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THE NOONER for May 18, 2016

It's noon. It's time for a break. Here's what people are reading on today:

California Transportation Funding Fix Still Elusive - Sfgate
In his January State of the State address, he told lawmakers they'd have to "bite the bullet and enact new fees and taxes" to pay for a $57 billion backlog in repairs to California's crumbling state highway system. "California's aging transportation infrastructure seems to be a low priority for the governor," Assembly Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Frazier of Oakley said in a press release last week after Brown released his revised budget. The lack of action has left some questioning how committed the governor is to solving the transportation problem, which has gone untouched as he has this year taken up sentencing reform, signed a fix to California's tax on health plans and reached a deal to raise the minimum wage. All three Democratic proposals include some form of higher taxes or fees, such as boosting the gas tax rate or adding annual road-user surcharges for electric vehicles that don't pay into the gas tax fund. Lawmakers in both parties also agree structural changes are needed, but approving a tax increase is a hard sell in an election year when incumbents would rather campaign on social welfare, affordable housing or just about anything other than transportation infrastructure.

Early Reviews Of Gov. Jerry Brown's Revised Budget Offer A Glimpse Of The Debate To Come
As budget negotiations begin at the state Capitol, keep an eye on the fate of about $3.5 billion of tax revenue. In the push and pull b...

Voters warm to tax boost for roads, but measure may take a while
Drivers tired of dodging potholes and transportation officials weary of fighting for funding got a bit of promising news with a recent poll showing that Bay Area voters may be willing to raise their gas taxes by a nickel a gallon to fix roads. [...] the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, responsible for regional transportation planning and finance, is in no hurry to put a nine-county gas tax measure on the November ballot for fear it might weaken other potential efforts to coax voters to help pay for a variety of transportation needs and other projects. “We’re extremely mindful that if we put another measure on the ballot, that could, for some voters, make a difference,” said Randy Rentschler, an MTC spokesman. [...] half-cent sales tax measures to improve roads, highways and public transportation are being contemplated in San Francisco, Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties. While the need to invest in the Bay Area’s transportation system is obvious, as anyone who’s packed onto a BART or Muni train or sat at the Bay Bridge toll plaza can attest, Bay Area leaders are concerned that they could risk alienating voters with too many disjointed requests to help improve the region’s transportation mess. “There may be tax exhaustion before the time Bay Area voters get to the end of their ballots,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. State and federal gas taxes, the traditional way of funding transportation, haven’t been increased in two decades, and revenue is falling as gas consumption declines. Gridlock in Congress has cut transportation funding to a trickle, and a strange twist in the way California collects the gas tax that requires an adjustment to the tax rate when prices rise or fall has also prompted cuts in projected funding. “We’re not getting the help we used to out of Washington and Sacramento,” said Ross Chittenden, chief deputy executive director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, which is leading the effort for the Contra Costa tax measure. [...] nobody is sure how voters might react to a long ballot that proposes a regional gas tax, a BART bond measure and a transportation sales tax. Carl Guardino, a member of the state Transportation Commission and chief executive officer of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, has worked to pass several transportation measures. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco supervisor and MTC member, said similar talks are going on among all the Bay Area counties and transportation agencies about how to keep, or get, the region moving — with the help of transportation taxes.

Bernie Sanders To Rally Supporters In Vallejo, San Jose | The Sacramento Bee
David Siders @
Democratic presidential candidate ramping up efforts in California

California's Next Governor: Who's Running, Who's On The Fence?
Welcome to your guide to the 2018 California governor's race. The election may be far away, but listening tours are already underway, political consultants are

California Marijuana Legalization Draws Lawmaker Opposition | The Sacramento Bee
Jeremy B. White @
Two Democrats among opponents

Governor Who Called Legalization 'reckless' Now Says Colorado's Pot Industry Is Working
Colorado's governor, who once said it would be "reckless" by voters to legalize marijuana, now says the state's booming pot industry is working

UC Davis Had High Ratings Before Contracts To Clean Up Online Image | The Sacramento Bee
Sam Stanton and Diana Lambert @
UC Davis was ranked ‘excellent,’ hitting top fundraising marks

