Reports focusing on the latest political news and trends along California's Central Coast.

Randol White

Voter registration in San Luis Obispo, Monterey and Santa Barbara counties is at an all-time high. 

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Randol White

Central Coast residents who signed up to vote-by-mail will start getting their ballots this week. The packets would have gone out on Monday, but the Postal Service was closed for Columbus Day. 

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Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton faced off in the second presidential debate Sunday night at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

NPR's politics team — with help from reporters and editors who cover national security, immigration, business, foreign policy and more — did live annotating of the debate. Portions of the debate with added analysis are highlighted, followed by context and fact check from NPR reporters and editors.

Video is courtesy of PBS Newshour:

Longwood University

Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence squared off in the vice-presidential debate Tuesday night.

NPR's politics team, with help from reporters and editors who cover national security, immigration, business, foreign policy and more, have provided a full transcript of the debate, with fact-checking annotations.

Five years removed from one of the most sweeping criminal justice reforms ever implemented in the state, California’s 58 counties are still coming to grips with the effects of the plan known as Public Safety Realignment.

Realignment aimed to satisfy a U.S. Supreme Court order to reduce the state prison population by some 30,000 inmates by transferring responsibility for non-serious, non-violent and non-sexual felons to counties.

Today, at least 40 California counties have either completed or are planning jail construction projects.

Prop. 61, the drug pricing initiative, explained

Sep 28, 2016

One of the 17 statewide propositions facing California voters on the November ballot is Proposition 61, which is intended to lower prescription drug prices.

Below, Impatient breaks down this initiative, which besides being one of the most complicated ballot measures, has sparked by far this year's most expensive campaign fight over an initiative.

In a nutshell

Under Prop. 61, certain state agencies would pay no more than what the Department of Veterans Affairs pays for prescription drugs.

PolitiFact California looks at claims made by elected officials, candidates and groups and rates them as: True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False and Pants On Fire.

Brock Turner’s brief jail term for sexual assault sparked outcry across California and the nation earlier this year.

Susanica Tam/KPCC

File photo: Loretta Sanchez greets her supporters from the Ironworkers Union on the night of the California primary election in Anaheim, California, on Tuesday, June 7, 2016. Susanica Tam/KPCC

Orange County Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez failed to show up for more votes than any other U.S. House member running for another office, according to an analysis by Roll Call covering the first three weeks in September.

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For decades, small growers in Humboldt County have made a living cultivating and selling cannabis. But over the last 10 years or so, outsiders have been pouring in to the region trying to cash in on the “green rush” for commercial cannabis.

The medical marijuana industry has certainly sparked a cannabis boon, but if Californians vote for Proposition 64 and allow adults to smoke cannabis purely for recreation, it will be a game changer for the industry.

Death Penalty Propositions Divide Voters

Sep 22, 2016

There are two completely opposite November ballot measures dealing with capital punishment, and a new poll shows neither one is getting support from a majority of voters.

Proposition 62 would repeal the state’s death penalty and replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. It falls just short of the simple majority it needs to pass.

Each time New York increased its tobacco tax — now at $4.35 a pack — calls to the state’s Quitline spiked.

In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg raised the tax even more.

“I was so angry with him, I could hardly afford it,” says Elizabeth Lane, a Harlem resident who paid $12 a pack. “I had to beg, borrow and steal to get money to buy cigarettes.”

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has boosted her lead over Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez among likely voters, 42 percent to 20 percent, according to a Field Poll out this week. But a new survey from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shows a Harris lead shrinking to 7 points.

PolitiFact California looks at claims made by elected officials, candidates and groups and rates them as: True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False and Pants On Fire.

California billionaire and potential gubernatorial candidate Tom Steyer joined the debate over ending the state’s death penalty last week by repeating a questionable claim.

"Since 1978, California has spent $5 billion to put 13 people to death," Steyer said in a press release announcing his support for Proposition 62.

During her run for U.S. Senate, California Attorney General Kamala Harris has touted a "smart on crime" approach that focuses on the most violent offenders and reducing recidivism.

Harris believes this strategy is key to slowing what she claims is a dramatic rise in the nation’s prison population.

'Yes On 55' School Claim Misses The Mark

Sep 13, 2016

PolitiFact California looks at claims made by elected officials, candidates and groups and rates them as: True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False and Pants On Fire.

