California voting: Ballots behind bars?- CalMatters

California voting: Ballots behind bars?- CalMatters

Assemblyman Isaac Bryan says it’s time to let California’s inmates vote.

To be clear, the Culver City Democrat who heads the Assembly election committee is not talking about extending the franchise to people with felonies on their record. California and 21 other states already allow it.

Bryan’s bill, which he introduced as a proposed amendment to the state constitution on Monday, would allow people to vote while still in state prisons.

Bryan: “Voting reduces recidivism and increases community bonding for people after release … Democracy thrives when everyone has a chance to have their voice heard.”

For supporters and opponents of the idea alike, it may seem like the inevitable end to a decade of California legislation on both voting rights and prison rehabilitation policy:

In 2016, lawmakers passed a law allowing people in county jails to vote; In 2020, voters approved Proposition 17, which expanded parole eligibility; From universal mail-in voting to same-day registration to advance registration for some teenagers, lawmakers have been on a sustained campaign to make it easier for more people to vote; Last year, lawmakers approved a bill that would allow some inmates to be moved to low-security facilities, where they would be taught to be self-sufficient and receive job training, in Norwegian prisons — although Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed it.

If Bryan is successful — something that would require approval by at least two-thirds of the Assembly and Senate, then a majority of voters statewide — California would join Vermont, Maine and Washington, D.C.

Bryan’s bill is sure to be a heavy political lift.

Last year, a proposed constitutional amendment to ban forced and unpaid labor in state prisons failed, without support from the Newsom administration, some moderate Democrats in the Senate and all Republicans.

Bryan already knows he won’t be able to count on the support of the election committee’s vice chairman, Tom Lackey, a Palmdale Republican.

Lackey on Twitter: “Criminal acts must have consequences. Voting is a sacred privilege, not an absolute right of citizenship.”

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Other stories you need to know 1 Legislature State Sen. Brian Dahle, right, hugs his wife, Assemblywoman Megan Dahle, at a primary night rally in Sacramento on June 7, 2022. Dahle, a Republican, lost by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in the November general election. Photo by Rich Pedroncelli, AP Photo

You already know these famous political surnames: Kennedy, Roosevelt, Clinton and Bush.

But what about Dahle, Rubio, Bonta and Lowenthal?

Meet the California Heritage Group – state legislators related by blood or marriage to other past and present legislators. This year, they make up 10% of the Legislature — with more likely on the way in 2024.

Why does winning elections seem to run in some people’s families? How does politics as a family matter change the culture of the Legislature? And for the legislators in question, how are Thanksgiving dinners?

I’ve had these questions on my mind since last December, when Rep. Sabrina Cervantes, a Corona Democrat, announced she would run for state Senate, clearing the way for her sister, Clarissa, to campaign for the seat of that will soon be empty. .

As I reported the article, new examples continued to appear:

Having family in the business of politics can help a candidate in several ways: name recognition among voters, connections to supporters and funders, a family environment that fosters respect for a certain kind of public service.

Claremont McKenna College politics professor Jack Pitney: “The Nepo phenomenon is not limited to Hollywood.”

For Rep. Blanca Rubio and her younger sister, Sen. Susan Rubio, serving in the Legislature at the same time comes with its perks. For example, sometimes it is difficult for an MP to find someone to introduce their bill in the Senate and vice versa.

Blanca Rubio: “I know if I don’t find somebody that I can, you know — I’m the oldest, I’m going to make her pick up the bill.” 2 Now what about natural gas bills? Calgren’s renewable fuels plant that cleans milk methane into natural gas is shown in Pixley on October 2, 2019. Photo by Mike Blake, Reuters

For those following the saga of high natural gas prices in California, the worst appears to be behind us, at least for now.

Months of high demand and tight supply led to tight budget bills. But in February, more natural gas is flowing into the state, driving down prices. Plus, state regulators are coming to the rescue with family-friendly loans.

Both Governor Newsom and US Senator Dianne Feinstein of California called for a federal investigation into possible market manipulation.

But as CalMatters economics reporter Grace Gedye reports, the California Public Utilities Commission is already worried about the coming crisis.

At the commission meeting Tuesday, there was much bickering about what, if anything, the state can do in the face of future price increases. Not much, it turns out.

CPUC President Alice Busching Reynolds: Modest aid loans were “a short-term Band-Aid and this is a long-term problem.”

Unlike electricity rates, which are tightly regulated by the state, natural gas prices are allowed to rise and fall with the gyrations of the market.

But the commission has a say in how and where energy companies store their excess output, when facilities are allowed to operate and when bills are sent to customers, all of which can indirectly affect the final price, Grace explains.

3 CA after dyslexia screening Dominic Levy does homework at his home in Clayton on January 29, 2023. Photo by Shelby Knowles for CalMatters

Over the past decade, California lawmakers have poured money into dyslexia research. They have mandated new types of teacher training and called for more reading coaches. They have rallied around Governor Newsom, among the state’s most famous dyslexic public figures.

But CalMatters education reporter Joe Hong explains, lawmakers have never called for universal dyslexia screening for all children — something 40 other states do, though many early education researchers and advocates call it a tool. basic” and critical to keeping children reading at grade level. .

Rachel Levy, a parent in the Bay Area: “Most kids who are dyslexic end up in the special education system…because of a lack of screening.”

What is the obstacle? As Joe reports, opposition from one of California’s most powerful interest groups.

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CalMatters Commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Two long-serving veterans of Capitol politics died within hours of each other. Allan Zaremberg and Rex Hime have been widely praised and the accolades are well deserved.

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