Dan Walters writes for CALmatters, a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. For more stories by Dan Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary.
Last year, California doctors and dentists wrote 23.7 million prescriptions for opioids, supposedly to relieve their patients’ pain, but overprescription, misuse by patients and/or backchannel diversion of the drugs are rampant, and California recorded 1,966 opioid-related deaths last year, 44 percent more than its gun-related homicides.
That gnashing sound you hear are the political gears shifting in response to Dianne Feinstein’s announcement – after months of delay – that she’ll seek another U.S. Senate term next year.
California’s never-say-die conservatives reject anyone who strays from their rigid positions on taxes and other issues. It’s their version of the “better-dead-than-red” mantra their 1950s predecessors chanted.
Political discourse is full of hype, obfuscation and downright lying—which is why two independent authorities play such vital roles in the state Capitol.
It’s amusing to see Democrats, all the way up to former President Barack Obama, expressing outrage about gerrymandering. Republicans are merely doing what Democrats did for many decades, until the GOP figured out how to turn the tables.
With some fanfare, Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a package of bills aimed at relieving an acute shortage of housing. Problem solved? Not by a long shot.
The low achievement of disadvantaged children is obviously important for their individual futures, but what makes it critical to the state as a whole is that they are about 60 percent of the state’s K-12 students.
Every medical authority believes that starting classes too early conflicts with the natural circadian rhythms of adolescents.
Politicians don’t admit to errors, so in time-dishonored fashion they have been nibbling on the underlying behind 2014's terrible rule on school district reserve funds, trying to defy the old Capitol axiom that you can’t fix a bad bill.
“WaterFix,” as the tunnel project is now dubbed, isn’t dead yet, but were it to collapse after more than a half-century of planning and politicking, it would leave an indelible stain on Brown’s legacy and leave California’s long-term water supply situation in limbo.
Despite the overall left-of-center tone to the legislative session that ended this month, the California Chamber of Commerce and other business and employer lobbies did what they have done for nearly two decades: killed all but a few of the measures tagged with the “job killer” epithet.
The drive to move California's presidential primary is an ill-conceived effort to make California more relevant in presidential elections that probably will fail, but will befoul elections for state offices and ballot measures.
As baby boomers leave California’s workforce in droves, the state faces what the Public Policy Institute of California terms a “skills gap” because its higher education system is not producing enough potential workers with post-high school training and education to fill vacancies.
Nearly seven decades ago, historian Carey McWilliams assessed California’s first century of statehood and labeled it “The Great Exception” for its many attributes. The same phrase could be applied to the California Legislature.
After more than a half-century in public life, two-thirds of it holding one political office or another, and three unsuccessful bids for the White House, it’s understandable that Brown wouldn’t simply retire to his still-to-be-built home in the foothills of Colusa County.
The cultural firestorm over statues, flags and other symbols of the Confederacy, ignited by a violent clash of white supremacists and their opponents in Charlottesville, Virginia, would seem far removed from California. Not so.
If we – the California public – are to hold politicians and other government officials accountable, we must first know what they are doing or not doing. Thus, the first point of conflict is always access to records of official action or inaction.
The state Supreme Court this week issued a much-anticipated ruling that will make it much easier for local tax increases to be enacted. Or maybe not.
One of the less heralded – albeit, one of the more important – of the many clashes between Sacramento and Washington these days has to do with accountability for educating the state’s 6-plus million K-12 students.
Even as Sacramento tries to "resist" Washington, it imposing onerous new requirements on local governments.
California’s housing crisis has spawned several other socioeconomic dilemmas, the most important being a transportation crunch.
Since 2010, California’s attitude toward crime and punishment has undergone a dramatic change, softening penalties for many crimes and adopting more lenient parole and probation policies.
The California Public Utilities Commission must, by its nature, straddle the fine line between providing consumers with dependable electric power, natural gas and other utility services at fair prices and protecting the financial health of the huge corporations that supply those services.
Tension between the federal government and its states has permeated American history from the earliest moments of the nation’s founding 241 years ago.
The Josh Newman recall drive is one of those petty, self-serving political exercises that feed the public’s cynicism. All of those involved – save, perhaps, Newman himself – should be ashamed of themselves for wasting the public’s time and money.
The California Public Employees Retirement System has been hammered by poor investment earnings in recent years, but got some good news last month.
California obviously has a severe shortage of housing, but the crisis is felt most acutely by low- and moderate-income families.
With all the recent hoopla about California’s record-low unemployment rate and the heady prospect of its becoming No. 5 in global economic rankings, it is easy to lose sight of another salient fact: It is the nation’s most poverty-stricken state.
Republican Travis Allen dropped this Twitter bomb the other day: “11 counties in California have more total registered voters than citizens over the age of 18. How is this possible?” As a matter of fact, it isn’t possible.
California dodged a big financial bullet when congressional Republicans deadlocked on overhauling or repealing the Affordable Care Act, but the next Congressional fight may be even more threatening.
The Giants might not be doing well this year, but the San Francisco Bay Area’s technology-centered economy is, by any measure, red-hot and not only far surpassing the Los Angeles region’s lackluster economic performance but also, in effect, propping up the entire state.
Geographically, San Diego County is a microcosm of California – a coastline as its western edge, giving way to tree-covered mountains and a searing desert to the east.
The business, civic and political elites of Los Angeles are understandably stoked that their city was chosen last week to host the 2028 Olympic Games.
The late Glenn Frey’s song about the international drug trade, “Smuggler’s Blues,” contains a phrase that resonates in politics as well: “It’s the lure of easy money, it’s got a very strong appeal.” Politicians are habitually lured by easy money, which is defined as money they can spend without directly taxing their constituents, but somebody […]
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A constant tenet of Marin County’s guiding ethos is resistance to growth, manifesting itself in a kind of environmental apartheid.