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  • California Legislature
The LAPD-coached youth football team Watts Bears (in white) pursue a member of the Southern California Falcons during a 2013 game. The players are 7 to 9 years old.
The LAPD-coached youth football team Watts Bears (in white) pursue a member of the Southern California Falcons during a 2013 game. The players are 7 to 9 years old. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

California would become the first state to prohibit minors from playing organized tackle football before high school under a proposal made Thursday by lawmakers concerned about the health risks.

Just days after the Super Bowl, Assembly members Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) said they are introducing the “Safe Youth Football Act,” legislation that will be considered this year by state lawmakers.

Under the bill, organized tackle football would be allowed starting with high school freshmen.

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  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
(David Brooks / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The FBI investigation into whether GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter of Alpine misused campaign funds for personal expenses appears to be intensifying, according to a report by Politico. The website revealed that additional grand jury subpoenas have been issued to people close to the five-term congressman. Here are some key new pieces of information from Politico’s report:

• Hunter’s parents and a female lobbyist he knows have received grand jury subpoenas. That followed a raid last February in which the FBI seized computers and documents from Hunter’s campaign finance compliance firm. According to Politico, Hunter’s wife and former campaign manager, Margaret Hunter, is at the center of the investigation and made many of the purchases in question. A subpoena was also issued to a business in Hunter’s district in December, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

• Hunter was surprised by the results of a review by an outside law firm his campaign hired to look at spending. In April 2016, more than $1,300 in video game purchases caught the attention of the Federal Election Commission and the Union-Tribune. Afterward, Hunter hired a law firm to review his campaign spending. Sources told Politico that Hunter was “shocked” when the review turned up more than $60,000 in improper campaign expenditures, which he later repaid and blamed on his wife. They included payments to a dentist, nail salons, theme parks, trips to Italy and $600 to fly the family’s pet rabbit. Hunter has said his wife no longer has access to the campaign credit card.

Orange County sheriff's Deputy Jeff Puckett, left, checks a motorist's identification at a DUI checkpoint.
Orange County sheriff's Deputy Jeff Puckett, left, checks a motorist's identification at a DUI checkpoint. (Al Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

With recreational marijuana sales now legal in California, one lawmaker wants to find out whether drugged driving is going to be a significant problem.

Assemblyman Ed Chau (D-Arcadia) has introduced a bill that would require all local law enforcement agencies to file annual reports with the state Department of Motor Vehicles detailing the number of arrests made for driving under the influence and the number of those arrests in which pot was suspected to be the substance causing impairment.

“Currently, the state has no uniform mechanism in place to evaluate cannabis drugged driving arrests as a result of legalization,” Chau said.

When you get a busy congressman like Adam Schiff on the line, you don't want to waste time with small talk. You want to get right to the point.

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  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
McClintock fields questions from an audience in Roseville on Feb. 4
McClintock fields questions from an audience in Roseville on Feb. 4 (Randall Benton / Sacramento Bee)

Following last week’s campaign finance reports, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report is saying Democrats have a better chance of winning two Republican-held seats in California.

Rep. Tom McClintock’s Northern California seat, was moved to likely Republican, down from solid Republican.

McClintock of Elk Grove was outraised by two of his opponents in the last three months of last year. The race was put on Democrats’ target list in the fall and this could be his first tough race since being elected in 2008.

  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Republicans
John Cox, GOP candidate for governor and author of the "Neighborhood Legislature" initiative
John Cox, GOP candidate for governor and author of the "Neighborhood Legislature" initiative (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox told supporters on Wednesday that he was putting another $1 million of his money into his campaign, adding to his significant financial advantage among Republican candidates in the race.

“While we have gathered nearly 5,000 individual donors across California, it's also important that I show continued investment in my campaign,” Cox emailed supporters.

The move brings the Rancho Santa Fe businessman’s total investment into his bid to $4 million — $1 million more than Republican Neel Kashkari spent on his primary and general election campaign in the 2014 governor’s race.

Candidates for statewide office in California
Candidates for statewide office in California (Associated Press / Getty Images / Los Angeles Times)

With less than four months to go until the June 5 primary, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are running practically neck and neck in the 2018 race for governor, according to a new poll by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.

California’s U.S. Senate race is a much different story. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is seeking a fifth full term, leads by a wide margin over her most formidable challenger, state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León of Los Angeles, the survey found.

All four of those top candidates are Democrats, showing just how dismal the prospects are for a Republican Party that has not won a statewide election in California since 2006.

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  • Ballot measures
  • California Legislature
A motorist prepares to gas up her vehicle in San Rafael, Calif., in 2015. The state's gas tax increases are expected to remain controversial throughout 2018.
A motorist prepares to gas up her vehicle in San Rafael, Calif., in 2015. The state's gas tax increases are expected to remain controversial throughout 2018. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Likely voters are divided over a proposed initiative that would repeal recent increases in California’s gas tax and vehicle fees to pay for road and bridge repairs and mass transit improvements, according to the results of a survey released Wednesday.

The repeal of the gas tax is supported by 47% of likely voters and opposed by 48%, according to the statewide survey by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Repeal is supported by 61% of Republican voters and 52% of independents, but by only 39% of Democrats.

The woman gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom had an affair with when he was mayor of San Francisco spoke out about their relationship on Wednesday after questions about the liaison emerged in the governor's race.

Ruby Rippey Gibney said that although their relationship destroyed her home life, it probably shouldn't be part of the discussion about sexual misconduct surrounding the #MeToo movement.

Supporters of single-payer healthcare march to the Capitol in Sacramento in 2017.
Supporters of single-payer healthcare march to the Capitol in Sacramento in 2017. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A months-long series of informational hearings on achieving universal health coverage in California culminated Wednesday with experts voicing widespread praise for creating a single-payer system, but starkly different opinions on the pace of such an overhaul.

The Assembly convened hearings in the face of activist outrage with last year’s shelving of SB 562, an ambitious bill that would establish a state-funded healthcare system to cover nearly all of Californians’ medical costs without requiring premiums or co-pays.

Proponents of SB 562, including its sponsors, the California Nurses Assn., continued their call for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) to advance the bill Wednesday, rolling out a new analysis finding that between 60% and 80% of denials for care issued by insurance companies were overturned by state regulators. The data, they argued, underscored the need to dramatically reduce the role of private insurance companies in Californians’ healthcare.

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