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Road construction crews conduct repairs in San Francisco last year.
Road construction crews conduct repairs in San Francisco last year. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

A group working to repeal California’s recent increase in the gas tax argued Wednesday that the charges at the pump are disproportionately hurting the working poor, while the campaign against the ballot proposition countered that their opponents are exaggerating the financial impact.

Supporters of Proposition 6, the gas tax repeal measure, released an analysis that estimates the new taxes and fees have resulted in a family of four paying between $650 and $800 more in annual taxes and living expenses.

That cost is a heavier burden for low-income residents, according to the report co-authored by Reform California, a group headed by Republican Carl DeMaio, who is a leader of the drive that qualified Proposition 6 for the ballot.

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Former state Sen. Roderick Wright at a court hearing in 2014.
Former state Sen. Roderick Wright at a court hearing in 2014. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A state panel on Tuesday recommended that Gov. Jerry Brown grant a pardon to former state Sen. Roderick Wright for his 2014 conviction on eight felony counts after prosecutors said he lied about living in his Senate district.

The recommendation by the California Board of Parole Hearings next goes to the state Supreme Court, where four judges must concur in the recommendation before it can go to Brown for consideration.

Wright and Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), who now represents the Senate district, were among those who urged the parole board to recommend a pardon. The board later posted its decision online without providing a rationale.

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Californians can now legally sell food made in their home kitchens.
Californians can now legally sell food made in their home kitchens. (Anne Cusack)

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law on Tuesday that would allow people to sell food they make themselves, a practice that was previously outlawed due to health concerns.

Assembly Bill 626, which will go into effect Jan. 1, imposes strict guidelines for what it labels “microenterprise home kitchens,” or MHKs. Californians operating MHKs will have to first apply for a permit. After receiving a permit, they can run their businesses if they sell no more than 60 meals per week, deal directly with their customers and consent to inspections if local officials receive complaints.

The law also exempts MHKs from rules that apply to commercial restaurants but don’t make sense at home. These include a prohibition on kitchens opening directly to living spaces and a regulation that requires a three-compartment sink.

A gas flare at a natural gas processing facility near Williston, N.D.
A gas flare at a natural gas processing facility near Williston, N.D. (Matthew Brown / Associated Press)

California and New Mexico sued the Trump administration on Tuesday over its action to repeal requirements aimed at reducing methane leakage on federal and tribal lands, Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said.

The lawsuit against the federal Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke was filed in San Francisco and argues that the 2016 Waste Prevention Rule facing repeal is needed to reduce waste of natural gas and air pollution.

The states argues that the agency’s action is “an abuse of discretion” that is “in excess of their statutory authority.” The court filing says the repeal of the rule violates federal laws requiring agencies to provide a “reasoned analysis for the change” and a detailed report on the environmental impacts.

  • California Legislature
  • 2018 election
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

A California voter whose signature can’t be verified on an absentee ballot will have eight days to fix the problem under a law signed Monday that takes effect immediately.

It was one of two laws signed by Gov. Jerry Brown to boost the rights of those who vote by mail. Brown also signed legislation requiring elections officials to create a system in which voters can track the status of their ballot, a service that wouldn’t be available until 2020.

The sloppy signature law comes some 13 months after state and local elections officials were sued for refusing to count Sonoma County resident Peter La Follette’s ballot because his signature didn’t appear to match the one on his official registration form. In all, the plaintiffs alleged, as many as 45,000 ballots weren’t counted in 2016 because local elections officials had no uniform rules for how to determine whether signatures matched.

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  • Governor's race
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, and Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, and Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times; Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

California’s two contenders for governor have agreed to participate in an Oct. 8 forum on San Francisco-based public radio station KQED. 

Democrat Gavin Newsom and Republican John Cox have spent most of the summer sparring over when, where and if to hold debates, creating some political suspense with less than two months to go before the November election.

The format, according to KQED, will be “a directed conversation, not subject to strict debate timelines and rules,” and will be moderated by KQED senior politics editor Scott Shafer.

Hey, California voter, way to go! People may say you’re sun-baked, a bit too laid back and, when it comes to picking presidents, largely irrelevant.

  • California Legislature
Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco)
Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

In 2018, the big California housing political debates happened early in the year, or will reach a resolution when voters decide on the ballot in November.

At the beginning of the year, lawmakers rejected plans to expand rent control and boost housing density near transit stops. California voters will now decide on the fate of rent control expansion in the fall. 

On this episode of Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast, we talk about the housing bills that made it through in the final few weeks of the legislative session, including a measure from Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) that, if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, would give the Bay Area Rapid Transit District more authority over housing development on public land near their stations — a move away from the state’s history of allowing only cities and counties to make land-use decisions.

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Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives to introduce Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearing.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives to introduce Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearing. (Jacquelyn Martin)

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice endorsed Republican John Cox for California governor on Thursday, saying he has the vision to address the state’s most vexing problems.

"California’s future depends on what we do today. John’s commitment to education, affordable housing, and better-paying jobs will put California on a course towards a better tomorrow,” Rice said in a statement released by the Cox campaign.

Rice served as secretary of State and national security advisor under the George W. Bush administration. She’s now a political science professor at Stanford University and also teaches at its graduate school of business.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, and Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, and Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times; Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

With less than two months until election day, California’s two gubernatorial contenders remained locked in a standoff over whether they’ll meet to discuss the issues facing the state.

The debate over debates marked a new chapter this week when plans for an Oct. 1 faceoff hosted by CNN fell apart, a network source confirmed Tuesday. Democratic candidate Gavin Newsom had agreed to that debate, while Republican John Cox had not committed, expressing concerns about the event’s format and moderators.

Cox, who agreed to four other debates that Newsom declined, said last week he would participate in the CNN debate only if it focused on housing, cost of living, water and other California-specific issues, and if a California journalist was included as a moderator. Newsom’s campaign said Cox was trying to limit the scope of questions asked.