In summary

Highlighting all of CALmatters’ work over the past week

Recent Articles

All too often, California’s default mental institutions are now jails and prisons

By Jocelyn Wiener

In the past five years, the number of people in California deemed incompetent to stand trial and referred by a judge to state hospitals for treatment has soared—but there are nowhere near enough psychiatric beds to accommodate them. This leaves people with mental illness stuck in county jails, often in solitary confinement, where they can wait in unconvicted limbo for months, or even years.

What California’s ‘nonbinary’ gender designation will cost teen drivers

By Dan Morain

The California law granting a nonbinary gender designation will raise car insurance rates for teen girls and lower them for boys.

Not-so-free college: The limits of California’s Promise program

By Felicia Mello

Tuition-free community college programs are springing up around the country, including in California. But to many struggling students, “free” doesn’t really mean free.

VIDEO: Why California is so strict on guns

By Byrhonda Lyons

Tragedy strikes, California responds. Tragedy strikes, California responds. But how did a state once the epitome of the gun-slinging wild, wild west wind up with more gun control laws than any other state in the country? This video explains:

“America’s love affair with firearms has got to end:” Democrats vow new gun control package

By Ben Christopher

An all-Democratic contingent of California legislators announced plans to introduce a raft of new gun laws.

California made it hard to avoid vaccinating kids. Medical waivers have tripled. Now what?

By Elizabeth Aguilera

Three years after California stopped allowing families to easily opt out of childhood vaccines, the number of kids getting medical waivers has tripled—the result, critics say, of some doctors loosely issuing exemptions to help families get around the law. Legislators and health experts are debating what to do next. One proposal would be modeled on an existing state requirement that any veterinarian seeking to exempt a sick dog from rabies vaccination must obtain approval from a health official.

Huntington Beach legislator: Newsom housing lawsuit “seemed like selective prosecution”

By Matt Levin

A conservative Huntington Beach legislator called a state lawsuit aimed at compelling the Orange County city to build more housing a “literal cannonball” from Gov. Gavin Newsom and said it “seemed like selective prosecution” when dozens of other California cities could be blamed for not doing their fair share to alleviate California’s housing shortage.

California’s new online community college taps tech entrepreneur for top job

By Felicia Mello

Heather Hiles, founder of Pathbrite and a Newsom appointee when he was San Francisco mayor, will run the controversial new online college signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Two CA polls in one day offer encouragement to Newsom, the new Legislature, and Kamala Harris for president

By Ben Christopher

A new poll released finds Californians feeling positive about Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s priorities and the new Legislature. And a second poll issued the same day indicates that the state’s junior U.S. senator, Kamala Harris, has an early home state advantage—just as long as more high-profile Democrats don’t jump into the race.

Diverging bills aim to curb police shootings: Tougher legal standards vs. better training and policies

By Laurel Rosenhall

Negotiations have broken down between law enforcement and civil rights advocates on legislation to curb police shootings in California. The result? Competing bills.

Sen. Bill Dodd proposes California wildfire warning center

By Judy Lin

Sen. Bill Dodd wants to establish a California wildfire warning center that would allow officials to turn off power and better position firefighting crews during extreme heat and high winds.

CALQuiz: The 2020 polling begins, a plan to fight fires, and a schism over police shootings

By Trevor Eischen


My turn: Here’s how to avert California’s next health care crisis

By Janet Napolitano and Lloyd Dean

California faces a serious gap in health care workers. Seven million Californians, the majority of them Latino, African American, and Native American, live in Health Professional Shortage Areas — a federal designation for counties experiencing shortfalls of primary care, dental care, or mental health care providers. The California Future Health Workforce Commission offers solutions.

My turn: Self-driving cars must not leave the rest of us behind

By Alvaro Sanchez and Susan Shaheen

Self-driving vehicle technology could exacerbate entrenched social and environmental problems, if we don’t make deliberate policy choices, especially for marginalized groups. We can easily imagine a dystopian scenario in which people with money purchase personal self-driving cars, while the rest of us are mired in congested streets, with reduced mobility as public transit gets short-changed due to ridership loss.

Will the one-percenters flee California’s high taxes?

By Dan Walters

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo blames a shortfall in state income tax revenues on the flight of rich taxpayers to Florida because federal tax laws no longer allow them to write off state and local taxes. What about California?

My turn: Public-private partnerships are an industry gimmick that don’t serve public well

By Cathrina Barros

Californians rejected Proposition 6 in November, and voted to continue spending billions of dollars each year to rebuild our transportation infrastructure. Not a penny of that money or any other broad-based transportation funding should be diverted to finance risky privatization schemes. When it comes to “public-private partnerships,” those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.

Weak authority undermines Sacramento mayor’s agenda

By Dan Walters

Darrell Steinberg has an ambitious agenda as mayor of Sacramento, but as he works on it, he must deal with the fact that he has little executive authority.

My turn: Privacy matters but the California Consumer Privacy Act needs fixes

By Dan Jaffe

The California Consumer Privacy Act offers some protections but it must be fixed, or else consumers will lose.

My turn: Cities are committed to addressing housing shortage

By Carolyn Coleman

Recent lawsuits between the state and the city of Huntington Beach are unfortunate. But hopefully they ultimately lead to collaboration and resolution between both sides and a recognition that we can make more progress when cities and the state work together.

My turn: State law and legislators fail California consumers on high-interest loans

By Tom Dresslar

California’s payday lending regulatory structure is feeble. This state’s law ranks as one of the nation’s weakest, and significant ambiguities in the statute’s language and legislative history have been interpreted to favor industry and harm consumers’ interests. Consumers increasingly are vulnerable to myriad dangers.

So far, prison inmate rehab isn’t working

By Dan Walters

California’s prisons are supposed to be rehabilitating inmates, not merely warehousing them, but a new report from the state auditor says it’s not effectively reducing recidivism among those released from the system.

My turn: How to ensure equal access to the law when we speak 200 different languages

By Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar

The California Supreme Court has embarked on a project to improve service to people whose native language is not English. It’s not easy. But when Californians get shut out of our courts because they can’t communicate in English—whether the person is a witness in a criminal trial, a small business owner trying to clear her name, or a potential victim of elder abuse—the public ends up paying the price.

Could California pension system be underwater?

By Dan Walters

The gap between the assets of the California Public Employees Retirement System and its liabilities for pension payments has widened again, and a new Federal Reserve calculation indicates that it may much wider.

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