Sen. Dianne Feinstein Pushes Senate Subcommittee For Water Bill To Address California's Drought
Essential Politics

Managers Struggle To Thank California State Employees | The Sacramento Bee
Jon Ortiz @
Online survey last year showed many state workers feel unappreciated

John Chiang Jumps Into California's 2018 Governor's Race
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Pittsburg: Delta Island Owner May Face Largest Fine Ever By State Water Agency -
The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board issued the complaint and abatement order alleging John Sweeney and his Point Buckler Club, a kite-surfing outfit catering to Silicon Valley executives, filled and degraded more than 29 acres of tidal wetlands on the 51-acre island, located just north of Pittsburg. The agency claims the unauthorized work and loss of wetlands created a "direct, negative impact" on the Suisun Marsh, "which provides critical habitat to migratory birds and threatened and endangered species including migrating salmon and Delta smelt."

Oakland approves laws to regulate pot industry
The Oakland City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved laws to regulate the city’s medical cannabis industry, but promised to revisit provisions that have drawn sharp objections from industry leaders. At the center of the debate is an equity program that some council members see as reparations for the U.S. drug war, but that industry leaders say will cause the city’s pot trade to sputter. While the idea was to promote diversity and redress the racial injustices of the drug war, critics say the program may create obstacles for the people it seeks to help. Oakland’s pot ordinances were designed to bring the city in line with state laws that will regulate all aspects of the multibillion-dollar cannabis industry by 2018. Councilwoman Desley Brooks pushed for the equity program at the May 3 council meeting, tacking on a slew of last-minute amendments to ordinances that had taken the cannabis commission 18 months to write. While many speakers at Tuesday’s meeting applauded the council for making race and equity a point of discussion, they warned that the proposed amendments could create a permitting bottleneck: “If you’re serious about equity, show us you’re willing to share this big pie,” she said to the pot business owners who challenged her amendments.

Gov. Jerry Brown's Housing Proposal Should Be Even Stronger, Legislative Analyst Says
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Ernest Moniz: Presidential Race Causing 'concern And Confusion' Abroad - Politico
The energy secretary declined to directly address how his foreign counterparts viewed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

A Top L.A. Sheriff's Recruit Was Just Days On The Job When He Says Deputies Beat An Unresisting Inmate
The convictions Monday of two jail deputies accused of brutalizing an inmate in L.A. County jail was one of the last in a series of prosecutions brought by the federal government against sheriff’s deputies.

New Group Forming To Oppose Long Beach Sales Tax Measure
D Buses @
Today's high

Senate OKs $1.1 Billion To Fight Zika Virus; House Wants Half That - Politico
Gingrich brushed it off, remarking, "I know nothing about this stuff" and haven't talked to "anybody at the campaign about it."

From Homeless To Business Boardrooms, Housing Issue Is A Big Problem :: Fox&hounds
A major concern for California policymakers is the housing crunch. Business says housing cost is a big reason companies move operations elsewhere or are discouraged from coming to California; homeless advocates decry the lack of units for people who find themselves with no place to go; the cost of housing is driving away the middle class. The legislature is trying to address the problem with a number of bills. Legislators could do more by trimming back obstacles to home building.

Judge Lets Homeless Ex-inmates Fight For Mental Health Services
A federal judge says a group of homeless people can continue to fight Los Angeles County in court over jail release policies.

California poised to end unprecedented water restrictions amid drought
The state drought rules that have forced communities to cut back water use up to 36 percent, leading to tight residential water restrictions in many parts of California, are likely to be scrapped Wednesday. The emergency drought rules, which assigned communities specific levels of savings based on their historic water use, were ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown last June at the height of the drought. Many water suppliers passed their required reductions on to customers in the form of outdoor watering rules and even quotas on total water consumption. Since June, the state has logged a 24 percent drop in water use compared to the same months in 2013 - before the governor declared a drought emergency.

Outside Money Pours Into San Fernando Valley’s Assembly District 45 Race
Today's high

Trump Plans To Remind Voters Of His Past Campaign Controversies - Politico
Gingrich brushed it off, remarking, "I know nothing about this stuff" and haven't talked to "anybody at the campaign about it."