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Wed06192019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Politics

13 Jun 2019
Despite speculation about bold moves—in a far-left direction, even for this blue state—Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative Democrats actually landed a budget Thursday that’s surgical about new taxing and spending while still keeping promises to help poor Californians and working families. Under the $214.8 billion spending plan, the state inched closer to universal health coverage, expanding Medi-Cal to all low-income young adults regardless of immigration status. State lawmakers also charted a course to increase tax credits to the working poor and boost subsidies to middle-income Californians to buy health coverage. There were significant investments in early education and housing, while a portion of the surplus was diverted to pay down pension liabilities. While Democrats began the year with a surplus of ideas for taxing Californians,…
06 Jun 2019
Anyone who spent the weekend at the California Democratic Party’s convention—watching 14 White House contenders try to impress what one congresswoman called “the wokest Democrats in the country”—observed the following: Saturday’s most rapturous cheers went to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who declared “the time for small ideas is over," advocated “big, structural change” and said “I am here to fight.” Sunday’s thunderous applause went to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, when he demanded there can be “no middle ground” on climate change, healthcare or gun violence. Those who strayed from progressive orthodoxy did so at their peril. Ex-Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper dismissed the push for single-payer health care by insisting “socialism is not the answer” Saturday, drawing a sustained barrage of boos—not just from those who…
30 May 2019
For an hour and a half Wednesday morning, May 29, California lawmakers lined up to speak for or against—mostly for—one of the most high-profile bills of the year. One member of the Assembly, a former state cop, choked back tears as he wrestled with the implications of his vote. But when the rolls opened on Assembly Bill 392, which would make it harder for police to legally justify killing a civilian, the tally wasn’t even close: The Assembly passed the bill, 68-0, with 12 members abstaining. Wednesday’s vote pushes California one step closer to enacting use-of-force standards that would be among the strictest in the country. If AB 392 is signed into law, police would only be able to use lethal force if “necessary” to…
23 May 2019
Despite the skyrocketing teen use of e-cigarettes, a proposal to make California the nation’s first state to ban flavored tobacco is struggling in the Legislature—and health advocates blame the political potency of the tobacco industry. With negotiations under way behind the scenes, vaping interests hope to at least weaken the legislation, if not turn it in the industry’s favor. On the Assembly side, all tobacco-related bills were effectively snuffed out when a key committee opted not to hear them. The committee’s chairman, Merced Democrat Adam Gray, declined to be interviewed. In an email, he wrote that “the authors of the various proposals and the committee are working together to develop a comprehensive proposal that addresses the issue from all sides. We will develop a thoughtful…
13 May 2019
On Christmas Day 2003, Matthew Sievert, the only child of a single mother and California state worker named Stepheny Milo, was removed from life support. He’d gone out to a Sacramento park the night before to meet an ex-girlfriend, and had been gunned down. He was 19. The playground where he was ambushed is five miles and a world away from the white-domed Capitol that was his mother’s workplace. His murder, though, would touch not only those halls, but some of California’s best-known political figures. Initially, it would touch lawmakers, co-workers and lobbyists who sought to comfort Milo, an administrator for the Assembly’s Republican caucus. Later, it would touch Democratic Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon of Los Angeles, who, in 2014 married the sister of Chan…
09 May 2019
They don’t call it the Golden State for nothing, at least not lately: California’s fiscal health is in extraordinary shape. Income-tax receipts surpassed expectations for the pivotal month of April. Projections of a $21 billion-plus surplus are not out of the question. Nearly 3 million jobs have been added since the depths of the Great Recession, yielding record low unemployment. And having already met a 10 percent rainy-day fund requirement, the state is socking away billions in additional reserves to buffer against the next downturn. Impending Silicon Valley IPOs could provide an even bigger windfall. Yet California isn’t as prepared as it may seem for the next recession—and, economists say, there will be a next one. Because voters have willingly taxed the rich, California’s $209…
01 May 2019
Diego San Luis Ortega was a toddler when his parents brought him to California from Veracruz, Mexico. Now 22 and a “Dreamer” who is protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, he is a political activist and a community college student in Visalia who hopes to become a history teacher. He is also gung-ho about standing up to be counted in the 2020 census, despite the concerns of many family and friends that participation could put their ability to remain in the United States in jeopardy. “At the end of the day,” Ortega said, “if it’s to better my community, I’ll do it. If I get hurt, I get hurt.” The U.S. Constitution mandates an “actual enumeration” of each state’s population…
24 Apr 2019
Seth Frotman was traveling from the East Coast to California recently when he had a realization: The amount of new student-loan debt that borrowers in the Golden State had racked up over the past year was equal to all the student loan debt in the state of Maine. Frotman spent years dealing with the fallout of the education-debt crisis as the student-loan ombudsman for the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before resigning in protest in the wake of President Donald Trump’s election. Now he’s bringing his borrower-protection crusade to California. The state’s massive population and reputation for consumer protection, he says, make it the perfect laboratory for testing whether more regulation of loan servicers can help keep student debt from mushrooming. About a tenth of…

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