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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Politics

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…
11 Apr 2019
Even as a landmark California bill meant to prevent police shootings passed through its first committee on Tuesday, April 9, fault lines among Democrats began to emerge—suggesting the measure will likely change as it moves through the Legislature. How much it will change, though, was not yet clear. After emotional, standing-room-only testimony from Californians whose loved ones have been killed by police, and a sheriff’s deputy who survived being shot by a gunman who killed her colleague, the Assembly Public Safety committee passed Assembly Bill 392 on a party-line vote. But three of the panel’s six Democrats said they were dissatisfied with the bill in its current form. They asked civil-rights groups that support the bill and law-enforcement groups that oppose it to keep working…
04 Apr 2019
Annie Wang remembers the panic she felt being a freshman in a 500-person chemistry class at UC Davis when her period arrived—and she didn’t have a tampon or pad. There was nowhere nearby to go, and leaving to find something meant missing the class. So she tried to focus on the lecture instead. “I stayed in my seat and prayed it would not be too bad. When I got up, I had left a mark on UC Davis in a very bold way,” she said. “It was a very embarrassing moment for me.” She knew she couldn’t be the only one in this predicament—that “a lot of my classmates had experienced similar situations where they were in class or going to class and suddenly got…
15 Mar 2019
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on Wednesday, March 13, putting a moratorium on the death penalty in California and shuttering the execution chamber at San Quentin—a move that overrides a decision the state’s voters made in 2016 to maintain capital punishment. While campaigning for governor last year, Newsom said he was fervently opposed to the death penalty but didn’t “want to get ahead of the will of the voters” and wanted to “give the voters a chance to reconsider.” On Wednesday, he said he changed his mind because his decision whether to permit executions had become more urgent. The state’s lethal-injection protocol was getting closer to being finalized, and two dozen death row inmates had exhausted their appeals. “I’ve had to process this…