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February 7, 2014 | By Jennifer Gratz
Much progress has been made in the fight for equal treatment under the law for all people. Unfortunately, California politicians are actively working to ensure that the state reverts to policies that treat people differently based on skin color or ethnic identity - policies that were rejected by voters more than 17 years ago. In 1996, California voters outlawed the use of racial preferences in state institutions by overwhelmingly passing Proposition 209....
January 22, 2014 | By Melanie Mason and Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO - Two Southern Californians are poised to lead the state Legislature for the first time in four decades, after lawmakers put aside the geographic rivalries that typically cleave the powerful posts between north and south. San Diego Democrat Toni Atkins was selected as the next speaker of the Assembly by unanimous vote in her caucus Wednesday, about a week after state Sen. Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles was anointed heir to the top Senate job. Both are expected to take over after formal floor votes in their respective houses.
January 15, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO -- The chance that Southern Californians may lead both the state Senate and Assembly in the next year is drawing concern from groups including the Bay Area Council. They note it has been a tradition for decades that if a Northern California lawmaker led the Senate, a Southern Californian would lead the Assembly. The last time one geographical area produced the leader of both houses was 1995, when Democrat Bill Lockyer of San Leandro in Northern California was Senate President Pro Tem and Willie Brown of San Francisco was the Assembly Speaker, according to Greg Schmidt, secretary of the Senate.
January 10, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO -- USC politics professor and former Republican strategist Dan Schnur announced Friday that he will run for California secretary of state on a platform of proposals that includes banning lawmakers from campaign fund-raising while the Legislature is in session. A former spokesman to Republicans including  Gov. Pete Wilson and 2000 presidential candidate John McCain, Schnur dropped his Republican Party affiliation in 2011 and plans to run as a "no party preference" candidate.
January 7, 2014 | By Chris Megerian
SACRAMENTO -- Democrats in the state Senate want to use an upcoming jump in education funding to make transitional kindergarten available to every 4-year-old in California. The proposed investment in early childhood education, which would total nearly $1 billion a year once the program is fully phased in by 2020, is another sign of the state's rebounding financial health. "The era of cutting education in California is over," said Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento)
December 19, 2013 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO -- John Cox, a San Diego County real estate mogul, hates the way the California Legislature operates, so he wants to make it bigger. Much bigger. Cox heads the Rescue California Foundation, which on Thursday was cleared by the state to circulate petitions for a proposed ballot measure that would expand the Legislature from 120 members to 12,000 members, each elected from neighborhood legislative districts of 5,000 (for Assembly) to 10,000 (for Senate) residents. Under his plan, 100 legislators would be elected in each of the current legislative districts and would send one representative from each district to Sacramento to participate in working groups to draft bills and hold hearings.
December 6, 2013 | By Anthony York
SACRAMENTO -- California's second-largest Indian tribe could soon have its first casino under a deal signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. The new compact allows the Karuk tribe to build and operate a gambling hall with up to 1,500 slot machines on a 10-acre parcel the tribe owns in Yreka, near the Oregon border. The group is also planning an adjacent 80-room, 48,000-square-foot hotel. The deal, which must be ratified by the Legislature, is the latest gambling accord signed by Brown, whose recent pacts have come under fire from lawmakers, other tribes and anti-gambling activists.
November 28, 2013 | By Marc Lifsher
SACRAMENTO - Big issues in the workplace - wages, overtime, time off, working conditions - are also major topics in the state Legislature. And this year, lawmakers delivered some tangible changes that will be felt in the pocketbook. At the top of the list, of course, is an increase in the minimum wage that swept through Democrat-dominated Sacramento, despite opposition from powerful business interests. But workers didn't get all of their agenda passed into law. "We were able to improve upon existing protections as well as support workers in a number of new ways, including increasing the minimum wage," said Steve Smith, a spokesman for the California Labor Federation.
November 20, 2013 | By Chris Megerian
SACRAMENTO - California's finances are improving faster than expected and schools could receive billions in extra funds next year, according to the Legislature's budget advisors. "The state's budgetary condition is stronger than at any point in the past decade," a report released Wednesday says. Higher-than-expected revenue, driven by the economic recovery and stock market gains, could pump more than $4 billion in unanticipated funds into schools and community colleges starting next summer, the report says.
October 20, 2013 | By David Zucchino
RALEIGH, N.C. - Roy Cooper is in a very lonely place. He's a Democratic state attorney general surrounded by conservative Republicans who control North Carolina state government. Now those Republicans have put Cooper in an awkward spot. He has publicly condemned GOP-sponsored laws on voter identification and gay marriage, yet must defend those same laws in court. Further complicating matters, Cooper plans to run for governor in 2016. That has prompted Republican charges that he's more interested in being governor than upholding North Carolina's laws.
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