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548 posts
  • State government
Los Angeles County fire Capt. Victor Correa helps put out a Woolsey fire hotspot in Malibu.
Los Angeles County fire Capt. Victor Correa helps put out a Woolsey fire hotspot in Malibu. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

California’s costs to fight two deadly wildfires that ignited less than two weeks ago have already topped $118 million — a sizable financial hit to a program that needed an unexpected cash infusion just two months ago.

Cal Fire officials said Tuesday that $589.7 million has been paid out by the state’s fire emergency, or “e-fund,” account since July 1. Officials are poised to free up additional dollars before lawmakers consider a new state budget early next year.

Cal Fire officials said battling the Camp fire, which has killed 79 people and burned more than 151,000 acres across Butte County, has cost more than $68 million. The state’s response to the Woolsey fire, which has burned almost 97,000 acres in Ventura and Los Angeles counties and killed at least three people, has cost more than $50 million.

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California must significantly increase the money it spends on child care, food assistance and other social services — by as much as $1.6 billion in the first year alone — to narrow an income divide that has left almost 2 million children living below the poverty line, a new state task force said Monday.

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 Three prisoners in the north segregation unit of death row at San Quentin State Prison.
Three prisoners in the north segregation unit of death row at San Quentin State Prison. (Eric Risberg/AP)

Members of Catholic organizations and other anti-death penalty groups on Monday urged Gov. Jerry Brown to place a moratorium on the death penalty or commute the sentences of all California death row inmates, saying he should take a moral stand on a practice that costs the state money without making people safer.

Their request was echoed in more than 6,000 letters and petitions collected from residents and wheeled to the state Capitol in plain, white cardboard boxes. It comes more than a year after the California Supreme Court kept in place a 2016 measure passed by voters to speed up executions.

Standing outside the governor’s office, Marciano Avilla said Brown had a bold chance to move the state into the future, as he had on so many other issues, before leaving his post in January.

(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

The California Supreme Court refused on Monday to block counties from accepting late absentee ballot signatures, a practice election officials have said isn’t explicitly banned under a new state law.

The court denied the petition filed by Brian Harrington, a San Diego resident and campaign consultant to a Republican running for an Orange County Assembly seat. Harrington challenged a Nov. 13 legal advisory from the California secretary of state’s chief counsel that extended the length of time for voters to submit their signature if failing to sign the absentee ballot envelope.

In his filing with the court, Harrington said the 2015 law allowing a voter to fix the unsigned envelope — which otherwise would cause the ballot to be rejected — doesn’t allow signatures to be collected after the close of business on the eighth day after the election. Counties were told in the advisory from Steven Reyes, chief counsel for Secretary of State Alex Padilla, that they could accept ballot signature statements “up to the point in time where it would interfere with the duties of completing the county’s official canvass” of votes cast.

  • Ballot measures
  • 2018 election
Vote by mail ballots are sorted by staff to be counted at the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder's office on Nov. 7 in Norwalk.
Vote by mail ballots are sorted by staff to be counted at the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder's office on Nov. 7 in Norwalk. (Patrick T. Fallon / For the Los Angeles Times)

Earlier this month, Californians voted to support $6 billion in new bonds to help build low-income and homeless housing across the state and provide home loans to veterans. Voters also rejected efforts to expand rent control and add property tax breaks for homeowners 55 or older.

On this episode of “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast,” we break down how the election results affect the state’s answers to housing affordability and debate the future of rent control at the Capitol.

Our guest is Angela Hart of Politico California, who talks with us about incoming Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ambitious housing plan.

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Gil Cisneros defeated Republican Young Kim on Saturday in the last of Orange County’s undecided House races, giving Democrats a clean sweep of the state’s six most fiercely fought congressional contests and marking an epochal shift in a region long synonymous with political conservatism.

Tony Thurmond, a Bay Area assemblyman, was elected to serve as California's next superintendent of public instruction.
Tony Thurmond, a Bay Area assemblyman, was elected to serve as California's next superintendent of public instruction. (Los Angeles Times)

Tony Thurmond, a Bay Area Democrat who served in the state Assembly and as a local school board member, declared victory on Saturday in the bitterly contested and expensive race for California superintendent of public instruction.

Thurmond’s opponent, charter school executive Marshall Tuck, conceded the race after several days of late vote counting continued to widen the gap between the two candidates. Tuck had been ahead in early returns on election night but lost the lead last weekend.

“I want to thank the voters of California for electing me to serve the 6 million students of California,” Thurmond said in a written statement. “I intend to be a champion of public schools and a Superintendent for all California students.”

For a party in freefall the last two decades, California Republicans learned that it's possible to plunge even further.

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  • California Republicans

Travis Allen, a Huntington Beach assemblyman who unsuccessfully ran for California governor, announced Thursday he is running for chairman of the state Republican Party.

Allen is a strong supporter of President Trump and a favorite of tea party Republicans. He blamed the wave of GOP losses in last week’s midterm election on a party establishment that failed to embrace core conservative ideals. 

Four incumbent Republicans in California’s congressional delegation lost in the Nov. 6 election, with two more in Orange County possibly facing a similar fate as late ballots are counted. Democrats also captured a supermajority in the California Legislature, and no Republican has won a statewide political office since 2006.

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
Rep. Mimi Walters thanks all of her supporters as she watches election results in Irvine, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018.
Rep. Mimi Walters thanks all of her supporters as she watches election results in Irvine, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. (Alex Gallardo / AP Photo)

Democrat Katie Porter opened a 3,797-vote lead Wednesday over Republican Rep. Mimi Walters in Orange County’s 45th Congressional District.

In the neighboring 39th, Democrat Gil Cisneros has nearly tied the race against Republican Young Kim. Cisneros now trails Kim by a razor-thin margin of 122 votes.

The 39th District straddles Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties; Wednesday’s updated ballot counts came from the latter two.