Recent radio and TV ads claim California’s K-12 public schools face dire cuts if voters fail to approve Proposition 55, a measure on November’s ballot that would extend an income tax hike on wealthy residents.

A majority of Californians believe poverty is a serious problem, but they disagree over what to do about it. That’s according to a survey conducted for our California Counts public radio collaboration.

The CALSPEAKS survey asked hundreds of voters and some nonvoters across California how they feel about a range of economic issues, from home ownership and job security to wage disparity and upward mobility.

Forty years ago, when Jerry Brown was first governor, he signed a law that dramatically changed the way California sentenced criminal offenders. Previously, under the indeterminate sentencing law, many inmates received inconclusive sentences instead of a fixed term. It was up to a parole board to decide when an inmate was ready to re-enter society.

Under the law signed by Brown in 1976, the state shifted to a determinate sentencing structure — and in the years following, lawmakers and voters piled on dozens more laws that added years to prisoners’ terms.

Frank Stoltze/KPCC

A new survey commissioned by a consortium of public radio stations including KPCC has found Californians, like much of the nation, are divided by race when it comes to their views of police profiling and excessive use of force.

When asked about racial profiling in the U.S., 68 percent of Californians said it is a “huge” or “significant” problem in the U.S. Twenty-five percent of state residents polled said it was a minor problem or not one at all.

A statewide California Counts survey found state Attorney General Kamala Harris holds a commanding lead in the race for U.S. Senate over her opponent, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.


Repeal the death penalty? 6 quotes from 'yes' and 'no' campaigns

Sep 7, 2016

Voters will see two state measures that take very different approaches in changing how California handles capital punishment in November. Proposition 62 would repeal the death penalty, while Proposition 66 would aim to speed up the process. 

On Wednesday evening, we gathered a panel of six guests from all sides of the argument. They fielded questions from the audience on topics that ranged from fiscal to racial implications.

Susanica Tam for KPCC

Matthew Vu, left, talks to local residents about issues that will be on the ballot during a music and art festival in Martin Luther King Jr. Park in South Los Angeles on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Susanica Tam for KPCC

As California voters move closer to the general election, a new poll finds 25 percent of those surveyed remain undecided on the state's U.S. Senate race, a contest that's failed to break through the tidal wave of coverage for the presidential campaign.

Randol White

A recent hardline speech on immigration by Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump is cause for concern among influential Latinos who had previously shown support for the candidate. 

Robert Elyov / Flickr

Robert Elyov / Flickr

PolitiFact California looks at claims made by elected officials, candidates and groups and rates them as: True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False and Pants On Fire.

Opponents of California’s Proposition 60 — which requires adult film performers to wear condoms — say it’s not the protective measure it’s touted to be.

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

California's Prop 64 would make recreational marijuana legal in the state.   If the law passes, it would mean a big shift in the way the Golden State — already the largest market for pot in the U.S. — regulates marijuana. It could also mean big changes in enforcement, as well as the habits and health of Californians. We'll go into some details of every aspect of the measure in Take Two's special exploring the issue, but first, we take a look at how life in the Golden State would and wouldn't change if the law's passed.

Would more teens smoke if recreational pot were legal?

Sep 1, 2016
Rebecca Plevin/KPCC

Studies have found that using marijuana before age 18 is associated with shorter attention spans and lower IQ levels. Early use of marijuana has also been shown to correlate with changes in the structure of the teenage brain.

But that information hasn't exactly filtered down to teenagers.

"You always smell it," says "Pablo," a 15-year-old sophomore at a high school in Highland Park. "You always hear people talking about it. I think it's pretty common."

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom is one of the biggest proponents of Proposition 64, the state ballot measure that would legalize recreational marijuana for California and, in the process, raise an estimated $1 billion in new tax revenue for the state. 

Newsom pitches the initiative as a social justice issue that could cut costs for the state's justice system and provide a new source of income for the state and its citizens. Still, as he tells Take Two, he has concerns about the economic incentives behind the prospect of legalizing pot.  

Assembly members clap at the close of session early morning on Thursday, September 1, 2016 after a long night.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio.

Update Sept. 1, 8:31 a.m.: The California Legislature has adjourned for the year, but not before a flurry of action on Wednesday, the final day of session.

Lawmakers passed bills to require the installation of water sub-meters in new apartment and condo buildings and create a state-run retirement program for private-sector workers.