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675 posts
  • 2018 election
(Los Angeles Times)

A state court judge has ruled the process by which California elections officials refuse to count an absentee ballot because of mismatched voter signatures is unconstitutional, a ruling with particular importance in a state where millions of ballots are being cast away from traditional polling places.

The case centers around a Sonoma County voter whose November 2016 ballot was rejected when elections officials decided the man’s signature that was in their records system didn’t match the one on the back of the vote-by-mail envelope. That voter, Peter La Follette, along with the ACLU of Northern California, sued local and state elections officers last summer.

On Monday, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Ulmer ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

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A single-family rental is seen in Canoga Park.
A single-family rental is seen in Canoga Park. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Homeowners in California received nearly $6 billion in state tax subsidies last year, according to a new report that also revealed a wide gap between state support for homeowners and renters.

The report from the California Housing Partnership, a nonprofit low-income housing advocate, found that homeowners in the state received billions in subsidies through being able to deduct interest on their mortgages and their property taxes from their state tax bills. The report determined that the single largest housing subsidy in 2017 was $3.9 billion for the mortgage interest deduction, which is the state’s version of a benefit that also applies to homeowners’ federal taxes.

State support for renters, however, was limited to a couple hundred million dollars for a $60 annual tax credit for low-income renters and state tax credits for developers to help finance low-income rental projects.

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Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions is pushing to crack down on cities that won't cooperate with immigration enforcement.
Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions is pushing to crack down on cities that won't cooperate with immigration enforcement. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions is expected to make a major announcement in Sacramento on Wednesday about “sanctuary jurisdictions,” a label used to describe cities or states where leaders have limited collaboration between law enforcement and federal immigration agencies.

The nation’s top law enforcement officer is scheduled to speak at the 26th Annual Law Enforcement Legislative Day hosted by the California Peace Officers' Assn. Sessions will make his announcement at the event, the Justice Department said in a news release.

A longtime advocate for reduced immigration — both legal and illegal — Sessions has led the Trump administration's effort to increase deportations and has been in an ongoing battle with so-called “sanctuary cities” to force them to cooperate with federal immigration officials. Cities and counties across the country have been fighting the crackdown, winning federal court rulings against executive orders that block "sanctuary" policies from taking effect. 

Two of California’s leading candidates for governor say they’re going to end the housing shortage, a driver of the state’s affordability crisis.

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
(Handout from Cox campaign)

Democratic engineer T.J. Cox announced on Tuesday he will try to unseat GOP Rep. David Valadao in the Central Valley’s 21st Congressional District.

Cox was already running for Congress in the nearby 10th Congressional District, but faced a tough battle against a crowded field of Democrats who had more name recognition or more money.

Cox is now the only Democrat running for the seat. Emilio Huerta, a local lawyer and son of labor rights icon Dolores Huerta, dropped out of the race Sunday just days before the Friday deadline to file to run for office.

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  • California in Congress

Thanks to a bunch of pricey real estate in swanky locations, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi remains high on the ranking of the California congressional delegation by minimum net worth, a new analysis of financial disclosures finds.

The San Francisco Democrat listed 10 properties, worth at least $23 million. With the exception of a St. Helena estate and vineyard on Zinfandel Lane at the banks of the Napa River with a reported value of at least $5 million, the rest of Pelosi's properties are owned by her husband, Paul Pelosi. She reported multiple mortgages as liabilities on her disclosure forms covering 2016, the most recent year available.

One of the deadly blazes that ravaged Northern California in October stopped less than four miles from the Pelosi vineyard. Public records show that property was assessed at $4 million on Jan. 1, 2017.

The state Capitol
The state Capitol (Los Angeles Times)

California’s campaign watchdog agency last year approved a record 340 settlements of cases involving violations of ethics and political finance rules, according to its annual report issued Monday.

The state Fair Political Practices Commission said it collected more than $1.1 million in fines from elected officials, lobbyists, political donors and others in 2017 for issues that included failing to properly report contributions.

“These results hopefully will help restore public confidence in the political process by highlighting that California has strong laws that are vigorously enforced,” said Jodi Remke, the FPPC chairwoman.

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election

Comedian Patton Oswalt will host a comedy show later this month on behalf of congressional candidate Jess Phoenix, who is running to unseat GOP Rep. Steve Knight in the 25th Congressional District.

Oswalt said friends tipped him off to Phoenix’s candidacy and the two met through Twitter.

While he does not live in the district, Oswalt said he was struck by Phoenix’s knowledge of environmental policy and her refusal to take donations from political action committees or corporations. She is a geologist who runs an educational science nonprofit that researches the Mojave Desert. 

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  • Sexual harassment

A slate of California bills meant to combat sexual harassment in the workplace got a high-profile plug on Hollywood’s biggest night. 

Mira Sorvino, an actress and leading figure in the Times Up movement taking on harassment in the entertainment industry and beyond, highlighted a number of measures making their way through the state Legislature during a red carpet interview at the Academy Awards on Sunday night.

“I want people to know that this movement isn’t stopping,” Sorvino said in an interview on ABC. “We’re going forward until we have an equitable and safe world for women.”

  • Governor's race
Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. (Getty Images / Associated Press)

Antonio Villaraigosa on Monday challenged his top rival in the governor’s race, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, to a one-on-one debate over the viability of a state-sponsored single-payer healthcare system in California.

The issue has divided the Democratic field of candidates. Newsom and former state schools chief Delaine Eastin have expressed strong support for the proposal, while Villaraigosa and state Treasurer John Chiang have expressed doubt that the state can afford it.

“Enough with the slogans — it’s time to show real leadership and have a serious in-depth discussion,” Villaraigosa said in a statement sent to the news media Monday.