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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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