As part of the budget deal expected to be passed by the end of this week, California will create a new category to describe voters, in addition to the eight existing options that exist, including Libertarian, the state's American Independent Party and No Party Preference.
Elections officials across California continue to work through a stack of unprocessed ballots, now totaling more than 1.9 million potential votes in last week's local and statewide races.
About 60% of the unprocessed ballots are in just a half dozen counties. By law, local officials have another three weeks to count votes, a process slowed down in part by the large number of ballots cast by mail.
This is also the first year for a new state law allowing any ballot received 72 hours after election day to be counted, as long as it was postmarked in time.
The final budget deal slated for a vote on Wednesday includes some of the top priorities for the California Legislative Women's Caucus, which successfully advocated for more child care funding and the removal of a controversial limit on welfare benefits.
"I'm very pleased," said Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), the caucus chairwoman, after a news conference outside the Capitol. "Focusing on the needs of our families and our children in particular is so important in this state."
Once the budget is finalized, Jackson said lawmakers would continue to push to expand maternity and paternity leave for Californians.
A favorite bragging right of California politicians is how the state would fare were it to be its own country. On Tuesday, a new report concluded that it would be the sixth largest on the planet -- depending, though, on how one looks at it.
Data from the International Monetary Fund shows California's gross domestic product (GDP) at more than $2.4 trillion in 2015, the only state of its kind in a list that's reserved for nations.
California's spot on the list has fluctuated over the past decade, generally somewhere between the fifth and eighth largest world economies.
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) want to more than double the size of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area under legislation filed in both the House and Senate today.
The Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act would add 193,000 acres stretching from the Simi Hills and Santa Susannas, the Verdugos and on to the San Gabriel Mountains.
"Back in the 70s, Congress had the foresight to know that L.A. was going to grow and preserved a lot of the open space that drew people to the region," Schiff said. "L.A. grew exponentially, and that park is one of the most heavily utilized in the nation. Now, we're at another crossroads."
The state’s new government accounting system, which has fallen years behind schedule and cost hundreds of millions of dollars more than originally anticipated, may not be as transparent as previously planned.
Legislation for the system, known as FI$Cal, originally specified several pieces of detailed data about state spending that would be available on a public website once the project was up and running.
The data included the dollar amount of any government expenditure, its purpose and which agency was handling the money.
“Today we begin to remove the dark cloud that has been over the capitol and my district,” Garcia said in an emailed statement. “I hope the judge does not use leniency in sentencing the Calderons. The constituents and elected officials in my community will continue to [bear] the burden of their wrongdoing and the loss of trust will be felt for generations to come, definitely longer than the maximum prison sentence either will receive under this deal.”
The surprise decision Monday by former state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon (D-Montebello) to plead guilty to mail fraud ended a "sad chapter" in the history of the Legislature in which four lawmakers were charged with criminal wrongdoing, the leader of the Senate said.
The plea agreement allows Calderon to skip a trial at which state lawmakers were expected to testify, including Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).
“This closes a sad chapter in the Senate's history,” De León said in a statement Monday. “We move on."