After Ferguson, our lawmakers seek answers

The demonstrations last year against police violence sparked by the deaths of unarmed civilians in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City are over. But their spirit lives on in California's Capitol.

There's a bill by Pomona Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez that would require police to report annually to the California Department of Justice when an officer is shot or when an officer shoots someone, not just when someone dies in custody.

McCarty Holds Budget Subcommittee No. 2 Applying Zero Based Budgeting to the UC

Hearing focus on Overview of UC’s Growing Expenditures

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Today, Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Education Finance, convened the first overview hearing on the University of California’s (UC) budget.  In an indication of the gravity of the task at hand, the members of the committee were joined by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) who noted the enormity of the undertaking.  This hearing marks the beginning of the Assembly's zero-based budget review process.  Through this approach, every line item of UC’s budget must be approved, rather than only the changes from the previous year, to foster increased transparency and public discussion of the use of taxpayer dollars.

“This is the first of many hearings to review UC’s budget and examine the system’s enrollment patterns, performance, and growing expenditures” said Assemblymember McCarty.  “Our primary goal for higher education is to ensure access and affordability for our students, and to assure taxpayers and hard working families that their investment has been a wise one.  As such, any fee increases that may occur, for whatever reason, are absolutely necessary and accounted for by the State of California.”   

Smoke gets in your eyes in nicotine-stained Central Valley

Smoking is so déclassé, or so we've been told.

The smoking rate among California adults hovers at 12.5 percent, far below the national average of 19 percent. But this is a big state with many regions.

Smokers evidently are not the social outcasts in, say, Bakersfield, Redding or Sacramento County that they are in San Mateo and Atherton.

New lawmakers rise instantly to run committees on children’s policies

In a sign of how much term limits are affecting the legislative process in California, freshman legislators have been appointed to chair four out of six key committees handling education and children’s issues – even though they had no prior experience as lawmakers in the state Capitol.

The Numbers Crunch: A hard number to build solid common ground on race and deadly force debate

In the months since a police officer killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., a lot of time and energy has been spent pondering the uncomfortable question of whether police officers are too quick to kill people of color.

The lack of data either way means much of the debate has relied on anecdotes, over-generalization and stereotypes. But in California at least, there are good, hard numbers from which to draw conclusions – and it doesn't look good for those who doubt that race is a factor in the use of deadly force.