California legislators on Wednesday gave the green light to formal audits of several parts of state government, including UC President Janet Napolitano's office and Gov. Jerry Brown's ambitious plan to build underground water tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta region.
The water project, now estimated to cost some $16 billion to build, has been mired in legal and political controversy for several years. The audit, requested by Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) and Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), was sparked by criticism over spending on the delta project's preliminary stages.
Meanwhile, the audit of Napolitano's office is the latest salvo in a pitched political battle between legislators and the UC president over university spending and budget priorities. State auditors will examine both how Napolitano spends money and whether there are enough internal budget controls across the University of California system.
Faced with intense opposition from religious colleges in California, a state Senator said Wednesday he has decided to amend a bill by dropping a provision that would have allowed gay and transgender students to more easily sue private universities for discrimination if they are disciplined for violating church teachings.
Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) is removing a provision of his bill that sought to take away the exemption of religious schools to anti-discrimination laws. Instead, he will press forward with the amended bill that would still require such schools to disclose if they have an exemption and report to the state when students are expelled for violating morality codes.
“The goal for me has always been to shed the light on the appalling and unacceptable discrimination against LGBT students at these private religious institutions throughout California,” Lara said.
Faced with strong opposition from a member of the Board of Equalization, state Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) has for a second time amended a bill that would have imposed tough new campaign contribution limits on board members to avoid conflicts of interest.
The new bill simply calls for a study of possible new limits.
Hill introduced SB 816 after The Times reported that donors were circumventing a $250 contribution limit to board members by funneling the money through political action committees or giving several donations — 45 from employees at one tax firm — of $249 each.
“I don’t know what I am going to do, to be honest with you,” Jones said in a interview with KFBK 1530/93.1 FM in Sacramento on Thursday.
But on Monday, Jones’ campaign strategist, Dave Gilliard, told the Sacramento Bee that Jones would still vote for Trump if the election were held today, “not enthusiastically, but because [Hillary] Clinton is simply not trustworthy.”
Some of the very political benefactors whose names are involved in an ethics complaint against Rep. Mike Honda are helping him defend against it.
Three donors who recently contributed to the Silicon Valley congressman’s legal defense appear on the list of supporters the Silicon Valley congressman is accused of providing special benefits to in exchange for their support. The allegation is at the center of an ethics investigation that has been going on for nearly a year.
A bipartisan group of more than a dozen members of the Assembly are renewing a request to audit the state’s primary spending program to combat climate change.
The request spearheaded by Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) comes as Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers are struggling to reach a deal to extend greenhouse gas reduction targets beyond 2020 alongside the cap-and-trade program, the main mechanism by which the state aims to achieve its climate goals.
“While we determine the next phase in California’s effort to combat global climate change, it simply makes sense to see whether or not the programs receiving this revenue are producing the expected results,” said the legislators in an Aug. 4 letter to Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona), the chairman of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. “Rushing into decisions with less than ideal information does not help build public confidence.”
“After several meetings without an agreement on a variety of requested changes, we believe it is time to focus on real affordable housing solutions that don't directly undermine local voices and place communities and our environment at risk,” said a statement from the State Building and Construction Trades Council, Sierra Club and Tenants Together, who are among a coalition of more than 60 groups who joined to oppose the governor’s housing proposal.
Cesar Diaz, the legislative director for the State Building and Construction Trades Council, confirmed that the coalition would not participate in further discussions over the plan.