Groups to Foster Farms: Come Clean on Antibiotics

By Jonathan Kaplan

Natural Resources Defense Council

Foster Farms has been in the news lately because the company was linked to a Salmonella outbreak that sickened hundreds of people last year. Last week a plant was closed after USDA found cockroaches and sanitation problems. They’ve been quick to make promises about doing better, but so far we haven’t heard any explicit pledges to prevent the further spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Employers Can Take 'Personal Responsibility' For Poverty Wages

By Tina Dupuy

Brace yourself America—Republicans have discovered poverty!

Right here, right under their noses, 48 million Americans are, as Senator Marco Rubio puts it, “soon-to-haves.” Because nothing says you understand institutional and generational poverty like using corporate-ese to describe it.

Now that Republicans have acknowledged one-fifth of the wealthiest country in the world is impoverished, they’re debating whether this is a viable issue for them.

Can Chuck Reed's Pension-Cutting Campaign Get Off the Ground?

By Steve Mikulan

Late Monday afternoon California Attorney General Kamala Harris released the state’s official title and summary for the ballot initiative promoted by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and others to reduce the retirement benefits of state and municipal workers. Harris’ wording had been anxiously awaited by Reed and his colleagues. In 2012 a different group of pension-cutters abandoned their measure, according to the Sacramento Bee, after they tested Harris’ summary and found it would make their measure radioactive at the polls.

California Legislators Call for Fracking Moratorium

By Dan Bacher

On January 7 nine California legislators sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown asking that he issue an executive order to prohibit the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) within the Department of Conservation from allowing fracking in the state until health and environmental concerns are addressed.

Why HSR Is a Good Use of Cap-and-Trade Funds

By Robert Cruickshank

News that Governor Jerry Brown is planning to spend $250 million this year on high speed rail from cap-and-trade funds, presumably the floor for an annual amount of funding from that source, should be welcomed by California environmentalists and everyone concerned about climate change. But there are some strange criticisms being made:

Jobs or Inequality? That’s No Choice At All

By Richard Eskow

What’s the economic issue we should focus on – jobs, or inequality? An increasing number of people, including the President and New York’s new mayor, have suggested that inequality of wealth and opportunity is the defining issue of our time.

But some of the folks at the Washington Post’s “WonkBlog” are having none of it. First editor Ezra Klein declared that unemployment, not inequality, should be the left’s defining issue. That drew responses from the likes of Paul Krugman and Jared Bernstein (and yours truly, here).

Bright Future

A New Year and New Opportunity for Policy Reform in California

author Brian GoldsteinBy Brian Goldstein

Center for Juvenile & Criminal Justice

2013 proved to be a significant year for criminal and juvenile justice reform in California. Landmark legislation was passed in SB 260 (Hancock), allowing individuals to petition for a resentencing hearing after serving at least 15 years of a life sentence for an offense committed while a youth. The state also passed AB 218 (Dickinson) that addressed employment discrimination for justice-involved individuals. This policy provides formerly incarcerated individuals a second chance at success during reentry. With the beginning of 2014 just around the corner, it is important to reflect on these successes and the need for continued work in the New Year.

Brown's Tunnels Could Cost As Much As $67 Billion

By Dan Bacher

The total cost of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels could be as high as $67 billion, according to new figures revealed at a Westlands Water District board meeting last month by a Westlands staff member and a Citigroup bond consultant.

This new figure, with construction bond costs included in the total, counters the claims by Brown administration officials over the past two years that the plan would cost $24.5 billion during its 50-year implementation period.

In Paul Rogers' article in the San Jose Mercury News on December 26, Mark Cowin, director of the state Department of Water Resources, confirmed the estimates are accurate.

Support Efforts To Rein In For-Profit Colleges

By Jeff Bryant

The good news coming from the U.S. Department of Education recently is the effort to put tougher restrictions on for-profit scam colleges that rip off students, families and the taxpayers.

The bad news is that not all Democrats are behind this effort and pushing for the tighter restrictions.

Think Progress last week passed along a report from The Wall Street Journal that Big Ed has drafted a rewrite of regulations to rein in “for-profit schools whose students end up deep in debt or default on their student loans at exceptionally high rates.”

Should Employers Be Able To Exclude Birth Control From Health Insurance Coverage?

By Joel Harrison, PhD, MPH

In November, the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to decide whether for-profit companies can be forced to provide full contraceptive coverage for their employees despite religious objections from their owners. Many people believe that health insurance is something offered by employers, a sort of bonus. In fact, it is part of what I have known as ones “wage package.” Wikipedia calls it “Salary Packaging: a term used to refer to the inclusion of employee benefits (also called fringe benefits) in an employee remuneration package in exchange for giving up part of monetary salary. Such arrangements are entered into most commonly if there are tax or other benefits to be derived by the employer or employee from the arrangement.”