Review Category : State

Community members advocate breaking cycle of gun violence

As a result of numerous incidents of gun violence across the country, the City of Davis hosted a Feb. 19 forum on ending gun violence. Renowned gun violence researcher Dr. Garen Wintemute from the UC Davis School of Medicine spoke at the forum, along with Amanda and Nick Wilcox from the California chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The forum prompted a group of Davis officials and community members to submit a letter to state and national legislators expressing support for a change in gun control and safety in order to reduce incidents of gun violence, said Susan Lovenburg, a member of the Davis School Board. A group of officials who signed the letter attended the California Senate Public Safety Committee’s public hearing on April 16 for the LIFE (Life-saving Intelligent Firearms Enforcement) Act. The LIFE Act is a set of eight bills aimed at improving firearm safety and protecting the community from gun violence in California. The LIFE Act was passed by the Senate Public Safety... ...

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State representatives, students promote four student debt bills

A press conference was held on the South Steps of the State Capitol on April 8, where State Representative Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), State Controller John Chiang (D-Torrance), members from the California State Student Association (CSSA) and other California higher education students expressed support for several bills focusing on reducing the $1 trillion student loan debt. There were around 150 people in attendance with five speakers. According to College Board Trends in Student Aid for 2011-12, undergraduate students received an average of $13,218 per full-time equivalent (FTE) student in financial aid, including $6,932 in grant aid from all sources and $5,056 in federal loans. In addition, students borrowed about $8.1 billion from private, state and institutional sources to help finance their education. Wieckowski’s four bills — Assembly Bill (AB) 233, AB 391, AB 534 and Assembly Joint Resolution 11 — use a dual approach to the student debt issue that focuses on preemptive financial literacy education as well as alleviating the financial stress from paying off student loans for graduates, according... ...

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Senator proposes bill to create online courses for public universities

On Feb. 21, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) presented Senate Bill 520, which would create online courses at the state level in hopes of providing relief for California students struggling to get into introductory courses. The bill is set for a hearing on April 24. These classes would be offered in an online clearinghouse — an online course registrar offered by the state — and students could receive credit at UC, CSU and California Community Colleges (CCCs), according to the bill’s summary. Bob Powell, chair of the University of California Academic Senate and UC Davis professor of chemical engineering, chemical science and food science and technology, co-authored with Bill Jacob, vice chair of the University of California Academic Senate, an open letter opposing Steinberg’s bill. “We need to do this in a way that creates high-quality courses that are periodically reviewed, can be updated regularly as new material comes into the curriculum and has UC faculty both designing them and teaching them. That’s really what it’s about for... ...

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State representative introduces bill terminating textbook sales tax

On Feb. 19, State Rep. Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) proposed the Textbook Relief Act, which would exempt textbooks from sales tax in California. Donnelly said the initiative is an investment in California’s future. “We need to do something to signal to students in California that we actually want them here, and that we want them to complete their education,” Donnelly said. “Every student’s success is California’s success.” Donnelly said he believes the bill aligns the financial incentives with the desired behavior, which is completion of higher education. “When students get out of school and get a full time job, they become part of the income stream for the state,” Donnelly said. According to Donnelly, California has a surplus of money that simply needs to be redistributed so that money isn’t wasted. Donnelly said that the sales tax exemption on textbooks wouldn’t be detrimental to the state’s budget. “There’s money all over the place that we’re wasting on things. To me, this would be a sound investment because it essentially says... ...

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Mail delivery to cease on Saturdays

Beginning August, the United States Postal Service (USPS) will stop the delivery of mail and magazines to street addresses on Saturdays, a cut that will save an estimated $2 billion annually. Both private residences and businesses will be affected. Packages, prescription medications and priority mail will continue to be delivered. Post offices will remain open and PO boxes will still be accessible, according to the USPS website. The change has sparked a variety of reactions among Davis residents involved with USPS. “It won’t affect me personally,” said an anonymous Davis mail carrier. “We’ll still be delivering packages.” The mail carrier would not disclose their name due to the personal nature of the comment. Package delivery has increasingly been a strong source of revenue for USPS. According to the USPS website, revenue from the delivery of packages has increased 14 percent since 2010. Post office hours will remain the same, although some post offices, such as the ASUCD Post Office located on campus at the Memorial Union (MU), are not open... ...

