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NATIONAL
April 23, 2014 | By Mark Z. Barabak
HONOLULU - In primaries across the country - in Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi and other states - Republicans are locked in a heart-and-soul battle between purists and pragmatists clashing over what it means to represent the party, its philosophy and core values. Here in Hawaii there's a similar fight over power and purpose, but this one is between Democrats. It's a fight for a U.S. Senate seat, a rare enough prize in a state that has elected just six people senator since statehood in 1959.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 22, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO -- Alarmed by the cost of holding special elections whenever a vacancy occurs in the Legislature, a state panel on Tuesday endorsed putting a measure before voters that would allow the governor to appoint people to fill empty seats. Los Angeles County has held 20 special elections since 2008 at a cost of $27 million, County Clerk Dean Logan told the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee. Turnout in many special elections is as low as 12%. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 22, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO - A raft of bills to set tougher ethics rules for California politicians cleared their first legislative hurdle Tuesday as the state Senate prepared for a daylong refresher course on standards of conduct. Lawmakers say better adherence to existing rules and tougher restrictions in the future are needed to win back the public's trust after three state senators were charged with crimes. Eleven proposals approved by a Senate committee included a ban on fundraising during the end of legislative sessions, when decisions on many key issues are made; a reduction in the value of gifts that officials may accept; and a prohibition on such items as spa treatments, golf games, concert and professional sports tickets, theme park admissions and gift cards.
NATIONAL
April 21, 2014 | By Timothy M. Phelps
WASHINGTON - For decades the Republican Party prided itself for being tough on crime, often putting Democrats on the defensive by pushing for longer, mandatory sentences for convicts. In 1988, that hard-line stance helped sink the presidential dreams of then-Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, who was blamed in Republican TV ads for having released convicted killer Willie Horton as part of a weekend furlough program. (Horton failed to return after a furlough and went on to commit robbery and rape.)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 21, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO -- Medical marijuana dispensaries in California would have to get state Public Health Department licenses, and doctors who recommend pot would face new standards for examining patients under legislation supported Monday by a state Senate panel. The measure, supported by members of the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee, also clarifies the authority of cities and counties to prohibit pot shops within their borders. Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 14, 2014 | By Chris Megerian
SACRAMENTO -- Senate leader Darrell Steinberg on Monday outlined a new proposal for funding affordable housing, transportation upgrades and bullet train construction with money from California's cap-and-trade program. The program, approved by the Legislature to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, generates revenue by forcing companies to pay fees when their carbon dioxide emissions exceed state limits. Steinberg's proposal is a shift from an idea the Sacramento Democrat floated earlier this year -- transforming part of the program into an additional gas tax. The senator admitted that plan "wasn't very popular," so he dropped efforts to change the program and is focusing on how to spend the money already being generated.
NATIONAL
April 11, 2014
By Christi Parsons and Michael A. Memoli WASHINGTON - President Obama named White House budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell to take over the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday, saying there was "no manager as experienced and as competent" to oversee the next phase of his signature healthcare law. "Sylvia was a rock, a steady hand on the wheel" as the administration dealt with the government shutdown last year, Obama told a...
NATIONAL
April 11, 2014 | By Ken Dilanian
WASHINGTON - A secret Senate report on the CIA's treatment of Al Qaeda detainees from 2001 to 2006 concludes that the spy agency used brutal, unauthorized interrogation techniques, misrepresented key elements of the program to policymakers and the public, and actively sought to undermine congressional oversight, officials who have read the report say. Contrary to previous assertions by President George W. Bush and CIA leaders, the use of harsh interrogation...
NEWS
April 11, 2014 | By Mark Z. Barabak
HONOLULU  - For political and emotional drama, it's hard to top this: U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, the most beloved and respected figure in Hawaii state history, makes a death-bed request to name his successor in Washington. But the governor, a fellow Democrat who has clashed with Inouye, spurns the dying senator's plea and appoints his own lieutenant governor to the seat. The result, playing out more than a year later,  is a closely fought and emotionally wrought primary battle between the novice senator, Brian Schatz, and Inouye's choice, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa:  a Democrat-on-Democrat fight tinged with ethnic and generational tension and haunted, inevitably, by the ghost of Inouye and his last wish.
NEWS
April 10, 2014 | By Evan Halper
WASHINGTON - A key panel of senators investigating the security of the nation's power grid Thursday had mostly softball questions for utility executives and regulators about exposure to assaults like the one by gunmen last year that nearly knocked out electricity in Silicon Valley. Instead, the Senate Energy and Public Works Committee focused its fury on the news media. The media, declared Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), has “served to sensationalize the issue of physical grid security instead of helping protect the grid from attack.” Recent coverage of the April 2013 attack near San Jose, in which a pair of gunmen shot up several transformers at a substation and then escaped into the night, has unnerved utility officials and regulators.
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