CALMatters | |

CALmatters is a Sacramento-based nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California's state Capitol works and why it matters. It works with more than 130 media partners throughout the state that have long, deep relationships with their local audiences, including Embarcadero Media (publisher of the Palo Alto Weekly, Mountain View Voice, Pleasanton Weekly and The Almanac in Menlo Park and their websites.)

Here are the most recent stories reported by CALmatters' team of journalists:

Why California’s air board won’t ban gas-powered cars yet

Mary Nichols, the powerful head of the California Air Resources Board, didn’t even need to explicitly threaten a ban on gas-powered cars last week to get the attention of carmakers. The warning was only in her prepared statements for a workshop with the state Transportation Commission. But the remarks, obtained by Bloomberg, hit headlines and […]

Fri, May 24, 2019 4:57 pm
Service tax proposal is a veiled tax increase

Some California legislators are considering a sales tax on services. A services tax won't reduce California's budget volatility and would worsen the state's affordability crisis. With record budget surpluses, talk of new taxes should be political malpractice.

Fri, May 24, 2019 3:29 am
Death Watch: The bill killer is in the house

  Welcome to death watch. The legislative kind. We’re tracking which bills California lawmakers are rejecting as the Legislature hits the half-way point for making new laws for this year. May 31 is the deadline for bills to pass the house in which they were introduced, a critical hurdle in the legislative process that will […]

Thu, May 23, 2019 1:45 pm
Legislation seeks to outsmart ‘smart’ speakers

Smart speakers and tech companies have the capability of recording your conversations, even when you may think the device is turned off. Privacy in the home is at risk as this exciting technology proliferates.

Thu, May 23, 2019 3:29 am
Blue-state California now harassing journalists

Now we have a second instance in which California law enforcement officials try to crack down on journalists who obtained information the officials didn't want them to have.

Thu, May 23, 2019 12:01 am
A charter school moratorium won’t help California schools

Rather than focusing on a decades-old political fight between charter and district schools, the Legislature should work on reforms that would help traditional public school districts by removing barriers that prevent schools from innovating and improving.

Tue, May 21, 2019 11:24 am
Homelessness, vaping, potholes and kicks for a governor

Good morning, California. Ben Christopher is sitting in for Dan Morain, who is off for a couple more days. “San Francisco, where streets are named after union organizers and Mexican anti-imperialists, and local landmarks include murals from the Depression-era Public Works of Art Project, is becoming a paradoxical urban space: a homogenous corporate campus run […]

Mon, May 20, 2019 4:30 am
California gets a hollow win in tax battle

As California prevails in its tax battle with inventor Gilbert Hyatt, the Supreme Court's ruling for the state in his case could foretell a battle over abortion rights.

Mon, May 20, 2019 12:01 am
Industry aims to extinguish bills that would make California first state to ban flavored tobacco

As legislation to outlaw the sale of flavored-tobacco products flounders in the California Legislature, health advocates blame the influence the tobacco industry has with key state lawmakers. Vaping has skyrocketed among middle and high schoolers, many of whom are attracted by the sweet flavors. E-cigarette manufacturers such as Juul Labs in San Francisco say their products are intended only for adults and help them quit traditional cigarettes.

Sun, May 19, 2019 8:00 pm
Stalled bills, bashed bullet trains, spell check and an acquittal

Good morning and TGIF, California. Ben Christopher is sitting in for Dan Morain, who is taking time off. “This fight is far from over.”—Sen. Scott Wiener on Senate Appropriations Chair Anthony Portantino’s decision to hold his  SB 50, which would have forced cities to allow more housing around mass transit and in single-family neighborhoods.   Not going […]

Fri, May 17, 2019 4:30 am
Feds’ harassment of journalists threatens coverage at the border

As our border becomes more of a battleground, it is high time for a set of Justice Department-style news media guidelines for Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to give journalists the protection they need to keep the public informed.

Thu, May 16, 2019 8:00 am
Fire, water, a Trump pardon and crunch time in the Capitol

Good morning, California. Ben Christopher is sitting in for Dan Morain, who is off this week. “Queen @LorenaSGonzalez, first of her name, House of San Diego, protector of budget.”—Assemblywoman Wendy Carillo on the eve of a key legislative deadline, giving a “Game of Thrones”-style shoutout to the chairwoman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which will vote […]

Thu, May 16, 2019 4:30 am
A dangerous conflict-of-interest loophole

Public works project contracts are susceptible to insider dealing, and a pending bill in the Legislature might invite more misbehavior.

Thu, May 16, 2019 12:01 am
California can fix the bad math of new motherhood

Being a pregnant woman in California, in America, is fraught. I don’t feel supported, even as our society romanticizes motherhood. That's why Senate Bill 135 by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson is so critical. It would expand our family leave laws to cover nearly all workers in California.

Wed, May 15, 2019 9:00 am
This legislation would pry open hard-to-find government data

Good government is open, clear government. Citizens who are not accountants also should be able to easily read government financial documents. Senate Bill 598 encourages the adoption of a readily accessible digital reporting standard. Legislators should approve it.

Wed, May 15, 2019 8:00 am
California can help provide opportunity for its heartland. Here’s how

Stockton did not fall behind by accident. Years of redlining, tax structures that undercut development and missed opportunities led to California's fragmented economy. It doesn’t have to be this way. One way we can spur a resurgence of economic prosperity is to use a new tax incentive called opportunity zones.

Tue, May 14, 2019 10:00 am
CALmatters takes home 23 awards from the California News Publishers Association

CALmatters took home 23 awards, including nine first place winners, at the California News Publishers Association Journalism Awards dinner in Long Beach, CA. The awards, given out May 4, celebrate the best journalism in the state. This was the first year digital news outlets like CALmatters could enter. “We’re very proud of our very talented […]

Tue, May 14, 2019 9:06 am
New currents of cooperation on California’s wicked water problems

Difficult negotiations on how to efficiently and fairly share water among farmers, cities including San Francisco, and fish and wildlife have been underway since 2012 with little resolution in sight—until last month. With the leadership of the Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration, representatives of farmers, cities and conservation groups are having productive negotiations.

Tue, May 14, 2019 8:00 am

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