At this year’s party convention, the California Democratic Party voted to support marijuana legalization and a ban on hydraulic fracturing in the state—breaking away from Gov. Jerry Brown.
Michael Finnegan and Seema Mehta report for the Los Angeles Times: “The Democrats' support for decriminalizing and taxing recreational cannabis and putting a stop to fracking sparked no debate — only cheers — at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Delegates unanimously approved the moves by voice vote on the final day of the party's annual convention.”
“Although neither issue is likely to make or break the biggest contests in this election year, the breach highlighted the recurrent tensions between the liberal impulses of party loyalists and the more moderate inclinations of a Democratic governor.”
The senate leader called out Gov. Jerry Brown for hesitating to budget a universal pre-kindergarten.
David Siders reports for the Sacramento Bee: “Steinberg's remarks constituted a glancing response to Gov. Jerry Brown's continued focus on a school funding overhaul that shifts more money to low-income and English language learners. Brown has said he will consider any proposals by legislative Democrats to expand the state's pre-kindergarten program, but he did not propose funding for any such measure in his January budget plan.”
“Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and other legislative Democrats have proposed allowing every 4-year-old in the state to attend pre-kindergarten classes, at a potential cost of about $1 billion to the state general fund.”
Counties are undermining realignment efforts by sending more inmates to state prisons for committing second felonies.
Don Thompson reports for the Associated Press: “Counties, where prosecutors have discretion in filing such charges, sent nearly 5,500 people with second felony convictions to state prisons during the 2013-14 fiscal year, a 33 percent increase over the previous year and the most since California enacted the nation's first three-strikes law in 1994 that required life sentences for offenders convicted of three felonies.”
A law requiring court-ordered treatment for the mentally ill is starting to roll out in counties.
Paloma Esquivel reports for the Los Angeles Times: “But recent changes in state law and high-profile cases like the beating death of Kelly Thomas in Fullerton have spurred local officials to give Laura's Law a fresh look.”
“Two of the state's largest counties — Los Angeles and Orange — are preparing plans for implementation. Yolo County adopted a pilot program last year; and other counties, including San Diego and San Francisco, are exploring the option. Last month, after a heated debate, Alameda County delayed voting on a program.”
Some Californians who signed up for Obamacare and have yet to pay their premiums.
Tracy Seipel reports for the Mercury News: “Roughly 15 percent of the Californians who had enrolled by Jan. 31 still haven't sent in their first month's payment, according to four major health insurance companies participating in the Covered California exchange. So those lofty enrollment numbers could soon be dropping substantially.”
Why would an unlicensed official need to be paid for mileage?
Mike Sprague reports for the Whittier Daily News: “Although he’s been convicted twice of DUI and hasn’t had a valid California driver’s license since 2003, local water board member Arturo Chacon received mileage payments of more than $1,000 for trips to Las Vegas, San Diego and Indian Wells, according to documents obtained by this news organization.”
“The reimbursement was given to Chacon on top of the $597 monthly stipend he receives from the Central Basin Water District and after he caused a traffic accident that wrecked constituents’ cars and sent three people to area hospitals.”
High-speed rails could be operating in other states’ before California’s troubled project is complete.
Curtis Tate reports for McClatchy Washington: “Both Texas and Florida have plans for systems that would connect their major population centers with fast trains. But unlike California’s plan, which relies heavily on government funding to start rolling, their efforts will be funded by the private sector.”
“While the $68 billion California project has earned nearly universal opposition from Republicans, GOP elected officials are lining up behind the Florida and Texas proposals.”
San Jose’s BART extension is moving smoothly.
Gary Richards reports in the Mercury News: “There's one project sailing right along and it's a biggie -- bringing BART to San Jose in the largest, most expensive public works project the South Bay has ever seen.”
“It's due to open in late 2017, a full year ahead of schedule and on budget to meet its $3.2 billion price tag.”
Mendocino is home to the next national monument.
Mary Callahan reports for The Press Democrat: “The Stornetta Public Lands, a breathtaking stretch of Mendocino County coast near Point Arena, are set to be designated a national monument by President Barack Obama on Tuesday, the Washington Post reported Saturday.”
“Advocates and boosters see the protection of 1,665 acres as likely to raise the region's national profile and bolster the local tourism economy.”
Though history hasn’t proven favorable, the call for an oil severance tax persists.
John Howard reports for The Press Democrat: “The latest attempt by Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, would establish a 9.5 percent severance tax on oil and natural gas and raise perhaps $2 billion annually, with half the money going to public universities, community colleges and the other half divided equally between parks and social services. Her bill, AB 1017, needs a two-thirds vote in the Legislature and the governor’s signature to become law.”
Despite calls to conserve, many statewide still don’t know how much water they’re actually using.
Paul Roger reports for the Mercury News: “From Bakersfield to Sacramento to Shasta County, 42 communities in California have not installed the most basic tool of water management -- water meters -- for all of their connections. People without meters are charged a flat monthly rate in those areas for water, usually between $20 and $35 a month. And those communities use 39 percent more water per capita than the state average, according to an analysis of state Department of Water Resources records by this newspaper.
Trending: backyard beekeeping… L.A. could soon be hopping on the bandwagon.
Dana Bartholomew reports for the Los Angeles Daily News: “With the global die-off of commercial honey bees has come the advent of an urban crusade, with metropolitan foodies hopping aboard the homegrown honey wagon. And with cities from Santa Monica to New York permitting backyard beekeeping, Los Angeles may soon open the way for its own style of home-grown honey.”