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Cultivating Clout: Marijuana Money Flows Into California Politics

By Laurel Rosenhall, CALmatters

Lobbyists in slick pinstriped suits and burly veterans with tattooed arms crowded into a Capitol hearing room this week as lawmakers considered a bill to make it easier for Californians to buy legal marijuana. One supporter said people need more access to the “beautiful sacred plant.” But at its core, this was a business dispute — a question of whether legislators would allow cannabis companies to reach more customers, and make more money.

The committee passed the bill — to stop cities from banning delivery services that sell pot to customers at their doorsteps — despite objections from cities and counties that favor local control. And the standing-room-only crowd that showed up to push for it revealed the new reality in California, where cannabis interests have become a formidable lobbying force.

Read the complete story at CALmatters.

California Schools Getting a Little Greener as Environmental Education Standards Roll Out

By Carolyn Jones, EdSource

As Californians celebrateed Earth Day and the ecology movement, the state’s public schools are making steady progress in implementing some of the most comprehensive environmental education standards in the country, educators and environmentalists say.

Buoyed by $4 million in the current state budget for K-12 environmental education, teachers are planning field trips to mountains and beaches, creating lessons on ecosystems and watersheds and showing students how human activity affects the planet. In April, thousands of students turned out for Earth Day events, picking up trash, pulling weeds and planting trees.

Read the complete story at EdSource.

Scooters Are the Mess That San Francisco Made for Itself

By Joe Eskenazi, Mission Local

When the barbarians arrived at the gates of besieged cities of yore, they weren’t riding venture capital-backed scooters — though, in a way, underwriting a band of for-profit marauders was the medieval precursor to venture capitalism.

But, lo, that’s San Francisco circa right now, a city that has allowed itself to be pillaged by a succession of barbarians to the point where you can now scoot right down Market Street and plant your flag where you see fit.

Read the complete story at Mission Local.

Homeschool Supporters Crush Plans for Greater Oversight

By Vanessa Rancaño, KQED News/The California Report

Two legislative proposals aimed at providing greater oversight of California's estimated 15,000 homeschools died this week after a massive lobbying effort waged by parents and homeschool supporters.

Homeschools are private schools under California law. Neither the state, county or local district has any legal responsibility to monitor conditions, or oversee academics. Kids don’t have to meet standards or take standardized tests.

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

A Push for Mental Health Care at Colleges: Depression and Anxiety ‘Really Eat Up Our Kids’

By Felicia Mello, CALmatters

When student leaders from 23 California State University campuses came together last fall to set priorities for the academic year, improving campus mental health services received more nominations than any other issue. It beat out even that perennial concern, tuition costs.

Cal State Student Association president Maggie White said she’s not surprised.

Read the complete story at CALmatters.

Child Poverty Drops in California, but Is Still the Nation’s Highest

By Carolyn Jones, EdSource

California’s booming economy has led to a slight drop in the child poverty rate, but the state still has the highest rate in the country when the cost of living is taken into account, according to new data released by Kidsdata and the Public Policy Institute of California.

An average of 22.8 percent — or 2 million — of California’s children lived below the poverty threshold in 2013-15, which is $30,000 a year for a family of four, according to the data released this month. The number is down from 24.4 percent in 2011-13.

Read the complete story at EdSource.

Mission Education Center Vs. S.F. School District on Charter School

By Michael Toren and Julian Mark, Mission Local

Parents, teachers, school board candidates and labor union representatives said Thursday afternoon at a protest at the Mission Education Center that they would not mind sharing space with some charter schools, but opposed the district’s decision to place the nonprofit KIPP in six of its 13 classrooms at 1670 Noe St.

“There are some great charter schools out there,” said Alida Fisher, a member of the San Francisco Unified School District’s Community Advisory Committee for Special Education, who is a candidate for the Board of Education.

Read the complete story at  Mission Local.

How California Water Suppliers Are Getting Earthquake Ready

By Alastair Bland, KQED/Water Deeply

As is often said, it’s not a matter of if, but of when, a large earthquake strikes the heart of one of California’s most densely populated regions. State officials and local agencies know the clock is ticking, and mile by mile, pipe by pipe, work crews are replacing or retrofitting water lines throughout much of the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas. Upgrades have also been made in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the heart of the state’s water distribution system, where potential levee ruptures have made water officials uneasy for decades.

The San Andreas Fault, which generated the 1906 (7.9 magnitude) and the 1989 (6.9 magnitude) Bay Area earthquakes, could potentially produce a quake greater than 8.0. However, the Hayward Fault is widely considered the greater threat at this moment in geologic time. Scientists consider a 7.0 magnitude quake to be the largest likely to occur on the Hayward Fault, an offshoot of the San Andreas that runs through San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond. The Hayward Fault hasn’t slipped significantly since 1868, and experts say it’s overdue for the proverbial “Big One.”

Read the complete story at KQED/Water Deeply.

Small Businesses Feel the Squeeze on Mission Street

By Abraham Rodriguez, Mission Local

Take a stroll along Mission Street and you’ll see two sides of the ever-changing city: the family-owned, brick-and-mortar stores that go back decades and the new-school minimalist design of the more recently opened shops.

No matter their tenure, nearly all of the 59 active businesses along the two blocks between 21st and 23rd streets on Mission Street are trying to bring in the young tech crowd that has moved into the neighborhood during the past decade. And that crowd seems to favor experiences over commodities.

Read the complete story at Mission Local. 

State’s Controversial Housing Bill Died. Here’s What to Take Away From That

By Matt Levin, CALmatters

The most controversial state housing bill in recent memory died with a pretty resounding thud.

Senate Bill 827, which would have forced cities to allow taller, denser development around public transit, got only four votes on the 13-member Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing. Both Democrat and Republican lawmakers voted against the bill.

Read the complete story at CALmatters.