Good Government

AB 10: Time is Ripe for California to Raise the Minimum Wage

By Martin J. Bennett

The New York Times recently characterized the economic recovery that officially began in 2009 as a "golden era for corporate profits." Indeed, corporate profits doubled between 2008 and 2011 and reached a record high.

However, these increased profits have fueled inequality and come at the expense of worker compensation. Profits are now a larger share of total national income, and wages and benefits are a smaller share than at any time since the 1960s.

Over the last four decades productivity gains have overwhelmingly accrued to business and not labor. The Economic Policy Institute calculates that between 1973-2011 productivity increased by 80 percent, but median hourly compensation by only 11 percent.

Assembly Committee Votes to Curb California Marine Pollution

By Leila Monroe

Good news came last week when the California Assembly Natural Resource Committee passed Assembly Bill 521, a bill that would protect our oceans, coasts and communities by adopting a statewide goal of reducing marine plastic pollution by 75 percent by 2020, and by 95 percent by 2025.

What Senators Saw at the U.S.-Mexico Border

By Michael Dear

Four U.S. Senators came to visit the Arizona border. Hosted by John McCain, Republican of Arizona, they were members of the so-called 'Gang of 8' - a bipartisan group currently drafting proposals for comprehensive immigration reform.

During their visit, the senators reportedly witnessed a migrant trying to scale the border wall before being apprehended by authorities. Such drama! (And such a coincidence...)

But being on the line does provoke fresh insights. "You can read and you can study and you can talk but until you see things it doesn't become reality," said Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, who was touring the border for the first time.

Assembly Health Committee Moves Consumer Bills Forward

By Linda Leu

While we all anxiously await the transformational changes of the Affordable Care Act, California legislators are also moving forward several important bills that will improve the health care system for consumers (Health Access is supporting list of such bills this year). The Assembly Health Committee met Tuesday to consider a number of these bills in the regular legislative session (not on the accelerated Special Session schedule) that impact health care consumers.

Pacific Coast Forage Fish Protection Strongest in the World

By D.B. Pleschner

Some people have the wrong impression regarding the Pacific Fishery Management Council's upcoming decision - on April 9 - to adopt the Pacific Coast Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP).

It's been implied that there is rampant overfishing of forage species - like sardines. The FEP will supposedly address this issue by reducing catch limits on these fish in order to maintain a food source for bigger species like salmon and albacore.

However, this simply isn't true.

The Council authorized development of the FEP to "enhance the Council's species-specific management programs with more ecosystem science, broader ecosystem considerations and management policies that coordinate Council management across its Fishery Management Plans (FMPs) and the California Current Ecosystem (CCE)."

Diminishing Returns: Where Have All the Voters Gone?

By Rev. Jim Conn

Let the hand-wringing begin! In last week's primary election, just over 16 percent of Los Angeles voters turned out at the polls, less than four years ago, which was less than the election before that, which was less than the election before that - and on and on. In Southern California municipalities - big city or small - elections draw about 20 percent of the vote. This is a problem in a democracy.

Legislature Passes Historic Medi-Cal Expansion Bills

By Linda Leu

"We are in an Extraordinary Session because we must do extraordinary things to move the state forward," said Assemblymember Mariko Yamada in her testimony in support of ABX1 1 (Speaker Perez), the bill to expand and streamline the Medi-Cal program. The bill enjoyed spirited debate before passing off the Assembly Floor today with a 53-22 vote.

Four New Bills Introduced to Improve Treatment for Mentally Ill in California

By DJ Jaffe

Bills Clarify MHSA Funds Can Be Used For Laura's Law and Make Other Improvements

California has two major laws that were specifically enacted to help persons with the most serious mental illnesses: Laura's Law and the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). Neither has worked as promised and on February 22, 2013, four new bills were introduced to fix them.

Governor Proposes Pivotal 2013 Budget, Boosts to Medi-Cal, Schools

By Christopher Allen
California Progress Report

California Governor Jerry Brown unveiled his 2013-14 budget proposal yesterday, declaring that the state's lean years of budget deficits are over. In place of dramatic spending cuts, the governor's $97.6 billion dollar plan instead offers modest boosts to school funding, along with an expansion of the Medi-Cal program as the state transitions to its Covered California health benefit exchange in compliance with the federal Affordable Care Act.

Feds Approve California Health Care Changes - with Conditions

By Linda Leu

In a major step forward for health reform implementation, last week the federal government gave the go-ahead for eight more states to start their insurance exchanges. Along with California, the states of Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Vermont and Utah received conditional approval to move forward with state based exchanges, while Arkansas received approval for a federal partnership exchange. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia will be operating their own exchanges come fall. Other states will have state and federal partnership exchanges, or will have exchanges that are run by the federal government.