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State of Affairs: LA Fire Commission, oil tax, medical marijuana and more




California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during a news conference on January 17, 2014 in San Francisco, California.
California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during a news conference on January 17, 2014 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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It's Thursday and that means it's time for State of Affairs, our look at politics and government throughout California. To help us with that we're joined in studio by KPCC political reporters Alice Walton and Frank Stoltze.

The Sacramento Bee reported this week that state lawmakers went on trips costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, but they weren't the ones who had to pick up the tab. Who were the worst offenders?

This is just one of many stories of politicians using money in ways they aren't supposed to. In response, today state Senate Democrats plan to propose some big changes to the Political Reform Act. What exactly are they proposing

We talked yesterday with the head of the LA Fire Commission about mounting problems at the City's Fire Department. Mayor Eric Garcetti has now called for an investigation into hiring practices after it was reported that more than 20 percent of its new class of recruits is related to a city firefighter. How serious is the problem?

From putting out fires at the Fire Department to snuffing out the smoke from electronic cigarettes, the Los Angeles City Council voted this week to ban e-cigarettes in places where tobacco is already prohibited. Council President Herb Wesson is a lifelong smoker and he gave an unusually passionate speech on the council floor. 

The debate over whether to impose an oil tax in California has returned. Proponents are taking their case to the front doors of LA's largest petroleum producer today.  

Governor Brown made some interesting comments about medical marijuana on ABC News this week:

"A certain amount is OK. But there is a tendency to go to extremes. And all of a sudden if there is advertising and legitimacy, how many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation. World is pretty dangerous, very competitive, I think we need to stay alert if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together."

"A certain amount is ok" is a bit nebulous. Where does the governor stand on legalizing marijuana?

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti is in Mexico. We talked to him earlier this week about the trip,  here's what he had to say about our neighbor to the south:

"Its our number one source of tourists and visitors of any country in the world. We had about 15 Billion dollars of trade just last year between the LA metropolitan area and Mexico. And increasingly we are seeing educational exchange, cultural exchange. And other cities, other states are hustling for businesses in their town."

But what will really come out of this trip to Mexico?

Facing a backlog of hundreds of health and safety complaints about nursing homes, Los Angeles County public health officials allegedly told inspectors to close cases without fully investigating them. How's the county responding?

There's another candidate for State Controller. Who is it and do they have a chance?

If you're running for mayor, it seems like you'd want to get the right picture on you're mailers. But that didn't happen in Long Beach this week.