SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – A new report says fewer felons are skipping out on probation under California’s new criminal justice realignment than under the state’s old parole system. The report obtained by The Associated Press is the first six-month snapshot of trends in all 58 counties. It found less than 4 percent of felons failed to report to their county probation officers after their release from state prison, compared to 14 percent who faced fugitive arrest warrants under the old system. More than 23,000 ex-convicts are supervised at the county level after a law took effect in October to save the state money and reduce prison crowding. The report released Wednesday by the Chief Probation Officers of California says early concerns that many felons might go unsupervised appear to be overstated.
FORESTHILL, Calif. (AP) – Crews have won full containment of several wildfires blackening the Golden State amid cooler temperatures and higher humidity. A 46-square-mile blaze in the Mendocino National Forest was fully surrounded Wednesday, as were wildfires in San Luis Obispo and Trinity counties. In Placer County, most of the evacuations ordered because of the Robbers Fire near Foresthill have been lifted. The 4-square-mile blaze that has destroyed one home and four outbuildings and injured 12 people is 75 percent contained.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Opponents of a law that requires California public schools to cover the contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have again failed to qualify a ballot measure that would have overturned the requirement. Pacific Justice Institute lawyer Kevin Snider said the Stop SB48 campaign did not gather enough signatures by Monday’s deadline to put an initiative on the 2014 ballot that would exclude sexual minorities from the list of groups whose roles in history and social science schools must teach. Snider estimates that the all-volunteer petition circulating effort, which focused largely on churches, collected about 446,000 signatures out of the 504,760 required. The group’s earlier attempt to put the gay history lesson law to a popular vote this year also did not qualify. Senate Bill 48 took effect in January, but most school districts have not implemented it.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – California State University is looking at either hiking tuition or slashing enrollment to make up for a $250 million loss of state money if voters do not approve Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measures in November. Assistant Vice Chancellor Robert Turnage told reporters Monday that the 23-campus system faces two bleak scenarios that the Board of Trustees will discuss at its Tuesday meeting. Under one scenario, enrollment would not be cut, but students would see a tuition increase of $150, or about 5 percent, per semester starting in January. Non-California residents would pay almost twice that. Additionally, employees would see a 2.5 percent cut in salaries and benefits. Turnage says an alternative plan calls for tuition to remain the same, but enrollment would be reduced by 1.5 percent, or 6,000 students.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California Gov. Jerry Brown has issued a furlough order for more than 11,000 state workers whose unions have yet to reach a deal for a 5 percent wage cut. The order from the Brown administration, issued last week, forces employees to take one day of unpaid leave a month, which is about a 5 percent pay cut. California lawmakers passed a budget last month authorizing the Democratic governor to furlough state workers. Most unions reached agreements before the new fiscal year started July 1. Only the two unions representing 11,600 state engineers and heavy machinery operators continue to hold out. Brown used his veto authority to eliminate a union-backed budget provision that would have required nearly all transportation funding be spent on state staff.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – An appeals court is asking the California secretary of state to explain why Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative should be first on the November ballot. The Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento agreed Tuesday to examine a challenge to the decision, one day after the state’s chief elections officer assigned numbers to 11 measures on the November ballot. The anti-tax Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is challenging a new law that placed the Democratic governor’s tax initiative at the top of the ballot. President Jon Coupal says Democrats skirted legislative rules to “rig the election.” Secretary of state spokeswoman Shannan Velayas says her office does not comment on pending litigation. Brown’s campaign spokesman, Dan Newman, says it makes sense to list upfront constitutional amendments that will have a “lasting impact.”
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Gov. Jerry Brown’s initiative to raise taxes has received top billing on the November ballot after a judge rejected a challenge from a competing measure. The secretary of state on Monday assigned numbers to the 11 measures on the November statewide ballot. Brown’s proposal to temporarily increase the state sales tax and income tax for incomes over $250,000 a year will appear first, as Proposition 30. A constitutional amendment aimed at changing the way state government manages its budget is second as Proposition 31. It is promoted by the bipartisan group California Forward. A judge earlier denied a request from the Our Children, Our Future campaign to block a new law that gives Brown’s initiative top billing. The competing tax measure to fund public schools is Proposition 38.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California lawmakers have adjourned for their summer recess after unabashedly positioning themselves to their best competitive advantage going into the fall election campaign. Majority Democrats hammered through a state budget, protections for homeowners who face foreclosures and high-speed rail plan, brushing aside Republicans’ opposition. They maneuvered to give top ballot position to a tax initiative backed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, although it faces a legal challenge. Outnumbered Republicans countered with impassioned floor speeches criticizing the budget as half-baked and the mortgage protections as dangerous to California’s fragile housing market. They blasted union-backed Democrats for failing to rein in public employee pensions that Republicans say are bankrupting the state. Legislators return next month to take up the pension debate and other legislation before adjourning for good on Aug. 31.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Nearly 250 more criminals will serve their time in county jails instead of state prisons each year under a new California law, a sharp increase from the state’s original projections. The corrections department said Thursday that it miscalculated the effect of changing where some criminals serve their time. Republican lawmakers say the shift that took effect last month will send more violent offenders to local facilities, violating the state’s pledge to keep people convicted of violent crimes in state prisons. Corrections officials originally said only two more criminals each year were likely to shift to local jails while serving time for weapons possession and other crimes. Those projections were reported in an Associated Press story published June 30. The department now says 247 more criminals would go to local jails.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California lawmakers have approved delaying voters’ consideration of an $11 billion water bond from this November until 2014 – the second time the measure has been postponed. The Assembly on Thursday approved AB1422 on a 69-6 bipartisan vote. The Senate approved the bill by Democratic Assemblyman Henry Perea of Fresno on a 34-2 vote. The bill now goes to the governor. Voters were originally supposed to consider the bond in 2010, but former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, signed legislation delaying it until this year. Democrats want to delay the vote again to focus on Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed sales and income tax increases in November. Some lawmakers say the bond is filled with pork projects. Others say the comprehensive plan was the result of a bipartisan compromise.