This appeared in Calmatters
The state Legislature’s policy committees are buzzing with activity this week, hearing bills on topics including election reform, missing persons and chemicals in candy. Bills that require money will advance to their respective appropriations committee, where many will have to face the dreaded suspense file next month, which can stop a bill’s progress in its tracks.
Let’s spin through some highlights:
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From CalMatters’ community college reporter Adam Echelman:
Failing a college class is rough. But failing it four times? That’s almost impossible, according to current California law, which restricts the amount of times a student can retake a class.
A new bill by Assemblymember Mike Fong, a Monterey Park Democrat, would change that, allowing community college students to retake classes as many as five times if they receive a D or F in the first four tries. Currently, students can enroll as many as three times in the same class.
The bill, which passed the Assembly’s higher education committee on Tuesday, brought students and teachers alike to the Legislature.
“Some of the most earth-shattering events in my life have happened around midterms or thereafter when it was too late to even withdraw from courses,” said Heather Brandt, a student chancellor at San Francisco City College.
In the two decades that it took her to graduate, she said she dealt with an abusive relationship, a miscarriage, and the incarceration of her spouse, among other challenges. The restrictions around retaking classes delayed her graduation even more, she said.
But the good intentions of the bill may come with “unintended consequences,” said Melissa Bardo, associate director of policy and government relations for the research and advocacy group Education Trust-West.
She told legislators that this bill could create the wrong kind of financial incentive for schools, who receive money for each class a student takes. Students might be pushed to retake classes instead of receiving academic support upfront, she said, adding that it could also undermine efforts legislators just made to help students graduate faster.
The community college chancellor’s office expressed no official position on the bill but expressed general concern.
There’s no recent data about how many students actually repeat courses multiple times. An analysis shared with CalMatters by the chancellor’s office from 2014 found that less than 3.5% of students failed the same math or English class twice or more.
It’s a familiar scenario: We’re about to finish an online transaction — renting a car, booking a hotel room or nabbing tickets to tomorrow’s game — and right before confirming the purchase, we’re smacked with a long list of fees. Undeterred, most of us pay up anyway, but the experience is frustrating nonetheless.
To crack down on hidden fees, several California legislators are pushing a series of bills that would require companies to be more transparent about their pricing, according to CalMatters’ economy reporter Grace Gedye. One overarching bill, from Democratic Sens. Bill Dodd of Napa and Nancy Skinner of Oakland, would prohibit companies from advertising the prices of goods or services that didn’t include mandatory fees, besides taxes. Other bills zero in on specific industries, including:
The reason retailers continue this practice isn’t surprising: In general, “when fees, taxes and surcharges are revealed late in the game, shoppers end up spending more,” Grace writes. Even when one ticket company, eBay’s Stubhub, experimented with all-inclusive pricing to drum up more customer loyalty, ticket buyers who had to pay fees tacked on at the end of the buying process still spent more and were more likely to make a purchase than customers who saw the total price up front.
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: As Colorado River goes dry, a time of reckoning for the Imperial Valley.
CalMatters columnist Jim Newton: New L.A. Mayor Karen Bass’s proposal to increase the police budget reveals how she has adjusted to the realities of city government.
CalMatters held a contest for students to write opinion pieces about Earth Day.
Second place: Disaster protections aren’t the same as climate change solutions, writes Olivia Brandeis, who lives in the Bay Area and is a student at Monte Vista High School.
Here are excerpts from some of the 120-plus submissions. And read more from our engagement team about the contest.
State Supreme Court rejects challenge to Newsom’s CARE Court // San Francisco Chronicle
Key California legislator proposes raising teacher pay by 50% over 7 years // EdSource
He’s rich, he’s pugilistic and he’s quietly paying to get Newsom’s attention // Politico
38.5 million Californians live in county with failing grade for air quality // Los Angeles Times
RJR uses California as test market for skirting national menthol cigarette ban // Politico
One California Republican signed brief supporting abortion pill // San Francisco Chronicle
Berkeley’s gas ban shot down by federal court // Berkeleyside
National City officially ends 1992 cruising ban // The San Diego Union-Tribune
Already an ‘enormous rise’ in SF overdose deaths in 2023 // San Francisco Chronicle
Judge rules female athletes can seek damages in Title IX lawsuit against SDSU // The San Diego Union-Tribune
Feds probe viral video showing man harassing S.F.’s Pier 39 sea lions // San Francisco Chronicle
The North County charity execs cutting deals that enrich them personally // Voice of San Diego
San Jose mayor says city ‘will not become SF’ // The San Francisco Standard
Should SF build a 55-story condo tower near Ocean Beach? // San Francisco Chronicle