Citing a review that found widespread mismanagement at the state Board of Equalization, State Controller Betty T. Yee on Friday called for stripping the panel of responsibilities for tax administration and audit and compliance functions so it can focus on handling taxpayer appeals.
Yee’s proposal came in response to an evaluation by the state Department of Finance that found board officials were improperly redirecting resources and employees to pet projects in their districts.
“In order to rebuild taxpayer trust, meaningful reform is essential,” said Yee, who serves as an ex-officio member of the board. “I urge the Legislature and the governor to strip the board members of all statutory functions and permanently move these duties and assigned staff to a separate new department under the governor.”
A California state senator wants to prevent companies from selling products that can listen in on conversations and collect personal information from unknowing consumers.
Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) has filed legislation that would require manufacturers to equip their Internet-connected devices, including toys, clocks, kitchenware and electronics, with certain security and privacy features.
Dubbed the Teddy Bear and Toaster Act, Senate Bill 327 takes aim at the so-called “Internet of Things,” the inter-networking of everyday devices that some tech and privacy experts say amounts to a growing industry with little oversight.
In arguing for approval of a new transportation package on Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown appeared to enjoy himself in refusing to shoot down a supporter’s suggestion that he run for president — even as he noted his 79th birthday is next week.
Standing next to other elected officials and construction workers at the rally in in Concord, Brown argued that gas tax and vehicle fee increases are needed to address a backlog of much-needed repairs to California’s crumbling system of roads, highways and bridges.
“I’m telling you the truth because why would I lie to you?” Brown said. “I don’t think I’m running for office. All I’ve got left is lieutenant governor, treasurer and controller.”
Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders on Thursday took their campaign for higher transportation taxes and fees to the Bay Area district of state Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Concord), one of the holdouts in the state Senate who has not yet committed to vote for the package.
In the race to replace termed-out Gov. Jerry Brown, the largest number of voters in a new statewide poll does not favor a candidate in the race. About 1 in 3 voters said they were undecided, according to the survey by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies.
Among candidates who have entered the race, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom holds a strong lead with 28% of the vote, followed by Republican businessman John Cox with 18%, according to the poll, which was released Wednesday. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa clocks in at 11%, state Treasurer John Chiang at 8% and former state schools chief Delaine Eastin at 3%.
Because the race is far away and public campaigning has not yet started in earnest, the poll could primarily be an indicator of name recognition. The field of candidates is also likely to grow.
California's senators and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) filed legislation Thursday to add 44 acres to the John Muir National Historic Site.
The John Muir Heritage Land Trust has offered to donate the additional land to the National Park Service, which operates the site, and the bill would authorize the agency to accept the parcel.
“The time John Muir spent with his daughters at their scenic home and its neighboring property played a major role in launching the national parks movement. Expanding the existing park to preserve more of this history and beauty is a fitting tribute to Muir’s legacy of protecting land for all to enjoy,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a statement.
California’s attorney general could investigate local police shootings under a new bill authored by a Sacramento lawmaker.
Democratic Assemblyman Kevin McCarty’s Assembly Bill 284 would allow local police departments or district attorneys to ask Atty. Gen. Xavier Beccera’s office to independently investigate police shootings of civilians.
The legislation was prompted by high-profile police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Eric Garner in New York City and last summer’s police shooting of Joseph Mann, a mentally ill homeless man, in Sacramento, according to McCarty’s office. In all three cases, local prosecutors declined to charge the officers.
California officials will begin the process this spring of awarding $103 million in grants to programs for inmates centered on rehabilitation, substance abuse and reentry into society.
The efforts will be funded with dollars saved from prison spending under Proposition 47, the sweeping 2014 ballot measure that downgraded six drug and theft crimes to misdemeanors and allowed defendants to renegotiate their punishments.
For the large coalition of criminal justice advocates that poured millions into getting the proposition passed and that has closely tracked its implementation, this is a long-awaited step. Other states have passed similar laws, but California is the only state to invest those savings into services meant to help people stay out of prison.
On the executive committee helping award the grants are formerly incarcerated people who know the system from the inside.