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Marriage equality protest takes place in Sacramento

On Valentine’s Day, a group of same-sex couples and political activists advocating marriage equality gathered at the Sacramento County clerk’s office in a sign of solidarity as Poshi Mikalson and her partner, Reed Walker, symbolically applied for a marriage license. The action, organized by Shelly Bailes and Ellen Pontac, Yolo County chapter leaders of Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA), has taken place every Valentine’s Day — the clerk office’s busiest day in the calendar — for over 15 years. Similar action was coordinated by MEUSA across the U.S., with events being held in San Francisco; Houston, Texas and Columbus, Ohio among other locations. Requesting the permit is a purely symbolic move, as state law currently prohibits same-sex marriage. “This is the first time we’ve been able to participate rather than just show our support,” Mikalson said. Mikalson was visibly overwhelmed following the county clerk’s rebuff. “I started to choke up and tears came to my eyes. I was surprised I became so upset even though I had known all along what... ...

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News in Brief: President’s plan to reduce gun violence revealed

Yesterday, the White House issued President Obama’s plan to minimizing gun violence in the nation. Titled “Now Is the Time: The President’s Plan to Protect our Children and our Communities by Reducing Gun Violence,” the plan lists four “common-sense” steps: Closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands; banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and taking other common-sense steps to reduce gun violence; making schools safer and increasing access to mental health services. The plan’s first step would require criminal background checks for all gun sales, and a call on private sellers and licensed dealers to run background checks on buyers. Additionally, the background check system would be strengthened to allow it to have reliable data on prohibited users. The plan’s second step would eliminate military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines by strengthening the ban on such weapons, limiting magazines to 10 rounds and getting armor-piercing bullets off the streets. The step also calls for the passing of stronger laws that would stop those from giving... ...

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Governor declares California’s budget deficit-free

In January, Gov. Jerry Brown revealed that California now has no budget deficit, which once was $25 million two years ago. Gov. Brown released a Governor’s Budget Summary which includes plans to increase educational funding. The spending plan, which derives from a $97.6 billion yearly fund, calls for certain advancements in education. This includes an extra $250 million — a 7 percent increase from this year’s budget — for each state university. Some students have expressed their optimistic feelings toward the aspect of more money, citing more resources as a positive result. “I guess it [the $250 million] would make a difference because in the past couple years, [there’ve] been class subjects that have been cut,” said first-year environmental and science management major Jennie Hoang. Hoang continued to advocate for the spending plan by reasoning the argument with her own experiences. “A larger budget would possibly mean more class sections being opened up so people wouldn’t be stuck on the waitlist for a [chemistry] lab section, for example, but already... ...

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California Alcoholic Beverage Control awarded grant

On Dec. 4, 2012, the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) received an $853,000 grant, funding a number of different programs that try to decrease the amount of underage drinking. The grant was given by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Although OTS awarded the grant, the funds will go to support underage drinking mainly through the suppliance of underage drinkers rather than concentrating on driving under the influence violations committed by minors. “Actually, it is [grant money] splitting between four programs: Minor Decoy, Shoulder Tap, Trapdoor, and the last program is called Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs (LEAD) Program,” said John Carr, the public information officer of ABC. The first program, Minor Decoy, is used when underage individuals — under the direct eye of police officers — try to buy alcohol from retail licenses. Retailers who sell to minors may potentially be fined a minimum of $250, given 24 to 32 hours of community service for the first violation or both.... ...

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News in Brief: California Democratic Party convening Assembly District meetings

The Fourth Assembly District meeting will be held on Jan. 12 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Woodland Community and Senior Center at 2001 East St. Registration will begin at noon. Since the new Fourth Assembly District is larger, two meetings will occur simultaneously in Woodland and in Napa. Votes will be counted concurrently from both meetings to elect delegates for the district. The district contains Yolo County (except West Sacramento), Napa County and parts of Lake and Solano Counties. West Sacramento is now part of the Seventh Assembly District. Each of the state’s 80 Assembly Districts will elect 12 people — six men and six women — to be members of the California Democratic State Central Committee. After the Assembly District meetings, the Yolo County Democrats are invited to an organization meeting of the 2013-14 Yolo County Democratic Party. It will be on Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. in the Yolo County Administrative Building at 625 Court St. in Woodland. — Claire Tan ...

