Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Farmers tell Congress immigration reform must include guest workers

Drought Forces Water Cutbacks To Southern California Farms

David McNew/Getty Images

A farmer told the House Judiciary Committee that whether Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform or not, the agriculture community needs a guest worker program "now."

The need for skilled farm workers was the topic of a hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday.  It’s one part of the immigration puzzle that most lawmakers agree on – in principle. The devil is in the details.

Chalmers Carr, a farmer who grows peaches in South Carolina, told the House Judiciary Committee there aren’t enough legal workers in America to pick the crops. He said whether Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform or not, the agriculture community needs "a guest worker program now."

Several farmers testified the current H2-A visa program is cumbersome, choked with red tape, and doesn't provide enough workers.

But the debate over farm labor divides in the same way as the larger immigration debate: what to do about the estimated 11 million undocumented people already in this country. Several lawmakers estimate non-citizens make up anywhere from half to 80% of the workforce in America's farm fields.

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CA lawmakers move to amend rape loophole in 1872 law

Mercer 514

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is shepherding a bill through the legislature to update a rape law that's been on the books since 1872.

Members of the Senate Public Safety Committee voted 6-0 Tuesday to advance a bill that would change a “historic anomaly” in California law that makes it a felony to rape someone by impersonating their spouse, but doesn’t apply to unmarried people.

Lawmakers vowed to amend the 1872 law to protect all victims after a court of appeals threw out the rape conviction of Julio Morales early this year. 

Morales was a guest at the home of an 18-year-old woman in 2009. She was asleep in her bedroom when he entered and began having sex with her. The victim awoke, but initially mistook Morales for her boyfriend.  She resisted when she realized he wasn't. 

In January, California's 2nd District Court of Appeals threw out Morales' rape conviction. The ruling said Morales could not be charged with rape in this circumstance because his victim was single.

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Maven's Morning Coffee: city attorney candidates debate, mayoral candidates profiled, Los Angeles Times makes endorsements, NFL looks to Chavez Ravine

City Attorney Candidates

Rebecca Hill/KPCC

Candidates for Los Angeles City attorney, (from left) Carmen Trutanich, Mike Feuer and Greg Smith, debated Monday on Which Way, LA? Here they are seen at a recent debate hosted by KPCC's AirTalk.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, public meetings and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

The Maven's Morning Coffee is also available as a daily email. Click here to subscribe.

Today is Tuesday, Feb. 26, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

Mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti is profiled by KPCC with the headline, "He's smart enough, but is he tough enough?" Over at the Los Angeles Times, the newspaper runs with, "Does Eric Garcetti keep his word? Accounts vary." "If Garcetti succeeds in his bid to become L.A.'s next mayor, he will face new pressure to take decisive action on hotly contested issues. A number of colleagues and constituents say he has not always been a steadfast ally and decision maker," reports The Times.

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Race for LA mayor: Candidates try to turn around low voter turnout

Forum Mayor Debate

Grant Slater/KPCC

Emanuel Pleitez is hoping to bring voters to the polls on March 5 through door-to-door canvassing. One of his rivals, Eric Garcetti, is reaching out to young voters to increase participation.

Los Angeles municipal elections are known for low voter turnout, but this year’s mayoral candidates are hoping that a small increase in participation will lead them to victory.

The city’s last competitive mayor’s race — between Antonio Villaraigosa and Jim Hahn in 2005 — saw 34 percent voter turnout in the general election. Four years prior to that, turnout was at 38 percent, and the 1993 race between Richard Riordan and Mike Woo drew 45 percent of voters to the polls.

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Maven's Morning Coffee: Eric Garcetti and LAUSD, the views of Kevin James, and the cost of finding Christopher Dorner

Mayor Race - Eric Garcetti

Grant Slater/KPCC

The Los Angeles Times looks at how Eric Garcetti would approach the Los Angeles Unified School District as mayor.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, public meetings and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

The Maven's Morning Coffee is also available as a daily email. Click here to subscribe.

Today is Monday, Feb. 25, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

In Rick Orlov's Tipoff column, just 10 percent of absentee voters have sent in their ballots, a CD 13 candidate looks for support outside the district, and California's Republicans prepare to meet in Sacramento.

Los Angeles Times writer Jim Newton questions how Eric Garcetti would approach the public school system as mayor. "It's hard to regard Garcetti's wariness on these subjects (of Monica Garcia and parent trigger) as unrelated to his endorsement by UTLA, which has too often elevated job protection for teachers over the best interests of children," he writes.

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