Perhaps the biggest budget skirmish that remains unsolved this year is how California should spend revenue from the tobacco tax voters approved last fall.
Gov. Jerry Brown wants to put that money to expand overall spending on Medi-Cal, which provides subsidized healthcare for the poor. But the some of initiative's backers, namely doctor and dental groups, have cried foul, arguing that money is meant to go to increasing payments for providers.
Now, the Senate and Assembly are weighing in. In plans approved in their respective budget committees this week, both houses stray from Brown's proposal to put the money toward general Medi-Cal costs and lay out their own ideas on how to divvy up the revenue.
California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye on Thursday said she stands by her position that courthouses should be areas where immigration arrests should not occur.
Cantil-Sakauye, a former prosecutor who rose through the judicial ranks as an appointee of Republican governors, drew national attention in March after she blasted the federal government’s expanded immigration actions, among which she said included “stalking” immigrants at courthouses.
Though it wasn't included in the House Republicans' healthcare bill, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) still believes Americans should have access to the same insurance plans federal employees pick from, and he's hoping the Senate will embrace the idea.
In a letter Thursday, Issa asked the Senate Health Care Working Group to consider opening the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program to more, or all, Americans. It's a national insurance idea that's persisted since the program began in 1960, and a proposal Issa has pitched before.
The program allows more than 8 million current and retired federal employees across the country to shop among hundreds of health insurance plans and then apply their employer contribution to whatever plan they choose.
California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Léon (D-Los Angeles) stirred up speculation about a possible run for governor or U.S. Senate when he released a slickly produced video just before the California Democratic Party’s convention last weekend, but he has remained coy about his future political plans.
That doesn’t mean he isn’t padding his campaign war chest, though. De León has two fundraisers lined up in Los Angeles in June, presumably for his 2018 campaign for California lieutenant governor.
The question is whether De León actually will run for lieutenant governor. In the past, he has said he hasn’t made a decision. He has also given his supporters the go-ahead to endorse state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa), a longtime political ally, in the race.
State regulators have asked Volkswagen to revise its plan to invest in zero emission technology in California, a victory for critics who said the automaker wasn't doing enough in disadvantaged communities.
The investment plan, which will total $800 million over 10 years, is part of Volkswagen's obligation under a multi-billion settlement for evading pollution rules.
California, which is struggling to get enough zero emission vehicles on the road to meet its goals, is "eager to move forward," wrote Air Resources Board Executive Officer Richard Corey in a Wednesday letter to Electrify America, a Volkswagen subsidiary.
An effort to boost the chances of local ballot measures raising taxes for transportation needs was quietly killed Thursday in the state Capitol.
The proposal, which would have ultimately required changing the California Constitution through a statewide vote, was in response to the high hurdle set decades ago for local taxes earmarked for specific projects.
Those kinds of taxes in cities and counties require two-thirds of the vote. The constitutional amendment by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) would have lowered the vote threshold to 55% of ballots cast for any transportation proposal.
The state Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday shelved a bill that would have banned all registered sex offenders from school campuses without exception.
Senate Bill 26 by Sen. Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) would have made it a misdemeanor for a registered sex offender to enter any school building or grounds without lawful business.
State laws keep registered sex offenders from living near schools. But those who have not been convicted of having sex with a minor under age 16 can visit or volunteer with groups or organizations that work with children if they give proper notice, and are granted permission. They cannot work directly with children.