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491 posts
  • California Legislature
Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens)
Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Immigrants living in California who are not U.S. citizens could be appointed to public boards and commissions under a bill passed in the state Legislature Friday.

California law requires civil officeholders to be U.S. citizens. Senate Bill 174 would make it legal for non-U.S. citizens to serve in these offices, and would also clarify that children born in California are citizens of the state, even if their parents are not.

The bill’s author, Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), said that SB 174 would provide tax-paying noncitizens fair representation in public life, while benefiting the state as a whole.

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Actor Jeff Bridges
Actor Jeff Bridges (Mini Racker / Los Angeles Times)

Every year, tens of thousands of heirs across California not only inherit their parents’ homes, but also their parents’ low property tax bills. 

This system, unique to California, was subject of a Los Angeles Times story last week detailing the substantial advantages accruing to some of the state’s most prominent families and the billions of dollars in lost revenue to cities, counties and school districts.

Inheritors don’t need to live in their parents’ homes to receive the benefits — or even in California. The Times’ found that in Los Angeles and a dozen other coastal counties, heirs were predominantly using these properties as rentals or second homes. 

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California Secretary of State Alex Padilla
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Following digital attacks on two House candidates, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla told the state’s major political parties on Thursday to be vigilant. 

Recent news reports revealed that hackers infiltrated the campaigns of Dave Min and Hans Keirstead. Both are Democrats who were challenging Republican incumbents in Orange County and both failed to secure spots in the top-two primary. Keirstead was running for the seat of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa), who has long been friendly toward Russia.

“We’ve only heard about two candidates,” Padilla said. “But it can happen to anybody.”

Actor Jeff Bridges.
Actor Jeff Bridges. (Mini Raker / Los Angeles Times)

Actor Jeff Bridges said he was “kinda shocked” after reading a Los Angeles Times article last week about a substantial property tax break he and his two siblings receive for a Malibu beach home once owned by his parents.

“Tax stuff is very complicated,” Bridges said in a brief interview before appearing at the Sacramento Press Club on Thursday. “Sometimes the tax bills are in your favor, sometimes they aren't.”

The Bridges siblings have benefited from a state ballot measure passed in 1986 that allows children to inherit their parents’ property tax advantages under Proposition 13 when they inherit their parents’ homes.

  • California Legislature
State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) reads a list of consumer and open internet advocacy groups who support the bill.
State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) reads a list of consumer and open internet advocacy groups who support the bill. (Katy Murphy / TNS)

A state Assembly panel on Wednesday advanced major legislation to prevent companies from hindering access to the internet, setting up a battle on the floor next week over whether California will enact the strongest net neutrality protections in the country.

The 9-4 approval by the Communications and Conveyance Committee came more than three months after it initially tried to scale back the proposal but retreated amid fierce backlash from net neutrality proponents.

Senate Bill 822 would bar internet service providers from blocking, speeding up or slowing down websites and video streams, or charging websites fees for faster speeds.

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  • Ballot measures
  • California Legislature
California lawmakers voted Wednesday to ease the process for clearing the records of those convicted in the past of marijuana offenses.
California lawmakers voted Wednesday to ease the process for clearing the records of those convicted in the past of marijuana offenses. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

With marijuana legalized by the state’s voters, Californians with past convictions for cannabis-related offenses would get state help in expunging their records under a bill sent by lawmakers to the governor on Wednesday.

Proposition 64, which state voters approved in 2016, legalized the sale and use of marijuana for recreational use and permitted those with past convictions for the activity to petition the courts to clear their records.

But state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) told his colleagues Wednesday that the process is complicated, and many with pot convictions do not know about the opportunity.

  • California Legislature
(Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

California lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to a bill requiring water or milk as the primary choices for children’s meals in the state, an effort designed to combat the health effects of sugary drinks.

Senate Bill 1192 would require restaurants to shift away from offering soda or juice with those meals, though it does not prohibit a parent from requesting those options. Supporters of the bill said a number of cities in the state already have moved to limit sugary drinks as the default option for meals designed for kids.

The bill passed with no debate in the Senate, and in the Assembly last leek with only a brief debate, as supporters pointed to the negative health effects of drinks other than water, milk and dairy-free substitutes.

Adam Foss of Prosecutor Impact speaks as family members of those sentenced under the felony murder rule hold images of loved ones.
Adam Foss of Prosecutor Impact speaks as family members of those sentenced under the felony murder rule hold images of loved ones. (Mini Racker / Los Angeles Times)

Activists gathered at the state Capitol on Tuesday to demand that lawmakers change California’s felony murder law, which allows defendants to be convicted of first-degree murder if a victim dies during the commission of a felony, even if the defendant was an accomplice or did not intend to kill.

A measure being considered by lawmakers, Senate Bill 1437, would change who could be sentenced for felony murder and give inmates imprisoned under the rule a chance at re-sentencing. 

Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), the author of the bill, criticized California’s felony murder rule as irrational.

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  • State government
(Los Angeles Times)

California elections officials gave final approval Tuesday to a new system for counting ballots in Los Angeles County, one that uses open source software developed by local officials and design experts.

The certification of the new tally system for the county paves the way for other improvements, including redesigned absentee ballot packets, in the Nov. 6 election. It is the first election system of its kind, using publicly available source code that has been certified for use in California.

"With security on the minds of elections officials and the public, open-source technology has the potential to further modernize election administration, security, and transparency," Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a written statement.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) and his wife, Margaret, were indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on charges they used $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use and filed false campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission to mask their actions.