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California Lawmakers Move to Protect Undocumented Workers

By Elena ShoreNew America Media

If immigration agents show up at a worksite, employers don’t have to let them in.

That is one of the key messages immigrant rights advocates are sending out as a new bill that would increase protections for workers makes its way through committees in the California Legislature.

Employers across the country already have certain rights, said Grisel Ruiz, staff attorney of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. “If an employer has [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents coming to their workplace, so long as the workplace is private property, they should also keep ICE agents out…unless they have an ICE warrant,” she said.

Read the complete story at New America Media.

New Funds Available to Train Bilingual Teachers in California

By Ashley Hopkinson, EdSource

In the midst of a statewide teacher shortage, the new California state budget includes $5 million to address a shortfall of bilingual teachers, a shortage a new study concludes will continue following the passage of Proposition 58 and the expected growth of bilingual programs.

The new state law, in effect on July 1, lifted an almost 20-year ban on bilingual education and gives districts more flexibility to offer bilingual classes to all students. Under the old law English learners had to be taught in English, unless a parent signed a waiver to enroll their child in bilingual or dual language programs — classrooms where students are taught in English and another language such as Mandarin or Spanish. The goal is learning to read, write and speak in both languages.

Read the complete story at EdSource.

For more information on bilingual education in California, read the Winter 2017 San Francisco Public Press Special Report on Bilingual Schools: How California Is Following S.F. Language Education

Rift in San Francisco Over Bill to Make It Harder for Voters to Block Developments

By Guy Marzorati, KQED News Fix

State legislation that would make it harder for voters to block developments at the ballot box has split politicians in San Francisco, the latest example of a rift within the liberal city over how to address the city’s housing crisis.

Assembly Bill 943, carried by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, would require that local measures to “reduce density or stop development or construction” brought to the ballot by voters in certain cities and counties would need 55 percent of the vote to pass, instead of the current majority threshold. 

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix.

Early Returns Suggest Drop in Smoking in Response to State Tax

By Matt Levin, CALmatters

Last fall, California voters approved the biggest increase in cigarette taxes since the state first began levying tobacco in the 1950s. Advocates for Proposition 56, which passed with a fairly overwhelming 64 percent of the vote, argued that a $2-per-pack tax hike would hurt pocketbooks enough to nudge millions of California smokers to quit or at least to light up less frequently.

When the tax went into effect in April, smokers saw the average cost of a pack of cigarettes soar from under $6 to up to $9, making California one of the most expensive states in which to buy cigarettes. But the question then: Was that enough to force smokers to kick an increasingly expensive habit?

Read the complete story at CALmatters.

Cap-and-Trade Deal Could Woo GOP Support, Anger Environmentalists

By Guy Marzorati, KQED News Fix/The California Report

In recent months, Gov. Jerry Brown has made clear that an extension of the state’s cap-and-trade program will need GOP support.

“It’s going to take some Republicans,” he said at a California Chamber of Commerce breakfast last month.

He echoed the sentiment weeks later when he said Republicans were “the key” to extending the program (set to expire in 2020) that allows companies to buy and sell credits that allow them to pollute.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix/The California Report.

For more information about the state cap-and-trade program, read the San Francisco Public Press Summer 2013  special report on California’s cap-and-trade program, in collaboration with Earth Island Journal and Bay Nature magazine.


Despite Backlog of Rape Kits, California’s not Requiring They Be Tested or Tallied

By Samantha Young, CALmatters/Justice

After a man held a knife to her throat, forced her into her car and repeatedly raped her, Helena Lazaro underwent a painful and humiliating medical forensic examination. The 17-year-old wanted her attacker caught.

She never imagined the evidence collected in what is known as a rape kit would sit untouched for years by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. And by the time she discovered the identity of her attacker, prosecutors couldn’t charge him with the rape because the statute of limitations had expired in California.

“I think about that 17-year-old girl, the 25-year-old girl, the 30-year-old woman – all the versions of myself who have suffered,” Lazaro says. “That suffering could have ended much sooner.”

Read the complete story at CALmatters/Justice.

California Taps Health Care Money to Pay for Homeless Services

By Guy Marzorati, KQED News/The California Report

Standing in his new apartment, on the top of a two-level building in Oakland, Daniel Yapo admits his journey from homelessness to housing took a lot of help.

Yapo spent years bouncing between temporary homes and jail, even spending time living on a roof in nearby Hayward. Service providers helped him find a place of his own, navigate treatment for mental illness and handle the tasks that come with independent living. 

Read the complete story at KQED News/The California Report.

California Vows Fight After House OKs Law to Punish Sanctuary Cities

By Marisa Lagos, KQED News Fix/The California Report

Republicans in the House of Representatives pushed through two bills Thursday that would punish so-called sanctuary cities and people who re-enter the country after being deported — and would codify into law much of what President Trump has tried to do by executive order.

But whether or not the measures — one known as Kate’s Law, after San Francisco murder victim Kate Steinle — will be able to get through the Senate remains unclear. Plus, if the bills are signed into law, immigrant rights advocates say they will sue.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix/The California Report.

Neighbors Sound Off on Mission’s 2 Alternative Homeless Shelters

By Laura Wenus, KALW/Crosscurrents

An abandoned industrial building on the southern border of San Francisco’s Mission District is about to become the city’s newest Navigation Center.

It’s at 26th Street and South Van Ness Avenue. The shelter is expected to open soon and will only be around for an estimated nine months before it’s removed and housing is built on the site.

Neighbors I spoke with generally liked the idea of having a center here. Local resident Marvin Garcia knows the homeless need somewhere to go.

Read the complete story at KALW/Crosscurrents.

The Suburbs: The New Face of Bay Area Homelessness

By Devin Katayama, KQED News Fix/The California Report

William Ware sits in a large empty field along the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, shaving his face using a broken mirror. He found himself here after a waterskiing accident in 2009 led to painkiller addiction, and a downward spiral ensued.

Ware lost his five-bedroom house in Brentwood, the cars and the boat. Losing his family hurt the most, he said. The names of his two kids — Michael and Alyssa — are tattooed on his arms. They no longer talk to him. His wife left him. Ware has been homeless in Antioch for about two years.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix/The California Report.