CALMatters | Palo Alto Online |

CALmatters is a Sacramento-based nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California's state Capitol works and why it matters. It works with more than 130 media partners throughout the state that have long, deep relationships with their local audiences, including Embarcadero Media (publisher of the Palo Alto Weekly, Mountain View Voice, Pleasanton Weekly and The Almanac in Menlo Park and their websites.)

Here are the most recent stories reported by CALmatters' team of journalists:


Why is our ‘achievement gap’ so stubborn?

California's "achievement gap" in its K-12 schools has persisted, despite spending many billions of dollars to close it. Two new proposals, a state audit and a system to track students' achievement, may tell us why the gap has been so stubbornly wide.

Sun, Apr 21, 2019 12:01 am
Will rent control and other tenant bills get through the Capitol this time?

Please subscribe to the Gimme Shelter podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Google Play, Spotify or Overcast.  Ready for another fight over rent control? Six months after a statewide initiative that could have expanded rent control across California was rejected overwhelmingly at the polls, a group of progressive state lawmakers are back with a suite of pro-tenant legislation […]

Fri, Apr 19, 2019 4:47 pm
Hard truths about school shootings 20 years after Columbine. Here’s legislation that can help

Despite crime being at historic lows, overall school shootings doubled between 2013 and 2018. Appallingly, in each of these attacks, information known to school officials, law enforcement, counselors, friends and neighbors reasonably should have been used to prevent the attack. Assemblyman Kevin Kiley's AB 1722 would require a common-sense approach to building best practices into our regional school safety plans to avert such shootings.

Thu, Apr 18, 2019 4:29 am
Battles over local tax measures heat up

As Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislators consider state tax increases, local government ballots are being loaded up with tax proposals and the jousting over them is becoming heated.

Thu, Apr 18, 2019 12:01 am
Regulating the cannabis market is preferable to prohibition

Because marijuana use may pose potential hazards to both the individual consumer and to public safety that advocacy groups such as mine, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, believe that lawmakers should regulate it accordingly.

Wed, Apr 17, 2019 9:00 am
To help people with mental illness, keep them in school

Early diagnosis and intervention is essential to attaining better outcomes for mental illness. But in the struggle to help people with mental illness cope, a powerful long term tool has been overlooked: school. Education has an outsized impact on the prospects for people with serious mental disorders.

Wed, Apr 17, 2019 4:20 am
Paying women less than men for substantially similar work is wage theft

In California, paying women less is a form of wage theft. The law also prohibits paying someone less for substantially similar work on the basis of race or ethnicity. What makes California’s pay equity law particularly significant is that it does not require proof of discrimination or intent.

Tue, Apr 16, 2019 4:29 am
Why April 15 isn’t California’s most important tax day

Death and taxes are all but certain. But the bright side is that the power to tax ultimately lies with the people, as Californians have the constitutional right to vote on local taxes, and the right to elect state officials with taxing power.

Mon, Apr 15, 2019 4:29 am
DMV crisis could make or break Newsom

While Gov. Gavin Newsom claims a global role in the immigration crisis, how he handles a more prosaic crisis in the Department of Motor Vehicles could have a greater effect on his political career.

Mon, Apr 15, 2019 12:01 am
Mental illness implications of cannabis use must not be ignored

Backers of cannabis legalization–and their supporters in the media–have successfully cast marijuana legalization as a racial and social justice issue, although almost no one is in prison for cannabis possession. And they have vastly oversold the potential medical benefits of the drug, while understating its risks.

Sun, Apr 14, 2019 8:00 am
Bond issue transparency still under assault

Local officials still don't like having to tell voters how proposed bond issues will affect their property taxes and may seek relief from the Legislature.

Sun, Apr 14, 2019 12:01 am
Why Cal Grant must be expanded: Hard realities of juggling community college, work and family

Here's why Cal Grant program must be expanded: I am a father to two daughters, and, like many other community college students, I juggle work, school and family responsibilities every day. I also happen to be one of the 84 percent of black students who did not receive a Cal Grant award to support my education due to California’s inadequate financial aid system.

Fri, Apr 12, 2019 4:29 am
Community colleges wracked by data dispute

California community colleges are under pressure to improve outcomes for their students but college officials complain that the data being used to measure progress are faulty.

Thu, Apr 11, 2019 12:01 am
Charter-mageddon: Lawmakers advance a raft of union-backed charter school curbs

As charter school advocates rallied en masse and California’s teachers’ unions flexed their political muscle, a cluster of bills that would dramatically curb the growth of charters in the state cleared the Assembly Education Committee on Wednesday. The votes were the first in what figures to be a lengthy, high-stakes battle this session between two […]

Wed, Apr 10, 2019 7:52 pm
From books to 3D printers, the many reasons to thank librarians

In this National Library Week, thank a librarian. Libraries are safe, accessible, non-stigmatized places that welcome everyone, even our most disenfranchised. Libraries aren’t the cure for California’s most vexing challenges, but investing more in them makes those challenges less vexing.

Wed, Apr 10, 2019 10:51 am
‘Job killer’ bills may be more difficult to kill

The California Chamber of Commerce has been remarkably successful for two decades in defeating or neutralizing bills it places on its annual list of "job killers," but the Capitol's ambiance is changing and continuing that record may be more difficult.

Wed, Apr 10, 2019 12:01 am
Mission accomplished? Scoring Newsom’s trip to El Salvador

SAN SALVADOR—Gov. Gavin Newsom and his wife joke that they’ll return to El Salvador not on any state fact-finding mission, but instead to check out the legendary surfing. The governor and Salvadoran President-elect Nayib Bukele share a keen appreciation for a venerable California tradition: the money-making potential of surf culture. Salvadoran officials and entrepreneurs hope […]

Tue, Apr 9, 2019 11:00 pm
Yes, we need clean water. But it must remain tax-free

Taxing water, food and other essential needs would limit their affordability and betray our collective resolve that no one should be denied the essentials for health, sanitation and freedom from hunger and thirst.

Tue, Apr 9, 2019 12:00 pm
Fewer schools, more accountability: How for-profit college bills could affect California

Jeanny Morris had a 1-year-old baby and a resume of dead-end retail jobs when she enrolled in the Marinello Schools of Beauty cosmetology program in 2012. She used her welfare benefits to pay for transportation to and from school where, she says, staff pressured her to take out student loans to pay for supplies they […]

Tue, Apr 9, 2019 11:36 am
“Because we punch above our weight:” Gov. Newsom says California deserves bigger say in U.S. immigration policy

California Gov.  Gavin Newsom says he intends to help steer U.S. immigration policy just as former Gov. Jerry Brown influenced climate change policy—because California’s size, robust economy, diversity and political clout allow the state to “punch above our weight.” He added, “The one area that California should do more is on immigration policy."

Mon, Apr 8, 2019 10:31 pm
Welcome mat: How California has responded to influx of migrants

Gov. Gavin Newsom is in El Salvador to learn about the root causes of the migration crisis. Here's what California's already doing, or considering, as the Democrats who control the state pursue policies that are a repudiation of the current federal approach.

Mon, Apr 8, 2019 8:47 pm
Newsom in El Salvador, sales taxes, guns and ‘job killers’

Gov. Newsom arrives in El Salvador. Chamber of Commerce includes Republican bills among its "job killers." Legislature gets ready to approve sales taxes for online shoppers. Ban on sale of large-capacity magazines goes back into effect.

Mon, Apr 8, 2019 4:30 am

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