A Rich Reformer Lobbies California for Merciful Justice

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

A cattle-ranching billionaire headed into Gov. Jerry Brown’s office last week with redemption on his mind. Redemption for prisoners who wind up behind bars because their own tortured childhoods lead them to lives of crime. Redemption for veterans who bring home wartime scars that cause addiction and violence. And redemption, perhaps, even for himself—born into […]

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In California, it’s Democrats Struggling to Keep Party Unity

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

California Democrats are expected to face a key test of their unity this week, with Gov. Jerry Brown leaning on state lawmakers to pass a landmark tax increase to fix what he calls a massive backlog of repairs to the state’s rutted roads and weakened bridges. The $52 billion plan will only pass if two-thirds […]

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Valid voter fraud complaints in California? Dozens, not millions

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

With President Donald Trump alleging serious voter fraud in California, and the state’s top election official calling his claim untrue, how much voter fraud is actually under investigation in the Golden State? Not much—certainly not enough to sway the election, in which California voters chose Hillary Clinton over Trump by 4.3 million votes. And while the […]

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Legislature curbs free speech for ‘worthy’ aims—then come the lawsuits

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

Back before the internet made it so easy to find a celebrity’s age, a 29-year-old actress landed the role of a 17-year-old girl—and helped propel “Beverly Hills 90210” into a hit TV show in the 1990s. That was the story actress Gabrielle Carteris told state lawmakers last year as she lobbied for a bill to strip actors’ […]

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Symbolic, superstitious or silly—legislators scramble for bill numbers

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

As the Legislature opened a new two-year session this month, staffers lined up before 9 a.m. to hand freshly-written bills to the clerk, who assigns them an all important number. Whether a bill lives or dies won’t be known for many months, but the work to nab the right bill number starts the minute the […]

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Urgent appeal: California Democrats to invoke new anti-Trump weapon

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

As they suit up for battle against the Trump administration, Democrats who dominate California’s Legislature vow to unleash one of the superpowers of holding a supermajority: the ability to enact laws immediately. An underplayed consequence of the fact that they won two-thirds of the seats in both houses last month is that—if they stick together—California Democrats have […]

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Aiming for Supermajority, California Democrats Play Trump Card

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

The one shred of power Republicans hold in the California statehouse—enough seats to block Democratic lawmakers from a “supermajority”—is on the brink in this election. Already California is one of only seven states in which Democrats control the legislature and the governor’s office (as compared to 23 states where the GOP holds both). Here, Republicans […]

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Virtual landlord unlocks campaign websites—for a fee

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

Andrew Naylor was working at a digital advertising firm in Silicon Valley when the “a-ha” moment struck. It was 2008, and money—more than $83 million—was gushing into the advertising world as Californians prepared to vote on Prop. 8, the measure to limit marriage to heterosexual couples (later ruled unconstitutional.) “I saw what was happening with […]

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Hey Big Spenders: Three Multimillionaires Stake a Claim on State’s Ballot

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

California has more billionaires than any other state, and an abundance of direct democracy. Those two facts intersect during election season, when spending by wealthy donors helps determine which initiatives make it on the ballot, and how many TV commercials and mailers campaigns can buy. Their donations carry the potential to influence state policy for […]

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Political Paradox? Prop. 59 asks Californians to condemn a big-money system long used here

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

Six years after Citizens United—the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that says corporations and unions have a 1st Amendment right to unlimited campaign spending—presidential candidates across the spectrum have condemned the campaign finance system it shaped. “Corrupt,” says Bernie Sanders. “Pernicious,” says Hillary Clinton. “A broken system,” says Donald Trump. The issue is getting extra attention […]

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