California charter schools involved in multiple political battles

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

A major front in the perpetual war between California’s educational establishment and school reform groups is the role of charter schools, which function outside the traditional structure and are semi-free to experiment with new methods of teaching.

Like the larger conflict, the charter school battle is waged in multiple venues – within school districts, in the Legislature, in the courts and, ultimately, in the electoral arena.

It pits charter school advocates, who range from billionaire Eli Broad to immigrant parents, against the California Teachers Association and union-allied school officials.

It is almost entirely a battle within the Democratic Party, as this year’s elections in a number of legislative and school board elections will demonstrate anew. Broad and other wealthy reformers are backing Democrats who agree with them on charters and other reform issues while the CTA and its allies have their own slates of candidates. …

No presidential debate in California after Clinton breaks promise

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle:

There will be no Democratic presidential debate in California, because Hillary Clinton’s campaign reneged Monday on its earlier promise to participate in one. In February, the campaigns of both Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders agreed to debate in California before the state’s June 7 primary.

But with Clinton comfortably ahead in both pledged delegates and superdelegates — plus her desire to pivot to her likely general election matchup against Republican Donald Trump — there was little political incentive for her campaign to participate.

The Chronicle, as the Sanders campaign noted last week, also expressed interest in co-hosting a debate. But that debate will not happen.

“We have declined Fox News’ invitation to participate in a debate in California,” said campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri. “As we have said previously, we plan to compete hard in the remaining primary states, particularly California, while turning our attention to …

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California water bill has three possible paths for passage

As reported by The News Tribune:

House Republicans this week are adding a controversial California water bill to an unrelated Senate energy package, opening a new front in a fight that’s already put Democrats on the defensive.

The unexpected energy bill maneuver gives San Joaquin Valley lawmakers a third vehicle they might propel all the way to the White House. At the least, it builds up steam for the GOP drive to boost California water storage and divert more irrigation deliveries to Valley farms.

“Farmers, families and entire communities are suffering, and unnecessarily so,” Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, Calif., said Monday.

On Tuesday, the leadership-controlled House Rules Committee is scheduled to pack the California water bill and about three dozen other bills onto the Senate energy legislation. The full House will then take up the massive package, spanning more than 1,000 pages, later this week. …

CA Senate Approves Sweeping Gun-Control Measures

As reported by ABC News:

Democrats in the California Senate approved a wide-ranging series of gun control bills Thursday, reviving an effort to significantly tighten California’s already strict gun laws in the wake of last year’s terrorist attack in San Bernardino.

Lawmakers voted to outlaw the sale of assault weapons with easily detachable magazines and to require that people turn in magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. They also backed a variety of other measures aimed at restricting access to guns and ammunition or limiting the carnage they can inflict.

The effort drew a sharp rebuke from gun rights supporters who say squeezing lawful gun owners even further won’t make people safer.

It also laid bare tense differences in personality and strategy between senior California Democrats. Legislative leaders are rushing to head off a ballot measure advocated by Lt. Gov. Gavin Neapolwsom, a fellow Democrat, asking voters to enact many of the same policies. They worry the initiative will fail at the ballot box or …

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Treasurer John Chiang to Run for Governor in 2018

As reported by the Associated Press:

SACRAMENTO — California Treasurer John Chiang announced Tuesday that he will begin raising money to run for governor in 2018, marking an early start to his bid to become the state’s first Asian chief executive.

Chiang, a Democrat, emphasized his experience managing the state’s cash and pledged to “build the best California” that fulfills the aspirations of voters.

“I put greater accountability and transparency into the state’s finances. … Frankly that’s how you protect education, that’s how you protect health care, that’s how you protect other essential services,” Chiang told The Associated Press. “You can’t blindside people at the very end.”

Chiang’s announcement was not a surprise; he’s been saying for …

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Bid to Raise California Tobacco Tax Nears November Ballot

As reported by ABC News:

A well-financed campaign backed by billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, medical groups and organized labor has collected enough signatures for a ballot measure to raise California’s cigarette tax by $2 a pack, officials said.

The Save Lives California coalition scheduled a news conference Monday at the San Diego County Registrar of Voters office to submit the first signatures in its effort to triple California’s cigarette tax to $2.87 a pack.

If enough signatures are verified, the measure would appear on an increasingly crowded Nov. 8 ballot alongside proposals to repeal a ban on single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and require actors to use condoms in adult films.

The announcement about the tobacco tax measure came less than a month after Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation to make California the second state in …

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CA budget: Gov. Brown to shrink spending plan

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

SACRAMENTO — Repeating calls for fiscal restraint and seeking to lower expectations about how much more the state can afford, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday released an updated $122.2 billion state budget that’s slightly smaller than the blueprint he pitched in January.

Tax collections outpaced the governor’s conservative estimates and forced him to increase the size of the general fund spending plan each of the last few years. This time, the $454 million revision came as Brown acknowledged that revenue growth had stalled.

The governor blamed the slump on an unexpected dip in the notoriously volatile capital-gains taxes collected by the state on the sale of stocks and bonds and said managing the state budget is “like riding a tiger.”

“The surging tide of revenue has begun to turn,” Brown said. “Quoting Aesop’s fable of the ant and the grasshopper: ‘It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.’ “

Blockbuster deals Brown struck with the …

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Assembly encourages hybrids, punishes emissions cheaters

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Seeking to curb climate-altering emissions from cars, the Assembly on Thursday passed bills to reward hybrid drivers and bolster penalties for air quality transgressions like those Volkswagen committed.

Plug-in hybrid vehicle drivers could continue shifting into the HOV lane under Assembly Bill 1964. The measure would extend beyond 2018 a program giving hybrid owners access to green stickers that allow them to use a lane otherwise reserved for cars with multiple passengers. The decals would remain available until hybrids comprised 8.6 percent of market share in California for two consecutive years.

“These stickers have been shown to incentivize the purchase of zero-emission vehicles,” said Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica.

Business-aligned Democrats objected to the bill, saying it would benefit wealthier Californians and clog carpool lanes at the expense of …

Prop 50: The weirdest measure on the ballot this year

As reported by CalMatters:

It’s been two years since criminal accusations against three lawmakers rocked the California Capitol. Charged with corruption and perjury in separate cases, three Democratic state senators were suspended from the Legislature in 2014 but kept earning their $95,000 annual salary for many months.

Now, California voters will get their say on a question prompted by that spate of scandal. Proposition 50 on the June 7 ballot asks whether legislators who are suspended from duty should also have their paychecks taken away.

In a year of weird ballot measures – should porn actors be required to wear condoms? – Proposition 50 may be the most unusual one California voters face. Here are three reasons why:

1.  It stems from a bizarre year in the Legislature – not a widespread problem in the state.

Most measures that make the ballot ask voters to weigh in on a question that impacts the masses: raising taxes, for example, or making marijuana legal. Proposition 50, if approved, would apply …

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Some big-name California Republicans among Trump delegates

As reported by the Associated Press:

Mitt Romney, John McCain and other prominent Republicans have distanced themselves from Donald Trump, but the billionaire businessman’s list of delegates from California released Monday includes Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the second-ranking Republican in the U.S. House.

Trump’s line-up of delegates also includes Reps. Darrell Issa and Duncan Hunter and Dennis Revell, a son-in-law of Ronald Reagan.

In California, Republican presidential campaigns select delegates that are awarded in the June 7 primary, based on the outcome of voting in its 53 congressional districts and the statewide tally.

Trump’s list also includes Harmeet Dhillon, vice chair of the California GOP, state Senate GOP leader Jean Fuller, former congressman Doug Ose and former state Sen. Tony Strickland. …

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