Thomas Elias writes the syndicated California Focus column, appearing twice weekly in 93 newspapers around California, with circulation of over 2.2 million.

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Donald Trump’s company owns a golf club and other properties in California, but a look at his proposed budget for the fiscal year ending in September 2018 indicates the President may never have experienced one of this state’s frequent earthquakes.

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For a long time, it seemed Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s unspoken (at least publicly) agreement with Sen. Kamala Harris would bear the fruit he intended – inauguration about 17 months from now as governor of California.

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Single-payer health insurance that would cover every Californian has stalled, at least for now. Because Democratic Speaker Anthony Rendon shelved state Assembly consideration of the Senate-passed insurance outline at least until next year, a popular vote on the well-publicized, often critici…

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The 1988 Proposition 103 has saved California consumers more than $100 billion in excessive auto insurance premiums since voters passed it by a slim 51-49 percent margin, probably the reason for an unrelenting legal onslaught by the insurance industry.

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You’d better watch out, California’s second-largest provider of natural gas warned again this spring. Unless the notoriously leaky natural gas storage field at Aliso Canyon in northern Los Angeles is reopened soon, much of the state could experience electricity blackouts this summer.

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The hype for Kamala Harris as a possible presidential candidate began almost from the moment she won election to the U.S. Senate last fall, and so far she’s done little to halt it other than saying pro forma that she hasn’t considered the possibility.

Just in case anyone wonders what the real issue was in the very close race between Eric Bauman and Kimberly Ellis over who would become the next chairperson of the California Democratic Party, it was money.

Here’s a question for the many declared and potential 2018 candidates for governor: What will you do about the well-proven and established climate of corruption that’s persisted for many years under the last several governors?

Bigger, California has learned through long experience, isn’t always better. In fact, it can be downright destructive, as when a city outgrows its water or freeway system.

Only four units of the entire 417-part system of national parks, monuments, seashores and historical sites carry the names of remarkable plants and trees. California hosts three of these – Redwood, Sequoia and Joshua Tree national parks.

For months, the small, but growing, movement for California to secede from the United States was stalled in part because its nominal leader lives (for now) in Russia and attended at least one Kremlin-approved event for separatist movements around the globe.

You can call it a form of comeuppance for huge privately-owned California utility companies unscathed so far by exposure of their negligence and blundering of the past decade. They now find themselves deeply threatened by what some might consider a small army of mosquitos.

For the last seven years, most of the 14 Republicans representing parts of California in Congress railed against Obamacare, high corporate taxes and illegal immigration.

The longer Donald Trump remains President and Harry Reid remains retired, the greater the chances that canisters bearing more than 3.5 million pounds of nuclear waste from the shut-down San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) will end up beneath a mountain about 90 miles northwest of L…

More than one month after the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously that text messages and emails sent by public officials on their personal devices are matters of public record if they deal with public business, Gov. Jerry Brown has still not moved on his own email issues.

If any measure now before state lawmakers should be a no-brainer, it’s the bill aiming to move California’s presidential primary up into the third position during the next primary season in early 2020.

Any California consumers who still believed this state’s big privately-owned utility companies are either willing or able to protect the interests of their many millions of customers must surely be disabused of that notion today.

There is no doubt that a 2003 car tax increase helped wreck Democrat Gray Davis’ career as governor of California. But a new batch of car taxes just passed by state legislators at the strong urging of Gov. Jerry Brown will not harm him or his legacy.

Think of Congressman Darrel Issa, the former car alarm magnate who made a fortune off the Viper system, and you picture the ultimate Republican loyalist, the former chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee who bedeviled ex-President Barack Obama over everything from hi…

In this remarkable water year, which ended more than five years of severe drought in California, there are still plenty of noteworthy water questions to contemplate and act upon.

Few questions about public education have been disputed more hotly over the last few years than evaluations – in a day when almost everyone agrees public schools need major improvement, how to tell which teachers are good, which are the best and which don’t deserve to be kept around.

At the very moment when California’s largest utility company was being assessed a $14 million fine for failing to report discovery of flawed records on its gas pipelines, that same company in 2014 began asking for well over $1 billion in rate increases to pay for repairs to the very same pip…

If you’re a millennial, now aged 18 to 35, there’s a good chance the only major city in California you’re very much interested in moving to is San Francisco. That’s because it’s largely walkable, with plenty of amenities like singles bars and gorgeous parks. And also, a lot of high-paying, h…

The specter of peaches and oranges and apricots and artichokes rotting on the ground or on trees hangs over California agriculture this spring in the wake of a series of immigration raids during the first months of President Trump’s administration.

