By Rebecca Saltzman
California League of Conservation Voters
The first year of the 2013-14 legislative session concluded in the wee hours last Friday morning. In the final days of the session the legislature considered a number of CLCV's and the environmental community's priority bills, many of which we had been working on since the early days of the year with the help of our members and allies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
By 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.”
By Randy Shaw
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.”