Traffic Impact May Get Some Reform Under Smaller CEQA Bill

By Robert Cruickshank

One of the dramas at the end of the legislative session last week involved the fate of reform to the California Environmental Quality Act. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg substituted a new bill, SB 743, for his original CEQA reform bill, SB 731. SB 743 is designed to speed approval and construction of a new arena for the Sacramento Kings basketball team, but it does open the door to a badly-needed reform of one of the worst aspects of CEQA – the rules requiring projects to be evaluated for their impact on the “level of service” (LOS) of roads.

School Parcel Taxes: Usage Won't Really Expand With Easier Passage

By Public Policy Institute of California

Lowering the vote threshold for passage of local school parcel taxes would likely allow far more to pass. But there is no evidence that it would expand their use beyond the sort of wealthy Bay Area school districts that already have them. These are the key findings of a report released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

The report assesses the potential effect of reducing the vote required to pass these taxes from two-thirds to 55 percent—a proposal the state legislature has been discussing. Although a parcel tax is one of the only local revenue options available to school districts, these taxes are not widespread. Only about 10 percent of districts have passed one, and the money raised amounts to less than 1 percent of total K–12 revenue.

Industrial Hemp Bill On Its Way to Governor Brown

By Ali Bay

Legislation that allows California farmers to be prepared to grow industrial hemp upon federal approval has cleared both houses of the legislature. SB 566, authored by Senator Mark Leno, would permit growers in the Golden State to cultivate industrial hemp for the sale of seed, oil and fiber to manufacturers and businesses that currently rely on international imports for raw hemp products. The bill, which is co-authored by Assemblymember Allan Monsoor, R-Costa Mesa, and has received strong bipartisan support in both houses, would go into effect once the federal government lifts its ban on hemp cultivation.

Senator Pavley's Gutted Fracking Bill Heads to Governor's Desk

By Dan Bacher

Bill opponents disagree strongly with the Brown administration's assessment of the bill as "an important step forward. The bill "undermines existing environmental law and leaves Californians unprotected from fracking and other dangerous and extreme fossil fuel extraction techniques," according to a statement from Californians Against Fracking, a statewide coalition of over 100 organizations now calling for a moratorium on fracking.

Sacramento - Senate Bill 4, a controversial bill sponsored by Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) that opponents say would clear a path to increased fracking, passed the California Legislature on Wednesday, September 11 and is now headed to Governor Jerry Brown's desk.

Trans-boundary Ozone's Impact on California Is More than Hot Air

By Alan Kandel

There is no question pollution is adrift in the air. The past couple of days, air quality in the Fresno region of California has been good. Connected to this have been lower temperatures. Daytime temps have been in the 90s. But this is going to change. Temperatures are already starting to warm and by the weekend, they will probably be in the triple digits in most, if not all parts, of the San Joaquin Valley.

California's War on Bugs Has Failed

By Myrto Ashe MD, MPH; Debbie Friedman; Michelle Perro, MD; Nan Wishner

New research by UC Davis scientists shows that several fruit flies, including the infamous medfly, are now permanent residents of California despite nearly 300 “eradication” projects spanning three decades and costing billions. This study adds to the growing scientific evidence that declaring war on bugs with the intent of eliminating them – a practice that exposes Californians to some of the most toxic pesticides – doesn’t work.

California's Sentencing Quagmire

By Kate McCracken

Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice

Broken, ineffective, and unsustainable. These are all words used by Attorney General Eric Holder to describe our criminal justice system. It is an accurate description for a system that over incarcerates and has high rates of disproportionate minority contact. Holder went further to state,

“It’s time – in fact, it’s well past time – to address persistent needs and unwarranted disparities by considering a fundamentally new approach.”

A Corporate Tax Idea That Fixes Lots Of Problems

Dave JohnsonBy Dave Johnson

Here is one thing Congress could do that would create more jobs, boost the economy and reduce both the budget deficit and the trade deficit. This one thing would not only provide a big boost now, but would provide an ongoing boost from now on. Congress should modify the “deferral” tax loophole that lets companies dodge their taxes by moving and keeping profits “out of the country.”

In Charter School Fantasy World, Teacher Experience Irrelevant

By Randy Shaw

Beyond Chron

As the New York Times reported on August 27, most charter school teachers only remain in the profession for two to five years. In contrast, traditional public school teachers average nearly fourteen years of experience. But in the fantasy world of charter school proponents, far from being a shortcoming this lack of teaching experience is a positive. One charter school official told the Times, “There is a certain comfort level that we have with people who are perhaps going to come into YES Prep and not stay forever.”

'Clean' Version of the Delta Plan Isn't Fooling Anybody

Dan BacherBy Dan Bacher

The Delta Stewardship Council on Wednesday August 28 released what it described as a "clean" version of the Final Delta Plan, a controversial document now being contested in seven lawsuits by diverse parties ranging from the Winnemem Wintu Tribe to the Westlands Water District.

"A clean version of the Final Delta Plan, including an Executive Summary, easy to read text, informative graphics, and decorative photographs, is available for review and downloading by clicking [here]," the Council proclaimed.

So does that mean that the previous version of the plan was "dirty," as in obscene, corrupt, poorly written, ill-conceived and driven by dirty corporate money?