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675 posts
  • Ballot measures
  • 2018 election
John Cox, GOP candidate for governor and author of the "Neighborhood Legislature" initiative
John Cox, GOP candidate for governor and author of the "Neighborhood Legislature" initiative (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

An effort to radically reshape California’s legislative branch of government by electing as many as 12,000 local representatives failed Tuesday to qualify for the November state ballot.

The proposal’s backer, Republican businessman and candidate for governor John Cox, spent six years trying to get his “Neighborhood Legislature” plan in front of voters. State elections officials announced that the latest campaign fell short by 25,501 valid voter signatures.

More than 18,000 signatures collected by petition circulators were rejected after local registrars reviewed each of the signatures collected over the course of the last several weeks.

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  • State government
Former President Ronald Reagan
Former President Ronald Reagan (Associated Press)

California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared Feb. 6 Ronald Reagan Day in honor of the 107th anniversary of the former U.S. president and governor’s birth.

Brown said Californians should recognize Reagan’s diplomatic achievements with the former Soviet Union and the economic recovery that occurred during his presidency in the 1980s.

“Above all, we remember the man: his irresistible optimism, faith and good humor,” Brown wrote in a proclamation Tuesday. “As a way to honor his memory, I recommend that Californians give as generously as they can to the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute, an initiative of the Alzheimer’s Association.”

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The Kern River along Highway 178 east of Bakersfield.
The Kern River along Highway 178 east of Bakersfield. (Casey Christie / Associated Press)

California is one of 10 states that sued the Trump administration on Tuesday to challenge its decision to suspend the 2015 Clean Water Rule aimed at protecting lakes, rivers, and streams from pollutants.

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said the lawsuit alleges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers acted without authority in suspending the rule, did not provide a rational explanation and did not provide required notice and opportunity for public comment.

The 2015 rule provided a broader definition of waterways to be protected.

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale), the incumbent in the 25th Congressional District, answers a question during a debate.
Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale), the incumbent in the 25th Congressional District, answers a question during a debate. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Vulnerable California Republicans’ chances of holding their seats may hinge on distancing themselves from President Trump, according to a poll of likely voters released Tuesday.

The mid-January poll by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies found that likely voters in two of the most competitive districts in the state are unhappy with Trump’s performance and are “disinclined” to reelect their members of Congress.

About 56% of likely voters in the 25th Congressional District, represented by Rep. Steve Knight of Palmdale, are disinclined to reelect the congressman, while 38% say they are inclined to do so.

  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
Top row: GOP Reps. Mimi Walters of Irvine and Duncan Hunter of Alpine. Bottom row: GOP Reps. Steve Knight of Palmdale, Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach and Tom McClintock of Elk Grove
Top row: GOP Reps. Mimi Walters of Irvine and Duncan Hunter of Alpine. Bottom row: GOP Reps. Steve Knight of Palmdale, Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach and Tom McClintock of Elk Grove (Roll Call, Associated Press, Getty Images)

If Democrats are going to regain control of the U.S. House and return Nancy Pelosi to the speakership, they must forge a path through California.

A close look at the latest money picture in the competitive congressional races shows Democratic candidates already are raising historic amounts of money, even in unexpected districts.

Here are a few major takeaways by the numbers, which suggest a Democratic wave could indeed be on the horizon.

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  • State government
  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment
  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment
Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore)
Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A bill to extend whistle-blower protections to Capitol staffers that had been repeatedly shelved in previous years cleared the Legislature on Monday and is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

The legislation by Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) would protect legislative employees who report legal or ethical violations, including sexual harassment, by fellow staff or lawmakers.

“No one should have to decide between keeping their job and reporting abuse,” Melendez said while presenting the measure, Assembly Bill 403, on the Assembly floor. It passed on a 74-0 vote to applause in the chamber.

  • California Legislature
State Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys)
State Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A state senator from Los Angeles wants to increase taxes on legal, consulting, accounting and other service work and use the money to cut other taxes and upgrade state infrastructure. 

State Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) has introduced versions of the legislation for years in a bid to help insulate the state from boom-and-bust cycles in revenue drawn from relying heavily on income tax payments from the wealthiest Californians.

His current proposal, Senate Bill 993, is different from prior failed attempts because the recent federal tax overhaul provides new urgency to address California’s tax structure, Hertzberg said in a press release.

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  • California Legislature
A state lawmaker wants to allow marijuana products to be sold and consumed at temporary special events including festivals.
A state lawmaker wants to allow marijuana products to be sold and consumed at temporary special events including festivals. (Los Angeles Times)

A state lawmaker wants the state to relax its policies prohibiting organizers of festivals and other special events in California from allowing marijuana sales and use unless the event is at a county fairground.

Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) said Monday he introduced a bill on behalf of the city of Oakland, which wants marijuana sales to be allowed at its annual Art and Soul Festival this summer.

“These events support local economies and small businesses,” Quirk said in a statement.

Paul Gann, left, and Howard Jarvis, the author of Proposition 13, hold up their hands.
Paul Gann, left, and Howard Jarvis, the author of Proposition 13, hold up their hands. (Associated Press)

A proposed November 2018 ballot initiative to increase property taxes on commercial land could add $6 billion to $10 billion to state coffers annually, according to a report by the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office.

The proposal would make a dramatic change to rules implemented by California’s landmark Proposition 13 ballot measure that capped how much property tax bills could increase. Under the new measure, the state would receive more tax dollars from commercial and industrial properties by assessing them at their current market value, an effort known as “split roll” because existing tax protections on homes would remain in place. The new revenue would go to local governments and public schools.

While the amount of tax dollars raised by the proposal would be significant, the report from the legislative analyst included warnings. The revenue would depend heavily on the health of the state’s real estate market and could therefore be volatile. Similarly, raising property taxes on businesses could cause firms to leave or choose not to relocate to California, the report said.