In summary

Highlighting all of CALmatters’ work over the past week

Recent Articles

How much do you and your neighbors pay in state taxes?

By Judy Lin

Think you pay too much in state income taxes? Well, if you made $82,643 and paid $5,000 to Sacramento, then for better or worse, you are the average California taxpayer.

Asbestos in your makeup? Legislature rejects proposal to ban toxics from cosmetics

By Elizabeth Castillo

California lawmakers refused to bar the sale of cosmetics containing toxic chemicals after pushback from business interests, who said it would apply to trace amounts too small to be harmful.

Bonus: A discussion on police misconduct and transparency in California

By Laurel Rosenhall

Force of Law host Laurel Rosenhall moderated a panel in Sacramento on police misconduct and transparency in California.

California schools haven’t fully embraced laws protecting LGBTQ kids, study shows

By Ricardo Cano

In the past decade, California has adopted more than a half-dozen laws intended to prevent bullying, strengthen suicide prevention and cultivate inclusive learning environments for LGBTQ students in the state’s public schools. But school districts are implementing these new laws inconsistently, according to a sweeping new report-card-style analysis from the Equality California Institute.

As more Californians borrow at shockingly high interest rates, will state crack down on ‘predatory lending?’

By Ben Christopher

Loans of less than $10,000 with rates of over 100% have swelled to nearly one-third of California’s non-bank consumer lending market. Consumer advocates say lenders are profiting off of borrowers’ desperation or lack of financial sophistication and often make a bad situation worse. The lenders say they charge up to 200% to cover the risks they incur. The Legislature is considering a bill to cap the interest rate for such “small dollar” loans.

Despite sharp growth in electric cars, vehicle emissions keep rising

By Julie Cart

Unless the emissions trend is reversed, California could stall on its route to clean air, experts say.

In housing, privacy and more, a Capitol lightning round nixes controversial bills

By Laurel Rosenhall

Some of the most controversial ideas California lawmakers were considering this year were set aside as the Legislature culled hundreds of bills in a fast and furious annual procedural ritual.

California’s hottest housing bill was just unexpectedly shelved. What you need to know

By Matt Levin and Ben Christopher

The sudden demise of the year’s most controversial state housing bill was celebrated by some and bemoaned by others. But very few—supporters, opponents, and even the author himself—can claim to have seen this coming.

Weakling or bully? The battle over CEQA, the state’s iconic environmental law

By Alastair Bland

Inside the Capitol’s corridors and pro-development quarters around the state, the California Environmental Quality Act is increasingly disparaged as a villain in the state’s housing crisis. But the act’s environmentalist defenders are pushing back, saying many projects slip too easily through—leading to overdrawn groundwater tables and disappearing forests. And whatever the urgency to build more housing, environmentalists say there’s nothing to preempt a rigorous review of commercial proposals—even ones as visually appealing as vineyards in the Napa Valley.

CALmatters takes home 23 awards from the California News Publishers Association

By Marcia Parker

CALmatters took home 23 awards, including nine first-place winners, at the California News Publishers Association Journalism Awards.


Key conflicts roil California’s ever-evolving waterscape

By Dan Walters

How the state’s water supplies are divvied up over the next few years could shift them from agriculture to urban use and environmental enhancement.

California can fix the bad math of new motherhood

By Jasmin Tuffaha Gutierrez

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.

Big Tobacco and e-cigarette companies should help clean up their mess

By Heidi Sanborn

California has struggled to cut cigarette-butt litter for decades. But with the rise in popularity of small cigars with plastic filters and e-cigarettes, the waste problem is getting worse.

Newsom must now deliver on promises

By Dan Walters

Gov. Gavin Newsom has promised action on a wide range of societal ills, but now he must deliver.

LA Unified: A gang that can’t shoot straight

By Dan Walters

Los Angeles Unified School District wants voters to approve a new tax, but it’s undermining its pitch by incompetent—or duplicitous—actions.

Demography is California’s destiny

By Dan Walters

Demography is destiny, and California is experiencing it right now. One consequence is a relative decline in political influence.

Feds’ harassment of journalists threatens coverage at the border

By Bruce D. Brown and Simon Kilmurry

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.

A dangerous conflict-of-interest loophole

By Dan Walters

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

This legislation would pry open hard-to-find government data

By John M. W. Moorlach

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.

Storage is essential for California to achieve 100% green energy without blackouts

By S. David Freeman

California can’t keep the lights on if we don’t have enough power available to meet demand at peak times, like in the evening when folks get home from work. The state has nowhere near enough storage to handle the thousands of megawatts of new renewable energy that will be coming down the pike.

California can help provide opportunity for its heartland. Here’s how

By Michael Tubbs

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.

New currents of cooperation on California’s wicked water problems

By Maurice Hall and Steve Rothert

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.

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