Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Former lawmakers impart lessons from the 1986 immigration battle

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Former California GOP Congressman Dan Lungren has advice for colleagues tackling immigration

It’s been a quarter-century since Congress passed comprehensive immigration reform. Veterans of that legislative battle have some ideas about why it didn’t completely work and whether the bill currently being debated in the Senate will finally solve the challenge of illegal immigration.

As the Senate Judiciary Committee last week began taking up hundreds of amendments to an 844-page bill, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein asked her colleagues to consider the gravitas of their decision making.

"For those of us sitting at this table," she said, "this is the only chance we’re going to have to reform what is a very broken system, and to bring a lot of people who have worked very hard in this country out of the shadows."

Feinstein wasn’t on Capitol Hill for the 1986 debate. But fellow Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa was a freshman Republican on the Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee. Weighing in on the current debate, he told Feinstein he has concerns about the measure under consideration: "Unfortunately, this bill looks too much like the 1986 bill, which failed to take care of the problems we’re now trying to solve."


CA takes first step in appeal of prison population cap ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court

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Chino State Prison is one of the facilities subject to a court order requiring that the statewide inmate population be reduced by 10,000 by the end of the year.

California officials on Monday appealed a federal court’s decision to uphold a cap of the state’s prison population that must be met by the end of the year. 

In January, attorneys for the state asked the three-judge panel, which in 2009 ordered the reduction of inmates, to reconsider whether such a cap was still necessary, given a dramatic population drop in the state’s 33 prisons and improvements to inmates' medical and mental healthcare.

The judges had ordered the state to reduce the prison population by 40,000 inmates after they found that overcrowding in the prisons was the main reason inmates suffered, and sometimes died from, a lack of treatment.

Last month, the court rejected the state’s appeal to vacate the order, and ordered officials to shed 10,000 inmates by the end of the year or face being held in contempt.


Mayoral candidates seek to clarify stances on living wage for hotel workers

County Fed Mailer

Ethics Commission

A political action committee supported by the County Federation of Labor sent out this mailer, telling voters Wendy Greuel would increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour if elected mayor. What the candidate actually supports is increasing hourly wages for hotel workers throughout the city.

Can two candidates disagree even when they agree? Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti certainly make it seem that way. 

The latest disagreement comes over a proposal to increase wages for hotel workers in Los Angeles. Over the weekend, Wendy Greuel told KPCC and the Los Angeles Times she supports a $15 an hour wage for employees at hotels throughout the city.

The city already has a "living wage" for hotels near LAX. City leaders made the case that because those hotels benefit from the city-owned airport, they should be required to pay their workers $10.70 an hour plus health care benefits, or $11.95 an hour if no benefits are offered. The wage ordinance does not apply to hotels that have a collective bargaining agreement. 

In the past, Garcetti has supported the wage ordinance. He told reporters he supports expanding the wage ordinance to other hotels, but declined to commit to the $15 figure. 


Medi-Cal expansion mired in money fight

Gov. Jerry Brown

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California Governor Jerry Brown will release his revised state budget Tuesday morning, which will likely have ramifications for the expansion of Medi-Cal.

When Governor Jerry Brown unveils his revised state budget Tuesday morning, healthcare advocates will be looking for a more detailed Medi-Cal expansion plan. 

The Governor has committed to extend the healthcare coverage for low-income families to one million more residents, as part of federal healthcare reform, but he’s yet to produce a detailed plan.

Brown has said California needs to find a “sustainable” way to expand Medi-Cal, “so we don’t find ourselves in a big hole in a couple of years.”

The federal government will pay all the costs to expand Medi-Cal for the first three years, but that only includes residents who will be newly-eligible.

Hundreds of thousands of Californians who are currently eligible but haven’t signed up for the program, or have fallen off the roles temporarily,  are expected to join when the state eases eligibility rules and simplifies enrollment.  


He said, she said: Garcetti, Greuel bicker in final televised debate


Maya Sugarman/KPCC

City Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel, seen here in a previous debate, participated in their final televised debate Monday morning. It will air at 7 p.m. on KCAL.

Monday morning at the CBS studios in Culver City, Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti met for their final televised debate of the campaign. The format was different from previous encounters — instead of a panel of questioners, KCBS/KCAL political reporter Dave Bryan alone tried to engage the candidates.

But despite Bryan's best efforts, the candidates mainly repeated themes from their mailers and TV ads — hammering each other on integrity and perceived conflicts of interest.

On the issue of the Department of Water and Power, Garcetti continued to talk about how much money the utility’s union has spent in support of Greuel. The Working Californians political action committee has raised more than $3.3 million for its own efforts on Greuel's behalf. Garcetti maintained that, as mayor, Greuel would not stand up to the union when its contract is up for renewal next year.