Governor Brown, DPH on Verge of Side-Stepping Law and Jeopardizing Health of CA Children

By Bruce Pomer

Health Officers Association of California

Vaccines are one of the greatest and most successful tools ever developed for preventing disease and protecting public health. Governor Brown and the California Department of Public Health, however, are on the verge of taking action that could violate California law, undermine the statewide effort to get more children immunized and threaten the health of all California communities.

California, like every other state, requires school-age children to obtain various vaccinations against childhood diseases. However, California also currently has a mechanism called a “personal belief exemption,” or PBE, that allows parents to opt their children out of mandatory vaccines simply by printing out a form and signing it.

McCutcheon v. FEC: "Citizens United" on Steroids

By Steve Mikulan

Frying Pan News

The U.S. Supreme Court's new term, which began yesterday, could spell a world of hurt for working Americans. People who believe this aren't simply looking at worst-case scenarios -- in which, say, the conservative majority sides on every point with plaintiffs represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. No, their view rests on the conservatives' well-established penchant for producing rulings that go far beyond the original cases before the justices - rulings that make laws that didn't previously exist, grant awards that weren't sought and answer briefs that were never filed.

When Public and Private Meet, Extra Care Is Needed

By Donald Cohen

In the Public Interest

Across the nation, private companies are looking to take over public services. A legislative battle in Sacramento over a bill to privatize state trial courts epitomizes the promises and pitfalls of privatization.

Assembly Bill 566 (Wieckowski) would require that before contracting services out, courts must provide proof of cost savings, create employment standards, engage in a competitive bidding process, and undergo regular financial and performance audits bill sits on the governor's desk for signature or veto and the lobbying is intense.

The 'Plot Against Pensions' Takes Aim At California

Isaiah J. PooleBy Isaiah J. Poole

David Sirota, the author of the Institute for America's Future report on "The Plot Against Pensions" that detailed the right-wing collaboration to dismantle public pension programs around the country, is now reporting in Salon that "the Enron billionaire whose former company wrecked the Golden State's economy appears to be using a shadowy Texas front group to now try to loot the Golden State's public pension system."

Feds Urged to Halt Fracking off the California Coast

By Dan Bacher

A national environmental group on October 3 accused the federal government of violating a key national environmental law by allowing offshore fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in waters off California’s coast without analyzing the risks to human health and endangered marine species.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice letter with two federal agencies in charge of regulating offshore oil development, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. The group plans legal action if the government fails to act.

What's Next for the Exchange?

By Amy DePaul

It seemed fitting that the federal government closure - staged in the name of defeating the unpopular reforms of the Affordable Care Act - began on the same day that the ACA's new insurance exchange drew an overwhelmingly eager response from the American public.

"A ton of people are excited to enroll," enthused Sarah Sol, information officer at Covered Cal. "Needless to say, we're thrilled with this strong consumer response."

As Stephen Colbert said in characteristic faux Republican, "Too many people signing up is always the surest sign that nobody wants it."

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.)