State Senators Mitchell and Leno Introduce Fracking Moratorium Bill

By Dan Bacher

State Senators Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) have introduced legislation that would impose a moratorium on fracking and acidization in order to protect California’s air and water from pollution caused by this dangerous form of oil and gas extraction.

The bill was introduced as California reels from a record drought and Governor Jerry Brown continues to support the expansion of fracking in California and the construction of the fish-killing peripheral tunnels under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).

State Building Trades Urges Legislature to Fund HSR

By Robert Cruickshank

The Tea Party (and their newest friend, Gavin Newsom) may be continuing their war against high speed rail. But California’s labor unions, a key Democratic constituency, remain deeply supportive of the project. Robbie Hunter of the State Building and Construction Trades Council explains why:

Walmart's New Research: A Flattering Self-Portrait

By Steve Mikulan

Last year Walmart commissioned a study on itself, and now its findings can be revealed: Walmart is the greatest thing since penicillin. More specifically, the study sees the chain-store titan’s widening footprint on America’s retail landscape as a gift for the communities lucky enough to have a Supercenter land on them.

California's Shark Fin Ban Remains Intact

By Jenesse Miller

California League of Conservation Voters

California's landmark ban on buying and selling shark fins will go forward.

Last summer, soon after the state law (AB 376) went into effect, a federal rule change threatened to preempt the law and provide cover for shark fin hunters.

Thousands of CLCV supporters and many others spoke up and submitted public comments to the federal agency proposing the change, telling the agency not to undermine California’s effort to end our state’s role in the destructive practice of shark finning.

We're thrilled that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) heard us. The agency released a statement this week saying:

Democrats Methodically Stripping Republicans Of Immigration Excuses

By Bill Scher

Throughout the immigration debate, Republicans have run phony excuses for delay, Democrats keep stripping them away, and the process keeps moving forward.

Last June when the Senate was deliberating immigration reform, and Republicans were complaining that it didn’t do enough border security, Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer’s team suggested a multibillion-dollar “border surge.”

The deadlock was broken and the bill passed with a solid bipartisan vote.

Then House Republicans rejected the Senate’s “comprehensive” approach and signaled its preference for a series of “piecemeal” bills – without explaining their desire to delink any legalization of undocumented immigrants with other aspects of immigration reform.

Western States Petroleum Association Top Spender In 2013

By Dan Bacher

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, spent over $4.67 million, more than any other interest group, while lobbying state government in 2013, according to data released by the Secretary State's Office and compiled by Capitol Weekly.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called marine protected areas in Southern California, led the successful campaign last year by the oil industry to defeat all one bill to ban or regulate the environmentally destructive practice of fracking last year.

California Counties, Realignment, and Crime Trends: 58 Different Stories

By Mike Males

Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice

California prisons hold around 30,000 fewer inmates today than 30 months ago, the result of AB 109’s Public Safety Realignment. Realignment mandated that as of October 1, 2011, tens of thousands of non-violent, lower-level offenders who formerly would have been sent to state prison must be “realigned” to local criminal justice systems.

Car Dependent Californians

By Alan Kandel

First, some statistics.

There are 22 million Californians driving, according to Sacramento Bee political columnist Dan Walters. Golden State population numbering an approximate 38 million people strong, that roughly 58 percent of us drive is one thing. But having 27.5 million motor vehicles at our disposal with which to do this – what is this saying?! What it says is: for every driver there exist 1.25 cars or five automobiles for every four motorists. Do we Californians love our cars or what?!

New Study Finds Worrisome Pattern of Birth Defects in Fracking Communities

By Miriam Rotkin-Ellman

Natural Resouces Defense Council

Science has long known that the developing fetus is sensitive to experiences of the mother – alcohol consumption, dietary factors, and mercury exposure are some of the more well-known examples. This sensitivity makes newborn babies an early indicator of something going wrong in the environment of the mother. Unfortunately, a team of researchers found preliminary evidence of something gone wrong when they looked at the patterns of birth defects in newborn babies in Colorado. The researchers found that babies whose mothers lived in close proximity to multiple oil and gas wells were 30% more likely to be born with defects in their heart than babies born to mothers who did not live close to oil and gas wells.

Coordinating Health Care for California's 'Dual Eligibles'

By Viji Sundaram

Seventy-four year old Willie Posey has his hands full keeping up with his own health care needs, which include diabetes, a bad knee and neurological problems. On top of that, he also drives his 87-year-old sister to the hospital for her dialysis treatment.

Posey's income barely tops $15,000 a year, combining Social Security payments with $400 a month as his sister's caregiver, and another $400 a month as a facilitator for recovering drug addicts. Both he and his sister qualify for Medi-Cal, California's name for Medicaid, the insurance program for low-income people. They are also enrolled in Medicare, the federal insurance program for elders and people with disabilities. Since they qualify for both programs, they are known as dual eligibles.