There is little doubt about who killed Whittier Police Officer Keith Boyer in late winter, or how he died: Authorities quickly identified ex-convict Michael Christopher Mejia as the culprit, also suspected of killing his cousin and stealing the cousin’s car.

After more than three years of steadfastly denying that increased enrollment of foreign and out-of-state students could endanger the very California identity of the University of California, it is stunning and encouraging to see the 10-campus system do an about face.

Despite heavy pressure and some almost casual financial threats from President Trump, there is no need as yet for abandonment of the humane aspects in immigration “sanctuary” laws now on the books in 276 American cities, counties and states. But almost two years after the seemingly random ki…

Whenever the price of other water goes up, desalinating Pacific waters becomes more enticing. But if the price and availability of fresh water remains reasonable, as it surely will be this year, desal stays in the back seat.

If there’s one quality shared by several of the leading candidates to succeed Jerry Brown as governor, it’s flamboyance. No one ever accused Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco, or ex-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of being boring.

From the day Republican President Donald Trump won last fall’s election, Gov. Jerry Brown has worked to position himself as the leader of the loyal opposition. He has said time and again that he will fight for the liberal agenda so popular in California, from same sex marriage to climate cha…

As recently as last July, just 22 percent of Californians favored the idea of California risking a new civil war by declaring its independence from the rest of America. But barely six months later, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found support for California exiting the Union peacefully had moved to ab…

From his first day in office, when President Trump kept a campaign promise and dumped the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement painstakingly and secretly negotiated by ex-President Barack Obama, he’s been accused of giving China unprecedented license to move into other Asian and S…

Time and again, President Trump threatens to withhold federal grants from California cities, universities and the state itself unless they accept policies he wants to pursue, from large-scale deportation of undocumented immigrants to bashing the heads of campus protesters.

For decades, a struggle has raged across California and America to protect young people from negative aspects of drinking beer and hard liquor. Now that fight has begun to spread to newly legalized recreational marijuana, with several state legislators trying to ban pot advertising along sta…

They simply are not content to leave Californians alone, these once-murderous followers of racist guru Charles Manson, who has himself tried and failed 12 times to get parole.

Almost no one seemed to notice during last fall’s election that yet another line between citizens and immigrant non-citizens was breached. Even before then, there were few privileges and rights that immigrants – both documented and not – could not enjoy in at least some parts of California.

Cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are down about three percent over the last 40 years in California, even as state population is up by well over one-third, better than 15 million, and far more smog-belching vehicles than ever clog the roads. This is a major public health achieve…

Prior to 1982, few Californians outside San Diego had heard of Pete Wilson, the moderate Republican mayor of that city and a former state assemblyman. But Wilson whipped the outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown that year to become a U.S. senator, sending Brown into almost 20 years of political exile du…

One problem in having a President who operates without much regard for facts, truth or consistency – one whose staff has devised the concept of “alternative facts” – is that when he says or promises something, no one can know whether he means it.

California is in the forefront of most things. From new tax formulas to new movies, TV shows and electronic devices, from pioneering farm irrigation techniques to innovative hairstyles and much more, trends start here and often work their way across the country.

Once California voters passed the 2000 Proposition 34 campaign finance initiative pushed by former Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, it was only a matter of time before state and county party chieftains became vital behind-the-scenes kingmakers.

No part of state government except the courts is supposed to be more independent and less subject to the sway of politics than the Public Utilities Commission, which decides rates and other practices of California’s largest utilities. That’s why commissioners serve six-year terms, longer eve…

The election results were in more than month ago. Except in California and a couple of other states, Republican Donald Trump drew a robust number of presidential votes, enough to put him in the White House even if it fell well short of a plurality.

No industry is more vital to the finances of vast numbers of Californians than real estate. With homes and buildings the largest assets of millions of families in this state, it’s vital the agents and brokers who buy and sell property do so with integrity.

As a United States attorney in Alabama serving under President Ronald Reagan in 1986, the 39-year-old Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was charged with enforcing civil rights laws. But he said then that he didn’t have much of a problem with what the Ku Klux Klan stood for, musing that he th…

The scene was a festive holiday-season dinner with guests from both Northern and Southern California. But the discussion grew serious as the question arose of whether President-elect Donald Trump would really try to set up a national registry of citizen and resident Muslims in America as an …

At long last, one wing of the state’s Public Utilities Commission is making sense on a major dispute commissioners will decide between a big utility and its millions of customers.