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Humboldt State launches marijuana institute

In November, Humboldt State University implemented the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research (HIIMR). The institution, located at 1 Harpst St. in Arcata, Calif., will house lectures and research conducted by 11 faculty members to integrate topics such as economics, sociology and politics into lesson plans. For example, students will be able to study marijuana’s effects on wildlife, fertilizers, the economy and health, as well as its chemical and medicinal properties. The idea started in 2010 when the Humboldt State faculty began discussing state propositions regarding marijuana. This research is led by HIIMR co-chairs Erick Eschker and Josh Meisel. Staff members involved with the program commented on the school — which is located in a rich marijuana-growing area — and its decision to initiate the institution. “If anyone is going to have a marijuana institute, it really should be Humboldt State,” Eschker said in a statement. “It has the potential to be a world-class institute, and we’re just getting going.” When asked about the academic purpose of the marijuana institution,... ...

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UC system sees increase in private funding

Over the past fiscal year, the University of California (UC) system has received over $1.56 billion from private support. According to the 2011-12 annual report on the UCs’ private support, this is considered a tremendous increase from previous years. Over the past decade, the amount in private support has steadily risen. According to 2010-11 annual private support report, in 2008-09 about $1.3 billion was received. In 2009-10, about $1.35 billion was received. In 2010-11, $1.58 billion was received. The money is being used to recruit faculty, build research facilities and expand student scholarships. According to Daniel Dooley, senior vice president for external relations of the UC Office of the President (UCOP), philanthropic funding is becoming an increasingly important part of the UC budget, although it will never fully replace state funding. “As our state funds have fallen, we’ve seen donors step up to create more endowed faculty chairs and student scholarships, gifts that go right to the heart of our funding challenges,” Dooley said in a press release. Each campus... ...

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UC Davis Greek system examines safety after Chico State death

On Nov. 16, Chico State University suspended their Greek system after the death of 21-year-old Sigma Pi brother Mason Sumnicht. He died after attempting to drink 21 shots on his 21st birthday. The university plans to begin the reinstatement process next semester. As a result, universities have been looking into risk management in their respective Greek systems. “It is unfortunate to see this happen. Our priority is the safety of the students,” said UC Davis Interfraternity Council (IFC) president and Tau Kappa Epsilon brother Matt Chernin, a fifth-year animal science major with an emphasis in aquaculture. Some UC Davis fraternity brothers declined to comment on the suspension of Chico State’s Greek system because they were told by supervisors to not discuss the incident. The UC Davis Greek system has regulations in place in order to avoid such incidents that occur in the Greek system. The UC Davis Greek Life Office overlooks fraternity and sorority functions, encouraging responsible behavior within. “We have the expectation that at least 90 percent of members... ...

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CSU delays vote on proposed fee increases

On Nov. 13, the California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees indefinitely postponed a vote on three proposed fee increases for the CSU system. The fee increases, which were removed from the agenda to be considered at a later date, would have gone into effect beginning in fall 2013 if they were passed. The fee hikes are intended to increase new student enrollment in the CSU system by encouraging students to graduate in a “timely manner,” according to a CSU press release. According to the press release, the three proposed increases include a graduation incentive fee, a third-tier tuition fee and a course repeat fee. The graduation incentive fee would charge an additional cost per unit for students who have already taken 160 units. Starting in 2014, this cap would be lowered to 150 units. Eighty percent of CSU majors require 120 units, so these fees would apply to “super seniors,” or students who do not graduate in four years. The third-tier tuition fee would place fees on each additional... ...

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California may lose 100 dairy farms

Most people know the old slogan: “Happy cheese comes from happy cows, and happy cows come from California.” For the past few years, however, dairy farms have been struggling to keep afloat. The California dairy industry produced over 2 billion pounds of cheese in 2011. In fact, California ranked second in the nation for highest cheese production, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). However, that may change in the near future. In Yolo County, there are only two dairies, including UC Davis’ own. Merced tops the list for the highest amount of California dairies at 258, with over 268,000 head of cattle. Dr. Frank Mitloehner, who studies agriculture and air quality, says that there are a few reasons for this. “California has a milk and cheese market that’s separated from the rest of the United States and the prices for milk and cheese are determined by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. It’s a very complex system that’s not really understood,” Mitloehner said. According to... ...

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