A nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California’s policies and politics


California climate deal could net big bucks for polluters

The California Air Resources Board approved a paragraph, tucked within a 17-page resolution, that will likely result in benefits worth hundreds of millions of dollars for the oil and agriculture industries. It was the first domino to visibly fall as a consequence of behind-the-scenes dealmaking that produced a cap-and-trade program acceptable to both key environmental groups and major polluters.

Bitter or sweet, trailer bills let California lawmakers slip new policies into budget

“Trailer bills,” said Sen. Richard Roth—referring to pieces of legislation tied to the budget but often bearing little connection to it—“are a box of chocolates. And you never know what you’re going to get.” Surprises abound each year as lawmakers craft the annual budget that keeps the state running. While most of the budget involves big-ticket items such as how much to spend on public education ($74.5 billion) or health care for the poor ($105.6 billion), a few extra nuggets are always thrown in that don’t involve much money but make significant policy changes.

Trump’s man in Congress: Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield

On paper, McCarthy is the second-most powerful member in the House after Speaker Paul Ryan, but in reality, no politician has more clout with the Trump White House than he does. McCarthy was one of the first Republican leaders to express support for Trump, and when Ryan and other Republicans disowned him after the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape, McCarthy held his tongue and served as a go-between.

California Capitol focuses on environmental injustice—but will it lead to real results?

A new generation of legislators and the growing clout of eco-advocates from urban communities is changing the focus of environmental debates in California. Once sidelined as a fringe voice of activism, the “environmental justice” perspective—focused on how environmental decisions impact poor communities and people of color—is now at the center of high-profile deliberations.

How well do you know Democratic politics in California?

California Democrats are gathering in Sacramento this week for their annual convention. Test how much you know about the politics and personalities of one of the bluest states in the union. We’re betting some of the answers may surprise you.


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