When professional sports team owners, Facebook and big developers have asked California lawmakers for some relief from the state's main environmental law over growth, the answer usually has been yes.
The law, the California Environmental Quality Act, requires developers to disclose and reduce a project's effects on the environment — a process that often can get tied up in lengthy litigation.
This year, legislators passed a measure aiming to shorten any potential environmental lawsuit against Facebook's expansion of its headquarters, two skyscrapers planned in Hollywood and other megaprojects to less than nine months. Doing so has led many to question why only big projects get such relief.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed legislation to ensure farm labor contractors train employees on how to prevent and report sexual assault, a response to a 2013 PBS Frontline investigation that found sexual violence against women was a pervasive problem in California fields.
Senate Bill 295 by Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) makes sexual harassment training mandatory at all businesses that supervise farm employees or provide them with lodging, transportation or other services.
The training has to be conducted or interpreted in a language that employees can understand, the law stipulates, and farm labor contractors will have to provide proof of all of their materials and resources to the Farm Labor Commission as part of the license renewal process.
California candidate for governor Antonio Villaraigosa wants the state to bring back an urban renewal program to fund low-income housing.
"Solving our state's growing housing crisis will take a sustained commitment and creative thinking," Villaraigosa wrote in an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle. "But when it comes to giving local governments the tools they need, we don't need to reinvent the wheel."
Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers eliminated a state redevelopment program in 2011 as a cost-cutting move aimed at saving nearly $2 billion during the state's budget crisis. The program allowed cities to target run-down neighborhoods for investment and use a share of property tax dollars generated by development to fund improvements, including financing low-income housing. But doing so required the state to spend more to support public schools, and Brown derided the agencies as being rife with abuses of taxpayer dollars.
The potential repeal of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, which allows taxpayers to write off those taxes on their federal returns, would hit especially hard in wealthier areas, some of which are on the exact turf Democrats are trying to win over in Southern California.
Details of the overall tax reform plan have yet to be worked out, but so far, vulnerable California Republicans are not joining GOP colleagues in other states who have said they won’t accept the repeal of the deduction, and some of them seem willing to negotiate.