Despite Shutdown, Obamacare Starts: Huge Interest as California Begins Enrollment

By Anthony Wright

Health Access

Yesterday marked the begining of a six-month open enrollment in the new benefits and options of the Affordable Care Act, including with the launch of Covered California, our state’s marketplace for health care coverage.

Now millions of Californians are now able to shop, compare, and buy affordable, high quality health insurance through Covered California, a new insurance marketplace where individuals, families and small business can also get financial assistance to pay for health coverage. This brings us a major step close to the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.

Congressional Republicans Violate Their Oath of Office

By Leo Gerard

Like "Git 'er done," Americans should be yelling at Republicans in Congress: "Do yer job!" That's because Republicans are shirking their sworn duty by both shutting down the government and threatening to default on its bills.

Before taking office, each member of Congress swears a simple, straightforward oath. It leaves little room for misinterpretation. They vow to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to "faithfully discharge the duties of the office."

California Must Foster the Takeoff of Electric Vehicles

Assemblymember Phil TingBy Assemblymember Phil Ting

Editors note: On September 28th, 2013 Governor Brown signed into law the bills mentioned in this post.

Green living is the future. But the power of our everyday actions to aid the environment can only be unleashed when green choices become a bigger part of our lives.

Pension-Cutting Ballot Initiative Revealed

By Gary Cohn

In a move to slash the retirement benefits of public employees in California, a group of mostly conservative policy advocates has been working behind the scenes on a possible 2014 ballot initiative. A copy of the still-secret draft initiative, which could dramatically impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of Californians and send a signal nationwide, has been obtained by Frying Pan News. (See the document’s text by clicking here.)

Bay Area City Joins Movement Against Predatory Payday Lenders

By Liana Molina and Kyra Kazantzis

Coalition Against Payday Predators

In the face of the state legislature’s inaction on payday reform and growing national visibility on the issue, cities across California are taking steps to rein in payday and other high cost lenders. Earlier this week, the City Council of Sunnyvale voted to restrict the growth of payday lenders by enacting a “cap” on the number of lenders, creating “buffer zones” between lenders, allowing payday lending only in designated areas, and establishing operational standards.

Brown Signed Bill Creating "Environmental Platform" to Expand Fracking

By Dan Bacher

Governor Jerry Brown on Friday, September 20 signed Senator Fran Pavley’s Senate Bill 4 - a controversial fracking bill that the head of the oil industry lobby admitted will clear the path to expanding the environmentally destructive oil extraction process in California.

“While SB 4’s requirements went significantly farther than the petroleum industry felt was necessary, we now have an environmental platform on which California can look toward the opportunity to responsibly develop the enormous potential energy resource contained in the Monterey Shale formation,” said Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA).

Civil Immigration Detention is Not an Appropriate Use of Local Jails

By Brian Goldstein

Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice

Should federal immigration enforcement consume finite local public safety resources and capacity? As California mulls this question, consider that Governor Brown is expanding the state’s reliance on private prison as a last minute solution to federal mandates, while some county sheriffs request jail construction funding to overhaul local facilities. Now is not the time for California’s local jails to unnecessarily hold those suspected of violating civil immigration laws.

More Humane Practices Needed for California's Toughest Prisons

By Tom Ammiano

California State Assemblymember

People in maximum security prisons are not warm and fuzzy types, but that doesn’t excuse the California prison system for abusing their rights.

Even if we don’t like prisoners, there are reasons we should care about the prisoner hunger strike that ended earlier this month. Human rights apply to everyone. Let me tell you about it:

Prisoners have been complaining about conditions the SHUs – Secure Housing Units – for years. In fact, there was another hunger strike two years ago. Shane Bauer, a freelance reporter who was once held prisoner by the Iranian government, visited the SHU at Pelican Bay State Prison and discovered it compared unfavorably with what he experienced under the Iranians.

Brown Appoints Big Water Lobbyist as DWR Chief Deputy Director

Dan BacherBy Dan Bacher

The revolving door between corporate interests, water contractors and state government swung open once again on Wednesday, September 18 when Governor Jerry Brown appointed Laura King Moon of Woodland, a lobbyist for the state’s water exporters, as chief deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).

Moon has been a project manager for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan since 2011 while “on loan” from the State Water Contractors, a non-profit association of 27 public agencies from Northern, Central and Southern California that purchase water under contract from the California State Water Project.

Coastal Cleanup Day Coming to a Town Near You

Leila MonroeBy Leila Monroe

Natural Resources Defense Council

Every year since 1985, tens of thousands of Californians have joined Coastal Cleanup Day, the world’s largest volunteer effort to clean up waterways and the ocean. This year’s cleanup will take place on September 21, and you can find an event near you by going to the California Coastal Commission.