Opinions

A pitch to expand online education

A student going to school on the web. (Photo: Anna Tamila)

OPINION: Like many families throughout California, ours is taking the important step of beginning another school year. Although we live in Sacramento County, my sons will be attending an excellent public school in Sutter County. Or, more precisely, the school will be coming to them. My sons attend the California Virtual Academies (CAVA), an online public charter school offered throughout the state and certified by the state of California.

Opinions

Going mobile: Can state policy keep up?

A digital illustration of a satellite dish transmission. (Photo: Hywards, Shutterstock)

The most critical assets of California’s future economy will rely on wireless Internet technology—including renewable energy, smart agriculture, education, healthcare and advanced manufacturing. There also are important implications for public safety, where a dropped call to 911 could be the difference between life and death.

Opinions

New fracking rules: Too little, too late

Pumpjacks in a Kern County oil field, November 2013. (Photo: Christopher Halloran)

Oil and gas wells are deeply embedded in many California neighborhoods. Because we have no statewide limits on how close such wells can be to homes or schools, millions of Californians live within breathing distance of these polluting oil operations. That’s a huge concern — especially as hydraulic fracturing and other extreme oil extraction techniques spread across our state.

Opinions

Labeling on children’s products would hurt business

Chilldren at play with assorted toys. (Photo: Iakov Filimonov, Shutterstock)

Californians are inundated with consumer labels. Some of these labels communicate valuable information, others do not. The sheer number of required labels almost guarantees that most of us will be overwhelmed by the fine print and the labels never read. This week, California policymakers are considering a bill (SB 763) that would add yet another label – this time to children’s products.

Opinions

Old credit card technology is fraud-prone

A credit card equipped with a chip. (Photo: Petratiu, via Shutterstock)

Consumers are increasingly using credit and debit cards to transact purchases, from lattes to electronics. Unfortunately with that evolution comes financial fraud. As a victim of credit card fraud I can speak firsthand about the ensuing difficulties, even with financial institutions willing to help. Currently, the United States is the only major economic power in the world that still uses outdated magnetic stripe cards coupled with a faulty signature verification process.

Opinions

Ballot measure would threaten educators’ pensions

A classroom teachers helps a young student with Latin. (Photo: Goodluz, via Shutterstock)

The retirement security of California’s retired, current, and future teachers and the stability of the state’s pension fund for educators would be put at risk if a ballot measure addressing those issues is approved by California voters next November, according to an internal analysis by CalSTRS that I requested as chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security.

Opinions

Tax debate must get beyond politics

The California state Capitol in Sacramento. (Photo: Shutterstock)

OPINION: With more than a dozen major tax measures moving through the Legislature or toward the November 2016 ballot, California’s perennial debate about taxes is set to begin anew — with millions of dollars in political campaigns preparing to shape how the state will raise billions of dollars in revenue, and provide public services, for years to come.

Opinions

Vocational training key to skilled workforce, economic health

An apprentice engineer uses a milling machine at a training facility. (Photo: Monkey Business Images, via Shutterstock)

As the uneven economy recovery continues in California, there is one area where jobs remain available: technical workers. Workers with vocational training are currently in demand. The hardest segment of the workforce to replace has been the skilled trades, due to a shortage caused by the exodus of highly-skilled baby boomers that are entering retirement.

Opinions

Illness doesn’t discriminate — and neither should health care

Elementary school students in a California classroom. ((Photo: Monkey Business Images)

Right now California has the opportunity to lead the nation in one of the most pressing issues of our time: immigration reform and health for all. Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a budget that will offer Medi-Cal access to all children, regardless of immigration status, sometime next year. While this is a significant investment in

Opinions

Making the case for ‘open data’

Voluminous data displayed on a computer monitor. (Photo: Dimitri Nikolaev)

“Open Data” is a hot topic in the Capitol, and as legislative deadlines approach, it’s worth updating on where the issue stands, and what to keep in mind as the state considers a path forward. Standardized and freely shared, public data can inform policymakers as well as state residents about the operations and performance of government.

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