Spending on state propositions breaks record

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

SACRAMENTO — Political donors have spent a record $450 million on 17 statewide November ballot initiatives in California, beating the state’s own record for the most spent on propositions appearing on state ballots in a single year, campaign reports filed Thursday show.

The fundraising has soared at least $12 million past California’s previous record, when $438 million was spent on the campaigns for and against 21 measures on 2008 ballots. With inflation, fundraising in 2008 would be worth at least $490 million today.

No other state has come close to those amounts.

California is one of the few states that empower voters to enact laws affecting state revenue and spending. The proposals going before the state’s 18 million registered voters put billions of dollars at stake in this election. …

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4 Things To Watch In The Last Presidential Debate

As reported by Captial Public Radio:

The final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET. It’s the last chance either candidate will have to make a closing argument before tens of millions of voters.

It follows yet another unprecedented week in the campaign, in which Trump has repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of the election, predicting that it will be stolen from him through media bias and massive voter fraud.

Clinton has a lead in the polls nationally and her battleground map of opportunities appears to be growing. The Clinton campaign is even talking about making an aggressive play for Arizona.

Here are four things to watch for as the two candidates meet in Las Vegas.

1. What is Trump’s strategy?

That hasn’t been clear in the past couple of weeks. When you type “Is Trump trying” into the Google search bar, the first thing that comes up is “to lose.”

This question has been Googled millions …

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Marijuana legalization at the tipping point

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle:

Up to five states could approve adult-use cannabis laws on Nov. 8, which could mark a global inflection point for the civil liberty issue.

The Atlantic’s Rusell Berman notes California is virtually its own nation-state, and is polling in the high 50s on legalization Proposition 64.

“Beyond California, slimmer majorities of voters are backing full legalization in Massachusetts, Arizona, and Maine. In Nevada, polls have been mixed, with one in September showing strong support for passage and a more recent survey suggesting voters are split.”

Voters could also add new medical marijuana laws to four states — Florida, Montana, North Dakota, and Arkansas. Thirty-five states now have some form of medical marijuana law, four states and Washington DC have legalization. …

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Combating the Legislature’s ‘Sausage Making Behind Closed Doors’

As reported by the New York Times:

Is the State Legislature transparent enough?

That’s the question voters are being asked to consider with Proposition 54.

If approved, the measure would require that any bill in the Legislature be posted online for three days before going up for a vote. In addition, it would require the Legislature to record all of its public sessions online and make the video archives available.

The measure was placed on the ballot by Charles Munger Jr., a wealthy Republican donor from the Bay Area, and has the backing of a variety of political groups, including the League of Women Voters and the California Chamber of Commerce.

While most legislation in Sacramento is debated for months, there are instances when the majority can simply waive the rules and push through bills at the last minute. In final days of the annual session, new bills can pop up and be rushed to a vote before the public has much of a chance to weigh in. …

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See what California cities pay police, firefighters

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Average pay for California’s rank-and-file police officers and firefighters continued to rise significantly in 2015, as many cities across the state compete with each other for the best talent.

California police officers made, on average, $111,800 during 2015, according to a Sacramento Bee analysis of new data from the State Controller’s Office. That figure reflects base pay, as well as overtime, incentive pay and payouts upon retirement.

Firefighters and engineers earned, on average, $134,400. Average pay for police lieutenants across the state was $161,400; for fire captains, it was $153,300.

Excluding overtime, vacation payouts and bonuses, average pay for police officers in 2014 was $85,400 and for firefighters was $84,600. …

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California Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez generates buzz at debate

As reported by Fox News:

Rep. Loretta Sanchez has tried for months to generate buzz in her uphill U.S. Senate campaign against Attorney General Kamala Harris.

She finally did, but not for anything she said.

The Orange County congresswoman capped an hour-long debate with her fellow Democrat Wednesday by mimicking a celebratory gesture popularized by NFL star Cam Newton, known as “the dab.”

Standing behind a lectern, Sanchez suddenly thrust out her left arm, while tucking her head into the crook of right arm, then holding the pose briefly.

Harris initially looked puzzled, then a smile creased her face. …

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California Begins 6th Straight Dry Year

As reported by CBS San Francisco:

California’s 2016 water year ended Friday, marking a fifth consecutive dry year with low snowfall, officials from the Department of Water Resources said.

As state water officials measure it, the “water year” runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 each year.

Officials said that 2016’s water year is listed in the record books as “dry” statewide, despite that parts of northern California experienced above-average precipitation.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center sees slightly better than even odds that La Nina conditions will develop this fall and winter, though that does not necessarily mean there will be substantial rainfall, however. …

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California approves gender-neutral bathrooms

As reported by CBS News:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown waded further into the national debate over transgender rights Thursday as he signed a bill requiring that all single-stall toilets in California be designated as gender neutral.

The move same just days after the governor gave the go-ahead to a measure limiting travel to North Carolina over its transgender bathroom law, which has caused ongoing controversy and repercussions for the state, which in March outlawed anti-discrimination protections for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. The NBA, for instance, in July pulled its annual All-Star game from Charlotte, which had been scheduled to host the 2017 contest.

The California measure requires that businesses and governments post non-gender-specific signs on single-occupant restrooms by March 1, 2017. Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco said his legislation would establish the nation’s most inclusive restroom-access law and “chart a new course of equality for the nation.”

“This simple concept is oddly cutting-edge when compared with the discrimination being enacted in other states,” Ting said earlier, while urging the Democratic governor to sign the bill. …

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California ballot has record number of local revenue measures

As reported by Reuters:

A record number of local tax and bond measures will fill the California ballot this November, including over $32 billion of proposed funding for education, infrastructure and homeless services.

Some 650 local measures will go before voters, including 427 revenue measures. That is considerably more than the number proposed during any of the last five gubernatorial or presidential elections, according to data compiled by the local government finance consulting firm CaliforniaCityFinance.com.

Previously, the most measure-packed election was in November 2014, with 268 local revenue measures.

California is one of 24 states that allow initiative rights to its citizens. Voter-approved measures are used to raise revenues for specific construction projects, change tax policy, or create new laws.

In the Golden State and nationwide, a boom in bond proposals follows years of federal cutbacks to state and local programs, continued low interest rates and years of unmet infrastructure needs. …

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Kamala Harris says lower-income kids should go to college for free

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Kamala Harris, in the final weeks of her U.S. Senate campaign against fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez, released a higher education plan Tuesday calling for making public colleges and universities free for students whose families earn less than $140,000 a year.

She also wants to allow borrowers to discharge student loans in bankruptcy.

Harris announced the benchmarks ahead of a roundtable discussion with students at Los Angeles Trade Tech College. She joins other Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, in pledging to eliminate public university tuition. Clinton’s plan would by 2021 offer free public university tuition to families making less than $125,000 a year.

Harris’ plan, which builds on her efforts in taking on for-profit colleges, comes a week after she took criticism from Sanchez for accepting campaign contributions from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2011 and 2013, and then not bringing charges against Trump University, a for-profit program mostly shuttered in 2011. …

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