News

Q&A: Tim Johnson, California Rice Commission

A California rice field at sunset. (Photo: Sirisak Baokaew, via Shutterstock)

This September, 300,000 of California’s 550,000 acres of rice fields lay barren—over half the state’s rice crop. Instead of miles of soft green grasses swaying amid shimmering water, the state’s rice fields were cracked bare dirt, some crowded with weeds. “It is now just a wasteland,” a third-generation rice farmer told the San Francisco Chronicle.

News

UC strike over, but questions remain over new contracts

Royce Hall at UCLA, one of four original buildings at the university's Westwood campus. (Photo: Ken Wolter, via Shutterstock)

The longest walkout in the history of U.S. higher education is over, but a critical question remains: Will the new contracts do enough to improve the living and working conditions that drove the academic workers to launch the 40-day strike?

News

Capitol rebuild in flux; foes battle Legislature over preservation

The state Capitol in Sacramento surrounded by Capitol Park. (Photo: Merge Digital Media LLC, via Shutterstock)

Preservationists understand that their appeal court victory this month will only delay a billion-dollar expansion of the state Capitol building, but they hope legislators will use the time-out to consider alternatives that would kill fewer trees, cost less money and keep Capitol Park more or less as generations of Californians have known and enjoyed it.

Podcast

Prop. 30 tanked – What next for clean air efforts?

CAPITOL WEEKLY PODCAST: Proposition 30, the ambitious plan to combat wildfires and fund EV infrastructure throughout the state by taxing California’s wealthiest citizens failed at the ballot box in November. Early polls found broad support for the measure, but a strong opposition campaign led by Gov. Newsom and the CTA turned the tide and ultimately derailed the measure. We spoke with Bill Magavern, Policy Director of the Coalition for Clean Air, and an author of Prop. 30, about efforts to combat pollution and climate change in the wake of Proposition 30’s defeat.

News

Downsize this: California prisons to close and shrink

A guard tower near the perimeter of a California prison. (Photo: Joseph Sohm, via Shutterstock)

Under a 2022-23 state budget, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is launching a process to close prisons and deactivate facilities within others. One on the chopping block is Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Blythe, a city of 18,000, in eastern Riverside County, that is closing in March 2025.

News

New CA law removes crime of loitering to commit prostitution

Photo illustration of a person loitering late at night on a deserted street. (Image: M-Production, via Shutterstock)

Roxanne is used to being harassed by the police. A trans woman, Roxanne – who uses only her first name – is an attorney. She owns two homes in San Jose about a mile apart and regularly walks from one to the other. Years ago, while exercising, she was arrested across the street from one of her homes, she said.

Podcast

Meet the Newbies: Assemblyman Josh Hoover

CAPITOL WEEKLY PODCAST: With the results of the November election now finalized, 30% of California legislators are newcomers to their offices. Assemblyman Josh Hoover, (R) turned AD7 red, flipping a Sacramento area seat that had voted for Democrat Ken Cooley for four terms. We sat down with Hoover to talk about his legislative priorities (one of which is to scale back the renovation of the Capitol Annex, a project spearheaded by his AD 7 predecessor) including his interest in education, and ideas for addressing the homeless crisis.

News

In unusual move, Gov. Newsom smacks stem cell agency

Gov. Gavin Newsom at the State of the State Address in January. (Photo: Sheila Fitzgerald)

Gov. Gavin Newsom has rebuked California’s stem cell agency about its conduct of the election of a new chairperson for the $12 billion enterprise, a process that has been disrupted with the withdrawal of one candidate and the addition of a new one.

News

From diesel big rigs to electricity: The costly transition begins

A pair of all-electric big-rig trucks, built by Tesla, are ready for the road. (Photo: Steve Jurvetson, via Wikipedia)

Never mind there are few on the market, or that keeping them moving requires a nonexistent network of chargers, California wants truckers to hurry up and replace diesel big rigs with versions that run on batteries or hydrogen. Regulations to achieve the transitions are not yet complete. The California Air Resources Board is gathering public opinion on the latest iteration and a subsequent draft is anticipated in the spring.

News

Amid climate change, a question: What’s the future of California rice?

A harvester in a drought-stricken field of northern California. (Photo: TFoxFoto, via Shutterstock)

Planted in spring, farmers drain their fields in August, and they drive big, loud harvesters into them in September, gently separating the rice stalks from the grain, and blowing the harvest into bankout wagons that they tow beside them. On average, each acre produces 8,000 pounds of rice, which is a greater yield than most of the world’s rice growing regions. But this September, 300,000 of California’s 550,000 acres of rice lay barren—over half the state’s rice crop.

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