CA Cuts Water Use, But Officials Warn ‘This Is Just the Beginning’

From OC Register:

California residents reduced their water use by 29 percent in May, the sharpest decline since Gov. Jerry Brown began calling for cuts last year amid the intensifying drought.

All regions of the state showed improvement, including Orange County, where water districts reported an average 26 percent reduction in May compared with the same month in 2013.

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Shower head water drought

Trump Decries Death of California Woman/Border Security

Real estate mogul and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has come under fire for referring to some Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “killers,” again blasted border security in the wake of the slaying of a California woman and the news that the suspect was deported five times.  Read full story at L.A. Times here: http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-na-donald-trump-kathryn-steinle-20150703-htmlstory.html750x422

 

High Court to Hear California Teachers’ Challenge to Union Dues

From KQED:

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider limiting the power of government employee unions to collect fees from non-members in a case that labor officials say could threaten membership and further weaken union clout.

The court announced Tuesday that justices will hear Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, an appeal from a group of California teachers who say the fee requirement violates their First Amendment rights to have to pay any fees if they disagree with a union’s positions and don’t want to join it.

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California officials praise Supreme Court ruling on independent redistricting commissions

A reported by the Los Angeles Times:

Political reformers in California and Arizona and the voters who supported them won a big round at the Supreme Court on Monday, when the justices upheld the use of independent redistricting commissions to draw election districts for members of Congress.

In a 5-4 decision, the justices said the Constitution did not prevent states from taking this power away from elected politicians and lodging it in the hands of a nonpartisan board.

The goal is to prevent partisan gerrymandering where lawmakers draw safe seats for their friends and allies. Arizona’s Republican Legislature went to court to challenge the decision of their voters, but they fell one vote short at the high court. …

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Feds give California funds for drought aid, restoration

As reported by the Associated Press:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. >> Federal officials said Wednesday another $150 million would be provided to aid California drought aid programs.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said the funding continues efforts to relieve the nation’s top agriculture producing state during its fourth dry year.

The funding includes:

• $130 million to support conservation and restoration along the Sierra Nevada and its surrounding forests. The snow on the mountains usually provides a third of California’s water, though it’s virtually gone this year. …

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Ronald Reagan statue unveiled at state Capitol

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

The Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Foundation unveiled its statue of the former U.S. president and California governor in the Capitol’s basement rotunda Monday.

The event included former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Secretary of Energy John Herrington and other former state and federal Reagan staff members. Speakers had high praise for Reagan’s domestic and international legacy.

“To all of you here today that work in this city … I urge you to come from time to time and look at a truly great leader,” Herrington said. …

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White House (sort of) defends Obama golfing during drought

As reported by The Desert Sun:

On his way to Los Angeles Thursday, White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz took a wide array of questions from reporters. Topics ranged from Wednesday night’s terrorist attack in South Carolina to free trade, the Pope — and golf in the Coachella Valley.

According to a White House press pool report, Schultz was asked “whether it was appropriate for the President to be playing golf at an exclusive resort in the desert amid a drought.”

He responded, “This administration’s commitment to helping those affected by the drought is second to none,” and added: “I know that many courses have taken water mitigation steps aimed at water conservation.”

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California could offer state-subsidized health care to 170,000 undocumented children

As reported by the Associated Press:

SANTA ANA >> In a move that adds momentum to efforts to integrate immigrants, California is on the cusp of becoming the largest state in the nation to extend state-subsidized health care coverage to children from low-income families who are in the country illegally.

Democrats, immigration groups and health care advocates celebrated the announcement as both a cost-saving move and social progress for the state’s estimated 2.5 million immigrants who are in the country illegally. Critics, however, worry that the overburdened state-funded health program can’t handle another 170,000 children.

Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders announced a $115.4 billion budget agreement that for the first time includes state funding to cover low-income children under 19 regardless of their legal status in Medi-Cal, the state’s health care program for the poor.

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California Gun Limits Face Court Challenge

As reported by the Wall Street Journal:

California’s requirement that residents looking to carry firearms in public have a good reason to do so is facing a high-level court challenge, one that gets to a key question surrounding the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.

On Tuesday, 11 judges of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco will hear arguments over California’s requirement that applicants show “good cause” before they are allowed to carry a concealed handgun in public. The challengers are taking issue with the rules in two California counties — San Diego and Yolo — where sheriffs say that concern for one’s personal safety alone isn’t considered justification enough for a concealed-carry permit.

In a 2008 case, District of Columbia v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled definitively that people had the right to bear arms in their homes, even in municipalities with strict gun-control laws. But aside from a 2010 case that extended the reach of that ruling, the court has been quiet on how far the right extends beyond the front door, largely leaving lower courts little guidance. The California case will likely give the high court another opportunity to more clearly define the law.

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Prop. 13 overhaul targets commercial property tax rates

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Facing long political odds, state Sens. Loni Hancock and Holly Mitchell introduced a constitutional amendment Wednesday to overhaul portions of Proposition 13, California’s landmark tax-limiting measure.

Under current law, property tax reassessments occur only after changes in ownership or new construction. SCA 5 would introduce annual assessments of commercial and industrial properties to more closely tie their tax rates to current market value.

Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, said the proposal is targeted at the largest corporations and property owners, many of whom have avoided reassessment in the nearly four decades since voters passed Proposition 13, sometimes by taking advantage of loopholes in the law. Homeowners and agricultural properties are exempted from SCA 5, which also includes a tax break for small businesses.

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