of Medi-Cal is a linchpin to the state’s implementation of the new federal healthcare law, which...
Nearly three years after he was indicted on voter fraud and perjury charges, state Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) is scheduled to stand trial starting July 15.
The date was set this week by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy, who also presided over the public corruption trial of former Bell elected officials earlier this year.
Wright, who previously served in the state Assembly and was elected last fall to a second term in the Senate, was indicted by a county grand jury on eight felony counts in September 2010.
Prosecutors allege that Wright lied about his...
SACRAMENTO -In his first public appearance since returning from China last week, Gov. Jerry Brown spoke to a group of crime victims on the Capitol steps, and shared some of his own recent experiences with the state’s criminal element.
Brown said he has been the victim of two recent burglary attempts, one at his home in Oakland last year and one at his downtown Sacramento loft just a few days ago.
Speaking to a crowd of about 200 people carrying pictures of murdered family members on a warm, sunny Sacramento day, Brown said a man was apprehended “on my balcony trying to break in....
Freshly home from his trade tour of China, Gov. Jerry Brown made a quiet and unannounced stop: prison.
The governor spent a little more than an hour on Friday at the California Institution for Men, a state prison in Chino. He was accompanied by his corrections secretary, Jeffrey Beard, and the prison system's head psychologist and acting chief of inmate mental healthcare, Tim Belavich.
[Updated, 2:15 p.m. April 23: Brown, who spoke about the trip on Tuesday, said he found no support for allegations of a continued crisis in care, even from staff hired by the court's medical receiver.
SACRAMENTO -- With most statewide offices filled with first-term incumbents planning to run for reelection, 2014 holds a shortage of job opportunities for aspiring pols. But in the races that are open -- state controller and secretary of state -- candidates are beginning to jockey for position. Earlier this month, state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) announced his candidacy for secretary of state. His colleague Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) has also announced a bid. Joining the two Democrats in the race is Pepperdine University's Pete Peterson, a registered Republican. In a release Monday...
SACRAMENTO -- Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who served as acting governor while Gov. Jerry Brown was off on a week-long trade mission to China, used his newfound authority to deputize the artichoke and avocado as California’s official vegetable and fruit, respectively.
But Newsom didn’t stop there. He used his broad powers to declare the almond as the state nut and rice as California’s official grain.
Somewhere in the Central Valley, there’s an angry quinoa lobby plotting its revenge.
Newsom poked fun at his inherited powers during the state Democratic Party convention in...
SACRAMENTO -- Last week, eight different bills involving gun control were approved by a state Senate committee.
But that will only help so much if Congress continues to reject stricter federal rules, says George Skelton in his Monday column. A measure to expand background checks died in the U.S. Senate last week.
"Without universal background checks nationwide—not only in gun stores, which already is the law, but at gun shows and via the Internet—California is vulnerable to Wild-West dealing in other states," Skelton writes.
He adds, "Criminals and mental misfits can buy virtually...
SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown is pushing forward with plans to shake up California's higher education system, including strict rules on tuition and fees, according to an administration spokesman.
Under the governor's proposal, university officials would forfeit increases in state funding if they raise student costs during the next four years.
The governor originally outlined his plans in his January budget proposal. Now, as he prepares to release a revised spending plan next month, administration personnel have been briefing legislative staff and university officials on the details.
A state Senator who has legislation that would increase the penalties for hoax 911 calls known as "swatting" was himself the victim of such a prank call Friday.
Police received an anonymous text message sent through an operator that reported a shooting at the Torrance home of Democratic state Sen. Ted Lieu while the lawmaker was away but his wife was home. It turned out to be a hoax call.
The 1:10 p.m. call reported "shots fired and a female down at Mr. Lieu's residence," said Torrance Police Department Sgt. Robert Watt. Responding officers "determined that it was a bogus call," that nobody...
SACRAMENTO -- State lawmakers are supporting a proposal to expand Yosemite National Park by 1,600 acres, restoring land stripped of its protection by Congress in 1906.
The state Senate approved a resolution this week that asks the federal government to approve the expansion.
“This is a great day for Yosemite,” said Nathan Weaver, a spokesman for Environment California, which supported the resolution. “We applaud work by California’s leaders to preserve and strengthen Yosemite, one of the world’s most beautiful” parks.
SACRAMENTO -- By now it's a safe bet that California tax revenue will surpass expectations during the current fiscal year. But the question of what that means for the state's bottom line is far from settled.
California has reaped more than $10.1 billion in income taxes so far in April and could see another $2 billion before the month is over, according to updated figures from Legislative Analyst's Office. This week had two of the biggest collection days in state history.
The analyst's office said the state only needed $8.5 billion in April to keep pace with projections. Depending how the next...