Your New Legislators: The Term Limits Dance Shifts

By Brian Leubitz

Calitics

With the new term limits structure amendments of a few years ago, Sacramento is seeing a lot of change. Lots and lots and lots of change. In the Legislature convening today, 72 of the 120 legislators have less than two years of experience at the state level. That's a staggeringly high number, and rather frightening for the institutional memory of both chambers. If you look at the new leadership team in the Assembly, you'll find freshmen legislators David Chiu, Evan Low, Jim Cooper and Miguel Santiago all in prominent positions.

Suddenly, Southwest Isn't Such a Great Travel Option Anymore

By Robert Cruickshank

California High Speed Rail Blog

Since at least 2008, one of the most common criticisms of California high speed rail has been the claim that HSR is simply unnecessary because of Southwest Airlines. Southwest offers frequent flights at dirt cheap fares, so why would anyone spend more money to take a slower train?

This argument has always been rooted in ignorance. In order to believe this, one has to ignore the fact that door to door HSR is actually competitive with flights between the Bay Area and Southern California (since the planned HSR stations are more centrally located than are the airports). One also has to pretend that present conditions will last forever, ignoring the fact that gas prices will be rising in the future, making cheap air travel a thing of the past.

Silicon Valley a Microcosm of California's Food Inequality

By Karen S. Emmerman, PhD

Food Empowerment Project

California's Silicon Valley was once the largest fruit production and packing region in the world. Now, it serves as a case study for understanding unequal access to healthy foods in the state.

A report released by Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) focused on Santa Clara County highlights the staggering disparity in access to healthy foods between high-income communities and communities of color and low-income communities. The report reveals the following inequalities.

Majorities Favor Some Tax Increases, Including Extension of Proposition 30

By Public Policy Institute of California

Most Californians say the state is not providing enough funding for public colleges and universities. However, most residents are unwilling to pay higher taxes to maintain current funding for these institutions. And—amid debate over a tuition increase at the University of California—a record-high majority oppose raising student fees to do so.

These are among the key findings in a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

Walmart Says Its Element TVs Are "Assembled In USA" - But They Aren't

By Dave Johnson

Walmart runs commercials about how great they are for American workers, in part because they sell TVs manufactured by Element Electronics that are supposedly "Assembled in the USA." (Wait...isn't the "Walmart model" of selling cheap goods from China the reason everyone is so desperate for American-made goods?)

Can We Have Bank and Regulator Hearings in California Too?

By Kevin Stein and Sharon Kinlaw

California Reinvestment Coalition and Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley

This morning, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs will hold a hearing: "Improving Financial Institution Supervision: Examining and Addressing Regulatory Capture" to focus on recent, embarrassing revelations (stories here , here, here and here) about the New York Federal Reserve. Senators are concerned that this important bank regulator is not actually fulfilling its supervisory role, and instead has become deferential to the mega-banks it supervises, including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and others.

Big Real Estate Loses Key Anti-Tenant Democrats

By Dean Preston

Tenants Together

Many ambitious legislators in Sacramento believe that their path to victory is by selling out tenants and aligning with realtors and landlords. No doubt they get campaign money for playing this game. But several Democrats around the state have learned the hard way that supporting Big Real Estate to the detriment of working people is not a good strategy for re-election.

Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva (D – Fullerton) sold out tenants by casting the deciding vote to kill Ellis Act reform. She thought this would keep Big Real Estate at bay in her effort to win reelection. She had a rude awakening and lost her seat 55-45%.

Wage Theft Confidential: Do Laws Work?

By Seth Sandronsky

California has roughly a dozen labor codes governing wage-theft on the books, with more proposed each year in the state legislature. Are these laws proving effective? Fausto Hernandez is one worker who doesn't think they are. The 55-year-old native of Oaxaca, Mexico, has labored in the carwash business for a decade.

Missing The Big Picture About California's Low Electric Bills

By Sierra Martinez

Natural Resources Defense Council

Despite all the facts, the myth that Californians pay a lot of money for their electricity every month continues to be perpetuated, with its proponents using their misguided interpretation of the data to justify their claim that California shouldn’t be the model for developing a clean energy future.

This time around, it was a Forbes blog contributor who fell for the same misconception, mistakenly claiming that California’s clean energy progress is too expensive and shouldn’t be a model for ways to cut America’s emissions from existing power plants.

Where Black Teens And White Middle-Agers Get Equally Busted For Drugs

By Mike Males

Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice

In 1986, more than 8,000 black teenagers were arrested across Los Angeles County for drug offenses. After a steady, steep decline, that number fell to just 400 in 2013. Meanwhile, drug arrests of L.A.’s white middle-agers more than doubled. From the peak arrest year (1986) to the present, a huge shift in racial patterns has emerged: