California lawmaker proposes gender tax bill

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, is reviving an attempt to eliminate pricing discrimination on the basis of gender — charging women more than what men pay on similar products.

According to Jackson’s office, California women earn 88 cents on every dollar a man earns. Crunch the calculator, and women’s salaries lag behind men’s by more than $7,000 a year.

Meanwhile, past studies estimate that California women pay sometimes pay more money for than men for the same products.

In 1995, when the state adopted the Gender Tax Repeal Act, a study estimated California women paid $1,351 more than man every year for similar goods and services. That law prohibited businesses from charging different prices for similar services on the basis of gender. It focused on salons, tailors and dry cleaners.

Jackson’s bill would go further, banning gender-based pricing for consumer products. …

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

Criminal prosecution of illegal entries dramatically slows in California

On a recent weekday, seven men shuffled wearily into the San Diego federal courtroom that serves a singular purpose: to hear misdemeanor charges of illegal entry.

The day before, it was nine.

One year after the Trump administration launched its zero-tolerance policy, the special criminal court that once processed an average of 50 unauthorized immigrants per day has dramatically slowed pace.

Court calendars that sometimes stretched into the evening can now take under a half-hour.

Some days, there aren’t any defendants to process at all.

The decrease does not appear to be tied to a change in philosophy, or to the number of adults traveling without children apprehended at the border. In fact, such apprehensions along the California-Mexico border have risen over the past few months, yet only a fraction were prosecuted with misdemeanor illegal entry in March. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Diego Union-Tribune

Illegal Pot Market Booming in California Despite Legalization

In the forests of Northern California, raids by law enforcement officials continue to uncover illicit marijuana farms. In Southern California, hundreds of illegal delivery services and pot dispensaries, some of them registered as churches, serve a steady stream of customers. And in Mendocino County, north of San Francisco, the sheriff’s office recently raided an illegal cannabis production facility that was processing 500 pounds of marijuana a day.

It’s been a little more than a year since California legalized marijuana — the largest such experiment in the United States — but law enforcement officials say the unlicensed, illegal market is still thriving and in some areas has even expanded.

“There’s a lot of money to be made in the black market,” said Thomas D. Allman, the sheriff of Mendocino County, whose deputies seized cannabis oil worth more than $5 million in early April.

Legalization, Sheriff Allman said, “certainly didn’t put cops out of work.”

California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, has declared that illegal grows in Northern California “are getting worse, not better” and two months ago redeployed a contingent of National Guard troops stationed on the border with Mexico to go after illegal cannabis farms instead. …

Click here to read the full article from the New York Times

Home prices fall in Southern California for the first time in 7 years

The Southern California median home price dipped slightly in March from a year earlier, the first annual decrease since 2012 and a sign of a remarkable downshift from the once-sizzling regional housing market.

The 0.1% drop, reported Friday by CoreLogic, means prices for the six-county region were essentially flat year-over-year. But given a pullback in previous months, prices are $18,500 off their June 2018 peak, and that raises the possibility of a sustained decline in months ahead.

The median price for new and resale houses and condos — the point where half the homes sold for more and half for less — was $518,500 in March, $500 less than a year ago and off the all-time high of $537,000 reached in June. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times

California moves to ban racial discrimination based on hairstyles

A bill that would ban schools and workplaces from having dress codes that forbid braids, twists and other natural hair styles has passed the California State Senate.

SB 188 updates the state’s anti-discrimination laws so the definition of race “also include traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.”

It passed on Monday in a 37-0 vote and will now go to the State Assembly.

The bill, which is also known as the C.R.O.W.N. Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair), states that the standards of professional dress and grooming in workplaces and schools are often based on Eurocentric standards. …

Click here to read the full article from CNN

Gov. Newsom’s progress on his key policy promises for California

In his first 100 days in office, California Gov. Gavin Newsom quickly set about launching parts of the progressive agenda he promised during his campaign.

On the day Newsom was sworn into office, the Democrat vowed to expand Medi-Cal coverage for immigrants in the country illegally and drive down the high cost of prescription drugs.

Since then, Newsom has also promised to expand paid family leave, tax credits for low-income workers and early childhood education. He vowed to modernize the state Department of Motor Vehicles, crack down on cities that refused to plan for adequate housing and retool California’s high-speed rail system, which has been plagued by cost overruns.

Newsom also worked behind the scenes to help settle the teachers’ strike in Los Angeles, inflamed California’s feud with President Trump by pulling national guard troops from the U.S.-Mexico border and traveled to Washington, New York and El Salvador.

Susan Kennedy, who served as chief of staff to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and cabinet secretary to Gov. Gray Davis, said one of the most significant moments of Newsom’s first 100 days was his decision to impose a moratorium on the death penalty, for which he won the praise of criminal justice advocates and drew the ire of death penalty supporters, who said the governor defied the will of California voters who refused to abolish the death penalty in a 2016 statewide vote. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times

California gas prices surge to five-year high; what’s causing the spike?

California residents are paying much higher prices at the pumpcompared with the average U.S. resident.

As of Thursday, the average gasoline price in the state was about $4.02, according to AAA, compared with the national average of $2.83.

Those are the highest prices California has seen since 2014. Prices have risen around 68 cents per gallon over the course of a month.

What’s driving prices to multiyear highs? According to Dan McTeague, a senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, it’s a supply crunch resulting from refinery upsets in Los Angeles and San Francisco. …

Click here to read the full article from Fox Business.

California is reviewing 23,500 state tax refunds it paid too soon

California erroneously sent refunds to 23,500 taxpayers last month, according to an announcement Tuesday from the state’s Franchise Tax Board.

The department responsible for collecting state personal income and corporate income taxes said a “system error” from March 8 to March 11 caused it to issue refunds to people without first verifying the amount of money people claimed was automatically taken out of their paycheck.

As a result, as many as 23,500 Californians might have their income tax returns adjusted, though the board said the vast majority aren’t expected to change.

The FTB said it will spend the next few weeks reviewing all of the affected accounts. …

Click here to read the full article from the Fresno Bee

California city tests universal basic income program ahead of 2020

The city of Stockton, Calif., which launched a universal basic income pilot program earlier this year, will listen to stories from a select group of recipients of the no-strings-attached cash by the end of April, adding tangible anecdotes to the national political conversation on income inequality ahead of 2020.

The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration, a pilot program on universal basic income, launched in February, the Los Angeles Times reported.  Over 100 residents from the city’s lower-income neighborhoods will be administered $500 a month via debit cards for the next year and a half. The money comes without any restrictions, such as requiring recipients to be employed or maintain sobriety.

Head of Stockton’s program, Sukhi Samra, told the Los Angeles Times that 25 participants dubbed “storytellers” will offer their experiences on how the extra monthly cash has contributed to their lives. While data from the program’s research findings won’t be available until 2021, Samra expects anecdotes to resonate more with voters who could hear the potential effects of their political decisions. …

Click here to read the full article from Fox News

California Moving Toward Ban On Little Shampoo, Conditioner Bottles From Hotels

California is moving toward banning those little bottles of shampoo you get in hotel rooms.

“In California alone hotels use hundreds of millions of single use plastic bottles every year,” said Assembly Member Ash Kalra of San Jose.

Kalra is co-authoring a bill that would ban the tiny plastic bottles at almost 10,000 hotels state wide.

“We can get those bottles out of the waste stream, but also cut the production of them, which is also harmful to the environment,” he said.

Last year Santa Cruz County became the first jurisdiction in California to ban the small bottles. …

Click here to read the full article from CBS Local